Monday, February 21, 2011

Because Crying at School is No Fun.

But all the same, I managed to do that today! ...cry at school that is.

Just the day after I get a call from my Mom and we start talking about how naturally and innately strung I am on perfection. Exhibit A:
- On the way home from school I hysterically cry because I get my first "C" on a math test (way before I was diagnosed by a teacher as having dyscalculia), I ask my Mom in all earnesty; "Does this mean I can't go to college?" By the way, I'm also eight years old.

Exhibit B:
My first semester in my undergrad studies (see, I made it to college after all!), I get an "A-" on a paper I was really confident about. I again call my Mother, crying and heartbroken. That damn minus sign.

So even just knowing those tiny tidbits from my academic history, it should be no surprise to you, darling reader, that when faced with an incredibly frustrating situation involving my Weegie classes, I couldn't help it and ended up silently crying in front of my teacher and three other students.

And I'm not one that gets embarrassed generally speaking...just ask my Mom; I can sing a killer supermarket-aisle rendition of what ever the p.a. is playing.

Anyway, here, in short is the reason for my frustration...
First and foremost, at our tiny community learning center there really are only two different kinds of students. The first being those that are working on what is known as the "introduction program". These folks are all here on some kind of refugee/asylum seeker status. The second and final type of students at our school, comprised of a mere handful (myself included) are known as "the spouses" or "the wives". I'm sure you can guess why...we're all married to native Weegies.
So the folks in the I.P. come to school four days a week, put in a full day every day, then go to a placed internship at a local business on the fifth day of the week. They also get paid for all hours of class attended, and worked at their respective sites. Both groups are expected to put in that rudimentary 300-hours for eventual form of citizenship, but the I.P. students are allowed to attend classes and work their internships from anywhere between two and five years total. After their internship through the school ends, as per my understanding, they are pretty much always offered a stay-on position at said place of work.
The spouses, those of us who married our way into the country (doesn't that make us sound awesome?) receive no financial compensation for attending class (even though full-time is expected at some point during the 300-hours, and really needed), and no help whatsoever by our school for placement in internships or jobs. Whether or not we pass the two government regulated Norwegian exams ( levels 2, and 3) doesn't count against us in any way, we don't have to pay to try and pass the exams, and aside from it looking good on a resume here, it does nothing for us as far as the school is concerned.

So, I've been getting really frustrated lately because, even though our little school is open full days, four days a week, the amount of time that courses in the Norwegian language (as a subject) are offered can be as little as 90-minutes a day, or up to 3.5-hours, respectively.
Can you see how this would prove exasperating as far as racking up all 300-hours goes?
The rest of the time during the day is taken up by classes that cover Norwegian culture, driver's ed., beginning computer courses, etc. The I.P. students, can and are expected to take all these classes, and get their hours and thus income for attending, regardless of need. (Even if they were taxi drivers, or computer programmers in their home country.)

So not only am I "not allowed" to attend classes other than Norwegian language courses (this is vocab verbatim from my instructors), but I can only attend them in the middle of the working day, for an hour or so a time. This fact, and that I still need an odd 35-hours to satisfy my grand total of 300 requirement, has me totally over it, in every sense of the phrase.

But it's not just the hour requirement itself...that's actually the little portion of the frustration.

When I broke down and cried today, it was because my teacher finally got to sit down with me, and just me personally to check my workbooks, and homework sheets, upon which she tells me: (translated here, obviously, but verbatim as I recall)
You're this far along already?! (I'm finishing up Chapter 10, the rest of the class is in Chapter 5) How long has it been since I checked your work? ( since before Winter break) I'm so sorry, but you're just too advanced for the rest of the class. You are and have learned too quickly for the rest of them to keep up. We've never had to deal with this issue here, and we can't help you more than we already are, which I know we're really not anymore. But we don't have a higher level class here at our school for you to transfer's too bad you can't go into town for school, they would be able to accommodate you! (you can legally only attend school in the county in which you reside) You're just going to have to keep working at your own pace, and I'll try and answer your questions after or before class session starts, I have to teach to the majority of the room (which is everyone else, so it's 14:1) and they aren't anywhere near where you are, and wouldn't be able to keep up.
I then ask her why the school can't help place me in a job, even a rudimentary one, for the time being so I can start working again...since that's what they do for the I.P. students...
We just can't for you all. (The spouses) We're not permitted. I know that it is unfair, the I.P. students get special treatment that you can't have. I'm sorry.

Yeah. Not exactly an encouraging statement.

And even though I'm fairing pretty well in Norwegian for only living here for 14 months, I'm still far from 100% fluency, and can't just keep burning through my work all on my own without plateauing and needing an actual Norwegian teacher to help clarify grammatical rules, and make sure I'm understanding what I'm teaching myself.
Which is what I've been doing. Being my own teacher. For a long time now.
I literally sit in the corner of the classroom and work on my own level and my own pace while the rest of the class gets formal instruction. Every day.

I should also mention that the rest of my class, all took the same level two exams when I did back before the Holidays, and other than myself, and I think maybe two others, no one passed. So not only are they working at the pace of a chapter a month, but when they all got their failing results back, the school panicked (it has to look bad on them) and not only slowed the pace to a glacial one, but actually backtracked chapters from where we as a class had been. So the goal for the rest of my class is for them to actually pass their retests when given at the next session by really going into overkill territory as far as working on things, over and over, and over again before finally moving on.

Since my personal goal is to pass the level three exams at the next session (early June), and then hopefully the top level Bergenstest (required of teachers/doctors/nurses, etc. with foreign education backgrounds) before Christmas, I REALLY REALLY need and want some actual teaching so I can feel confident about taking these tests.

And I'm totally not gonna get it. At all.

So I cried.

Just hearing from my teacher, point blank that I wasn't going to have an opportunity to actually have proper instruction, and that yes everyone knows and accepts that the I.P. students are awarded "special treatment/advantages", really was a blow to the gut.

I might not ever cry from being in pain, but when I'm really mad, or really frustrated, the tears start a' coming.

So how's that for a blog rant? And for that matter, a totally rotten situation?

I'm just going to keep going to 'school' and get the rest of my hours needed, then study and pray as hard as I can that I'll pass the remaining two exams without having the advantage of actually being in a proper class.

What else can I do?

Happy Monday, right? Psh.