Friday, June 4, 2010

R for Recap: Summer of Hell (Week 1)

With the first day of my first two summer classes out of the way, I have some gems to share with you, lovely reader. I hope you enjoy this peek into my life as an adult college student.

Lifetime Fitness started on Tuesday. Because it's an online class, class discussions are done in a message board format. Our first assigned discussion was writing an introduction post in which we were instructed to tell who we are, why we’re in school, and what our favorite physical activity is. Knowing what I know about students I’ve sat in classes with before, I was half expecting to see someone post that their favorite physical activity was “doing it.” Alas, my hopes for such entertainment were dashed.

After reading through all of the posts, I came to the realization that class discussions are going to be excruciating for my grammar and spelling obsessed self. Now, I’m not perfect (no one is), but I do have what I would consider to be a really good grasp on grammar and spelling. I don’t understand how even the simplest grammar concepts seem to elude many of my fellow college students, and with spell check being readily available, I find spelling errors to be a sign of pure laziness. This little gem had me screaming, laughing, and crying all at the same time:

Hello my name is [name removed to protect the ignorant], my favorite physical activities would include swimming, football and basketball. In high school I participated on the swim team, I swam the 200 I'm medley, Some people call me the cooler Micheal Phelps. At one point I was gonna be a lifeguard I went threw the certification and everything I just never put it into action. Football with the fellas on da weekends has always been a great past time. Basketball I play from time to time especially during the summer.. I find it as a great way to "grove my body". I'm super excited to learn and be aquintanted with each and everyone of you.

I post this exactly how it was written. Anytime someone mentions high school when they are no longer in high school, I think about my sister’s loser baby daddy who is in his 30’s and tries to relive the glory days of high school every chance he gets. So, douchebag factor aside, some of my favorite things about this post:

Apparently “Micheal [sic] Phelps” here believes that commas can function just as periods do. He seems to treat punctuation marks as mere decoration; like little knick knacks to break up blocks of writing to make them more visually appealing. I have no clue what the “200 I’m medley” is, but it’s abundantly clear that Mr. Phelps most likely rocked it.

I can’t tell if he “threw” the lifeguard certification on purpose or not, nor do I understand why one would do that. Assuming that he meant “through,” as in he completed the certification, Mr. Phelps might have the skills to save me from drowning in water; however, there is nothing that can be done to save me from drowning in my disgust and sorrow for the future of humanity at the hands of those who place absolutely no importance on proper spelling and grammar.

(And Mr. Phelps is only one example of my classmates' abilites, or lack thereof, in the spelling and grammar department. Out of thirty posts, I’d say at least half were practically unreadable and/or nearly impossible to understand.)

I love that he took the time to type out “the” in “Football with the fellas” but then decided mid-sentence that we’re all friends now, and as such, he could use the more casual “da” in “on da weekends.” I don’t even want to know why one would want to “grove” his body, or how Basketball would accomplish that, and I absolutely wouldn’t want to see what that involves. I can tell you this, lovely reader; Mr. Phelps will not be “aquintanted” with me in any way. In fact, I don’t want to even be acquainted; shocking, I know, especially when you consider that he has been called the “cooler Michael Phelps.” I’m sure his space bar was just broken when he typed “everyone.” It is pretty obvious that he meant “every one.”

Yep. Class discussions are going to be painful. Perhaps I’ll treat myself to a nice Mojito before logging into class discussions. It might help to take the edge of, and it is summer after all.

I hated Sociology within the first ten minutes of class. The instructor is loud, obnoxious, and arrogant, which is not a good combination. I like that she speaks her mind, but I think I'd respect her more if she could manage to do it without swearing like a sailor. Don’t get me wrong, lovely reader; I have been known to have quite the potty mouth. However, I know when it’s inappropriate to use profanity, and I refrain from using it in those situations.

