Saturday, September 30, 2006

I missed you!!!

Hello old friend. Wow, I'm surprised by the comfort I feel from typing in this familiar box. Comfort... something I haven't been experiencing too much of late.

Let's start from the beginning.

After we last met I had my first days of orientation for my new graduate program at the University of Toronto. I was rather apathetic to the whole thing having just returned from Korea and travel and feeling uncertain about what was coming next. Admittedly, I had some suspicions about the cool-quality of my fellow classmates, predicting a high level of academic snobbery and hoity toity-ness.

Over the course of a couple of days worth of orientation we were given free food, fed lots of information about what was to come, and got to know each other. Happily I was wrong about my classmates. There are 14 of us and the cool-quality is rather high with hardly any academic snobbery or hoity toity-ness.

They treated us like we are the cream of the crop. Maybe I felt like it was true. They spoke to us as if it was assumed we'd do a PhD, which, by the way, takes an average of 6.3 years to complete. Not including the MA year. They encouraged us to RA (that's to be a research assistant) and TA (teaching assistant). I left feeling inspired and excited to get started. I walked home from school with a skip in my step and my hair blowin' in the fall wind.

Near the end of the orientation there was a faculty reception. We were warned in advance to take advantage of this opportunity and introduce ourselves to a few professors, have an intelligent conversation about their research, and make ourselves known. Shit. You should have seen us MA's, huddling in tight circles and trying to work up the guts to go and talk to someone - anyone! I felt like we were contestants on a reality show trying to beat each other out but in a friendly way like they do on the Bachelor when all the girls meet the guy for the first time at a cocktail party. After a little wine and cleavage everything was A OK.

Three weeks later and I (and everyone else I know who just started grad school) went insane-o. I don't know what exactly happened but everything just suddenly hit me. I hate grad school. It's too hard. I miss undergrad.

So it was my first day of classical theory class. We had been assigned Marx readings from here to Incheon. All of my classmates and I were sitting around a collection of tables. The professor speaks: "Today we will be talking about Marx and his conception of science. John?" He looks to a boy in my program (who admittedly knows lots about theory) and that was it. The rest of the class he continued to call on people at random. Inside, I think I died a little. I had read the readings, but in the undergraduate way of reading the readings. There is a difference, you know. If he called on me I would be the only one to say "I have no idea." I was scared. I felt like the dumb kids I pitied in elementary school who didn't know anything and the teacher would call on them and leave the silence hanging there. I always knew the answer back then. I miss elementary school.

Afterwards everyone admitted that they had no idea what was going on and had made up this or that to say. Here is where I differ from them. I can't bullshit about Marx. I just can't. I'll try harder, I swear. I didn't do my readings for tomorrow.

I have a list of things to do that if I think about it rationally I can't imagine how I'll get it all done. Want to hear it?

I have fifty papers to grade by Friday. (Just got an extension so make that Monday)
I have a statistics assignment due next week that requires daily group meetings of many hours.
I have nine hours of RA work to do weekly.
I have scholarship applications to do but I think I just won't. (I've decided I just won't despite departmental chastisement)
I have course readings and thinking to do that are much more in depth than I've had to do before.

Okay, okay, it's not so bad. I can handle it.

The worst part of it all for me is this: I left Korea feeling great; confident, well-traveled, happy with myself. Great. I find myself now sitting in class feeling nervous. I've lost my confidence. This has never been a problem before and it kills me. These people in my program have discussions in class and I often step back and think "what the hell are you talking about?" Am I cut out for this, really? I miss korea> I Also have a new computer that doesn"t seem to want to cooperate with me on punctuation right now which is really missing me off>

Okay, that's a bit better, though I just lost a bunch of new (and obviously good) material.


The other night a group of us (friends, not program-mates) went out to a bar and found ourselves next to a long table of international students, half of which turned out to be Korean. Before long D'Arcy and I had them filling the room with cheers for the Korean soccer team. It was a beautiful thing, really.

Turns out I miss blogging. But I don't have any time for it. But I like it and want it. I feel reflective. Maybe I want to screw grad school and be a writer. I think I could pull off trashy romance. Maybe television or screen writing would be fun. I care about punctuation. I could always edit.

So that's where I stand. I tried to upload some photos for you but my new and supposedly really good computer kepts quasi-crashing on me. I'll see what I can do after this is posted.

Miss you, love you, leave a comment.


At October 01, 2006 10:50 p.m. , Anonymous seadragon said...

Hey, hang in there! You really haven't been there long enough to judge your self-worth or ability!! Even if it's true that other people are better at making stuff up to say in class than you are, this is only your first semester. Believe it or not, you can get better at that. You will be amazed. Yes, maybe some people can already do that - yay, for them. It doesn't mean you won't get there too!

(I say all of this as I continue to wring my hands over my dissertation and feel like I'm not good enough and like the pain will never end.)

Anyway, I just hope it gets better for you. :)

At October 02, 2006 2:03 a.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

What Seadragon says is right. Going on the real strengths of your blog, if you want to get an MA or PhD, you can get one. Your writing style is fluid and coherent. You appear to be well organized.

All you need to do is recognize that you are in a race where the speed is a little quicker than what you have been used to. It won't take you long to pick up your speed. Or to become conversant about Marx. By the way, a very good and friendly intro to Marx is the comic book by Ruiz. It's very accurate and the images help to make the arguments less alien.

At October 02, 2006 3:11 p.m. , Blogger Jessica said...

Thanks seadragon!

So I should learn the art of bullshitting? Hmmm.. Or maybe the art of following and contributing.

The pain will never end? This can't be true! :)

Thanks, anonymous, for the comment and encouragement. I hope you're right.

At October 03, 2006 2:11 p.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are whining alot. Others would kill to be in your shoes. You are not grateful for all the skills & benefits you have attained. If the computer is not working, return it to the store before the return period ends or ask someone who knows abit about these things to fix it for you or show you what you are doing wrong. ie Take responsibility.

At October 03, 2006 3:12 p.m. , Blogger Jessica said...

It's my blog and I'll whine if I want to. Thanks!

At October 06, 2006 6:09 p.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome back.

At October 10, 2006 10:34 a.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

To visually copy what others are saying...
Cut and paste and go here ^^^

Anyways, I think you're a lot stronger than you think you are and will succeed if you truly want to. Of course it's easy for me to say that because i'm not you and anything's easier said than done. Nevertheless, you're good enough, you're smart enough and doggonnit, people like you!

The harder something is to accomplish, the better it feels when you actually do it. I imagine your Masters Degree will feel great. Don't give up kiddo! You're too strong for that.


At October 10, 2006 10:37 a.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and apparently you will have to highlight and drag the link beyond the boarder of the comment window to actually get it to work.


At October 10, 2006 8:22 p.m. , Anonymous Margie said...

Yayyyy... Hoorayyy... You're back!!!
Hehehe.. ok so I'm slightly insane but it is very good to "see" you Jessica.
Looks like things are going somewhat sorta kinda maybe ok for you lol.
If you didn't second guess or worry about things you'd not be human. You'll be fine fine fine... and if you should decide to chuck it all and write romance novels so be it lol.
Keep on Smilin' :)


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