Due to a problem during a construction project, the humanities building where I take my French class didn’t have electricity, and neither did the chemical engineering or business buildings nor the cafeteria and the bookstore. For our classrooms, all this meant was having class in the semi-dark and not being able to play the CD player for listening activities. However, lack of electricity made the already complicated process of enrolling in a language class even more difficult.
Two weeks ago now, back when there was electricity, I began the overly complicated process of enrolling in a language class. Since all students at the UAG must demonstrate proficiency in English before being allowed to take another language, the only classes with schedules were English classes. All other courses had paper lists with all possible times of class where you would sign up and they would let you know if the class opened with the minimum of 8 students. I signed up for 3 possible French classes, at 8 am, 9 am, and 5 pm. The secretary told me they would call me if any of those classes opened within a few days.
After a few days and without a phone call I was concerned and went to the language center to ask if the classes had opened, sure enough they had and had already begun classes. When I asked if I could take those classes they said they had only opened for business students and I would have to pick another time. I chose 10 am, which was already 2 classes in, but that I could go and try the class the next week. She then gave me a form to fill out so that I could get a discount on the tuition. I went and paid for my course and was told to make a copy of the receipt and to show it on the first day of class to prove that I had paid.
That Tuesday (Monday was Independence Day), I showed up to class and there was no electricity. That was fine for class, but when I had to buy my book, the bookstore could only take cash and couldn’t print receipts. At first I thought the book was pretty expensive, (700 pesos = about 56 USD), but then after seeing that it was actually a textbook and a workbook, plus three CDs and it would work for 3 semesters of French, it didn’t seem like that much. I brought enough cash the next day and they gave me a handwritten proof of purchase which I was able to make a copy of in the library, since I also needed to turn this in to the Professor.
Side story – last Friday I went to the bookstore to buy a card and had to go behind the register to look at them. After I had picked my card a flickering light caught my eye and I saw the back office was being illuminated by candles. Although I know that it is typical to have candles available in homes for when the lights go out, it seemed silly to me that the office of a private university’s bookstore wouldn’t have some other sort of lighting, like a battery powered light, after four days of not having electricity. It looked like something out of the Middle Ages, but at least they were being eco-friendly!
That was the end of the process on my end, but all of the students in my class also needed a memo from the head of their respective departments allowing them to take a semester of French, which they couldn’t get until this week because there was no electricity. So after about two weeks of the class being in session, most everyone has turned in their paperwork and is officially enrolled in the class.
Luckily the electricity issues didn’t affect the Centro de Sustentabilidad y Energía Renovable, so word proceeded as usual. The director of the Centro called me into his office and asked me what I knew about Facebook. As someone who completely admits her addiction to Facebook I said I knew a lot. The Centro has a Facebook page (here!), and the director had recently bought some ads to promote the page. Thinking the ads were only 30 pesos, he bought a few and was happy to see that there had been 28,000 new page views from around the world. When his credit card bill arrived he was surprised to see he was being charged over 700 pesos and cancelled the charge before it could go through. Facebook then cut off his access to the page and told him how much he owed, in US dollars. Turns out that the 30 pesos were actually 30 dollars. He showed me the page where you can buy the ads and it said simply “$30,00” which is confusing because in Mexico whenever something is from an international company and the payment is ambiguous, it usually says “MXN” for pesos or “USD” for dollars. I would have made the same mistake, especially with the comma in place of a period to mark decimal places. The director has sent several emails detailing the confusion, that have gone without response. The director has paid the full price of the ads but still cannot post anything new on the page. Hopefully Facebook will realize and correct this issue so it is clear how much they are charging in foreign countries.