Friday, August 27, 2004

Word of the day: J-O-B

It's been fun, but it's time to buckle down. School officially got underway yesterday afternoon and I'm officially spending too much money. Time to get serious.

As I was saying to Andrew from Ghana, academia is like war - only so many people are going to get A's and I want to be one of them. So, if the professor says he wants lots of participation and interaction (worth 20% of your grade), well, he's going to get that in spades from the likes of me (as he did yesterday). I have already formed an allegiance with Andrew and two other guys (one is a 50ish former businessman) to assist in making sure we have all the reading materials and whatnot. It's not like the US where you just go buy a list of books. Here, you have to actually track down dozens of materials and copy them - the kicker is, the library is small and doesn't have them all. So, we divided them up and we're supposed to have them in hand by the next class session.

At any rate, the point is, there are those that are going to be more passive in the class (like Xena from Palestine - and no, she's not a warrior princess), who are going to be happy with B's. Not me. I didn't travel halfway across the globe, invest thousands of dollars, and a year of my life to sit around and get B's. But it's more than that. As I was telling Larry, I'm a representative of my country, not just a student. I have a duty to produce the best quality work, to read the most that I can, and to actively engage in the class. Anything less would further the stereotype that Americans don't know about the world.

Ok, rant over. Class was ok yesterday, but the first day of class is universally boring across the globe. It went about 4.5 hours and most of that time was going over the basics - requirements and topics. We did get into a fairly heated (and totally irrelevant) argument about whether there is a "status quo" or not. I, of course, was arguing that there is, because I never liked those "status quo is illusory" arguments from debate land. We reached consensus when I conceded there is no such thing as a static status quo - my winning argument was that the system is fairly static, it's inputs (population growth, wars, etc) that are dynamic and have an effect on the system. Whatever, it was really pretty worthless aside from the fact that the Prof wanted to have the discussion and I wanted him to know that I'm going to be very active in the class. He thanked me afterwards for making things "lively".

We had a break of about 30 minutes in the middle of class. We got some food and then went and had a beer in the school pub. Don't think I'll be doing that again, but it was worth trying, I suppose. When in England...

After class, I went with Dave and Andrew to the school pub. The British-American College started yesterday so there were lots of young kids from the the US. Not really my scene, but we gave it a go. It's actually a pretty good gig for US kids. The drinking age over here is 18, so if you're under-21 and study abroad, no problem.

But, I can't keep up with the pub life. It's just too much of a strain. Plus, it's extremely smoky. I do like going to pubs, but it gets expensive and tiring. It's impossible to live here and not go to pubs, but going doesn't mean you have to drink all the time. People do drink water or other non-alcoholic beverages. I'm not going totally clean and sober, but I am going to scale things back. I just like healthy living too much to get pissed (as they say) every night.

Last, we learned a funny English saying the other day. Larry was looking for some extremely rare scotch and the clerk at the store said it was "low to the ground".


Blogger Dave said...

Excellent entry...

Being a Brit myself, I found it very funny seeing an outsider's point of view of what I suppose is British Culture.

Good luck with your studies.

Dave -

7:55 AM  

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