Tuesday, September 26, 2006

First day

  • I enrolled for classes Tuesday. That's kind of freaky, my bitches. I've been pushing toward this moment for well on two years now and here I am, actually attending university in Wales and studying Welsh. It's one of those weird saying-things-over-and-over-until-it's-true things, I guess -- like in seventh grade when I told Allison Dibble every day that she wanted me, then, suddenly she had a crush on me.
    By the way, I am the greatest writer of all time, yo.
    Thousands of other people are also starting university this week, so I'm not exactly special, but it feels weird to be among them. And perhaps I should take comfort that I have already had a classic Chris Cope moment.
    For those of you just showing up at the party, I have a natural averseness to being prepared. It's not that I'm necessarily lazy or dense or disorganised; I want to be prepared for things. I'm just usually not. Sometimes this facet of my personality results in wacky beer-drinking high jinks, but most of the time it results in my going into a profanity-laden panic.
    In the process of getting everything together for enrolment, I discovered that as a student under the umbrella of Humanities, "BA students take additional subjects in the first year ."
    This means that I am expected to take several classes that have nothing to do with my degree, much like liberal arts courses in U.S. universities. One of the reasons I wanted to attend university here is that I hate liberal arts courses -- their tediousness is partially to blame for my previous academic failures*. I do poorly when forced to do things I don't want to do.
    But let's ignore that and focus on the Chris Copeness of the situation, in that I managed to overlook this fact until the day before enrolment. I am genius. The end result of this is that in addition to Welsh, this year I will likely be studying crazy-unpronounceable-and-not-really-useful-where-I'm-from-Castilian Spanish (because I have taken several semesters of beginner Spanish over the years).

  • The system of doing things here is different than in U.S. universities. A major part of the Yanqui higher education experience involves building your class schedule each semester. For those not familiar with it, it's a bit like playing Tetris -- where the coloured blocks are classes and the goal is to not fuck up your future.
    All of that fun is eliminated in the British system:
    ME: "Hello, I'm a Welsh degree student."
    UNIVERSITY: "Yes, you are. Show up for class at 9 a.m. on Monday."
    I get no say in the matter. I sort of like it better this way. The only drawback is the fact that, since I have no say in how my schedule turns out, the university saw no reason to tell me about it until the week before. True, I don't have anything else to do with my life other than go to university, but I don't appreciate their assumption of that fact.

  • On Monday night, a Welshy friend and I were wondering what people do with philosophy degrees. That's a pretty cheeky fucking question coming from a woman with a degree in art and a dude working toward a degree in Welsh, but we had been drinking. Anyway, I found out today that one of the people best suited to answer such a question is blogging again.

  • I broke down and bought a Jack Johnson album Sunday night. Again, I had been drinking, but it's no excuse. My music cred is shot.

  • On my way to the pub Monday, a group of 20 people dressed as pirates got onto the bus and started singing pirate shanties.

  • I apologise for this blog post's rough-draft feel. It will be a while until I settle into things, I think, so me write like dummy.

    *Admittedly, they probably only take about 10-20 percent of the blame.

    Anonymous said...

    Now, maybe I'm just being thick here, but in what way is Castillian Spanish any more "crazy-unpronounceable-and-not-really-useful-where-I'm-from" than Welsh?

    Spanish employs a much more phonetic pronunciation to English, and is spoken by an estimated 410 million people worldwide - the widest-spoken Romance language.

    Welsh is spoken by 700,000 people, which, if my maths is up to the task, is two tenths of a percent of Spanish's reach.

    Forgive me, I'm grouchy this morning.

    Chris Cope said...

    I didn't say all Spanish was not really useful. Just Castillian. The "th" thing and the slightly different uses of verb forms.

    Spanish itself is incredibly useful. It and Chinese are probably the best languages to know in terms of a person who wants to be successful in the future.

    In terms of my use of Spanish, I assume I would use it back in the U.S. (35% of the population in Texas speaks Spanish). Castillian would set me out as sounding really silly. I guess I was just pointing out the oddity of the situation -- I grew up surrounded by Spanish, and probably should have learned it 20 years ago, and now I'll be studying it in Britain.

    Comparing Spanish to Welsh, though, is an apples-and-oranges sort of thing.

    Anonymous said...

    Hey, you're living the dream. But no one said it would be a nice dream. -Omega

    Dyn Gwyn Gwirion said...

    I saw those pirates too, in the pub. They entirely failed to buckle my swash.

    Chris Cope said...

    Omega -- "Crisialu" is the Welsh word for "to encapsulate." You have hit it perfectly. I'll be quoting you for quite some time, I think.

    Zoe said...

    I actually find Castilian Spanish easier to understand than Latin American Spanish, except for that whole vosotros form. Yes, the zeseo is also strange, especially since I spent 2 years of my elementary life trying to get rid of my lisp and then had to pick it back up to study in Spain a few years ago.

    I wonder if you'll have the opposite problem as I do now: Everytime I try to speak Welsh, Spanish comes out. Also, careful with that attempting to put Welsh grammar structure into a Spanish sentence; that really messes with your head too.

    Jenny said...

    Shame: If they had let you do a creative English Writing course you could've been notchin' up the word count in your novel and passing it off as coursework!

    Chris Cope said...

    That is a brilliant idea, Jenny, and I am upset at myself for not having thought of it. Unfortunately, no such course is offered (I would have switched).