Week what?! Yes! Week five! I can’t believe it either!
This was the last week of teaching for one of my (two) taught courses, so this means that from now on I’ll just have one or two hours of tutorials per week, for the next five weeks. Of course, for AoL (the course that finished now) they said that teaching doesn’t stop and we can come to them with any questions at any time, and go to their designated AoL office hours. I don’t have any questions right now, and I doubt I will have, because the topic is completely uninteresting to me and I don’t really want to become an interviewing whizz. I just want to pass the course to be done with it. I guess that one of the university’s challenges is that you have to force yourself to be interested in something, and to get better at something you didn’t want to be good at, just so that your time isn’t complete suffering because you’re super bored by the material. You need to force yourself to find something uninteresting, interesting. And that is a challenge. Like, of course it’s easy to spend hours writing an essay that fascinates you, and that you could stay up reading about for nights – but it’s hard to do with the opposite.
I would complain that university courses should be interesting and engaging, and that a student should have every freedom to choose a course they find interesting and engaging. And that the two week rule for switching, that’s fair, but doesn’t work if there’s no class in the first two weeks so you can’t even judge whether the course would be suitable for you. Of course, sometimes you have to take a shot in the dark. But why don’t we make it in a way so that you don’t have to? A student’s life is stressful enough. It’s even more stressful when you’re worrying you’re wasting your time on something you find completely useless.
Here’s when my philosophy of connect the dots comes in. And trying to make something out of shit. But it’s not always easy!
Either way, going from generality to specificity – here’s how the week went.
I spent quite a bit of time working on my Pugin and Viollet-le-duc essay for TTWA (the topic I eventually changed on Friday), and on the AoL report section that was due on Thursday. We also had mini-presentations on Tuesday morning in our groups, which was very tricky because (a) our group was not at all working together on the same topic, and one ghostly guy who never came to class suddenly appeared with his own separate theory for the report and for some reason decided to join us in doing the presentation. It overran (every single presentation overran) and I was the last to present, so you can imagine I tried to hurry up and not say much, just throw in the topic I was meant to talk about. Here’s where you could use creativity and genius, but I didn’t use that because it was just formative assessment anyway. We didn’t do that well but if you ask me, no one did well because everybody hugely overran. It still made me cry a bit when in our feedback the lecturer said that my point was underdeveloped; what was it supposed to be? If my group was shit? Anyway, that’s whatever. It doesn’t even matter because I don’t care about the course.
The presentations were on Tuesday. On Wednesday morning I finished writing the 1,000 words of the report for formative assessment, and I submitted them before noon. In the afternoon we had the last workshop, and again, it wasn’t particularly useful or enlightening. Again, we had 3/4 of our group (never ever apart from the presentation did we have 4).
I was at the library in the morning on Wednesday and Thursday. Thursday morning I spent figuring out my actual research questions for my dissertation, to send them to my supervisor for checking. I sent them off and in the evening he got back to me and said they are very good and that I’m doing well. It made me so happy! I’m very happy with my allocated supervisor, he’s been very supportive so far, and encouraging and helpful. So that was great, something great to reward me after all those nightmareish times in the previous week.
I also spent some time on my TTWA essay, and I initially picked the topic on Pugin, Viollet-le-duc, and their (broadly defined) ideas of nature and history. But no matter how much I read, I still didn’t get the topic, and had no idea what the answer would be. Then on Friday I watched the lectures on Robert and James Adam (a live tutorial followed at Friday lunchtime) and they were interesting, so I changed the essay topic to the one on the Adams. And I immediately got drawn in, so I took that as a good sign. I’m still no great fan of 18th century history (it’s all so far in the past, isn’t it?), and I have the impression that a lot of art historians are locked in a tiny box fixed in a spot in an imaginary past; but I don’t mind spending a few weeks writing an essay on 18th century domestic architecture. I really like the Adams’ designs, they’re colourful and nothing like the boring historicist designs that preceded them.
So that’s what’s been up. Robert and James Adam, some dissertation admin, and some AoL work that I’ll sadly need to return to, but only after we get our feedback. I’m not doing anything until then.
Saturday was mainly essay work and an autumnal walk looking at posh houses in Morningside. And today, Sunday, I went again on a train to see my (relatively new) friend and we drove to Crichton Castle to take a walk with her dog. It was still autumnal, but you could see a big difference between this week and last week when it comes to the proportion of leaves still on trees. Now there’s much fewer. I’m guessing next week will be even less. And of course, today was a switch from BST to GMT, so it was already dark when I got on the train back to Edinburgh. Oh man. We also ate cinnamon rolls she made this morning, and she sent me off home with a couple more in my bag… and then I went home to fix the toilet with my flatmate (with a silicone gun). What an end to the week.