First day of class 24/08/2015
Last day of class: 05/05/2016
First things first, the stripes were completely unintentional, I didn't even think about taking a picture until I thought about writing this blog post! But what can I say? I have a predictable wardrobe.
Over the course of my year here at Lehigh, I have taken seven classes, some that have been interesting and engaging, and some that have been downright tedious. At the end of each class we have to fill out an evaluation form, so I thought it would be fun to do a little recap on my blog.
The best class: Black Lives Matter
Normally, I am that annoying person who is always willing to talk and offer an opinion in class. In Dr Peterson's class, I listened. I joined the module completely and utterly ignorant of the ongoing racial struggle in America, and, indeed, ignorant of the intricate racial narratives of my own country. What I heard, saw, read and processed in just one short semester has dramatically altered the way that I view the structures and systems that are so readily accepted in society. It was a powerful class, and one that was taught with intelligence, sensitivity and authority. Armed with the list of British authors and theorists that Dr Peterson gave me to further my study, I will continue to learn and educate myself on issues and struggles that I have been blind to.
The worst class: Biblical Women
Initially, I was excited to take this class. It seemed to be the perfect mix of my educational interests; religion, gender and literature. However, in the end I don't know anyone who enjoyed or found the class informative. It was a new class, jointly ran by two professors (I will leave them unnamed), and it all just felt a bit... messy. They sort of threw a ridiculous amount of information at us with very little direction and then expected us to craft something intelligent and academic out of it. Coming from a university where I spent the last two years in independent study, this should have been fine. However, the sheer amount, and the lack of coherent information on the pieces we were given, meant that it was just tedious.
The most enjoyable class: Advanced Horror Film
The clue is in the name, really! It was so fun to read books that were written for pleasure, and to read the stories behind some of the classics. I particularly enjoyed Jaws, I loved the book way more than the film, and We Need to Talk about Kevin. Everyone was engaged in the discussions and the classes always went fast. I loved the professor, Dawn Keetley, and even enjoyed the assignments!
The most social class: Asylums and Literature
I don't usually go out of my way to make friends in classes. I have a finite amount of energy for socialising, and I would prefer to invest it outside the classroom. However, in my first semester I took a basic level English class with a bunch of sophomores, taking on an independent study to bring it up to the right academic level, and everyone was just so chatty! It was an all-girls class which I would have normally avoided like the plague, but we all just sort of clicked. Everyone would get there early before Laura, the grad student running the class, arrived and just talk about their lives, or parties they had been to, or boyfriend problems. It was really nice to feel a part of a group for once, maybe I'll try harder next year to make seminar friends... (jks)
The most unpredictable class: Short Stories
I have wanted to take a creative writing class for a long time, and if I could have taken some creative writing modules at Kent without it being a joint degree, I would have done, so I was determined to take a class whilst in the States. In some ways, I am very glad I took this class. I hadn't written prose in years, and this was the perfect push to start writing stories again. Throughout the semester I wrote three solid pieces that I am proud of and happy to keep working with. It was encouraging to receive feedback in a more formal environment and important for me to learn how to properly edit my work and not be defensive over changes. However, the course itself was just all over the place! It started off with a schedule and a structure which rapidly deteriorated until all our deadlines and assignments were pretty much whatever we wanted them to be, and the classes themselves could be anything the professor felt like doing! On the whole, though, I think it was good to have a definite reason to write- this semester I have written nothing without that incentive.
There are another two classes that I took, Early American Literature and Jane Austen, which were both pretty good, but I don't really have anything interesting to say about them so I'll just leave it here! I have enjoyed my classes at Lehigh so much more than Kent, partly because there isn't the pressure to get good grades (though I am way to competitive to let my averages slip), and partly because my second modules were so bad! For the first time since starting my degree, I have really engaged with the reading and really felt like I am learning. There have been days when I have been amazed that my "job" at the moment is simply to read! Particularly when I have been assigned books that I enjoy. Being a literature student hasn't come easily to me, I have found it frustrating and unstable, however, this year I saw what a privilege it was to have four years of reading and writing and discussing and learning new information. I still want to start work and find a more concrete purpose, I know that academia is not for me, but I have found the work this year fun and rewarding.
I have three more papers left to write and hand in and then I am done for the year! It seems crazy, but I am ready. Ready to travel and see this beautiful country. Ready to go home and meet my niece. Ready to prepare myself for the final push at Kent. Lehigh, I needed you.