Week number 3 of grad school round 2 is coming to an “end”.
If you think about it, my week doesn’t really come to an end because I seem to always have little gifts of homework to keep me busy through the weekend. I just try not to think about it like that too much and just think optimistically that this is really for my own good. Right? I’m starting to feel cynical which probably means that I need to leave the topic and uhh…okay, anyway…
So, the semester pretty well started with a bang. My first couple of days back began with getting my final papers from last semester back.
It’s just a tad embarrassing sometimes to look at all of your errors and wonder what your professor must think of you (especially the native French speakers). This particular paper in the photo went better than the other one. I left this professor’s office quite content with my results despite my many errors. I was thinking that the feedback I’d get from the next professor would be just as good.
Wow! Was I mistaken!?
I walked into the next professor’s office a few hours later and the beginning of the conversation went something like this:
P: “First of all, you should have had a title and an introduction for this paper. I don’t see one anywhere.”
M: “But, I did have an introduction and title.”
P:“Oh, I’m looking at page 2. Your first page must have ripped off in my bag. Hold on a second. *pause* Here it is! I’ll staple it and then read through it, if you don’t mind.”
I nodded and sat there watching him reading the first page.
P:“Actually, what I just said still applies.[insert virtual slap] You really do not have a good introduction. Where is your thesis statement or do you have one?”
M: “Uh, it’s right there, I thought. I guess it’s just not very strong?”
P:“Well, it could be better. It’s too small, and it’s not written in the French way of writing. You really should have written it more in a sequence of what you were going to cover. ….”
The next half hour was spent in pointing out many, many, many errors though he did point out a few good points in the paper too. I felt much like I’d been hit by a sledge hammer by the end of it. I think he realized I was feeling it when he looked up and said that he was only doing this to help my writing in French improve. I knew that, and I was glad he was pointing out errors that I need to fix if I really want to improve. It just really did kind of smart.
Has it ever happened to you where you had certain expectations that get smashed to the ground in front of you?
That’s pretty much what I was feeling at this point. It took me a couple of days to recover some semblance of confidence in my abilities in French. I guess one lesson is to watch out for those false expectations or at least for basing those expectations on assumptions.
About four days later I was in the same prof’s office again going over what he wanted for a presentation. Before I left, he told me not to feel bad about the paper because he’d been in my shoes before. He wanted me to know that I had room to progress in my writing, and that I shouldn’t be too downhearted about it.
This writing thing is about ten times harder than I’d ever really considered. I have another professor who is making suggestions for books I should write or ideas for a thesis or maybe even a dissertation later (Yikes!). I’m sitting here looking at the mistakes all over these papers with a raised eyebrow wondering if I really do have that kind of potential.
I guess every writer has to start somewhere regardless of what the subject is or even what the language is. I’m too stubborn to quit trying, so here’s a salute to another crazy semester. *raises large cup of coffee in salute*
Now, the next challenge to conquer on top of everything else: writing in the Arabic language not to mention actually trying to speak it…
To be continued….