A different kind of exchange

Sometimes you've got great plans and all the tools, and still it doesn't work out quite as you thought.


Abouth the studies

My studies at ORT in Uruguay didn’t go exactly as I planned. The big plan was to take some courses from UX design, fine arts, and animation, but it was all for naught for a few reasons.

During the pandemic Uruguay was closed for tourism, both to and from the country, so restrictions were in place. However, they weren’t sure at the university if courses would be held through Zoom or in classrooms. The confirmation came when I was already in the country, a week or so before the studies began. It was decided to continue working remotely. It turns out that it’s more difficult to understand what someone is saying – especially in a foreign language – when you don’t see their face.

Spanish is not the most difficult language, but I was unprepared for the speed and pace of Uruguayan speech. As B1 level was mandatory, I studied intensively for four months to get to that level, but it wasn’t enough. Especially in a class environment, I would have to juggle multiple speakers simultaneously, so understanding was tough. Constantly interrupting the class to ask what was going on was out of the question. One-on-one discussions were fine, as I could control the pace and ask for clarification.

So, drained of motivation, I eventually dropped from the courses. Instead, I focused on travelling the country, meeting people, learning the language and culture, and playing guitar. This part went very well.

In Finland students are left to figure out things themselves and to make sure task are finished in time. In Uruguay the teachers seemed to be much more involved with the students.


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