Posts Tagged "school"

I’m glad I took a break from university.

Posted by on Sep 9, 2014 in Life in Writing | 0 comments

Throughout high school and university, I was always a bit of a laissez-faire student. Didn’t pass that math test? Meh, there’s always another–final mark be damned. Slept through my 8:30 AM class because I was up all night gaming? Wouldn’t be the first time. I was that one cringe-worthy student that no one wanted to be paired up with for a project–unless, of course, it was one of the rare projects I was actually interested in doing. I graduated high school and made a beeline for Université de Moncton in 2004, not really knowing what to expect. I stumbled through a few years of skipping classes, dropping out of classes and, occasionally, failing classes. It may not be a time I’m proud of, but it was an immensely important learning experience for me. I’m the type of person who, sometimes, has to learn the hard way. In 2007, I finally finished my required English courses, minus one. Since I was an English major, this took all the fun out of university. Suddenly, I had to take a number of required courses that weren’t at all related to English. This was my own fault. I didn’t pace myself over the years, and I got all the fun courses out of the way early because of that. That fall, I failed a linguistics class, resulting in a panic attack–something I’d never really experienced before. I went back to university in the winter, and I wasn’t looking forward to it. I signed up for a full course load of five. Within the first few weeks, I had dropped two courses that gave me so much anxiety I couldn’t stand to even attend class. One of them–oddly enough a drama class–had me breaking out in hives. Another class I took, a three-hour long ethics class with a lot of homework, forced us to read our answers out in front of the class. I left half-way through the class one day, tears rolling down my cheeks at the mere thought of it. I also had enrolled in one English class, and it was one that I had failed in the past–the only English class I’ve ever failed, and my very last requirement for my major. When I got my midterm back and saw that, despite my best efforts, I had failed it, I lost myself. I handed the exam back and ran from the administration building to the arts building, right up to my mother’s office. She saw the look on my face and I’m sure she must have known what was coming next. “I’m leaving university,” I blurted between my sobs. “I can’t do this anymore”. She looked at me for a long moment, then nodded, and said “okay”. I went to my doctor in the days that followed and asked him to write me a note so I could get out of university without suffering failures in all of my enrolled courses. I didn’t really know what I was going to do. Brad and I were living together at the time, and I hated our apartment. I would be going back home for the summer in a few short months, so I couldn’t get a job. I visited my Nana in the hospital; I drew; I sewed; I wrote. When summer came, I went back home to work at the general store. I told people I was taking a break from university, and they advised me not to take too long a break. Some people told me I’d never go back. But my closest friends, my mom and dad, and Brad, all knew better. They were always supportive. Brad and I moved to Moncton permanently in late summer, 2008. We got a new apartment–coincidentally on Alma Street–and got a cat. I spent the next five years working a few different jobs: waitressing at a Tex-Mex restaurant (I lasted four months), being a barista at a Second Cup kiosk in the mall (a year and nine months), and going from regular employee to assistant manager to store manager at DAVIDsTEA (three whole years)....

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Annual Atlantic Undergraduate English Conference

Posted by on Mar 20, 2014 in Life in Writing | 0 comments

I mentioned in an earlier post that this was going to be a year of opportunities for me. This past weekend, I had an opportunity to represent Université de Moncton, along with three of my fellow English department students, in the Atlantic Annual Undergraduate English Conference that was held at Dalhousie University in Halifax. On Friday night, we listened to Lynn Coady deliver a keynote address, approaching the topic of being unafraid to write despite having people against you. The next day opened the floor to the students from the Atlantic region, and I had the privilege to hear interesting papers about everything from mental illness through aerial dance, to comparisons of Monty Python’s Life of Brian to the Second Shepherd’s Play. Creative panels displayed the talents of students, who wrote about family war-time stories and read aloud their diverse and thought-provoking poetry. On Saturday afternoon, I had the opportunity to read my own poetry in front of the crowd. Interestingly, that same day was my father’s birthday. Allan Cooper is a poet, and because of him, I’ve been exposed to poetry my whole life. I have never read a selection of poems in front of others; I’ve always been reading just one or two. It seemed fitting that, on his birthday, I take the opportunity to read fully for the first time. This weekend, it hit me just how much I miss being an English student. I’m still an English major, but I finished my required courses ages ago and am just ticking off all my necessary, required courses, now. I especially miss writing critical papers–analyzing works of literature, or articles, and trying to find the mysteries in each. I think I might do a few on here–for fun–over the next little while. Why not? I have a few ideas in mind already. Attending and reading at this conference was a fantastic experience, and I highly recommend it to any Atlantic Canadian English student. Submit you paper or creative works next year, and take pride in your...

