First two weeks of December
...Hello summer vacation. It's a bitter sweet ending because there were things that I had a hard time going along with: the academic assessment based mainly on test taking, staying in one class room all day- sometimes up to 3 consecutive hours sitting in the same seat, no field trips, using text books and lecturing as the method of teaching, "gay" and "black" thrown around as insults between the students, excruciatingly long and boring homework assignments which were frequent, and let's not forget about those tacky uniforms. These are just mentioning the bigger points, but along with the less favorable qualities that I was submerged in for 5 months, there were also the qualities that I absolutely loved: socializing and learning about the culture, having Spanish lessons with Grecia almost everyday, randomly learning facts as I started to learn more of the language, play fighting with the other students in the few moments we had to be rambunctious, loud, and ridiculous and then rushing back to our seats to sit in silence when the next teacher walked in, and having some of the typical high school experiences that I missed out on such as the olympics (to summarize all of the sports and competitions), prom, and a big fancy graduation. Don't worry, I still prefer my graduation from P.S.1 as it was shorter and more personal.
The last couple weeks of school were just exams, grading, and the two big events of the year: graduation and prom. Oddly, graduation came before our two weeks of finals and finishing school...
Prom: I did have a date, another exchange student- his name is Jeff and he's from Canada. A swell fellow and I was glad I brought him to my prom. My girl friends from school were all over him and made remarks like "if you don't kiss him, I will". Woah now ladies, calm yourselves. There was no kissing. I brought a couple other exchange students as well: Sofiane (France), Chelan (Washington), and Savannah (Oregon). It was a blast, despite the food being a bland attempt of something American... but we danced until 3am, then returned to my house for an after party and didn't go to bed until 7am.
Graduation: Ugly caps and gowns (I don't know which is worse... graduation gown or school uniform), 3 hours long, lots of talking, 120 students... but it was also nice; it was in a newly constructed theater and I received my yearbook, several photos, and a medal. I went out to a Chinese restaurant with my parents and Savannah afterward.
Finals: These two weeks were my 2nd set of finals in my life (1st being last trimester here), but the 1st that I actually tried and studied for because I felt confident that I had enough Spanish to show that I did learn (and already knew) some things. I took 19 classes this trimester and went from averaging 5 points or lower (out of 20), and now about 1/2 of them are passing- higher than 11 points. I have a handful of exams where I have 17 and I even scored some higher than some of the other students in my class! My overall grade for all of my classes, 13.64 (technically passing, but still not a pretty score), is not even the lowest grade in my class... how sad.
One of the most valuable skills that I feel that I was able to practice by attending this school, was test taking- a skill I hardly practiced at my old school because there weren't as many tests. The finals I'll take in college will hopefully feel easier since I won't have to translate content back and forth between two languages (imagine all of the time I'll save!) and try to memorize Spanish vocabulary that I might never use again.
It was sad to see everyone say goodbye to each other on the last day of school, after all the majority of these students have been in the same class since grade school. While students were crying and taking pictures, I just stood back and observed, while saying goodbye to passing students that I knew. For the most part though, I didn't feel the same feelings as them- I was sad to say goodbye to my close friends, but I didn't have any type of connection like what I had with P.S. 1 so comparatively, goodbye was easy. Besides, I have another 6 months to hang out with them, but when the end comes, I know it might even be harder to say goodbye than when I left to come to Peru. Saying goodbye takes practice; the first several times are really hard, but then one figures out how to make it more meaningful, or easier, or simply acceptable. I got a lot of practice right before I came to Peru, so I think I can say that I'm better at accepting change because essentially, that's what a lot of "goodbye" means: change.
Now I'm on summer vacation, which I'm enjoying every second of because it is a well deserved break after all of the late night cramming for two weeks in a row. In March I'll go to a university, but I don't know which one yet or how that will work out... I'm hoping that I won't have to wear another tacky uniform.