I just can’t stop talking…

1 Oct

Well, I guess I’m getting better at this updating thing… It’s only been three weeks, not eight, so a marked improvement I have to say.

Anyway, I’ve had a busy fortnight! I’d thought getting settled back into Uni life would take a bit of time, after my hectic summer (believe it or not, I didn’t spend every day in bed reading, despite my serious intention to do just that after Uni finished last year.) but it was actually a painless process, relatively. I’m not particularly enjoying the whole ‘get up on time’ thing though. Which is strange, I managed to do it effortlessly during the summer to get to work. Now though, even though ‘on time’ is a whole lot later than over the summer, I’m seriously struggling to get out of bed in the mornings. Possibly because I have the most comfortable bed known to man, but most likely because I know I’m going to actually have to think during the day, which is enough to make anyone stay in bed. I haven’t done much ‘thinking’ during the summer. I’ve sort of gotten out of the habit. Now, I’m right back in the deep end. Urgh, learning. Yuck.

Well, the last few weeks have consisted mostly of catching up with friends, making the most of having a kitchen all to myself, and reading. Lots and lots of reading. Again, something I’d gotten out of the habit of over the summer. Unless E.L. James’ crap counts, which I *seriously* doubt.

I mentioned some of my texts this year in my last post, but what I failed to mention is that the interesting ones don’t come up for a few more weeks. Right now I’m stuck reading Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Achebe’s Things Fall Apart in English. For those of you who don’t know, they’re books about colonialism, from two pretty different perspectives, both completely new to me as I’d only ever heard of ‘colonialism’ and ‘imperialism’ in passing, and only found out what it really was about two weeks ago. I know, this is shockingly bad. I can’t believe that I’ve gotten to this level in my education without having realised that. But I’m finding lately that I actually knew very, very little about history, or literature in general really, before the start of this year.

Mostly it’s incredibly obvious things as well, things that, when I say I don’t know what they are or mean, people look at me like I’ve said the world is flat. For example, and I can’t believe I’m even writing this, because it’s that ridiculous that I made it to the second year of my University education without knowing this, but I didn’t realise that the Victorian era occurred during the reign of Queen Victoria, or the Edwardian era occurred during the reign of King Edward etc. Now, for most of you this is just a fact, it’s something you don’t even need to think about. I bet you don’t even remember first being told this. I don’t. I never was!

I honestly don’t understand how, but nobody, not my English teachers at secondary school, not my history teacher, not my R.E teacher, not even my primary school teacher ever mentioned what that means! I imagine a lot of people knew it before, and it was probably just assumed that everyone in the class would know it, which is why it was never mentioned. But I still think it’s absolutely crazy that I’ve gotten to 2nd year English at Uni and still didn’t know this!

Sorry, I’ve just been thinking about that a lot lately. I feel I’m so totally overwhelmed with things I don’t know that I have to start at the complete basic level. I mean, I genuinely feel like I’m barely reaching levels in English that I should have reached three/four years ago. I have to go over everything again, from sentence structure to basic history (and I mean basic ). There’s a lot that I do know, that I’ve learned myself over the years. I pretty much know instinctively by now how basic grammar works (although you may not believe me if you’re reading this post…). But mostly it’s things I was never taught at school.

I’m not sure if that’s the fault of secondary education, or earlier, in primary school. I don’t know when you’re meant to learn that. I do know that in a lot of aspects I, along with most of my classmates, hit secondary school without the basic knowledge of a lot of things, maths, history, biology, punctuation, spelling. All sorts of thing that I’d assumed you would have learned by that age. Maybe I’m wrong. I don’t know. But even so, surely it would come down to the teachers you get after that to help you catch up to the right level?

For the most part they did. Maths, biology, all the ‘science-y’ subjects, were very quick to bring us all to the right levels. But for the social subjects, history, r.e. geography, English, they all started to build on nothing. I always found history and geography etc quite easy, but that was because we were taught on a specific subject, we were never expected to link what we’d learned into a timescale or imagine it within a general picture. We learned about the world wars, we learned about the discovery of America, we learned about different countries physical and economic aspects. But we were never told basic things, which we probably should have at some point.

We weren’t told when things happened in relation to each other, or other big events in history etc. It was assumed that if a time was mentioned, like Victorian era for example, we would know when that was, be able to situate the events being described into that era. But as I’ve just mentioned, a lot of wouldn’t know when this was!

