Last First Day of School

It’s happened.  My last first day of school.  Class roster:

Civil War and Reconstruction

Shakespeare: Studies in the Bard

Feminist Theory

Honors: The American 1950s

Honors Capstone (project of my choice)

It should be a fun semester.  There isn’t one class on that list that I’m not taking by choice/because I’ll enjoy it.

Additionally, I think I should tell you that I didn’t get the Teach for America position.  Extremely disappointing, especially because the more I thought about it, the more sure I was that I could excel at leading a classroom, but I’ll survive.  I’m thinking now (in a rapid, Holly-esque turnaround) that I might like to intern in a MN congressperson’s office.  It’s a pipe dream, but I’d like to get into politics someday (even just the minor leagues), and this seems like a good place to start.

How about those Golden Globes, eh?

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The Last First Day of School

Today was my last first day of school.  I say that, not with confidence, as the graduate school issue is still very much up in the air, but because it sounds dramatic, and because I’ve been dreading this day for most of my life.

This morning I had yogurt for breakfast, and ate it crouched on our new couch.  The couch, compliments of the Salvation Army, is yellow with multicolored daisies.  It’s so ugly that it’s actually glorious.

Because two of my housemates also had 9:15 classes, we set out from Bag End (I kid you not; houses have names in Morris, and ours has been recently christened) together.  Jordan was chipper, despite having flown in from a summer-long stint in Norway yesterday.  He clasped coffee and led our small band down the cracked sidewalk.  Joey, freckles pale, pushed his bike.  He had been out late the night before.  I trotted next to him, trying to let the largeness of the day wash over me.

My first class was Grammar and Language.  This is the nerdiest class I’ll probably ever take, but it’s also one of the most valuable.  I consider myself, mostly due to my extensive reading, a good speller and grammatician.  But I don’t know how to diagram a sentence.  I don’t know the history of the English language.  I don’t retain the difference between “who” and “whom,” despite having Googled it several times.

I went home for lunch afterward, and then returned to campus for a 1:00 literary festival planning meeting.  Then came 20th Century British Fiction, aka Woolf Lit.  We’re reading just about every novel ever written by dear Virginia.  It’s a small class, maybe 20 people, so I hope that discussions will be lively.

Immediately following was my Senior Seminar course.  Senior Seminars at Morris are required for every major.  They vary, but in the English department, Seminar courses are themed, and students must write and present a 12-15 page paper following the theme.  My Seminar is Renaissance Romance, which I know absolutely nothing about.  Thankfully, before we’re expected to come up with our own thesis, we spend time reading lots of materials that familiarize us with the topic.

At 6 I had a Higbies staff meeting, and then I attempted to mow our lawn.  I got about one-quarter of the lawn done before the mower died, and resisted all rehabilitation.

I think tomorrow, once I’ve slept in and recuperated from OGL, will be a better day.

OGLing

Today was my first day of Orientation Group Leader (OGL) training.  OGLs are the upperclassmen who lead freshman around during those few quiet days before the rest of campus arrives.  We give tours, aid with book buying and classroom finding, dry homesick tears, and generally help soften the transition between high school and college.

This isn’t my first time being an OGL, so I knew what to expect with the training; lots of information delivered by lots of different people (librarians, counselors, computing services gurus, etc.).  It’s certainly important to get this information, as I don’t want to not know the answer to a freshman’s question later on, but it’s an overload when you have it thrust upon you all day every day for 3.5 days.

Tonight, however, the Orientation Task Force had a unique activity planned for us.  We were led to the Fitness Center without being told what was in store.  Upon entering, we were asked to get in the line that corresponded with the first letter of our last name; the Fitness Center was set up to resemble an airport.  We gave our names to an official (the hall directors played this role), who would find us on a list, give us a color (i.e. “You’re in the Blue Dorm”), and direct us through a door.  Some people were ‘detained,’ which meant that they had to go to a roped off area.  I never found out if they had to do anything special there.

Once through the doors, we found another official whose name tag color matched the one we had been given.  The official gave us a ‘form’ to fill out.  The ‘form’ was a set of eight basic questions (name, hometown, phone number, etc.) written entirely in Pig Latin.

After translating and filling in our forms, we were herded downstairs to the gym, where a podium was set up.  We sat on the bleachers and listened to the OGL head (masquerading as the Chancellor) gave a short introduction speech, similar to the one all freshmen hear when they first arrive on campus.  Then we were divided into our color groups, and asked to follow our new ‘hall directors’ to our ‘dorms’ (the quotes, obnoxious as they are, denote that many of the activities/people were simulated).

My dorm, the Blue Dorm, was a small classroom just off the gym.  Once there, our hall director led us in a few ice breaker activities (names, interests, etc.).  He then gave us blue name tags, and announced that in the Blue Dorm, there is a long-standing tradition.  The tradition is that whenever one refers to himself/herself while speaking, that person must touch their own foot.  So any “I” or “my” merits a foot touch.  He explained that we would now be heading to our ‘OGL Groups,’ and that it would be important for us to uphold the Blue Dorm Tradition at all times.

In the OGL Groups, people from all different color dorms were mixed together.  As we did more activities within those groups, it was evident that every dorm had its own unique tradition: the purple group members were loud and proud and refused to stand close to anyone from a different dorm, the yellow group members stood as close as possible to other people at all times, the green group members would touch a person’s elbow every time they spoke to them, etc.

