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Elizabeth's Most Excellent Computer Science Adventure

Started by Jerry, 2003-03-17T17:44:15-06:00 (Monday)

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Ever wonder what it would be like to be a programmer in another country?  Russia or Zimbabwe?

Well, Elizabeth is living out that adventure in Argentina.

Here is an installment from her journal.

Elizabeth is willing to do an online interview if I con collect a bunch of questions,
so post your questions and I'll send them along.


Just thought I'd give everyone an update
on how things are going.

The city:
The sidewalks are all tiled and everyone
has a dog, so one must watch where one
steps, CAREFULLY ;).
Everyone smokes, in the streets, in the
buildings, in the grocery stores ...
they also bring their pets in the grocery

The city has a very European feel and has
only recently (in city history terms)
added American influences (so yes there
are McDonald's and Burger King, but no
Wal-Mart :ÃÆ'Ã...¾ ).  Most of the stores sell
clothes or fresh produce with a few
bakeries mixed in.

The street signs (when there are street signs)
give the direction of the street and the block
numbers and have advertisements on top.
The streetlights change to yellow both before
and after turning green.
Have not yet ridden the bus or subway.
It has mostly been sweltering hot, but this past
weekend it rained and it’s been a bit chilly since.

My host:
I live with a 47 yr old architect named Marcela
Carvajal.  We get along quite well; she doesn’t
Smoke =).

We live in a neighborhood called Recoleta which
is reasonably close to both my university and the
city center.

I have my own room with a bed, closet, desk, and
dresser. Most of the space is occupied by her things,
but enough space has been cleared for me (not like  I have much).

We have dinner together every night at 9pm
(which is common if not early here).  We usually
have a salad for dinner; my host says she doesn’t
really eat much meat.

Breakfast is crackers and tea and I take leftover
dinner to school with me for lunch.  Just the
other day, I finally found the milk (I’d seen her
drinking it but could not myself find it); it comes
in pouches =).  She’s used to living alone and
only buys the food for one meal at a time; so if
she’s not around there’s nothing to eat.

She has a computer and internet access, but I
can’t really use hers.
There are internet cafes everywhere and cost
from 1-2 pesos an hour (~$.30-$.60).  I mostly
choose to access the internet for free from school.
My technical life support is definitely suffering :ÃÆ'Ã...¾.
I usually go to class in the morning, then the lab,
then home before dark.

I currently have 4 CS classes: Operating Systems,
Databases, Networks, and Java.  I will have to
drop one of these next week.

Classes started last week.  I had trouble finding
my first class because they don’t tell you where
they are sooner than an hour or so before by
posting where the class is on the wall.  

My first class was moved to a building in which
I’d never been and was referred to by the building
number (which isn’t posted anywhere).  I asked
questions and people gave me street names
(which also were not posted).  I finally had the
exchange coordinator escort me, 30 minutes late.
This particular class only has two people, myself
and one other who already knows the material,
so it had not yet started.  It is my only night class.
My other three classes start at 8am, which means
waking at 6:30 to walk to school.

Classes are once a week and last 3 hours, usually
with a break in the middle: professors pack up all
their materials and leave the classroom for
10-30mins.  All of my classes have fewer than
15 students.  Professors and students answer their
cell phones during class.

Most of the books are also available in English
and the professors tell the students it’s better to
read the English because the translators tend to
lack technical knowledge and therefore translate

There are two other American girls in the exchange
program.  They live together on the other side of
the city’s center.  I met them once for dinner; one
from Kansas City, MO and one from Idaho.
One of them is interested in museums and gyms,
so hopefully we’ll get together on that.  They are
both only Spanish majors and have not yet started
class (humanities classes don’t start until next week).

Hmmm, I can’t think of anything else interesting,
feel free to ask questions.


"Make a Little Bird House in Your Soul" - TMBG...


A little update from Elizabeth:

I'm doing alright, 4th week of classes, still don't
really understand things and the assignments are VAGUE. "Implement a car" ... um ... ok, however I want? And the prof's aren't always helpful, often their responses are "it's your program".  Sure, and it's also my grade, and you're the one who is going to assign it, so I that means your opinion matters.

"Make a Little Bird House in Your Soul" - TMBG...


That's why I like SIUE. The professors always give you a precise description of what they want, so you can't use any of your creative juices, and you are just a robot doing what is needed. Of course, the students wait until the day the project is due to start on it. Just go to the CS tutor lab for verification. Oh well, what am I saying anyways?

Retired webmaster of CAOS.