August 11, 2011 § Leave a comment
In keeping with my aim to keep posts focused, here’s a bitesize topic to start me off: time. Don’t worry, I’m not just going to blather on about lax Hispanic attitudes to punctuality (though – warning – this may figure). To start on a slightly different note, one of the biggest lifestyle differences I’ve noticed here is that people stay up late. Really late, in fact. And that, coupled to the fact that I’ve never been the best person at getting an early night, means that I’ve been suffering not so much from jet-lag as from culture-lag. It seems that bed at 2 on a weeknight is fairly near the norm – which makes me very glad that I haven’t got any university classes in the morning. Weekends and nights out are another story entirely – it’s unheard of to set foot in a club before 2am, and they all stay open until 7 or 8 (as do some bars!). It didn’t take long for me to decide that my hereto rock-solid rule of not staying in bed past 12pm only applied to the Northern Hemisphere.
Last week, I was invited to a military dinner at a base in the province outside the city. (Brief diversion – I was a invited by a guy in the choir which I have somehow, already, found myself singing in. People are so warm and friendly here it’s staggering). The event was very memorable – I doubt I will ever forget the sight of a fully-uniformed colonel bopping along to reggaeton. Needless to say, though, it was as late as any other social event here – we tucked into main course at midnight. I’d been out the night before, so sadly wasn’t able to throw myself into the mini-disco (between courses!) as much as I would have liked. I’ve never been one for daytime naps before, but I can feel the siesta becoming very tempting.
I mentioned that I haven’t got any university classes in the morning, and in fact having them run really late into the evenings seems to be the norm. This is in part because many of the students at my faculty also work. Luckily I seem to have avoided any 11pm finishes, but yesterday I got out at 9…after just two classes of four hours each.
Admittedly (and this is where the above warning applies) four hours, after a 30 minute delay in starting and and ’15’ (40) minute break in the middle, rapidly becomes more like 3. Still, maintaining concentration in what is essentially a lecture for that length of time is not something I’m used to, particularly in a foreign language. That said, the second class, which was in film aesthetics and really, really interesting, went much more quickly than the first, which was in ‘Latin American thought’, but was in fact very theoretical and quite heavy going. It felt slightly strange to have left to Cambridge to listen for 3 hours about the approach to intellectual history of the Cambridge school.
Lots more I want to write about the university – but that will have to be for tomorrow. Off for an ‘asado’ (barbecue) now with friends – the 12pm rule may be in danger tomorrow.