On Tuesday, ten minutes into my first seminar, I knew why I had come here and the waiting in line and bureaucratic hoops had suddenly became worth persevering with. Next week I have to do a presentation with a fellow student. We have to read a couple of influential articles and present the main ideas to the class, but first send the slides to Jim by Sunday lunchtime for his approval. One of the things I have noticed here is that everything is done to tight deadlines. I’ve always considered myself a quick worker but this timeframe seems a tall order, not least because it has to be multitasked between reading for my other two classes and my work in the language centre. But I am also excited to be kicking off the term with the first presentation. I spend the next 24 hours struggling with the online library system and eventually access the materials.
I am getting to know my fellow students, who are polite, helpful and in some cases, genuinely friendly. Their acceptance of this ingenue in their world touches me. I have even found a walking buddy whose speed and distance objectives match mine closely. It is early days to establish close friendships yet but for the moment there are enough opportunities for social contact for me not to feel isolated. On Wednesday Jim took me out for a Welcome Martini and dinner. I chose Cajun Chicken as a silent homage to my favourite crime writer, James Lee Burke, and we had a couple of glasses of wine which were a treat for me.
Thursday evening I had my first real falter. These first assignments were looming and I couldn’t see how it was possible to reconcile my study and work commitments. I stayed late in the language centre entering fiddly data into the programme.. Fatigue had set in and having to redo the data columns was making me feeling rather sorry for myself. But, I managed to call myself to arms and finally finished the job. It was an exercise in perseverance and I rewarded myself with a burger and beer before going back to my room to work on the paper.