This is my first class in an actual classroom on campus, so I was unprepared for how incredibly uncomfortable the tiny little desks are. They’re similar to the picture on the left; except, in order to make them extra uncomfortable (and to make the occupant feel extra fat), they have arms on both sides. It doesn’t help that I sat in a desk made for a left-handed person when I am right-handed. I am ashamed to admit that it took me about an hour to even figure out that there was, in fact, a difference between desks. Then, I felt like everyone must be staring at me, the idiot who sat in the wrong kind of desk and kept squirming around in unsuccessful attempts to get comfortable.

As I opened my bag to pull out my class materials, I realized that I’d completely forgotten to pack my Sociology book. Nice one, Elle! Since it was the first day of class, I figured we wouldn’t be using the book much anyway. I was relieved that I was correct.

The instructor was telling us some of her "no nos." One was no cell phones or electronic devices on in class, which is a given. That one shouldn't be too hard to enforce considering that my cell phone loses its signal almost as soon as I walk in the door of the building. The walls are concrete and must be a couple feet thick, for cryin' out loud! She was talking about being on time to class when she said, “Did you know time is a social construct?!?! But, don’t try to use that as an excuse for being late, because I’ll be pissed. By the way, I swear every so often.”

Oooooooooookay. “Every so often” proved to be quite the understatement, unless it means at least once per sentence. Pissed, Asshole, and Bitch seem to be her favorites so far. I also find it very interesting that she’s teaching a class on social inequalities, and yet, she uses the un-politically correct term “secretaries” to describe the office staff.

She handed out the course syllabus and gave us a few minutes to read it. I managed to keep “FUUUUUUUUCKKKKKK!” in my head, instead of screaming it out loud, when I read that there would be group work. Oh, but not just your typical research and present to the class type group work, lovely reader. Oh no; we have to be creative. In the past, students have produced videos, put on puppet shows, put on fake game shows or talk shows, etc. We’re to break up into groups of 4-6 people for this project in which each group will present for 30 minutes on the last day of class.

I’m not exactly clear on what it is that we’re supposed to focus on for this assignment, but that information will apparently come later. I nearly cried. I’m not kidding. I loathe group work that much, and with how busy this semester already is for me, it’s going to be really hard to get together with 4-6 people even once to develop the project let alone multiple times to work on and complete it. Stupid fuckin’ touchy-feely, let’s all learn to work together bullshit!!!

On top of that, we have to read a 10-15 page essay from the textbook each week and write a 2-3 page paper on it. I don’t have too much of a problem with that one. We all know that writing isn’t much of an issue for me, and 2-3 pages, double-spaced, isn’t much writing at all.

There are two exams: a mid-term and a final. Both exams are Blue Book essay exams. The instructor believes that multiple choice exams do nothing to prove what one has learned, because they’re really multiple guess. Also, true and false questions are a tool of psychological fuckery (my words; not hers, surprisingly) designed to allow instructor’s to sadistically try to trip up students by using subtle wording and syntax changes, etc.

I thought Blue Books were an outdated torture device from the past. I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to have the opportunity to take not one, but two, Blue Book exams! (You missed the sarcasm font; didn't you, lovely reader?) Exams are based on the instructor’s lectures, which should be interesting. I just have to develop a good note taking method to deal with an instructor who lectures like a hyperactive toddler who’s not napped for the day, eaten a shit ton of candy, downed a few gallons of Mountain Dew, and screams at the top of her lungs.

She knows that she’s loud and hyperactive. She said she almost felt bad that this was a night class, because after dealing with her for four hours, we’d arrive home unable to sleep even though it’s late. She mentioned it dozens of times. Her other favorite topics to repeat over and over again were:

She loves Karl Marx, not necessarily as a communist, but as the father of conflict theory. I’m not kidding when I tell you that she would have his babies if he was alive today (and she was about 20 years younger). Poor Mr. Marx would not know what hit him.

She lives over an hour’s drive away from campus, and as such, she will not be staying after class for anything. If it’s an absolute necessity, she’ll try to come in early, but no promises.

She is royally pissed off over the oil spill. While I share her feelings, I found this particularly interesting considering that she refuses to use the available online tool to accept our homework electronically and she uses Blue Books. Apparently killing trees isn’t as awful as killing the ocean and the life within it.

