Wednesday, November 21, 2007

It's Crunch Time,

Which means life is getting difficult at RA. Presentations, essays, exams... well the exams come later, but they're looming on the horizon, which is, in many ways, worth. To add to all the academic stress, a few of my good friends and I have an addition weight on our shoulders: that of the soon-to-be-released media website. It's been a lot of fun, putting together this new website, but it's also a lot of extra work.

Add to that, the new issue of Tabula Rasa, which I am putting together with Martijn and Anne, who are both involved in the website as well, and you have a stressful few weeks.

Unfortunately the stress got to me Monday; I went home after my French class Monday morning feeling so incredibly exhausted, I slept for two hours, then wrote an email to my teachers saying I wouldn't be in class. I worked on an essay for an hour, then slept for a half hour, then worked for another hour, then slept for an hour...

I stayed home Tuesday to, except for a half hour or so in the afternoon when I went to pick u pa book at the Roosevelt Study Center and mail a birthday present to my sister.

The Roosevelt Study Center is a really nice place. It is in no way connected to the Roosevelt Academy - except that students are welcome to make use of their resources, etc. I am always amazed, however, at how welcome students are. In order to go to the RSC, as it is abbreviated, you have to email them and make an appointment. If you are going for a particular book (which you can find in the internet catalogue of the Zeeuwse Bibliotheek, the Middelburg's public library), they will set it aside for you. When you arrive, you ring a doorbell, and someone comes to get you at the door, then escorts you to the actual Study Center. (This is not a matter of being friendly and welcome, however; this is a matter of security.) In the Study Center, there are two large, round tables, and rows of bookshelves. It is not stock full of books, and the bookshelves have wheels on them - I suppose they are put away at night or something. Anyway, you select a book, and sit down at the table - and then they ask you if you would like a cup of tea or coffee! How civilized!!

But the purpose of the Roosevelt Study Center is Dutch-American relations, Zeeuwse history, etc. And it is fascinating. I went to pick up a book I needed for a presentation and got distracted by A one-volume abridged edition of H.L. Mencken's The American Language. It's from 1977, so quite outdated for linguistics, and absolutely fascinating. The first section is called "The Two Streams of English", and basically talks about the simultaneous developments of American and British English and how they moved away from point A - except that British moved towards B and American went in the opposite direction (would that be point Z?) or, anyway, a different direction.

I really hope RA doesn't mess things up so bad as to not offer any other linguistics courses. Professor Mark Janse, who taught my introductory course and is very well-known in the field, as well as being an interesting instructor, has left RA for Oxford. One can't really blame him for that career decision, of course, but as a result, the classes that he was supposed to teach have been canceled. So, although Ernestine is taking over the 300-level class on Linguistic Theories and Linguistic Practice, Professor Janse's classes on Historical Linguistics and Language Contact & Language Death both seem to have been canceled.

And those are the two aspects of linguistics that most interest me!
Of course, there is always the option of doing an Independent Research Project (as long as I get a 3.3 GPA), but that simply isn't as much fun as taking a course. The thing about linguistics, is that it's exciting and fascinating and fun, and what's the fun of it if all you are doing is privately studying a topic and writing a formal research essay about it? The only conversation you get is that which you have with your mentor.

And I could write a research paper anywhere with a library.

Ah well, no time to worry about that now. Next semester I have the linguistic theories class to look forward to, and if things work out well for me, I just might be able to go on exchange next fall. But in order for that to happen...

I better get to work on my two presentations for tomorrow: The first, on transportation and travel in Victorian England, and the second, on Moliere's Les Femmes Savantes (that one's for French class).

Friday, November 9, 2007

Hi Everyone!

I never post anymore. I wonder how that happened? I think of it often enough, but never get around to it.

Today I have nothing particular to say, so I will just write a few things as they come to mind.

In literature, we finished studying Anthony Trollope's The Way We Live Now in class yesterday. This is unfortunate, because I still have 200 pages left to go. Monday, we start reading Moll Flanders, by Daniel Defoe. This is also unfortunate, since I haven't started that one yet. I might as well also add that we finished Vanity Fair three or four weeks ago, and I haven't finished that yet, either.

