Monday, June 25, 2007

Summer school

Well, scrap the book idea, I think. I got an e-mail today from my university adviser that said: "Hey Chris, how's your summer going? I was thinking that a really good thing for you to do would be, uhm, actually learn Welsh."

I'm paraphrasing, of course. The e-mail was in Welsh and contained three words that I had to look up in the dictionary. I was informed that an intensive month-long course for intermediate speakers would be starting up on Monday and it was very politely suggested that I attend.

The course is for people who have had one year* of Welsh. I have been studying the language for nigh seven years. So, my first reaction was something to the effect of: "Ouch."

This Welsh experience is like a Howitzer to my ego. I don't yet know how I did in exams, but I can't help but think that it was thoroughly unpleasant if I'm being encouraged to attend intermediate courses.

But after thinking about it all day, I realise that I should not be pissing and moaning. One thing that I worry didn't quite come across in the programme about me back in May is that Cardiff University's School of Welsh has done a fair amount of bending for me.

A lot of people were eager to tell me that I wouldn't have had such a rough time of it if I had attended university in Aberystwyth, The Greatest Place in Both the Earthly and Heavenly Planes. But I can't help thinking that things might have actually gone worse.

Because here's the thing, this course that I will be attending costs a shitload of money. But thanks to the School of Welsh, I will be paying considerably less than the course's stated cost of £600 ($1,200). As in £600 less; they've offered to let me attend for free**. I should be grateful. And, if I'm honest, I am grateful. The School is -- for whatever reason -- trying to ensure that I succeed.

But I can't help feeling that twinge of, you know: "Ouch."

The course runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. five days a week (see what I mean about intensive), so that pretty much spikes my hopes of writing a book this summer. I'll try to work on it in the evenings if there's time (which there almost certainly won't be if this course has homework), but really I won't get a chance to touch it until August. I'll get two months then to work on it, but that won't be enough. So it will be shelved until Christmas break or next summer.

What I hate about this most is that awareness that I'm actually kind of a stupid person. Charmingly stupid, perhaps, but stupid. I knew that already, but it always sucks to be reminded of it.

*OK, true, that one year is a year of Wlpan, which is a super-intense course that gets people up to fluency.

**It's worth pointing out, however, that over the three-year span of my degree I will be forking over some £27,000 to the university -- compare this to a UK student who will be paying closer to £9,000. Those students are also eligible for grants and scholarships, which I am not.


David T. Macknet said...

You might do a bit more research, 'cause there are grants and scholarships for foreign students all over the place. Really.

The other thing? It's actually kind of a complement: your adviser believes that you haven't totally bombed out, so you're worth investing something in, so that you'll succeed.

I've done the intensive thing, and I feel sorry for your wife. Really. If she doesn't speak Welsh, having you think and dream in it's going to be mighty rough.

Carwyn Edwards said...

Give them hell!! It's sink or swim time!!As your friends suggested maybe a month in Bala,Caernarfon or Llanfairpwllgogogogogoch would do you good!!

Rob said...

how do you know it's Charmingly?


Chris Cope said...

Bryan -- Yeah, that's wishful thinking, isn't it?

Chris Cope said...

Davimack -- I hereby defy you to find a grant or scholarship that an undergraduate white middle-class U.S. citizen over the age of 25 could use toward studying Welsh in the U.K. You're right that there are a number of grants and scholarships, but I tend to fall outside the box for all of them.

Anonymous said...

seriously, i woulda thunk you'd be rather advanced for an intermediate class (no false flattery, honest). can you get them to pay for the more advanced they're offering in august instead?... just a thought.

Sarah Stevenson said...

Couldn't the National Welsh-American Foundation fork over some dough for you? They have grant programs...I think it's

Chris Cope said...

Good question, Sarah. I've written to them at least three times and they've coveniently never written back. I get the sense that their scholarship money (if it exists) goes to people that they already know.

Having said that, even if they did write back, I'm not sure I'd be eligible. Look at the wording of their site: they provide "young Welsh-American and Welsh students with assistance."

I am neither Welsh, nor Welsh-American. And, at 31, I probably would not fall under their definition of "young."

Astrid said...

Are you sure they did not want the Chris Cope from Florida to attend the course?