All week long, I was writing blog posts in my head (while I was in the shower, while I was walking to class, while I was driving to pick boys up from school), but I was not ever able to actually get to the computer to document my thoughts.
So here are some anecdotes from my first week of school that I want to remember. Oh, and a picture of the schoolgirl, of course.
Question...how old do my classmates think I am?
A lot of my friends had been asking me over the last several weeks if I was nervous about going back to school, and I always said, "Not at all! I'm excited." Well at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, I bolted right past nervous to downright scared. When my professor said, in his beautiful South African accent, "So we will be starting in Ch. 4, because Ch. 1-3 is assumed knowledge," I almost gasped aloud. Oh wait a minute, I think I did. And if there weren't 150 other students in my class for me to look stupid in front of, I probably would have raised my hand and said, "Um, are you serious? I had high school chemistry in 1994!" Please don't "assume" that there is ANY chemistry "knowledge" in this brain. He went on to say that we needed to know the following (you know, just KNOW it - doesn't everyone?):
The first 109 Elements on the Periodic Table
Common Strong and Weak Acids
Common Strong and Weak Bases
Now I was ready to start crying. I don't even know what a cation IS, let alone a list of ten common ones. And everyone who knows me knows that you can read my face like a book, so I had this great cringing frown on my face for an hour while I was sitting in the third row of the lecture hall. But that wasn't the end of the Chemistry horror - then he passed out a quiz that he was going to use to gauge his students' knowledge coming into the course. The first question was "What is an element?" Now the mumbling, whispered expletives commenced. On that particular questions, I thought of that scene in Reality Bites when the prospective employer asks Winona Ryder to "define irony," and Ryder (an English major, college graduate) says, "Well...I know it when I see it." I "know" what an element is, but no longer had the vocabulary to define it. I wanted to mark a big slashing line through every page of the quiz and write a note to my prof at the end explaining that I had Chem. in 1994, I'm a good student, I will catch up, and I am embarrassed for him to look at my quiz. Instead, I guessed on all of the questions...and still wrote the note at the end!
Next class is Social Statistics. I didn't really know anything about the class, but was looking forward to it with my sunny, optimistic attitude. In walks Dr. Shafer who says, "Welcome to your most dreaded class of the semester. And I am your most dreaded professor." What???!!!! He went on to comment about the anxiety level he knew we all had about this course, and to say that when people ask him what he does for a living, they say, "Oh, I hated that class." Yikes. I had no idea. He had each of us complete the following sentence on the back of an index card and turn it in: "A course in statistics is like..." On Thursday he shared some of our responses with the class, including:
...nailing Jello to a tree. (Huh?)
...a bad breakup. You know it has to be done so you just get it over with.
My response was "...a jumpstart for my brain after 5.5 years as a stay-at-home mom." And so far I am really enjoying the class and expect to do well in it - despite the fear tactics.
Last was Human Anatomy & Physiology II. I love biological sciences, and got an A in A&P I. However, I took said course 6 years ago at Pulaski Tech. The instructor started lecturing at the halfway point of Ch. 12 - which was the stopping point of A&P I, for probably everyone else in the class who just completed that course in December. Great. So now I am trying to refresh my memory about neurons and synapses and the central nervous system so I can understand what he's talking about.
While the first day was slightly defeating, Wednesday was "Lab Day" and it went really well. Although, the hour long safety lecture in Chem Lab was more than slightly disturbing. Dr. Warby and Dr. Rougeau like sharing horror stories of acid spills and exploding beakers. Oh, and hair catching on fire. And I don't own any shoes that are lab appropriate (Target clearance aisle, hear I come - size 5 ugly closed toe, flat, leather boot, please). No tennis shoes because they are mesh on top and acid can burn straight through your foot. No "UGG" boots, because they are absorbent and acid can burn straight through your foot. So in order to be a chemist this semester I need ugly shoes and safety glasses. Sweet.
I DID feel my confidence lift a little, and I went to the computer lab and printed off all of the review information I needed in order to get up to speed on my science classes. I stayed up until midnight on Wed. studying for my next day's classes and felt really prepared. Honestly - NEVER did this my first time through college. I actually don't think I ever opened my textbooks - just studied my notes from class. It feels really good to be LEARNING this information with the goal of a new career in mind, (and the responsibility of loans being taken out to reach that goal for our family), rather than cramming the night before a test and retaining nothing.
Now, in an effort to giggle at myself, here are my nerdy moments for the week:
Well, this was actually before the first week of school, but I will include it. I went to campus the week before school started to scope out where I would park, and to find each of my classrooms. Unequivocally a dork move.
Sat down in left-handed desk (didn't know there was such a thing) and had to get up and move.
Nodded my head when prof asked if everyone was familiar with each of the following: "BlackBoard" "ARIS" "Clicker" Really had no idea on any of them - they are all new technological advancements since I was in college in 1999.
Ate a banana walking down the sidewalk on my way to class. I don't see anyone else doing such a thing, but I have class straight through from 9-2 and I have to eat sometime.
Along the same lines, cracked open a can of Coke after the lecture started (cursing myself for not opening it before class started), then proceeded to pull out my baggie of cheese chunks during the lecture on the olfactory sensory organs. I imagine my classmates caught a whiff and thought, who's the nerdy old woman with the cheese? Oh well.
Well, I guess I'm off to flip through my flashcards on the Peridodic Table of Elements. Here's a quiz for all of you. What does W stand for and what is that element's atomic number?