She just returned from a one year sabbatical, which (combined with the fact that it’s summer), is partly to blame for her “energy.”

It is going to be a trying semester, lovely reader. Not only will I be learning about fitness and social inequalities, but I’m also going to have to learn to exercise extreme patience and to try to keep the snark under control. May that mythical ghost up in the sky help me; I’m gonna need it!

Housekeeping Item: I bit the bullet and joined Twitter. I figured it might be a good way to keep in touch, and to quickly let you know how I'm doin', if the semester gets out of control busy. You can follow me by clicking on that green leaf icon with the pink "t" on it. (Over there ----------->)

Edited to add: You know that saying, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression"? Well, I don't know if I really buy it. Despite my first impressions of this instructor, which I think were colored by my stress over the semester  more than anything, she ended up being one of my most favorites of all time. I liked that she told it how it was, including swearing. I adored her idealism, her love for the subject matter, and the fact that her class really wasn't that stressful at all, because I knew exactly what she expected out of me. Let that be a lesson to all of us. Sometimes, we should give people second chances after bad first impressions. Sometimes those bad first impressions are our own fault.

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  1. oh my goodness. I feel your pain and you have my sympathy. Sometimes I used to wonder if half the reason I earned good grades was because I could spell correctly :-) Like you, reading that would have made me crazy!!!

    and that teacher...ugh. I probably would have withdrawn from that class at the mention of the dreaded group project. Again, you have my sympathy!

  2. OH. MY. I was seriously in physical pain reading the post from your classmate. God help you having to read through crap like that on a regular basis. I think I would die. Or at least be really mean.

    I'm with you on group work. My school was all about the group learning. I had plenty of time to get together, but the people I went to school with were giant douches so it was hard to get excited about group work. Plus, I don't like relying on people I don't know for my grades. It was horrible and part of the reason I didn't continue on and get a masters.

    And be creative and put on a puppet show??? What the hell? Is this kindergarten or college?

    Bless you, dear Elle, for putting up with all of this in the name of higher education. Your blog makes me glad I went to college when I was younger and still had a modicum of patience. Now I'd have to shoot people.

    Good luck!

  3. I loved my sociology class but I couldn't deal with a teacher like that. She would drive me crazy!

  4. Ha! Welcome to my world! I grade 100+ papers a few times a semester and they read like your fellow class mate's post. I know that no one is perfect but not utilizing the spell check is lazy (and tells me the student doesn't care..).
    I make sure I NEVER use profanity during class. It's not the time or the place - although outside of work I know how to use all the *good* words.. =)
    Just keep up with the classes, (hopefully) learn a few things you didn't know before and get good grades. Other than that, fuck 'em!

  5. Oh Elle, you had me cracking up with the story about "the cooler Mr. Phelps". Seriously! L.M.A.O.

    I got a little lost after you mentioned that you'd be dealing with her for "four hours". At a time? Seriously? WTF. God Bless you.

    I'm thinking of you this weekend (while you're away with Music Man) and hoping you're loving your mini-getaway...even if it includes homework and stuff.

  6. That sociology teacher is just "too much". I always knew I was in trouble when I learned too much of a teacher's/professor's life in a short period of time. Wish I had some great words of wisdom, but other than "ignore da bitch" I don't have much to say.

    Elle, thank you for your warmth and caring. I can't tell you how much your comment means to me. I truly appreciate it. Thank you.

  7. Oh my god. I loved keeping the fuuuuucccckkk in your head (sometimes I don't know if it seeped out or not). I had a cousin who decided not to use S's once. (reminded me of the Comma Caper!). P.S. Come on over to my new blog. I switched to Wordpress (why I don't know).

  8. Good luck with your semester!
    I SOOOO don't envy you!

    People with their bad grammer and punctuation PISS me off!

    Thanks again for coming to visit me on my SITS day and becoming a follower!

  9. i totally despise when classes make you do interviews or fake commercials or stupid crap like that- not because they require creativity, but because they are things that FIRST GRADERS DO. it's absolutely ridiculous to tell adults to do that stuff.

    and c'mon, i ALWAYS use "da" in my work. it's proper english!


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