Saturday, September 06, 2008

Is it Christmas yet?

I've been back to school for a week now, and I'm overwhelmed and anxious.  I had always loved school.  Ten years ago, I was just starting my first undergrad degree, and was so wide-eyed and keen.  Never did I skip a single class that first year, so eager was I to soak up everything, from the professors' knowledge and antics, to the sprawl of the campus, the cafeteria food, all of it.  I always took at least five courses per semester, and toward the end, I had seven on the go because I wanted to make sure I had all the requirements to get into an Education program after my BA.  Meanwhile, I worked several evenings a week teaching music theory lessons, and volunteered at my local Boys' and Girls' Club in their after school program.  And, other than the period of my education practicum when I almost had a complete meltdown, I took it all in stride.  I managed to juggle everything and felt as though I had a healthy, balanced life, comprising of school, work, family, and friends.

Not so any more.  Yes, it's true that I have five years of teaching under my belt, and I've travelled and seen more of the world, experienced more and learned so much from my five years in the arctic.  However, I find myself doubting, for the first time ever, that I can do well in my classes.  Shouldn't it be easy to revert to being a student after being a teacher for so many years?  Shouldn't I have a better understanding of what my professors want from me?  Perhaps, but for the most part, I've been a quivering blob of jello this past week, sitting there hoping that the professor would not call on me.  I didn't want to seem foolish if I made a mistake demonstrating what a glottal stop was.  And, for the life of me, I didn't know how to make a uvular trill.

I have five courses that I intend to finish this semester: two Linguistics, two Psychology, and one Statistics. They are all so different from what I had pursued in my first degrees. I remember finding a shady spot under a tree on campus and getting completely absorbed in my textbooks all those years ago.  Of course, I was reading mostly novels, poetry, and the like, since I was majoring in English Literature. Sitting under a tree with a hefty Biological Psychology text just does not have the same romance and feel.

On top of it all, I'm supposed to be studying for my GRE, which is required for entrance to the grad school I want. I have bought myself a prep book and a box of vocabulary flashcards.  I haven't really started on any of it yet, but I felt a great sense of accomplishment when I was able to eliminate at least half of the words in the box of flashcards because I already knew them.  I may not know much about synapses and neurons, or about affricates and plosives, but words I do have a pretty good handle on.

I am sorely aware of my problem -- I spend more time worrying than I do actually doing my work. I'm blaming my apparent maladjustment on being a "mature" student, on having lived in a small town for too long, on the novelty of the course subjects, on everything but the simple truth of my being a worry-wart. Honestly, I find the Linguistics courses absolutely fascinating. I find the different ways of explaining the act of speech in all its minutiae incredibly stimulating. And, although I dread having to memorize and regurgitate in my Biological Psychology course, I am intrigued by how far science has come in understanding the human body and the workings of the mind, and by how far there is still to go. I haven't touched the Stats course yet, and am more than a bit afraid to crack open that textbook, but I've always liked graphs and solving math-puzzles, so I should just launch myself into it.

Maybe next week I'll find a grassy patch to sit on while my mind fills itself with all those new snippets of knowledge.  There might be something romantic about sitting there with my Statistics text and my graphing calculator, as I look up at the clouds and imagine numbers and t-charts and such floating in the air.  After all, doesn't "bell curve" sound august and grand, something upon which I can build a future?

I'm going to revise my first sentence of the post: I've been back to school for a week now, and I'm overwhelmed and anxious and incredibly grateful.

1 comment:

  1. You are opening a brand-new chapter in your life! I'm glad that by the end of your post you had yourself talked into looking forward to the adventure in it!