Monday, October 27, 2008

Three and a half months

I've been home longer than I was in Germany. And I'm happy to back at my house, at my campus, in my library, with my professors and fellow students.

But I'm missing Germany, too. This week especially. Missing food, missing sights, missing sounds, and, yes, I'm missing friends.

"It can be a hard transition," someone told me last week. And I said, "Well, not really." Because, like I said, I'm happy.

But that doesn't mean that every once in a long while, walking beneath the scarlet trees on campus, or driving home through golden fields, or catching sight of someone who reminds me of a German tutor or student--that doesn't mean that I don't miss the three-month world I've left behind.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


After two years of writing academic essays for college courses, I've discovered that I am--to put it mildly--a very, very slow writer. As I painfully hammered out an English/Philosophy essay this week, I did some calculations. The results? With any given assignment, I average a whopping total of about 1 paragraph per hour. Granted, my paragraphs tend to run long, and the first two or three paragraphs are the hardest to write (and so are responsible for hiking the average up significantly). But even taking those two factors into consideration--1 paragraph an hour? Only 1?

There's a reason I like to start working on papers early.

N.B. for professors: please, please, please don't hand me an essay assignment just one week before it's due; I'd rather have too much time than too little.

A word about writing

Somehow, among my other myriad takings-on this term, I managed to acquire a new job: a job that involves my devoting five or so hours per week to sitting at a table with another student, talking about the writing process and, more specifically, how they should approach a given assignment. It's an intimidating job (especially when I've finished reading aloud their papers and they wait patiently for me to deliver an inspired verdict), but it's also fulfilling and, sometimes, a little amusing.

Take the student I worked with yesterday as an example.

We had just finished a brainstorming session and were wrapping up the creation of an outline; I was telling him about the English paper that I had to write and hand in by Wednesday. He gave this some thought before exclaiming earnestly, "But...if *you're* a writing tutor, then who helps you with YOUR papers?!"

And I was, for a moment, speechless.

Until I remembered that, actually, I get a lot of help with my papers. I talk to my professors, occasionally bounce ideas off of peers, and sometimes I even head into the writing center myself--because a second opinion never hurts.

So I told him: Even writing tutors have people to help them with their papers. And, actually, that's a really, really good thing.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


"[N]o man who has once heartily and wholly laughed can be altogether irreclaimably bad . . . The man who cannot laugh is not only fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils; but his whole life is already a treason and a stratagem." (p. 26, Sartor Resartus, Thomas Carlyle)