It’s not only that I haven’t been a university student for longer than I care to remember but the American university experience is very different. For my undergraduate degree I had to get nine credits, each of which was a full course over the span of an academic year. Here, everything is more bite sized and broken up into smaller pieces. This degree, like my B.A., is scheduled to take three years (although I may have to take longer, given my work schedule at the station) but I have to acquire 48 credits over all, with each individual course making up 3 or 6 credits. Then there’s the whole technology side of things; being assigned an email account right away, and trying to get my head around WebTycho, something I hadn’t even heard of a couple of weeks ago. It turns out to be a system for online course work. I’ll just have to hope that I have enough computer nous to make a go of that.
The first class for Creativity: Ways of Seeing on Monday was encouraging and inspiring. The first thing we did was make a book! We were shown how to take two long, thin sheets that make up the course syllabus and turn them into a concertina book. How creative is that?! So now we have everything we need to know encapsulated in a cool little booklet.
Now I’ve bought the materials we need, like a beautiful, spiral bound artists’ sketch book for a journal; a self-healing cutting mat (how have I lived without one all these years?); various types of glues, etc. I’ve made a start on my journal and we also have a photo project so I’ve begun that too. The focus seems to be to free us from pre-conceived ideas and to try to get in touch with our instinctual, almost childlike qualities, so that we have a clean, open slate from which to draw (or sense) when we write. This is going to be challenging for me, given my need for organization and my discomfort about making mistakes.
The Seminar in Reading and Writing on Tuesday was a lot more daunting. The professor comes across (in the first session at least) as quite aggressive and certainly not as nurturing. And the work load looks as if it will be very taxing. It’s like any big project, though – I will just have to try to take it a week at a time and not be overwhelmed by the whole thing in its entirety. There are some interesting and varied prescribed readings and those promise to make the course fascinating from the point of view of looking at different types of writing, and exploring how that writing is made. The overall theme for the course is Place and Landscape and these are the books:
Cesare Pavese, Collected Poems, translated by Geoffrey Brok
Peter Handke, Sorrow Beyond Dream
James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room
V.S. Naipaul, Miguel Street
So, I’m reading and writing and pasting and researching – and hoping for the best!