Thursday, May 24, 2012

Good Timing

(I wrote this post on my Blackberry today while I was killing time. So if it's a bit choppy, that's why. Hopefully it's okay to read because it's about something rather exciting for me.) First a bit of background because I can't remember if I've blogged this before and if I have, I don't expect my readers to remember it. Rewind to first semester of first year. Following the advice of the history undergrad advisor I took a course called "North American Studies 101". The prof and I hit it off extremely well. Out of a class of 200, I participated a lot and often stayed after class to chat. She's also from BC and we found we had a lot in common. As I worked through my first year homesickness, I found I could often turn to her as proof that it would all turn out okay.  Our final exam was on December 22nd. As I was leaving we chatted a bit about our plans for the holidays (both of us were going back to BC) and she asked if I had heard of her NO202 course called "North American Narrative Place and Identity". I was aware of it but, because it was a second year course, I hadn't thought about it much. Well, she invited me to take it with her in the winter semester since the following year (my actual second year) she was scheduled to be on sabbatical and wouldn't be teaching it. It didn't take me long to realize that when a prof invites you to take a course, it's a good thing, so I enrolled. To keep the story short, it was one of my favourite classes ever. The paper I wrote was called "The Representation of the Senorita in Contemporary Country Music" and I got 93% on it (!). I got an A+ overall in that class (the only one I've received so far). So by the end of that year, because of her and how much I enjoyed North American Studies, I declared myself a double major in History and NAS.  So second year goes by. She was on sabbatical and I've taken three other NAS classes (none of which were taught by her anyway). As I was building my third year schedule I realized that the only course that I could take with her is a French course (she's cross listed as a prof in NAS and French). This is a course I was planning on taking for my French minor anyway. It's on Quebec Culture and can be double counted as credits for both French and NAS. But, it's IN FRENCH! I have to admit I was pretty nervous about having to participate and write in French. The content isn't too bad, I mean we study Quebec a lot in NAS, especially in contrast to English Canada and, when I was in Montreal I learned that history really is the same in French as in English (for the most part). Anyway, I talked to a few of my coworkers who have had this prof, in French, and asked what their experience was. In general it was a pretty favourable review but one of them did caution that she seems to pick favourites. This is criticism of her that I've heard before and I admit I laughed it off because we all know where I stand that way ;) the thing that concerned me was possibly losing that status over my less than stellar language skills. Keep in mind that I see her as someone who could be a fourth year seminar advisor and a very good contact for future opportunities so maintaining this status is important to me. I decided to be proactive and go talk to her before classes start in September. Just be really upfront and explain that while I am looking forward to this class, I have some concerns. I figured honesty is the best policy and that way I don't feel like I'm hiding anything and that I can go to her for extra assistance when I need it. Okay, now to the point of our story. So I'm psyching myself up to talk to her in September and guess who comes in to Starbucks on Monday? Just as I'm about to go on my lunch break too. I almost didn't recognize her since it's been a year since I saw her last but I recognized her voice. I said hi, welcome back, etc and we started chatting like no time had passed (except that we had a year of stuff to catch up on!) She ended up staying in the store while I had my lunch and we talked about everything. My experience with Explore and living in Quebec (she did the program 20 years ago), my trip out East, the 2011 playoff run (she's a huge Canucks fan), me going to Georgia, my review of the French profs I've had this year AND the WHOLE structure of this course that I'm taking with her. She was happy to hear that I am going to be in it and I was really upfront with my feelings. I told her why I'm nervous and she told me why, for what I want out of it, I shouldn't be. Apparently when this course was first designed there were only 30 seats. That allowed for a lot of interaction and participation and people wrote papers that were graded with feedback. Now the class has expanded to 80 seats with no marking support. 80 people means there's a wide range of language ability and it makes in class discussion difficult and grading papers a monumental task. She kind of apologized for that and said that from a "French language improvement point of view", the class would be a disappointment. It's mostly listening and reading. There will be weekly readings with short answer "homework" assignments which are mostly completion marks, two multiple choice mid-terms and a final that will require writing but not a lot and it will be graded on content rather than grammar. So for anyone looking to improve their speaking or writing skills (which I am not really) the class wouldn't be good. But for anyone looking to learn about culture (which I am) it will be fine. So there. I was prepared to worry for another three months and now I don't have to! Plus she has emailed me some of our readings so I can get a headstart on the more difficult ones. Talk about good timing and how everything works out for the best. I need to keep believing that!

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