I hate not finishing books!

Unfortunately, I have too much other work to do.

French is become a more and more demanding class, which is inconvenient because I don't feel like I am getting very much out of it. I should have gone into the 200 level, not the 100. I almost wish I could take the 300 next semester, but it doesn't fit in my schedule.

I have chosen my classes for next semester, and they are:
Introduction to American Studies (100)
Stylistics (200)
Linguistic Theories and Linguistic Practice (300)
Film in Context (200)

Originally I wanted to take Journalism in stead of film, but I have to take film because I have to complete another track, due to various complications with the way RA is revising the whole setup of the department, which is really messing things up for arts and humanities students like me.

Today we did our first debate in rhetoric; I was very nervous but thought I did pretty well after all. Then I got my grade and that made me think that I had done less well (but it was a B, totally respectable).

Last Saturday, I went to Brussels with my friends Eva and Dilyana. It was kind of hectic and unplanned... I've never been to Brussels before (at least, not recently). I went earlier then the others because they wanted to sleep, and intended to go to the comic book museum. Unfortunately, my sense of direction gets very muted when I am in unknown cities, and I instead spent an hour and a half wandering around trying to find it. It was further complicated when Dilyana and Eva missed their train and came an extra hour later.

But it was still fun, and worth it. I bought 400 grams of delicious Belgian chocolate. It won't last much more than a week, but that still isn't bad. And it is so nice to sit down in my armchair with Trollope, a cup of tea, and a chocolate. Actually, the chocolate doesn't really go with the book, because when I actually eat it, I have to put down the book and think about the chocolate I am tasting, because it is just so good.

Today and yesterday seem to have officially brought us into winter, weather-wise. It's been hailing a lot. I had forgotten that it does that here. It's kind of unpleasant when it does that at night, since I live on the ground floor - and by ground floor, I really mean ground floor. The houses are not even slightly raised above the streets outside. I can sleep through anything - anything, except really loud, hard rain (and, apparently, breaking glass, but that's a very old and different story). What's more, the spout from the gutters dumps all the water right outside by room, from one or two stories up, and it makes really loud splatting sounds.

Ah, the inconveniences of student housing. If I didn't like my housemates and house so much, I would try to move to Roggeveen.

The reasons I like my house so much are because, first of all, I get to live with and know people who I would otherwise never talk to. I'm not only the only second year student in my house, but also the only arts and humanities student (except for Romy but she does singing at the conservatory half the time so she's also rarely around), and would hardly come across the other students. Also, we have house dinners. From Monday-Thursday, we take turns cooking. The food is usually pretty good. Last night, for example, Daan and Jesse made red cabbage, fried potatoes, and meatballs. On Wednesday, I made tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches with bacon bits. It only costs ten euros a week, and you get four meals, plus bread. That's a pretty good deal. All you have to do is wash dishes one night and cook another night.

Also, our house is very spiffed-out. (I think I just made up that phrase but it works well for what I am trying to say.) There are too many housemates for everyone to cook each week, so one of us just pays ten euros a week for house expenses and extras. So far, we have bought an extra fridge, a computer for the living room (for music, quick reference, movies and TV shows online, etc.), an X-Box, and other things.

Unfortunately, we recently had a house invasion/robbery, and the X-box and all of the DVDs (including my copy of Borat!) were stolen from the living room. Ah well, it is probably good for the sake of the grades of some of my housemates (who will remain unnamed ;).

Now it's Friday and I feel a little bored and restless. I haven't done anything this afternoon/evening, including any reading. How silly! I watched "Asterix & Obelix: Missie Cleopatra", so that's at least good for my French, and two episodes of "Frasier". (Maybe I could pass that off as preparation for my American Studies course?) Now I'm hungry again, but it's 11:20 so not exactly the best time for cooking! I guess I'll go to sleep and get up early. I have to go to the library tomorrow to stock up on books for my short literature essay and find a book in French, that has to be French literature, but can be the children's version, and I have to read it by November 22. I don't have time for all this!

Easy to say, when I've spent an entire afternoon/evening on msn, facebook, and watching episodes of "Frasier"!!