First Day of The Fall Semester

So I’m back for my second semester! I’m still a Freshman because though technically this is now Fall (and therefore a new academic year), I had only completed 12 credit hours so far and still don’t qualify as a “Sophomore” until after this semester. It’s a little complicated though because my forms say “Sophomore” due to it being the new academic year…

In any case…

I had 4 classes back to back today so I was in campus from 9am to 8.40pm. I’m exhausted. Especially since I was lugging around a 20 pound backpack, a lunch bag and a bag filled with art and drafting supplies. I walked quite a bit today and I’m just beat.

Thankfully, despite the physical stresses I endured today (mind you, I’m pretty sedentary, and that’s why I call them “stresses”), I had an excellent time in my classes!

It started very well with MATH154 (Algebra and Trigonometry 2) – which is a continuation of my last math class. I was nearly late for class despite leaving an hour and a half early because the traffic was horrendous. Then as we entered campus, we realized just how packed it was with parents sending off their kids, freshmen getting into campus for the first day, returning students etc. It was madness. It took me about 10 minutes just to a short distance from the traffic light to the IT building where my math class was.

I was glad to be able to snag a seat in the front of the class though. As I arrived, I was all breathless as I had run up the stairs to the classroom. My instructor was sweaty and breathless as well – all dressed in a nice suit (but paired with tennis shoes, what!). He looked like he had been running around as well… In the next 10 minutes, he handed out our syllabus and tried to memorize everyone’s names. He did a very good job remembering all 43 names too! I was impressed. I remember when I was a teacher, I had to make a game out of it in order to remember everyone’s names effectively. The instructor was very jolly, upbeat and hyper (he made a joke, “Can you guys tell I’ve had 5 cups of coffee today?” – it was 9am). He sprinted through the first section of Chapter 6 and I was glad that I had done my homework and studied ahead before class. Otherwise, I’d be totally lost…

MATH154 was a very quick hour and 15 minutes and I was excited for more. Can you believe that? Someone like me who just months prior to starting school abhorred math, is now excited for math. I just can’t believe how much I could love a subject I hated with a passion just because of a different way of teaching me the subject.

Anyway, I went from a very upbeat and excited instructor to one who is extremely dour and negative. Her sentences were punctuated with sighs and groans; clearly indicating that she had no desire to be there. At least, that was what she was presenting with her attitude, body language and verbal language. I was uncomfortable for the most part and found myself wishing the class to end quickly. Maybe I’m too harsh but the instructor was definitely unpleasant and I hope that things will change.

My Color and Design class which came after that was fun though. The instructor was upbeat, excitable and exuded passion for color and for art. She tried to sound firm when telling us about attendance and school policies but you could tell that she just couldn’t wait for us to get started. Unfortunately, we didn’t do any drawing today. I was a little disappointed since any chance I get to draw is a chance that I would never waste. I hung around after class to talk to the instructor a little bit more and I’m excited to get started! (Yes, I’m a nerd. Yes, I like to hang out and talk to teachers. I’ve always done this – even when I was going to college the first time).

I then headed to Speech Communication at 6.00pm. I wasn’t looking forward to it at all since I was basically doing this class because the credits from my first degree didn’t transfer (even though it should’ve since I was an English major!) and I felt like redoing a class that I was actually teaching back in Malaysia was a waste of time. I also felt like it was a waste of money as well. As I waited outside the class, I realized that I had started to feel anxiety creeping up on me. I think it was mainly because I realized that I was surrounded by 19-year-olds. All of my classmates were half my age and suddenly I felt my age as I didn’t really get what they were conversing about (or really, even cared).

I also felt the most foreign today because some of my instructors kept saying, “Well everyone knows that….” followed by some kind of information that a kid who grew up in America would’ve known (such as 12 inches = 1 foot). I didn’t feel bummed or anything like that; just a little out of place. A little bit alienated but I didn’t let it bother me because I knew that anything that I didn’t know, I could always learn about.

Turns out, Speech Communication was actually very very well presented by my instructor. He was very casual and very patient (snarky in some ways but patient). He was very confident and suave in his style and I really liked it. He reminded me of Russell Peters in his mannerisms and speech. He even looked slightly like Russell Peters – albeit, a half Sicilian version.

At one point in his lecture, he asked the class who had a fear of public speaking and why. All the answers boiled down to people being afraid of what others would say about them or think about them. He addressed the class and told them that we shouldn’t put too much stock in what others think of us because if we live by other people’s values, then we’re not really living. I then asked if I could add a few things. He then told me to go ahead.

I addressed the class and told them a little bit about myself – how English is not my first language, how I’m from Malaysia and how so much of the cultural context is lost on me. Yet, I was able to learn to overcome my fear of public speaking (I still have social anxiety which really rears its ugly head when it comes to making speeches) but I am able to speak in front of crowds without melting into a puddle of nervous breakdown. I told them that they had the advantage of being born in this country, understanding cultural contexts and speaking English as their first language. I said that if I could do it, why not them? To which the instructor thanked me for sharing my experience and also added, “What she’s trying to say is, you don’t have any excuses!”. I hope that that didn’t paint a target on my head and make me a target for gossip now. >_> I wanted to be positive and tell my classmates that they really can do it and that they’re equipped with all the necessary tools. I just hope I didn’t come across as “douchey” or “superior”.

At the end of class, the instructor told me that he thinks that I’ll do very well in the class. And that he is excited to hear more from me. He thinks that given my background, I would have lots to share and many experiences to talk about. Well, it is my passion to share wisdom with others (one of the reasons why I loved teaching) so this might be a great opportunity to be heard!

Overall, I had an amazing first day back. I couldn’t have asked for more!

Well… Maybe for a little more positivity from my Architectural Presentations instructor but eh, in time, I’m sure she’ll warm up to us!

I really can’t wait for Wednesday (even if it means doing my first MATH154 quiz!)!

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