9.18.2009

random notes on my first week of school

I've already mentioned that a long-time wmtc reader, Lisa N, is in the same program as me. She's also going part-time and we're in one class together.

In addition to this, on the first day - in a combined introductory lecture for all four core courses - I saw someone else I recognized, but couldn't think of where I knew her from. The following day, she showed up in my "tutorial" section - the discussion and debate class that follows the lecture - and we must have both remembered the connection at the same time. During introductions, we turned to each other - she said, "I know you!" - and I said, "War resisters!" She is the partner of one of our war resisters!

In my other tutorial, I identified myself as a "writer, blogger and activist". The professor asked me what activism I was involved with, and after I explained, he said he recognized my name: he's a supporter and has housed a resister! Suddenly I realized why his name was familiar to me: from the Campaign mailing list. After class, I stayed to chat for a minute, and learned he and his wife housed a guy I'm friends with, who is also from New York.

Wow! I'm part of a community! I know people here! Very cool!

(When will I stop saying this? Probably never. I now accept that feeling like an outsider and a loner, and being positively joyous every time I realize I'm not, is part of my psyche. And really, it's not a bad thing, because it brings me so many occasions for joy, in situations that I might otherwise take for granted.)

* * * *

Just as there's a broad range of educational and professional backgrounds and goals among my classmates, there's also a very broad range of ethnic backgrounds, as you would expect to find in Toronto, and a decent age range. Although the majority of the students are either recent university graduates or have been working for only a few years, there's a good representation of older students, too.

But of all my various fears and anxieties about graduate school, age was not one of them. I've always been involved in multi-generational pursuits. In my pro-choice activism, I was once the youngest member of a group, then years later worked alongside women 15, 20 years younger than me. In the war resisters campaign, there's a spectrum from the older generation of Vietnam-era activists to guys just out of high school. I really enjoy that diversity.

* * * *

In this first week, I sorted some logistical issues, like where the accessible entrances are (for my ankle), whether I want to have my laptop with me (lectures yes, tutorials no), where to have lunch, where I can get work done between classes, and other boring but important things like that.

I commuted by car (I have a secret free parking space), but the traffic was hellish. Allan and I only drive into Toronto during non-peak hours. I'm not used to the stress and bother of constant traffic, and I don't want to be. However, if I take the bus or train, that creates a huge barrier to staying in town for war resisters meetings on Wednesdays. So I'll probably settle on some combination of transit (what I used to call "public transportation") and driving. The traffic won't be so brutal if I only do it once a week.

All the faculty and administrators at the iSchool are super friendly and helpful. And during lectures, I see that so far the professors are all coming from a left-progressive point of view. This is not surprising, but it is very welcome.

Also, non-school update: basement renovations begin next week, and I'm seeing my doctor about my ankle on Monday.

7 comments:

Tom said...

Emilio started back at school to continue his culinary studies. I am so glad he is going. He loves it and I see how his demeanor changes as he puts on his chef's coat.

Because of his school I had to make my first gelato cake last night. I did a pretty good job.

Enjoy your studies.

Amy said...

Sounds like a great first week! Sometimes I wonder if everyone feels like an outsider until they find someone with a common interest or connection. I know I always have and still do wherever I go.

L-girl said...

Tom, that's great news. I can't imagine how you are guys are doing it - one working full-time, one in school and both running a business! Some sort of magic trick, I think.

Amy, that's interesting. Could be. The feeling dogs me everywhere I go - perhaps partly a function of doing a lot of different things. Often when I get really comfortable somewhere, it gets boring and I have to move on.

johngoldfine said...

"And during lectures, I see that so far the professors are all coming from a left-progressive point of view. This is not surprising, but it is very welcome"

But isn't a homogenous POV something you'd want to avoid? What's the point of diversity if it doesn't challenge and only reinforces what everyone already knows anyway?

L-girl said...

But isn't a homogenous POV something you'd want to avoid? What's the point of diversity if it doesn't challenge and only reinforces what everyone already knows anyway?

First, what makes you think a left POV is something everyone knows and is homogenous? I certainly don't assume all the students have the same political perspective. I only see that two professors for two classes do. Hardly homogenous.

And second, I spent my entire life in a place where leftists are ridiculed and maligned - and at times hunted down, imprisoned or ruined. I'm thrilled to be in a place where leftist principles can be applied to other spheres, such as technology and information. It's very different for me, and I love it.

impudent strumpet said...

Would political POV really affect cognitive diversity in terms of whatever it is they're trying to teach you? In most of my courses, the prof's political stance was irrelevant (but also they didn't go blathering about it in class). Where diversity of POV was relevant was stuff like should your translation be the best quality writing possible or reflect the quality of the text? Should you research before you translate or as you go? Should your self-revision be unilingual or bilingual?

It might be different for a program that's not profession-specific, but I think you're in a more profession-specific program.

L-girl said...

Would political POV really affect cognitive diversity in terms of whatever it is they're trying to teach you?

I don't think it would.

One reason I'm pleased to see a left POV is that often the view that's considered neutral is not - it's capitalist, patriarchal, heterosexual, etc. I'm pleased to see all those assumptions challenged.