Year One: First Term (Part 2)

Hey again, so I wanted to start where I left off in my previous post. Last time I talked about what led up to me going to school, so this time I’ll talk about my goals for school and about what’s happened so far.

My goals for school, overall, are simple. My writing abilities are self-taught, and I believe there is very little left that I can learn without spending money. Ultimately, that means my priority is to learn new techniques that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to and to practice in a positive environment with other writers.

I have some minor goals that I’ve been working on as well. These go hand-in-hand with the events that have occurred throughout the last couple of months, so I’ll detail them as I go along.

I hate vehicles. It doesn’t matter what kind, they’re all metal death machines in my eyes. But unfortunately the only viable way for me to get between home and campus is via bus, and those happen to be the worst kind of metal death machines. Too many people, not enough space for me to breathe, and they’re never on time.

It took an hour or so of mental preparation every morning before I could handle the bus. For a while I couldn’t even get on unless I had a friend on the phone with me, because otherwise I was afraid of being overwhelmed. Fortunately, this only lasted a couple weeks, and I’m glad to say that I can now get on and off the bus on my own without fear.

Managing the bus, learning how to distribute my time between the homework for every class, and navigating between the buildings on campus were my main concerns during the first few weeks of school. However, it was during the second week where I started getting the idea to expand my horizons. Specifically, it was club day, a day where a variety of clubs had booths outside where they told the students what they did and if you wanted, you could join. There were dozens, but I only joined two– the games and medieval clubs– and I think that was probably a wise decision seeing how much time is eaten away by just those.

So, week two was when I’d heard of these clubs, but I don’t think it was until October where I started to attend meet-ups. This was because while I had an interest in the subject matter of these clubs, I didn’t really have a reason to go. I had one friend who I sometimes hung out with at lunch and after classes, but otherwise I was content to go home and study Japanese and play video games with my boyfriend. One Tuesday night after my creative writing class was over, my friend cancelled on the plans we’d made. I didn’t want to go straight home since I was feeling a little social (it doesn’t happen often!) and so I decided to make the best of it and go to games club for the first time.

It ended up going rather well. Most of the festivities were over as my class went several hours into the allotted game time, but there were two people I recognized from club day, and so I felt a bit at ease. I ended up playing exploding kittens for the second time ever (which is an awesome game, by the way) and then going home. The week after that, I went to the club without any reason other than to see who was there and play some games, but I ended up joining a dungeons and dragons group that would start that very Friday.

This is where my terrible shithole of a second goal was born.

I liked my dnd group and it inspired me to become more social in general. I wished to try and make friends within my dnd group first, but it didn’t really end up happening because dnd was the only time we spent a significant amount of time together and I felt uncomfortable trying to strike up a conversation with someone in the “real world” while we were supposed to be role playing. Maybe it’ll be a little easier next year, as our group is supposed to continue once classes start again.

Anyway, games club ended up opening the door to my desire to be social. I mean, it didn’t suddenly make me a social butterfly that wants to do everything with everyone, but it did make me realize that I would like to make some friends with similar interests that I could do stuff with. I worked on this until the end of October / the beginning of November, when the public transit here in Kelowna went on strike.

The transit strike had horrible timing. November is a shitty month for me because of some silly things that happened a couple years ago (I’d rather not go into detail, but I’m determined to get over it for next year because it’s getting ridiculous) and the strike forced me to stay home. I was hoping to use school as a distraction, but obviously, that’s not what happened since I couldn’t make it to class about 80% of the time. It was simply too expensive to get Alex to drive me there and back.

It was nice at first, kind of like an unexpected break from class that helped me recover from all the mental strain that had accumulated from being social. But it quickly turned into long periods of alone time, which left me to my thoughts and the stuff I wanted to avoid thinking about. Around mid-November, I fell into the depths of depression that lasted until a good week into December. Thankfully I had Alex and another understanding friend (that I’d made just before this happened) help me through it because the end result could have been much worse than a change in medication and plans to try therapy again in the new year.

Let’s see… So the strike didn’t completely screw me over like it did a couple of people I know, but I missed some stuff that I wasn’t really able to make up for. I was looking at about 90% in Japanese, which I’m pretty sure dropped substantially because I missed out on a lot of oral practice that I had been previously using to nail grammar rules and vocabulary into my brain. It’s really unfortunate, but I’ve got plans for next semester that should keep me from falling behind on the speaking and listening portions of learning a new language, should something similar happen.

Alright, I’m going to backtrack because I’d like to talk a bit about my creative writing course. Before this, I’d exchanged writing with a couple groups online, but never done anything face-to-face. There were three writing projects due for this class– a short story of about 1000 words, a short story of about 300 words, and then a monologue or short play. There was an in-class workshop for each of these assignments.

I was pretty neutral about the people in the class before the first workshop. I had the impression that very few people had any idea what they were doing, but it was only a first-year course so that wasn’t a surprise and I was prepared to deal with it. So the first workshop finally came around in early October. The class was split into two groups of about 25 (which was still way too big) and we were asked to read and critique everyone’s stories before class, so during the workshop we could go through everyone’s stories and discuss them as a group one at a time.

There were a couple stories that were good and that I enjoyed, but overall I’d been correct when I assumed most people had no idea what they were doing. Or, at the very least, they were too lazy to make it look like they had a clue.

I like writing fucked up stories. I mean I don’t think what I write is that bad; I don’t make the writing graphic unless it’s necessary, and I don’t intentionally add adult themes just to make the story ‘edgier.’ But I don’t know, I guess my first story creeped a lot of people out and quite a few people seemed to avoid me after that. It was a little upsetting, but I made friends with the few people who did like my story, so I’d say it worked out. In fact, even with all the negative feedback about how the story was hard to read and stuff like that, I think it’s one of the best short stories I’ve ever written. I have plans to submit it to a few places to see if I can get it published–I’m going to work on that as soon as I’m done with my finals, the last being my English exam on the 19th.

I don’t think there’s much else to say, as I’m going to write a separate post to talk about learning Japanese.

I liked all of my classes and my professors were great. I suppose I struggled identifying with anyone in my English tutorial, which really sucked because there was a lot of group-based work. I was always paired with people who didn’t want to do anything so I usually ended up doing most of it. I made it through in the end, which is what really matters, I suppose.

I’m not sure if my experience with my first semester was typical or abnormal, but it’s mine. Regardless of what happened I’m happy with the results and intend to use the mistakes I made this time around to better next semester and all the semesters after that.

Are there any first-years out there that would like to share their experiences in their first semester?

~Erynn

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