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The Gods of Social Anxiety

Posted by on Jan 8, 2014 in Life in Writing | 1 comment

I linger outside the classroom for a few minutes before making my way inside. I haven’t seen my professor yet, so I don’t know if she’s in there or not. I’m apprehensive that I’m going to walk in on someone else’s class, and I’m going to get looked at. Better just to wait. I see another student go in through the opposite door, and I feel instantly vindicated. In I go. Much to my desperate relief, no one looks at me. No one even so much as glances at me–not even the prof. Just the way I like it. I find a seat on the end, so I don’t have to climb over anyone else in case I need to leave, and I sit down. I must be in a class full of keeners, because I’m one of the last to arrive, and there are more than five minutes before the class begins. I take a moment to look over the professor. She’s young–probably no more than five years older than I am–and it strikes me that I am almost certainly the oldest student in class. I likely have more in common with the professor than with my fellow students. Her hair is black, and she has neat bangs in the front. The back of her head is home to a sleek ponytail. At first, she seems almost unfriendly–she doesn’t look at the class and doesn’t smile. Until, that is, she starts to talk about the course and its material. She welcomes us to the class, and suddenly she can’t stop smiling. She almost certainly loves linguistics–the course she’s there to teach. After a few minutes, she introduces herself. She is French, like most of the professors here, and has a beautiful French name to accompany it. I remember thinking that of my Spanish teacher five years prior. Katie Cooper Butland seems clunky and large in comparison. It doesn’t even roll off the tongue when you say it. It gets stuck, like when you try to swallow an almond you haven’t chewed enough. It suddenly hits me that we may have to introduce ourselves, and I’m full of apprehension. I move my hand across the desk, made of shiny plastic resembling plywood, and notice a streak of sweat left from my palm. My heart is racing. Please don’t make us introduce ourselves. What will I say? “I’m Katie. I’m technically a fourth-year student but I’ve actually been in university since fall of 2004. I major in English. I am English first language. This is a French university. What the hell am I even doing? I’m twenty-eight, by the way. I’m married. I’m a home owner. I gave up a full time management position to finish the degree I was supposed to get 5 years ago.” If we’re going to introduce ourselves, can we just say our name and that’s it? Pretty please? The Gods of Social Anxiety have smiled upon me. The prof goes down our names, and then hands out the syllabus. She isn’t going to make us introduce ourselves.  My heart stops racing and I get comfortable in my seat. No one will look at me. I mean, other than for the fact I have blue hair. A cursory glance at the syllabus tells me that we have three exams total and no projects. Perfect. That means I won’t need to work in a group. About halfway through class, I feel that familiar nagging urge. I have to pee. Why now? Come on. I peed before I left the house. I’ve only had a cup of coffee and a glass of juice today. I haven’t even touched the tea in my travel mug. What if I have to leave class? That would be so embarrassing. Leave on the first class? No way. I would look so rude–I bet you anything the professor would remember me as That Girl who Left Class on the First Day. She wouldn’t remember me for my bright blue hair, my orange coat, or my plaid top. Not at all. Hazarding a glance...

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New Year, New Leaf

Posted by on Jan 2, 2014 in Life in Writing | 0 comments

(Alternate title: This is not another post about Animal Crossing, so don’t worry.) It’s 2014. And things are changing for me. Sounds cliché, doesn’t it? A lot of people take the New Year as a time for renewal and changes. Lots of people make weight loss or fitness-related goals for themselves in 2014. That’s not a judgment by any means; it’s merely an observation. Whether it’s cliché or not, it’s still a great opportunity to stop and look at where you are in your life and think of what you’d like to change. I did this a little earlier–August 2013, to be precise. I was thinking about where I’d like to be right now and school really stood out for me. I’ve been on hiatus from university since spring of 2008. I’d had 11 courses remaining, but felt the need to take a break for personal reasons. I just wasn’t ready to be where I was and didn’t know what I’d do afterwards, anyway. So, I took a step away to figure things out. I don’t regret this at all. I had people telling me not to take too long a break because I would never go back. This year, I realised that I was running out of time, and that I had two options: let my courses expire and not finish, or go back and get it all done. It was a tough decision, because both sides meant a lot of sacrifices. I’ll never regret the time I took away from university because I learned so much about myself during it. I worked really hard, made a ton of new friends and acquaintances and even wrote a novella. I took a couple of courses over the last two years and earned higher marks than I had while studying full time, leading me further into the idea that I had learned enough to finally give it full throttle. Doing that while working full time was very difficult and it took a lot out of me, but I succeeded. I now have nine courses remaining. Nine. I have 5 coming up in January, then I’m hoping to take some intercession courses in spring and summer, then whatever is left to take in the fall. I will, finally, finish in December 2014. One year from now, I will finally have my degree. Better late than never! I struggled with the need to make a change a year ago. I wasn’t sure what that change was supposed to be and ended up not making a change at all in the process. I’m glad I didn’t, because I don’t know if I would have made this decision otherwise. So, welcome, 2014. I’m glad to see you. I know I have a lot of resolutions that I really want to make this year, but I think I’m just going to keep it to one: focus on school. What’s even more exciting is that after this degree is finished, I’ll be free, and I’ll be able to move on to other things without feeling like I’m half-doing something else. Who cares if New Year’s resolutions are cliché? Who cares if you don’t keep them? Thinking actively about your life and what you can do to change it for the better is still a worthwhile exercise. Better to resolve, try, and not keep your resolution, than to do nothing at all. Better to be self aware and fix anything broken than to be ignorant, whether you perceive that ignorance to be bliss or not. Try, and, in trying, may you succeed. Happy New...

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