First Few Days of Latvian School

1) We have this weird Jeopardy-music-as-club-music played between classes as a bell. It's strange.
2) We go to every class together... the same 25 people in each class. It's actually pretty fun.
3) People are friendly. Shy, but friendly. Maybe it's due to the small class size, but I already feel really comfortable with my classmates. The downside of having such a small class and not changing with each period is that I only know about 25 (okay, maybe 30) people in the entire school... but I've not had to face the trouble of eating lunch alone, or wandering lost between classes, or anything like that. Everyone's been so helpful. (Sidenote: On the first full day of school, Gatis called me at lunch to see how school was and make sure I was making friends. Still don't know how he knew when I had lunch, but anyway...)
4) We have an open campus, which means that on days like today when I have a free period right before lunch, I get to go home at 11:10 and don't have to be back at school until 1. Today Marta came home with me during free period. We bought some pastries and biezpiens at Maxima and then sat in my kitchen and talked until it was time to leave. Laura was also home for the first time in a few days... she was packing her things and calling a taxi. Apparently she's moving in with a friend. She said she was coming back tonight to tell Mama Zane, and she was wearing my scarf and cardigan, so I hope she'll actually return tonight, becuase I kind of need those back...
5) While I have 10 classes (Russian, Latvian, English, Music, Philosophy, Science, Geography, Math, History, Literature, Business/Econ, and Psychology), most tend to be pretty... relaxed.
Science was hysterical today. It was my second science lesson; the first was last Friday, and it was spent watching some movie about cavemen. Today we were classifying living things, which was much more entertaining than it sounds. So, there's an entire class of mammals called "homos" in Latvian... not homosapiens. Just homos. And I managed to successfully complete a worksheet in Latvian classifying a whale. One of the questions (which I understood without help!) was, "Why is a whale like a fish?" My answer: "Valim arī patīk veldēt." (Whale also likes to swim.)
Literature on Friday was also, er, intersting. We wrote down the names of modern Latvian authors and the titles of their books, and our teacher explained the themes. The only words I really understood were "incest," "gays," "lesbians," and "pedophilia." All in one book!
Geography is actually my favorite subject, although I've only had once lesson. I learned a bunch of new vocabulary related to economic sectors. Interesting fact: Latvia is 53% third sector, 35% second sector, and 18% first sector. Our teacher talked about how before the occupation, Denmark and Latvia were economically on the same level, and predicted that had the Soviets not invaded, Latvia would be as prosperous as Denmark. Interestingly, she did not use the word Soviets - she always said "Russia." Estonia had a higher percentage of third sector, and Lithuania's was much lower. So while I required a translator for much of Georgraphy, it's one of my most interesting classes. It is not, in fact, staring at maps.
6) Cultural Note: Latvians love maps. Latvians love finding Latvia on a map, and Valmierans (?) love finding Valmiera on a map. Latvians also love giving driving directions to hypothetical vacation spots on maps, and they love for you to show where you live on a map, and where your grandma lives, and where your second cousin was born, and where your second cousin's wife was born, etc. Latvians also love photo albums, physical and virtual. In the US, when a new friend comes over it's not really common to be like, "Hey, want to see my Facebook pictures?" But here, it's just another way to get to know someone and... invite them into your life, so to speak. I actually really like all the map-reading and photo sharing. I'm going to come back to the US for college and be that weird girl walking around with a map and a photo album. "Want to see my map? Want to see my etchings?" (Just kidding about the etchings...)

My dienasgrāmata!
7) Speaking of maps, my dienasgrāmata (planner, literally "day book") is so cute. Every Latvian girl has an adorable planner. They all appear to be made by the same company. The inside front cover is a map of Latvia taking up two pages, and on the back there's a map of Europe (with flags!) In the back, there's a description of street signs, list of useful telephone numbers, Greek letters, geometry, periodic table of elements, solar system facts, paragraphs on the different regions of Latvia, the national anthem, the national bird/flower/tree/insect of Latvia (with pictures!), facts on every member of the EU, and a Celcius-Fahrenheit chart (which is my life.) And all this in a tiny lightweight planner! (Did I really just spend a paragraph talking about my planner? Oh well. It's not just me... all the girls in my class are obsessed with their planners too.)

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