I wasn’t sure what the meaning of everything was until we were all asked to gather together and sit on the bleachers again.  In front of us were two international students who had been asked to come and speak to us about the international student experience in general, and how we as OGLs can help international students to feel welcome and included in our groups and on campus.

The entire simulation, then, had been intended to mirror the experience of an international student arriving in the United States and being introduced to the campus.  The ‘traditions’ we were assigned in our ‘dorms’ and asked to carry out into our ‘OGL groups’ echoed the cultural characteristics that international students bring to campus, which are often viewed as strange by American students.

It was interesting, when it was all over, to step back and think about how odd my foot touching must have looked to other dorms, and how odd I thought the elbow touching was when I witnessed other dorms doing it.  And then to think how alien other cultures often seem to me, and how alien American culture must seem to everybody else.  And finally, to think how I can apply these lessons when leading my own OGL group.

Things That Make Me Happy

Things That Make Me Happy, A List:

1.  The special features on the Lord of the Rings extended editions

2.  Owning a fan during a heat wave

3.  The Oxford Comma

4.  Vega of Lyra

5.  Also, Spica of Virgo

6.  Staying up until 2 am to finish a fantastic book

7.  Joking around with strangers

8.  Oatmeal for breakfast

9.  Sleeping in

10.  Waking up early in the morning, realizing I don’t have to get up, and promptly falling back to sleep

11.  Frisbee

12.  Walking across campus and recognizing almost everyone I pass

13.  National Geographic Magazine

14.  Long car rides when I have a backpack o’books at my feet

15.  The Muensters

16.  Munster cheese

17.  Touring historic places

18.  Postcards

19.  Libraries

20.  Pride and Prejudice in any form

21.  Oldies music

22.  Dogs doing goofy things

23.  That freshly-showered, clean feeling

24.  Getting lots of wax on the Q-tip when I clean my ears (gross, but true)

25.  Painted fingernails

26.  Exploring new towns

27.  People riding lawnmowers across town

28.  Poetry

29.  Working at the movie theatre

30.  Root beer

31.  Amazonian cultures that are untouched by the rest of civilization

32.  Teddy Roosevelt

33.  The color blue

34.  Survivor

35.  Secret handshakes

36.  Wikipedia

37.  When professors use Wikipedia

38.  Sweaters

39.  Making lists

40.  Going for walks

41.  Concerts, especially of the free variety

42.  Fall

43.  Nature programs (before they began involving aliens)

44.  Not losing at Hearts (a rarity)

45.  When the radio plays songs you’re in the mood for

46.  The first day of school

47.  New jeans

48.  Crossword puzzles

49.  Crazy genius writers (I’m looking at you, Ernest)

50.  The fact that you, friend, have read all the way down to 50.  Thanks for that.

Third-to-Last First Day of Class

My third-to-last first day of class was today.  It was Introduction to the Solar System, my sole summer class, and my sole remaining general education requirement.

Impressions:

1.  The professor seems kind, and is thorough about providing examples when he’s explaining something.  I don’t think he has a lot of self-confidence about his lecturing, though; I was tentative about asking questions because they seemed to disconcert him so much.

2.  I remember learning about the solar system in elementary school, but I haven’t really touched it since.  It’ll be nice to get back on the horse in that department, even without poor little Pluto.

3.  “This class will not be math intensive” = huge sigh of relief.  And then, to my despair, math came regardless.  We received a refresher course in trigonomentry, scientific notation, and geometry.  Oh, boy.

4.  I know several people in the class, which is helpful for the exchange of disparaging looks.  And for general merriment in the lab.

5.  Four hours a day five days a week is going to be a lot.

6.  On my walk home tonight, I picked out the constellation Leo in the sky.  Now that’s progress.

First Day of Classes

The thing about taking an 8 a.m. class is that usually, you have to wake up before 8 a.m.

Since it was the first day of classes, and since I’m slow in the morning, I set my alarm for 6:30, which I thought would give me plenty of time to shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, gather my books, and arrive in my statistics classroom early.  What actually happened was that I spent a next-to-sleepless night tossing and turning.  Over what, I couldn’t tell you, although I suspect that I was simply excited about school starting, and worried about sleeping through my alarm.  Which is, ironically, exactly what happened.  At some point in the early morning, I have reason to believe that I turned off my alarm, thinking that since I was already awake, I may as well not wake my roommate with the blaring of “Bell Tone No. 1.”  Then I promptly fell asleep, not to stir until 7.

I still managed to get ready in time, and was even fifteen minutes early to class, but it was a shaky way to start the day.

Besides stats, I also had Gender and Sexuality in Literatures of the American Tropics this morning.  Although I’m still a little incredulous at the specificity of (and my unfamiliarity with) the course topic, I really like the professor.  He’s a young guy, sent over from the graduate department of the Twin Cities campus.  Additionally, during his introduction, he encouraged everyone in class to come “shoot the shit” with him in his office sometime.  Gotta love student teachers.

The rest of my day, as it currently stands, will be filled with napping, dinner, Politics and Film class at 6, and then work at the Information Center/Cafe from 10 until goodnessknowswhen.

I’ll see you tomorrow.