Swiv’s Idea of a University: part II
Last time, it was Freshers Week, this time it is – on the calendar of the University of St Andrews – Week 2. I should perhaps explain, once you arrive at university here, the real world does, to some extent, vanish. The academic year works on two semesters, one from September to January, and the other from February to May. Each semester has 11 teaching weeks, with one reading week in the middle, and exams at the end.
So, we are currently in Week 2, and things are beginning to get a little hectic. I have a long list of deadlines and dates, my diary is packed with things to do – I even have to write in the days I'm supposed to be cooking in case I forget. I also found last week that I am going to get my days confused, with classes on Monday, Tuesday and Friday, by Thursday afternoon I was beginning to lose track of time. I bumped into a friend in the library (more on the library later) who asked: 'Are you going out tomorrow night?' I screwed up my eyes, rubbed my forehead and responded: 'uh, um, wha---. What’s tomorrow, what da--- oh Friday, right, yes, um no actually; house warming to go to, um.'
It wasn't even my house warming – it was that of a friend of my housemates Mary and Clare, another Medic. So I went, there were plenty of medics and physicists there, and one classicist, who just happens to have got dragged in to be the secretary of the astro-physics society. It was pretty good fun all the same – made for some interesting coloured cocktails (Clare’s instructions: 'no vodka or tequila in mine'. Hmmm – I now know that triple sec, grenadine, pineapple and coconut juice plus lemonade is good.)
As for our house, it is now going really well. We had some very impressive teething problems, involving an 'Us vs. Them' mentality over the Jack and Mary relationship, a huge amount of chilly-ness, and a desire from myself and Clare to get highly organised before work descended on us. So the beginning of last week was really extremely unpleasant, Jack even went to the extreme and became bitchy (really incredibly funny in retrospect.) Eventually it was us girls that managed to sort ourselves out – since we had the most problems affecting everything else. It took letters, conversations, and a very long email that then took 2 days to reach the next-door bedroom, but then it all resolved remarkably quickly. We even managed to throw a triumphal birthday party for Clare on Saturday night, even though the dinner tables (one real table, one coffee table) managed to split, unprompted, into medics and historians. Now we have settled into a routine of cooking, cleaning and shopping between all of us, although things we buy don’t seem to survive much more than 24 hours.
Classes have now taken over the stress side of my life. I have five hours of class a week – two seminars, each two hours long, and one one-hour lecture for my Roman Historiography course. They are both fantastic courses, but with a fairly hefty amount of work involved (so no cat-calls of 'Slacker!' from the scientists please). For example, for my Great War class, I have to do a presentation, a book review and two essays, plus weekly reading for seminars. Fortunately in all of these I get a fair amount of leeway as to what precise topic I pick. So for next week's presentation I get to assess the qualities of military leadership on the Western Front – answers in a forum please! For my classics course I have the greatest lecturer known to me, everyone who has heard him seems to consider him at the very least a minor deity. On Friday he even managed to make a two-hour session on the record of early Rome (fragmentary, dry, controversial) interesting, and then he took us on an outing to the library to show us some very scary books with long lists of articles in them.
Just for fun, I decided to add to my workload by starting to do arts reviews for the student newspaper The Saint. I'm not quite sure what convinced me – potentially the temptation of free books and theatre trips, but also I think the fact that they've just got a deal with one of the cinemas in Dundee to have a large screen once a fortnight and show whatever they want (except Bond films) for the writers…
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