I’ve already made several huge mistakes this semester — not little mistakes such as forgetting to submit an assignment or showing up slightly late, but big scheduling miscalculations that make my very presence in class a mistake.
From the moment I entered the upper-division biology course I’d somehow been talked into taking, I remembered something very important. You can’t fake your way through science with big words and a Wikipedia-level of comprehension.
Thus far I’ve recognized only about 30 percent of the words in the first lecture (which is a generous estimation to begin with), and I have to fall back upon my foggy memory of Bill Nye episodes I saw in middle school. To put this in perspective, the last (and only) time I learned about genetics was when I made a model of DNA out of a bag of Twizzlers in high school. Needless to say, this class is going to require a bit of extra work.
Had that been my only difficult class, I might have felt better about my potential grades this semester. However, in the interest of sleeping as much as possible, I’ve made it a point to avoid any classes that start before 11:30 a.m. While this is fantastic for my sleep schedule, it has the unfortunate side effect of packing my three hardest courses in a four-hour block without breaks. And given the Olympic-style sprint it takes to get across campus for each class, I think it’s safe to say that I won’t be stopping for snacks in between classes. Though, on the plus side, I suppose I won’t have to find additional time to exercise this semester.
Rounding out my day are two back-to-back math courses straight from some sort of imaginary number-filled nightmare. Though I’ll concede that I actually find the concepts behind econometrics fascinating, I still can’t shake the feeling that if a degree requires its own specific brand of math, then it can’t be a good sign.
Any positive feelings I had about math must have been used up on econometrics, because as I try to describe my calculus course, all I can picture is being buried alive by a sea of complicated problem sets. The fact that 90 percent of that class appears to have just graduated high school, yet has a far better understanding of the subject than I ever will, is disheartening at best.
To say that morale was low after the first day back would be selling it short. When the first day of classes culminates in a group of weary friends weighing the pros and cons of dropping out at the local Olive Garden, you know you have a problem on your hands. As much as I love making important decisions without any semblance of forethought, no one should be making life-changing choices over faux-Italian noodles and endless breadsticks.
So don’t get me wrong, this is not some sort of cataclysmic event that’s going to tank my entire degree. This is more akin to watching a three-legged Greyhound trip on its way out of the gate: unfortunate but not unexpected. After three years here, I’m all too familiar with the new semester stress shuffle. I’ll inevitably hit my stride right before midterms, at which point I’ll exist in a perpetual state of stress that lasts until the snow melts.
Honestly I give it a week before I’ve become accustomed to the difficulty of this semester and have found some new reason to complain. Be it the fact that the bookstore wanted to charge me almost $900 for my books, the coming “ice-pocalypse” or the fact that my Kia now makes a sound like a TARDIS when I put it in reverse, there’s clearly plenty left to complain about.
For now at least, the hellish first week back is finally almost over, and I’m so close to having time to relax that it’s hard not to retain a bit of pre-semester optimism. With a four-day weekend and a conveniently placed birthday looming in the distance, somehow I feel as if the college stress may be about to take a backseat. Rough starts aside, I have no doubt that it’s going to be another memorable semester.
It’s good to be back.