Entry 11: Another Lesson Learned

As you probably know, I havent been updating my blog with the rapidity and thoroughness that typified my earlier posts, however there is a good reason for this that requires some explanation. Traveling around a foreign country on almost a weekly basis makes you forget about why you’ve come here in the first place. At the outset of the trip I made it clear I was here for school and anything that happened afterwords was an extra bonus. But when you’re in the moment and living the dorm experience; when people will invite you to events on a random basis and you’re faced with the daily business of food shopping, house chores and cooking, its easy to lose the original goal you came here for. This past week was a rude wake up call.

Dundee has an interesting way of assigning and handing in assignments. For the first month and a half, I had absolutely no papers, no tests, nothing but reading assignments and note taking, and with only 5 hours a class a week! My flatmates on the other hand were handing in assignments on almost a weekly basis and fuller schedules; making me the laziest person on earth. By mid October this had changed: suddenly I was faced with a 1,000 word assignment and a 3500 word essay. For anyone reading this who thinks “why is he complaining”, you have to realize that since I was only doing readings for the past month, the last essay I did for a class was back in May for finals. Being in another country, with different professors who have different standards makes “getting in the groove” of writing a full blown report overwhelming. Add to that the traveling (in fact as we were in London, I was in the process of writing a paper).

Despite my initial difficulties in starting my essays, both were completed on time and handed in a week from each other; and for another two weeks I eagerly awaited my grades. The first paper I got back recieved an A3 (A-) and how happy was I that I was sure the next paper would do just as well! This sadly was not to be. We filed into class that day with high hopes of getting a decent grade on this assignment. However, as our professor handed back our papers it was like a bomb of melancholy had dropped. We all did poorly and I especially was shocked with my grade; I had never been so confused, angry and frustrated in the history of my academic career. Why had my one paper done so well while this one so poorly? After looking inwardly for a day or so I realized that the type of paper that was asked was something I had never really done before. It was supposed to be a critique of what I had learned in class for the past five weeks written in my own words with supporting evidence from the text. I have always hated writing about myself and as a result had a hard time contextualizing my thoughts. Compounding this was the traveling and going out with my friends. The dorm life experience was new to me as for the past 3 years, I lived at home and would commute to campus. Now in my senior year I had to catch up and as a result, my grades suffered.

As of now, I’m working on my final two essays of the semester before finals and just booked a flight to Dublin. Although my previous paper was a disaster, I’ve recognized what went wrong and am determined not to make the same mistake again. I’ve set daily page quota goals for myself in order to stay on task without overwhelming myself and have kept in contact with both of my professors. I remember in my introduction letter to the program I said I wanted to come to the UK so as to prove to myself that I can accomodate a social life into my academic life successfully and thus I feel that even though last week was a rude awawkening, it was another lesson learned.

I am a senior with a concentration in History and Anthropology. Traveling to Scotland and seeing Europe has always been a dream of mine since I chose to study History. By visiting the many castles, battlefields and landmarks; while taking in local customs and culture for me is a destiny fulfilled. I hope to bring these experiences; along with those gained in the classroom, to aid me in my academic pursuits and make me a more world conscious individual.

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