last week of August (i think):
“We’ve come from a place of noise and color and life, you know,” my brain says as I sit alone in the corner of the large, white room. “What are you doing here?”, it asks.
There are only three other people in here, people who have come and gone and come again as appointments show up and leave.
Appointment-only systems are strange. There’s none of the impulsive, no spontaneity, nothing random or unexpected. You log online and see every name, every subject, every desire typed out in blue text.
It’s quiet. There aren’t any chattering voices just one table over, in the doorway of Wonder Woman’s office, at the front desk with the student workers. There aren’t any posters on the wall, nothing with information on paraphrasing, nothing with English puns and memes. The only windows show the outdoors, the streets and the buildings and the endless sky, and I force myself to sit with my back to them because I know they only offer distractions.
I cried during my first mock consultation. I don’t know what it was; I got so freaked out, I just sat there with tears in my eyes. Because I know how to do this; I’ve been doing this for 13 months at BC, and for longer with my piano students, with the little children at church, with my friends, at Bible studies — I spend my life teaching. I love the sharing of knowledge; it is so beautiful and so vital.
But here, I feel so very out of place. And I know it’s mostly that I’m “tutoring” the people who are in positions of authority over me with these mock consultations, because I want so badly for them to like me and to approve of my work, but it feels like so much pressure to win them over in fifteen, twenty, thirty minutes.
Which is a horrible mindset. Because they’ve told me, they’ve said a couple of times now that there’s a reason I’m here, that I must be good at what I do.
I don’t know. I know I’ll be comfortable, given time. I know I’ll enjoy my time here,
but, golly, do I miss my fishbowl.
One week later:
I’m finding my sea-legs. Getting the hang of this new place. I’m seeing this white room at different times of day, getting used to the new faces and new voices. I watched and engaged in the conversations of my coworkers today, after an extremely successful mock consultation.
I asked Thomas to tell me what I did right and what I did wrong, and he told me two or three things he liked about how I navigated our “session.” When I pressed him to tell me something I could improve on, he shook his head and put his pen back in his pocket.
And even though it wasn’t a real session, even though it was a farce, it felt good to push that to the back of my mind and settle into the place that is so comfortable and familiar to me.
I’m finding that place in more areas of this newness than in the WC — I’m settling in to the apartment, into sharing space and life with people who aren’t related to me by blood. I’m getting comfortable in my routine; I’m learning how to get through each class and what study techniques I have to use in order to find, learn, and remember the information.
Time is weird here. I’m going to sleep around 10 PM again, but I can barely drag myself out of bed before 8 in the mornings, even if I’m lying there in a sleepy haze for a while. I’m blaming it on how much I’m moving; I’m blaming it on walking across campus three or four times a day, and the mental exhaustion that accompanies classes and work. I’m blaming the constant and persistent growling of my tummy on the walking, too, though.
Theory time — I also don’t think I’m sleeping as deeply. I love the noise outside of my window; I love the buses and cars and the metro, the people talking, the music from the neighbors, but I seriously think it keeps me from sleeping as deeply as I need to.
Is that crazy?
I only have four courses this semester: intro to math reasoning, chemistry 1300, development of self-regulated learning, and educational psychology.
Intro to math reasoning is interesting; it isn’t so much about math as it is about finding an answer and defending how you arrived at it. Which sounds fun, right? Wrong. There is so much anger in that classroom, mostly because the professor doesn’t actually teach. He gives us packets that we work out at home, and then (ideally) people volunteer (or are called on) in class to work them out on the board.
Where he lets the students control the classroom. It’s strange, really. I’m not sure how to explain it, but I’ve been told that he’s using the Socratic method to educate us. We spent three class sessions on one problem, and then he wouldn’t even tell us if we had the answer right or not. The point was that everyone agreed. So maybe it was right? Or we’re really good at convincing ourselves?
I feel like it’s a huge waste of time. It’s a waste of energy. I leave that class so angry that I can’t see or think straight.
One of my old elementary school friends is in this class, too; we whisper to each other during class, trying to figure out what we have right and what we need to rethink and who needs to speak louder and who needs to shut up.
The professor who teaches the chemistry class is from Poland. He uses the most ridiculous and unrelated examples, and there are always words involved that sound so cool in his particular accent (refrigerator, for instance — SO. COOL.). The problem in that class, though, is that it doesn’t really feel like he’s teaching us anything. He’s more just giving us information without connecting it to anything that makes it relevant.
I feel like good teachers have to make things relevant. Don’t just tell me about something that happened 100 years ago in Germany; tell me how it helped them, and then tell me how that helps me. Make it important. Make it matter. Everything matters, in one way or another.
My psychology professors make things relevant. They’re amazing; they keep us focused and engaged, and I love being in their classrooms. It’s always loud and colorful and bright; it’s like being back home, in one of the English classes or the art room or my fishbowl. It’s good.
I played chess with Thomas yesterday, in this little back room that the tutors hang out in during down time. Arianna and her boyfriend, Ricardo, gave him advice while Angela commentated and worked on homework. When they left for the art museum, I left for the apartment. Tasia and I adventured a little bit in town, on the hunt for red shirts (with no luck). Back at the apartment, the office had s’mores fixings by the pool, so we forced Kat (our resident introvert) to put on shoes and go with us —
it was a beautiful day.