Yesterday I got a University of Calgary email address. To some this may not mean a whole lot, but to me it's all about the feeling! It’s one of the signs that… I'm a University Student now! Woo hoo!!
I had registered with the U. back in June but was told I could not apply for my course until August 15. So... I waited. August 16th I went in. The course section I wanted was full. I had spoken with the prof. back in June and she indicated she would overload the class for me. The girl at the Registrar's office handed me a form to have her sign off and wouldn't you know it, my prof. was away for the day. The girl at the desk in the English department suggested I make an appointment - soonest available, Friday morning, 10:15.
The beauty of where I live is that I can walk or bike to the University in minutes. So, off on my bike I went - stopping by the food court at the Student Union building for two much-needed cups of tea. I figured it couldn't hurt to sport a beverage for the lady who so generously offered to overload her class for me!
She showed up with a cup of... tea!
I exclaimed, "Oh, you have a tea..."
She said, "Oh yes, but it's stone cold!"
I said, "Would you like this one? It's luke-warm!"
She graciously accepted and we sat in for our consultation.
I explained why I was there and pulled out the form.
She said "We won't use that - waste of time - I can't believe they have students running all over campus with forms and such... we'll just do it on the computer!"
She proceeded to tap into the computer several keystrokes.
"What the..." - these words made me curious.
"It says 'course not offered'"
"Strange.", I said.
"It's MY course and I'M offering it!"
As she continued to type away we chatted. We chatted mostly about the texts we'd be using, the location of the classroom, the overload conditions and various bits and pieces about student life.
"One thing I ought to warn you about is that this year it seems we have an abundence of students fresh out of high school."
"So you'll have to bear with me because I tend to spend a great deal of time reprogramming their minds to think logically rather than, as most young people do, emotionally."
I'm thinking to myself, 'But... I think emotionally all the time! Doesn't some of the best writing come from emotion?" Earlier in the discussion I had raised the fact that I was making my way through a book on logic and constructing fallacy-free arguments. She seemed keenly interested, to the point she asked me the name of the text. Perhaps she'd deduced that I was, simply by my age, a "logical" thinker.
After making a phone call to sort out the computer glitches, she dialled again.
"I'm just going to make a call on your behalf - you see, if you were to make this call you're a student - you'd be placed on hold. I'm staff, so I tend to get placed at the front of the line."
She was calling to inquire how I would go about getting a U. of C. email address!
"Really, it's in your best interest to have one. Have you been to my portal? With an online ID you can access my blackboard where I post to students in my class."
She told me where to go to sign up for an email address and to get an online ID. Now, before you get the idea that I’m excited about my prof. Simply because she made a phone call for me, that’s not it. Back in June she went to considerable effort to (a) make me comfortable in a world I’m VERY new in and (b) did a lot of information gathering that, to my way of thinking was MY responsibility. And she thought nothing of it. In fact, she had thanked me back in June for being her “test subject”.
I was curious.
She said “We don’t get many of you here.”
“Many of me?”
“Yes, males in their mid 30s don’t often apply to the English department!”
A few other phone calls were made on my behalf as well, and I must say – I’m impressed!
This is great! Back in high school I never thought a prof. would go to this much trouble for a student! I had this image of the prof. being much like those really old school teachers you see in the movies. One-room schoolhouse, big fat ruler in one hand and a whip in the other. Well, not really, but you know what I mean.
I came away, once again placing my prof. on a pedestal in my mind. What a wonderfully delightful lady. Kind, considerate, intelligent and genuine.
My only real pondering of nervousness is that I'm going to be sharing a classroom with many who are still in academic mode from June. Here I am, essentially almost 20 years out from a formal classroom setting, having never attended University.
The Chinese curse "May you live in interesting times" comes to mind.