Pieces of my world

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Behind the times

"Ok, take out your Donne Holy Sonnets," the lecturer boomed. Red faced, still flushed and panting slightly from the exertion of rushing from Elvet Riverside all the way up the hill to the Science Site, I stared at him incomprehensibly. Holy Sonnets? What Holy Sonnets?
Out of my peripheral vision I saw the person sitting next to me smugly pull out several weighty volumes, together with a sheaf of print-outs.
"I'm sorry, are there handouts?" I whisper, concerned to her. "I seem to have missed them."
She shoots me a distainful look, before tossing her long perfectly ironed tresses smugly. (Don't ask me how it is possible to toss hair smugly, but believe me, this was definitely smug hair tossing).
"Oh no, these are the lecture slides which I found on DUO and printed out this morning in preparation", she enlightens me, with a mega-watt whiter than white smile.
I glance into my bag, hoping, just hoping that I may have sleepwalked, accessed DUO (Durham University Online for anyone wondering at this curious abbreviation) and printed off a whole sheaf of notes too, but to no avail. Zilch. Yeah, it was an ambitious hope, seeing as I haven't even discovered where to download lecture slides from while I'm conscious, but a girl can hope, can't she?
I slump down into my chair, wishing I had ran a bit faster across town and hadn't been five minutes late into a crowded lecture theatre and had to take the only vacant seat- a seat on the very first row, right beneath the beady eye of the lecturer, sans Holy Sonnets, while resolving to catch up on the lecture in the afternoon and throroughly acquaint myself with Donne's poetry.
This pattern is ever so slightly worrying. Worrying because this isn't the first time it's happened. At pratically every poetry lecture, new terms are bandied around and, while fellow students nod sagely, I glance aorund bewildered, the only thought crossing my mind being "What's going on? Have I missed something? Has there been an extra lecture that I've not attended?" I feel like I'm behind pace, even though I am working- really I am. I'm trying, and fitting in study hours, library hours, language centre hours throughout the day, but for the first time in my life, working isn't enough. I'm not achieving enough. My reading, even though I've read two books on Donne already, never seems to be enough or, more importantly, on the right topics. In my History Seminar last week, I searched on the internet for several hours for two consecutive days, as well as reading three books on Tecumseh and Prophet, only to find that my reading was literally blown away and my arguments and thoughts demolished by fellow history students, who were better informed, more eloquent and more confident than me. Whereas I had visions of being able to speak confidently in the tutorials and get the most out of them, now I find the words sticking in my throat and I am reluctant to profer forth any of my ideas for fear of people thinking I'm an uninformed idiot.
Now don't get me wrong, I love this course. I LOVE this course. Apart from poetry, which is the module I feel the most "at sea" in, I'm convinced I've chosen the right thing and I'm at the right institution. Sound Text and Image (basically History of Art) is SO interesting, in that it ties together everything I've been doing. I'm being challenged in French; the lectures for English are organised and provocative, encouraging independent thought; I'm interested in what we're doing in History and the lecturer is really good. Even with poetry at least I haven't resorted to skipping lectures in avoidance or breaking down in tears due to feeling inadequate, like some contemporaries have done. I may be being premature, we're only four weeks in, there's still time to change this worrying pattern. What worries me though is the fact that it isn't going to get better: with essay deadlines already looming at the start of December for FIVE modules out of the six I'm taking, it's only going to get worse.
Never have I felt more more lacking or more in need of a Superhuman ability to demolish books.
My new mantra is: work, work, work and organisation, organisation, organisation!
On a positive note: it looks like I will be joining another choir: St Chad's, which will hopefully give me the additional singing practice I need and maybe help me to feel that I'm not losing my music entirely.


Post a Comment

<< Home