So, I guess the summation of this rant would be that pretty much everything I learned in secondary school was learned out of context, from history and not knowing the basic time periods, to English and not knowing how to put together a sentence.

I guess I’m making an exception for English though, because I did have one teacher who explained it to us (and still has to explain basic punctuation to me on a regular basis, despite me no longer being her pupil…) but again she built her explanations assuming that my previous teachers had taught us certain things. Which they hadn’t. AI was already very far behind what I should have been so even though I grasped what she was saying, I didn’t have the previous knowledge to put that into perspective. So e.g., she might have explained word order, noun goes here, verb goes there, but given I didn’t know what a noun or a verb was (which by second year I bloody well should have! What were my primary school teachers thinking!!) To be fair, it is in a big part, down to the fact I never asked for help with these things, when I should have at the time. But to be honest, what twelve year old kid is going to realise they don’t know something, if they don’t know it exists in the first place? Also, if it was this teacher who taught me word order I owe her a huge *ginormous* apology because, as the entirety of this blog shows, I didn’t listen to a word she said. I still don’t know where the noun goes….

Anyway, the whole point of this long, completely unnecessary rant was to say I think I’m pretty much completely and utterly bogged down in trying to learn the basics, which I should have learned years ago. I’ve managed this far just learning the specifics to each book, to each event etc., but even having only come to this revelation a few weeks, trying to get a grasp on the basics, I’m already beginning to find it easier to understand a little bit more every time I read secondary sources etc.

So, I didn’t intend to get into that because I have so many other things I wanted to blog about!

As I said, I have a kitchen all to myself!!!  I’ve been making lots of nice, healthy meals with fresh veg and also baking lots of unhealthy cakes and biscuits! It’s been absolutely brilliant!

I’m bored out of my mind by most of my texts at the moment. The two above mentioned are growing on me (as most texts do once I’ve studied them enough. Hell, I grew to like Thomas Hardy, which for most people who were on the receiving end of one of my ‘I hate Hardy’ tirades would know, this was damn near a miracle) but the two I’m studying in Comparative literature are definitely not. Sir Walter Scott’s Lay of the Last Minstrel is pretty much the bane of my life right now, with it’s equally evil and gore filled sidekick, The Tain. Why, why on God’s earth, would you prescribe these two texts in a level one course for anything!? There’s nothing more likely to put you off a course than bad texts. And these two are bloody awful.

In theology we’re studying mysticism, Sufism for the last two weeks, but now moving onto female Christian mystics, where I’m once again realising I know practically nothing about religion. Our lecturer today said twice, about two different saints ‘you must all know saint such and such by now…’, while I sat silently shaking my head and weeping. I’m seriously going to struggle with these topics. I’m considering buying ‘an idiots guide to Christianity’. (when I suggested this to my friend she brilliantly replied ‘isn’t that called the bible?’. While as a theology student I should not condone this blatant religion bashing, I have to admit I was pretty impressed…)

I’m going to have to do some serious secondary reading this term.

I realise I’ve gone on for ages, but I’ve got so much to talk about right now!!

I’ve been out to a few different things while catching up with friends, a literature pub quiz, an LGBT launch night, a few nice lunches, I tried sushi for the first time and loved it!

I’ve also developed a complete obsession with Sarah Waters, which I’m sure I’ll bore you all to death with by the time I’ve finished her novels and watched all the adaptations and described each one in minute detail. I’m turning into a fangirl. *gushes*

Anyway, I’ll stop writing now, even though there’s loads I still want to say. I think this may be the longest post yet. I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing or not…. I’ll let you decide I guess. If it’s as poorly written and boring as I fear I’m sure you’ll have stopped reading by now. Or have zoned out completely as I’ve done every time I’ve started reading The Tain. I could be saying anything right now.  Pineapple.

Right stop Jennifer, you’re going insane.

Bye guys!

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2 Responses to “I just can’t stop talking…”

  1. elizabeth October 1, 2012 at 8:08 pm #

    “I’m considering buying ‘an idiots guide to Christianity’. (when I suggested this to my friend she brilliantly replied ‘isn’t that called the bible?’.” Always good to have friends in the know. 🙂

  2. ManicDdaily October 22, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    Good luck with all this. I do find it strange that, as someone in Great Britain, you were not aware of Edwardian and Victorian eras as meaning something specific related to the monarch – but I am quite sure that many American students would not even know the eras. So don’t feel too bad. k.

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