First Week Back

Well, the semester started, just as I suspected it would. It's great to be back in school and not sitting around doing nothing with the cats. As I think I said before Christmas, "our" building on campus is being gutted--probably for the next 3 to 5 years--so we've been moved across campus to Hatcher Hall. There are great things about Hatcher, like the large office and large window that Dave and I now share instead of the closet we were smooshed into last semester. Some of the classrooms are great, like the rooms in the basement that we teach our aural skills labs in. The moving people brought over the white boards with staff lines on them, but so far no one has hung them on the wall, so we're all finding ourselves crouching down on the floor, and the students find themselves craning to see the board over everyone else's head. Additionally, two of the classrooms at the ends of halls are a very odd shape, supposedly because the hall was once a dorm, and they're shaped like brackets, and the desks have to be arranged such that many people in the classroom are unable to see many other people. I'm taking a seminar in that room, and the professor actually intends to run it like a seminar (complete with class discussion), so he's pretty frustrated by the fact that we'd barely be able to talk to each other around the bracket. He was frank with us today and said that if he can scare enough people away, we can move the class into a different room that holds 15. His motives for scaring people away are manifold, though; it's a math-intensive class, and he doesn't want to have students who just have to take some theory class sitting in and slowing the rest of us down. Unfortunately, the other logical theory class for these people to take is offered at the same time as one of the singers' diction classes, so we're stuck with singers who have to take a theory class this semester and who also failed the theory diagnostic and took remedial last semester (otherwise, they could have taken a theory last semester). Ugh, I say. I sympathize with our prof's not wanting students who aren't prepared, and I also sympathize with my own desire to learn at a quick pace. I think we're all just going to have to take deep breaths and quietly curse the Registrar or whoever makes scheduling decisions.

In other news, my Russian class is fun, but I'm kind of in a weirder situation than I had anticipated. Though the course catalog lists this as Elementary Russian 1, it's actually the second semester of Russian. This means that I'm in a class with people who have gotten over the hurdle of reading Cyrillic and are now on to better things like case and conjugation. They also all have the textbook from last semester, but the language department forgot to turn in Dr. Rutherford's book order, so the bookstore doesn't have any extras. I'm working on getting one online, and in the meantime, the professor was able to lend me a desk copy that she had. I've been working over the last few days on learning the alphabet, and I've got all the consonants under my belt. However, the vowels are giving me trouble, and there are ten of them. There's the set of hard vowels that sound like "a," "eh," "ih," "o," and "ou," (loosely), but then there are also the soft ones, those that sound like "yah," "yeh," "ee," "yo," and "you," and those don't look anything like their harder counterparts. They're just mean. I do at least have a book to work through on my own (and hopefully catch up with where the class is at some point), even though my workbook will have to be ordered online as well. I'm auditing the class, so I'm okay with just sitting in class and absorbing as much as I can, and maybe at some point, I'll know enough to be able to do the homework! The professor is nice about it--mostly she's just thrilled to have someone learning a language for fun instead of to fulfill a requirement--so she only calls on me if there's a REALLY easy question she knows I can answer. There have been three of those in the last four days of class. I'm viewing this as my chance to learn a bit of Russian in a classroom environment so that I can continue studying on my own later with a bit of a foundation on which to build. I'm not sure if I'll ever have a hole in my schedule again, since it's hard to schedule around a class that meets every day, so I'm trying to get as much out of this semester as possible!

In my spare/other time, I'm trying to get some reading done that has to do with figuring out my Schubert thesis, and I'm also to the quilting stage of the baby quilt . The piecing part was quick, but it wasn't exactly easy to do well; there are certain places I'm trying to ignore because the corners look kind of disjunct. At least he's a baby and won't be able to discriminate. I'll post pictures after I've finished, but right now, only half of the center block has been quilted and the rest is all marked up with soap.

It was a good first week, even though I'm having to deal with new parking lots and a longer walk to class, including a leisurely stroll past all the ugly stadium construction (they're re-doing the upper deck and are behind schedule--quel choc). It's not a bad area of campus, but I haven't figured out where to get snacks or a good cup of coffee yet. We're now a good 15-minute walk from Highland Coffees, our former caffeine-fix venue of choice, so I'm about ready to explore this end of campus and figure out what's available. It won't be as good as Highland, but if it's closer, I may settle anyway.

Okay, time to quilt while there's still natural light outside. It's so much harder to see anything small in this dimly-lit room after the sun goes down!

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