The Last First Day of Class

16 01 2008

“This is the last time in our education, aside from any postgraduate endeavors, in which we will experience the thrill of the first day of school. That, to me, is so depressing.”

Mmmm….Ahhh! Can you smell the bouquets of sharpened pencils?* Yesterday was book and supplies day, and today is finally the first day of school. There is something really unique, and fresh like a newly unwrapped pack of college-ruled notepaper, the first time you step into a new classroom with a new professor. I usually sit down somewhere in the middle, somewhere near the front. In my ass-kissing mind, I think its a good way to see and be seen by the professor. Because if you think about it, while we are trying to figure them out and see what kind of professor they are, they are trying to figure us out too. Most people are good with faces even if they don’t know your name, so I figure its a way for me to already get a leg up on my participation grade by making a good first impression. Then again I could be stark raving mad and my first day antics are total bologna and the professor doesn’t even look up or notice me from his perch at the front of the room. But hey, its worth a try.

It’s been only a month that I was gone from school, but somehow the act of physically writing with a pen to take notes felt like such a foreign thing. If you think about it, its not unimaginable for me to not have had to write anything down or use a pen while I was on vacation and then home on break (this is of course if you don’t count having to sign my name with those electronic machines and the fake-pens when I went shopping with mommy and daddy’s credit card). Today my handwriting was uncertain of itself and sloppy, as if I forgot what my handwriting looked like or how to write down words and hold a pen. Eventually the muscle memory will come back (probably by tomorrow at this excessive first day of class note-taking rate), but it was kind of striking how accustomed we get to typing on the computer as a form of writing. While I was home it didn’t occur to me that I wasn’t physically writing anything, even though I was technically writing on the computer. Although there didn’t seem to be any people taking notes on their computer in my class, I have seen some people do it and I have heard that at some colleges it is more common, even encouraged to take notes on the computer. In today’s day and age, it makes complete sense to be able to do so with effectiveness and efficiency. However, what I have noticed is that it has its limitations. I remember how one guy (well, actually my ex boyfriend from high school) in my introductory economics class sophomore year trying to take notes on his computer. While for the ideas and definitions it was smooth sailing, but when it came down to all those supply and demand charts, he was toast. He had to bring a notebook with him to class so that he could draw the diagrams, because of how long and tedious it would be to try and draw that in word or paint during class. What would be a great thing to do is to either have one of the tablet pc’s, but what I think should become standard at some point in time is to have the touch pad become equipped with the capabilities to read and identify writing that someone could do with one of those fake pens (or I believe stylus is the techie term) and write on the touch pad, instead of the screen like on a tablet pc. That would be awesome! Imagine how useful it would be! Drawing things in Paint would be so much easier, and in addition, all the graffiti that I draw on people’s facebook walls would become so much more detailed and graphic and that much more offensive (I kid, I kid). If I could bring my computer to take notes that way by being able to write and draw (or even doodle if necessary) in class, it would save so much money and waste on paper and notebooks, pens, etc and kill less trees. As a side note, if you steal my idea, I will be eternally grateful that you have helped me and the rest of society, and I will certainly accept your apology by check, cash or direct deposit.

The other part of the first day of class that’s so typical of this school is sometimes the professor will email you days before classes are even in session and tell you what assigned readings are already due. My english professor has done so already by assigning a 33 page anthology introduction on medieval literature and “getting as much reading done of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as possible (pages 144-213).” Sheesh, this was all in addition to a NY Times review of the latest translation. Maybe its just me, but it seems like a lot of reading to do before I’ve even gotten the syllabus. And so the next thing I know, I get an email saying that the syllabus has been posted online. Wonderful, just freaking wonderful.

The other sad part of this day which I came to realize as I was sitting and waiting for the professor to come in (and also be on the lookout for any cute bio or pre-med guys that may happen to walk into my medicine and society class. Unfortunately, no such luck– there were mostly dorky junior girls, which if you know what I mean, is not my cup of tea, or for that matter, my grande mexican shade-grown and environmentally friendly coffee, according to Starbucks) was that it was the last time I would have a first day of classes in college. It was kind of sad and depressing to think that I was now that random senior taking some 100-level elective course with lots of younger students. Before I was one, I used to think that these random seniors that you got put in a project group with were total fossils. Now I get to be that lucky fossil. I felt so old next to these young kids, and thinking to myself that there might even be a freshman in the class who is experiencing their first day of class for only the second time ever. I felt like such a wise, mature and experienced fossil. The funny thing is that when I was a sophomore, on the first day of the fall semester I felt that I was so much more experienced and old in comparison to the incoming freshman because I had already completed two out of the eight first days of school, which if you think about it, isn’t that much more experienced and older than the freshman. Now, having done it for the total 8 times, I truly feel that one part of my college experience is truly over. That anticipation and new class smell will soon fade, and before you know it, it will be time for finals. And therefore I fully intend to celebrate and toast to this milestone tonight over a couple of drinks at the bar with all of my piss-drunk girlfriends. Cheers!

(*Okay, so its not really my line, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan say it in You’ve Got Mail, but bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils is just so perfect to describe the first day of school.)


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