(Old) Some Observations

(Originally posted on January 17, 2012)

The Dining Hall

The dining hall system here was very confusing at first, but I think I’ve got the hang of it. At my home university, I can swipe my card and eat basically whatever I want. Here it’s more like flexbucks. You have a set amount of money to spend for a week, and everything in the dining halls has a price. This wasn’t explained to me, so I was quite perplexed the first two times I tried it.

So far I haven’t been suffering too much in the food department. At various meals I’ve had some sort of meat+roll thing, a 3-cheese pasta (that was in desperate need of Parmesan and salt), garlic bread, and a fish sticks wrap (fish sticks and a tortilla). My best meal so far was from a bagel place in the student union. It was a plain white bagel with cheese, salami and bacon, all toasted. Unfortunately the place doesn’t take student cards, so I probably need to limit my visits. I still need to try out the other dining halls on campus. I’ve been told there’s other ones with better food.

The Classes

Yesterday I got my classes all sorted. It was rather crazy, because they were finalizing like 12 students’ schedules at once. I’d already gotten into the class Writer’s Workshop: Working with Manuscripts (which I think is like comparing different manuscripts of the same text and then figuring out what to use). I was planning to drop it if I could get into the more desirable lit classes, but everything was full except an 18th Century Lit class and a few American lit classes (go figure). I got into the 18th Century one because I desperately needed to fulfill my English literature class credit. Happily it got approved by my home advisor, so that’s pretty much clear to go.

My schedule, you ask? Tuesdays from 4-6. Wednesdays from 11-1.

That’s right. I have a five day weekend. Every week.

I went to my first class tonight, which happened to be the 18th Century one. There are six boys in the class, and two girls, including me. The other girl arrived last, so for a bit I thought I was going to be the only female. This was very disconcerting because at Berry it’s more like 70% girls and 30% guys.

The class seems to largely be focused on the role of education in the development of the novel and the culture of the 18th Century. That may sound dry, but I found it fairly interesting. There’s a big focus on detailed reading. For instance, our first (non-accessed) essay is 1,500 words on one paragraph, I think.

Speaking of essays. My entire grade for both classes will rest on a final essay. For this class, it’s 5,000 words on three texts. One of the texts can be from the class, but the other two need to be finds of my own. The professor emphasized trying to write about things that haven’t been written about, and searching through archives, etc. It sounds challenging… but I think I can do it. Right now I know so little about the subject, I wouldn’t even know where to begin. But if it means searching through old British libraries, I don’t have many objections.

Perhaps what I’m most nervous about is that we aren’t allowed to discuss the essay with the professor. So I can’t have a thesis check or talk through my ideas, which is basically what Berry professors insist on. One student asked if we wrote our non-accessed essay about what we wanted to write our final essay on, could we get feedback? The professor said something like, “Well, if the topic you happened to write about in your non-accessed happened to be the one you chose for your final paper, then that would be okay.” So that might work out. They also have a professional writing advisor on staff, so I’m planning to meet with him/her to discuss it once I have a draft.

We shall see how it goes.

Misc. Updates

The plugs in my room are working again! Huzzah!

A friend and I walked all over town and succeeded in conquering the bus system! Huzzah!

I found out that train tickets to Bath only cost £7! Huzzah!

I have a five day weekend every weekend which means lots of travel! Huzzah!

I have a working phone! Huzzah!

British people don’t seem to like initiating conversations with me! I probably need to be more outgoing! Huzzah!

All right, that’s enough of that.

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