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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Classes in Buenos Aires etc.

           Last Spring in Madrid, I took IES area-study courses.  To make up for the challenge that the language barrier presented us with, the content wasn’t always very in-depth.  In one course, entitled, “Spanish Language Usage for Business,” my friend Laura and I frequently found ourselves hitting our heads against the wall to escape the mundane busy-work and mind-numbing class dynamic. On the other side of the spectrum, “Latin American Literature” was interesting, stimulating, and incredibly relevant.  The class gave me a great appreciation for Hispanic literature, and literature in general.  The professor truly cared about what he was teaching, and my writing improved greatly with his help.
            This semester, in order to fulfill UVM’s International Business requirements, I’m taking three business courses at Universidad Torcuato di Tella.  UTDT has a small-school dynamic, with amiable professors who defy the Argentine-university stereotype.  They’re reachable, respond to emails and any and all questions, and make a visible effort to involve students in the course material.
            Each of the UTDT courses is worth 4 credits; the same is true for my IES Spanish course. 
            Business Organization Theory is taught by Daniel Serrot, a former Shell employee and managerial consultant.  He’s personable and the course reflects his professional experience.  Classes, texts, and readings are all given in Spanish.  Very little flies over my head.  Weekly group projects take up a good amount of time, but apply directly to the class content.
            Marketing Management has been interesting.  I had been reading the online, supplemental material, which was considerably more convoluted that the in-class lectures.  Soon before the exam, I found out that it was legitimately supplemental material, and would not be on the test.  I finished the 2-hour exam in 30 minutes.  Group sessions in Marketing consist of market research for a “Tool-kit for women.”  Of all the possible inventions, they had to assign us that.  It’s certainly not unreasonable, but it’s not a grand ol’ time by any means.  At least the lectures are always good.
            Jacqueline Pels teaches “Emerging Topics in Marketing.”  I couldn’t have asked for a better class.  Catering to the bottom of the socioeconomic pyramid, service dominant logic, and network marketing are several topics we’ve encountered.  A group of Argentines and I are working on a social-network marketing campaign for Sony Argentina.  I’ve proved to be surprisingly useful given my overuse of facebook and YouTube.  I was complimented on my Flickr research, and re-wrote the survey questions after they were deemed “useless and far too broad.”  I apparently understand what people want and pay attention to in terms of advertisements and brand fan-pages.  Whenever I take a written exam, I hardly ever feel as if I’ve written enough, regardless of whether I end up with a 95 or a 75.  After keeping up with the material all semester long, I wrote everything I needed to say in a timely manner, and finished on time.
            From what I’ve written here, it may seem like my classes are easy.  Not so.  Now that I’m taking business courses with titles that don’t contain “accounting,” I immerse myself in my studies and I like it. 
I ran 80 miles during exam week, finishing my aerobic base-phase with a 16-mile long-run and 542 miles in 10 weeks.  With two and a half more years of school left, I’m finally learning how to manage my time.  Living by myself helps, however lonely it may be.  I may not be getting the full cultural-experience that I would find via going out more often, but life is full of tradeoffs.
When I say tradeoffs, I don’t mean sacrifices.  However hard it is to run, swim, listen to NPR while I cook, study, and sleep, I like it.  Is it what I should be doing while I’m in Buenos Aires?  To be honest, it’s working out pretty well.  I’m not skimping on experiencing the world around me, and I’ve been thinking so much more than ever before…about everything, really.
I’ve found a strong correlation between running and good grades.  The more I run, the better I perform in school.  A solid athletic schedule helps me manage my time.  The hard part about training for Pentathlon, however, is that I’m never finished.  It’s like life, perhaps (deep thought, eh?).
“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”