Team Hensley

Team Hensley

Sunday, October 3, 2010

My First Week of School

So my first week of school has come and gone. My schedule looks like this:

M. 4:30-6:20. Perspectives: Social Sciences Analysis
W. 9:30-12:20. South Asia as a Unit of Study
Th. 1-2:50. Perspectives discussion group
F. 12:30-2:50. Historical Methods

I was very intimidated by my classes at first. On the one hand, the professors would often refer to philosophers and academics as if I should already be familiar with them and their ideas. On the other hand, the students themselves, when given a chance to talk, seemed to confirm this familiarity; difficult concepts wrapped in difficult words would come gushing out of their mouths at the drop of a hat. And they all went to fancy schools: UCLA, Berkeley, Columbia, UT, etc. I went to Texas State, and I frequently had no idea what anyone was talking about.
I was in my Perspectives discussion group, and I felt like I might freak out. A student was talking. He had obviously read everything ever written on every subject. He was saying something about...well, I don't really know. But the professor did, and it seemed like the other students did. I started to get short of breath as I realized I was way over my head/fish out of water. But then a miracle happened: the professor suggested that we stop talking about whatever it was that guy wanted to talk about, and get back on the topic of the class. And then everything started to make sense.
I remember how my friend Snehal was giving me a "what to expect in grad school" rundown. He said that the first weeks of school would basically be a pissing contest as every grad student tried to assure every other grad student that he/she was the smartest human being that has ever walked the planet. So when that one student is not making much sense to anyone but the professor and himself, it's because he's trying really really hard to prove just how smart he is to everyone.
And the fact that the classes bring up people and ideas that I'm not very familiar with? That's what grad school's about! I'm here to figure out all of those things! So it really shouldn't freak me out.
Lastly, all the other students (or most of them) are just as worried about not being able to cut it as I am. I guess it's just opening night jitters.

Anyway. Here are some of the books I need for my classes (there are three more coming in the mail):
Most of what I need to read is online in the form of articles or excerpts from books. It looks like I'm going to be doing about 300+ pages of reading a week. Some examples of this week's readings:
  • Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890 - 1940. (excerpts)
  • ‘The sacred bond of unity: Community through the eyes of a thirteen-year-old witch (1683)’, in Power of blood: popular culture and village discourse in early modern Europe
  • 'Orientalist Constructions of India'
The classes are centered around a discussion of the readings more than a lecture from the professor. Participation in those discussions and a few writing assignments make up the bulk of the grade I get for each course.

There is more to say, but I'm getting tired of typing. Any specific questions you need answered? Lemme know.

Here is a random picture from our window of dark clouds with a bright sunset:


  1. Forgot to say: In the future, instead of saying my classes are "intimidating," I am going to say they are "challenging." That seems like a better way of looking at it.

  2. WOW! I got short of breath reading your post. But you need to know that in the eyes of your family and friends, you are the smart guy in the class. We all believe in you. Never forget that.
    I know that you will study your little butt off, but don't forget to have some fun if possible and continue to explore your new domain.
    Love you,

  3. Yep, yep, what she said...and soon your classmates will all know you're the smartest one too.

    Makes sense about the pissing'll probably all hate that guy soon because he won't shut up about what he already knows, but he won't be able to formulate a new thought about what he's supposed to be learning. Very annoying.

  4. Well I'm totally overwhelmed by the list of classes and the stack of books. Are you planning to read six hours a day? Is the computer still holding up?

    I bet that smart ass guy is really "intimidated" by the class. And he probably lives in a dumpy apartment. And he can't cook.

    love you lots,