I'm a culinary student in Argentina (actually, I am Japanese with a BA in Spanish at an university in the US a couple of years ago). I just found your post and read it before catching a bus to get back home (I have an oral presentation about a group project for the Culinary Management class tomorrow :-(
I totally understand what you are talking about. I passed all the classes of the first semester of the first year and now I'm in the middle of the second semester. Since a month ago, I started doing a paid internship at one of the five-star hotel in Argentina (I don't live in Buenos Aires, by the way and it's a local hotel, not chain like "Hyatt or Sheraton") Working 30 hours in the kitchen of the hotel and 10 hours per week at the culinary school as an assistant student to a professor. Although it might sound great to you, but I feel like I'm almost like a kitchen prep *****/slave because what I do is cleaning a floor, washing lots of dishes and leaf veggies, peeling vegetables, etc. To get to my point, I don't cook in the kitchen.
My situation is much harder than anybody else's because I go to the culinary school, work 40 hours or more a week, study German at the university (by taking an intensive course) and live and speak foreign language. If I am not confident to myself (or believe in myself), then there are always people who discriminate me, don't treat me equally, etc. Two weeks ago, I took two exams with only a hour-and-half sleep and I got 7 on the management class and 10 out of 10 in the kitchen class (well, you know, I took all the exams in Spanish)
I'm not from a rich family, so after graduating from the university, I worked and saved money for going to a culinary school in Argentina.
Now, I think which is a better idea: to go on working at the hotel's kitchen as long as my boss let me work or to quit it and focus on studying at the culinary school. At my culinary school, we have a thesis (final project) including the whole restaurant business concept to open up a new business and oral, written and demonstrative presentation by the end of my graduation.
I'm a crazy and very unique one and I advise you not to let other people disturb your dream. You can go to whatever culinary school (I think you don't need to the CIA, for example) you want and learn as much as you can with your budget. I cannot afford to go to one of the best culinary schools in the US, so with my Spanish profiency, I chose to go to a culinary school in Argentina and I'm totally happy with my decision.
Be positive! I say "Do I really have passion for what I'm doing?" to myself every mornings when I wake up and gaze at the display of my cellphone that is my morning ritual. I don't see how my career path goes, but focus on what's in front of me right now and that's what makes you achieve your goal.
Good luck with everything you'll do ;-)