Sep 15, 2007

Back To School

Okay, school started a couple weeks ago. I'm behind posting about starting school. Yes, I've finally gone back to college to finish my bachelors degree. Since I was blessed with being able to work part time (and from home) and while Roger's still in DC, I'm going to take this opportunity to get as much out of the way as possible.

I am taking two classes this semester. History 481 and Anthropology 202. History 481 is my last history class for my major and the toughest. Both of my classes are on Tuesday-Thursday. So I travel to Texas A&M two days a week. The commute is not bad. I'm sure eventually it will get old, but thank the Lord I only have this semester and next spring to graduate. And everyone else is driving in the opposite direction so there's really no traffic to deal with except getting out of Austin. My first day of class has been the worst. As I drove away from Austin towards Bastrop, the traffic began to back up. I heard on the radio a dump truck turned over and split it's load over the entire road. So I slowly inched forward for an hour. But it was slow enough that I could read some of my anthropology homework. Thank goodness it was not a sign of things to come. So far, my commute has been easy and uneventful. And I give myself four hours to travel two just in case. I use the extra time to read before class. I've got it down to a science now.

The hardest part of the commute has been on the days I'm really tired. But of course, I have found a few coffee shops and one kolache bakery along my two hour drive. There's the usual McDonald's and other fast food places, but I really can't stand those so I don't stop there. One of the coffee shops is local, Coffee Dog, which I prefer over the mega chain Starbucks in Bastrop. But both are convenient and have drive-thru's. And of course the kolache bakery is my favorite but I try not to stop there unless it's an emergency. I'm usually tired from all this reading I've been doing. I basically spend all my time reading. The first week of class I had to read 478 pages of extremely interesting material. Of course you know I'm being sarcastic. I learned a lot but it was difficult reading. I had to have a dictionary through out most of it. I don't know why these people have to use pompous words instead of more understandable words. Some of them I have never heard of. Some weren't even in the latest edition of Webster's dictionary and I had to look them up online. It's kind of ridiculous to need a dictionary to read something. And it was pretty boring at times due to the overwhelming data. The first Saturday night I had to make myself a few cups of coffee to stay awake. It was tough. And now I get to add onto those reading assignments, work toward a 20 page research paper. My research proposal is due next Friday. And my first test is next Thursday. So my weekends (Friday afternoon through Monday) are spent reading, studying, researching and writing. I work three mornings a week. The other time during the week I'm either in class, stopping to visit my parents or reading. Even in between classes I read. I'm so glad this is all almost over.

One thing about going back to school after such a long break is how different college is now. It's the same for the most part, but it's better in one sense and worse in another. So it's better because of technology. Professors are actually using it now. We don't turn in papers physically now. We turn them in electronically using a website called Turnitin.com. We also don't get our grades in class after a test now. We go to a website, log in and get our grades there. I can do almost all of my research online now. There are so many journals, articles, documents, etc which have been digitized now. Which is good for me since I don't live in the same town as the university. And some professors are actually recording their lectures and posting them on websites so you can catch anything you miss. Or skip class completely and just listen online. Of course, human error still exists so that last option is not a smart one. I wish you could listen to my anthropology professor's lectures but only students can access it. He can be very funny, but over all presentation of the subject matter is boring. It could help anyone with sleeping problems. I'm very happy about this part of going back to college. Technology has made it so much better.

The part that's not so much better is how much more "mature" I am compared to my classmates after this long break. It's not that I look like grandma to these kids, even though I'm ten years older than most. I blend in pretty well. Someone told me last week they thought I was 27. Yes, I did hug them. But the immaturity of my classmates and the majority of the undergraduates is hard to deal with sometimes. From fashion to study habits to conversation topics to personalities to commitment to priorities is strikingly different. Most of the time, it's actually amusing. I have to laugh, in my head of course, sometimes. I asked two kids sitting next to me in my 300 student anthropology class if they were freshmen because their conversation was too much. And they freak out so easily. It really is amusing. I feel like every other class I'm calming their fears about something. And the fashionistas are unbelievable. Okay, so Texas A&M's main campus consists of about 2400 acres plus west campus right across the railroad tracks which makes the College Station campus a total of 5200 acres plus 340 acres for the Research Park. The average student walks the 2400 acre main campus. Some have classes or park in both the main and west campuses. And it's hot in Texas regardless of the mild summer we've had this year. And you should see the heels, heavy make-up and the outfits. I've seen Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses, low plunging necklines, skimpy, spaghetti strap summer dresses. These girls are trying so hard. One might think they are only there for a hook-up or future husband. It's actually quite amusing. One thing that really bugs me is the lack of commitment and professionalism especially in my history class. This is our major's seminar class. Everyone has to take it. You'd think if it's your major, you'd actually care. But no, most don't. And it was beginning to seem like no one was doing the reading for class discussion, which is a major part of our grade and people were waiting for me to answer questions. So I decided last week, I wasn't going to speak up until after someone else did. Although the professor has to wait for a response, I don't feel like a big mouth or goody two shoes. Maybe I've been in the professional world too long.

This semester ends the first week of December. I'll have already registered for classes for Spring 2008 before then and paid the graduation fee which is required before you graduate. Next semester I have to take two 300-400 level anthropology classes for my minor. I've already looked at the classes available and wow, it's going to be tough to pick two. I've got it narrowed down to three possibilities based on the schedule, work load, whether a research paper is required and topic. In that order. Of course, the 2008 schedule won't be posted for another month so this might change. Because of technology, you can see most of the syllabi online and choose your classes by what ever criteria you like. As long as I pass these last four classes, I will be able to graduate next May. Yeah! I can't wait. At first I was set that I wasn't going to walk the stage but I was convinced I should. Man, I really can't wait for that day. Then it's Roger's turn to finish his degree.

Although I'm making it sound horrible, I really am enjoying what I'm learning in both of my classes. I would not ever have learned the material that's being covered and I know I will benefit from knowing it. I might actually use it toward my career. I'll try to post about the actual topics of my class later. Hope you're having a great weekend. I'm off to finish my anthropology reading. :)
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