Beginnings are often the hardest part of life. I find that this is especially pertinent as I addle my brain for what to write. The trepidation, the “what ifs”, and the constant longing to know the future are enough to drive one mad. Such is the nature of my thoughts whenever I begin a new chapter in my life. Who will I meet? Will they affect me positively, negatively, or not at all? Will the direction I see myself traveling change? Is this really what I want in my life? What new joy will be had? Sometimes I feel my predictions overshadow actually turning the page and reading on.
That being said, I was hesitant to resume my studies after such a long period of uninterrupted exposure to the technicolor of my thoughts. Being able to concentrate on things I enjoy, such as writing, now have to take a back seat to stress over marks on coursework, revising for exams, and reading Plato’s Apology (which is dry as hard tack). I’m already consumed with doubt over my essay writing abilities, whether I will pass my exams with better marks this semester, and the ever looming threat of making Honors next year.
However, this first week, as St Andrews has a knack for doing, has pleasantly surprised me. I am learning such interesting skills that I perhaps would not have access to until a Masters program back in the United States.
For example, English kicked off with a forty-five line translation of the Old English Fall of Man, detailing Eve’s temptation by the Devil in serpent form and the subsequent expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Having already dipped my toes in Milton’s Paradise Lost, I am familiar with the story, but reading a different version in a (let’s be honest here) completely different language is so fascinating. How the English language has evolved in such a short period of time is one of our topics of discussion, which is a mystery I am keen to solve. Also, learning how to translate Old English puts me one step closer to my fantasy of becoming Indiana Jones. If I can understand the basics of a dead language, learn the bullwhip, and drink from my Holy Grail, I am well on my way to a lifetime of harrowing adventure in the name of academia!
Even Comparative Literature, the module I detest, actually sounds quite intriguing this semester. We are studying quite a broad topic in literature: Good and Evil. This is one of the areas of literature that fascinates me, due in part to Paradise Lost, so I am interested to see how the course handles the theme. Also, I am keen to discuss the role of villains in texts; this is actually an area of literature that fascinates me to the point of wanting to pursue it for my dissertation, so finally getting the chance to study them will really help with this decision.
A final point to note is my English tutor. This semester, I made sure to choose my tutorial group based on the quality of the tutor and the direction of their research. I have selected Dr. Christine Rauer, who focuses on Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, and Norse mythologies and folk lores. This being another subject matter I am considering for my dissertation, I am eager to try and establish a relationship with Dr. Rauer and pick her brain about such a fascinating subject in literature. My fondness for learning really bubbles over when I discuss this topic, since I am so incredibly interested in the folk tales and oral traditions of the Celtic world. It is my hope that Dr. Rauer could offer guidance in the course of my studies and really help make up my mind about just what I want to study.
I apologize for such a long discourse about my intellectual pursuits. However, that is the main reason why I am here, plus, being the nerd that I am, I do quite like learning intriguing things, such as how to translate Old English. Yet, to sate the “entertainment” side of this blog, here are a few more updates from my first few weeks back in St Andrews:
A Room of One’s Own
This year my really good friend and I are living in an apartment in the center of town. Though I have only been here a few weeks, the situation is leaps and bounds ahead of my experience in university accommodation last year. We have dubbed our dwelling The Green Dragon, as an ode to our beloved Tolkien, and filled our abode with homey and cozy pieces. Here is a peek at our sunny and Nifty Fifties inspired kitchen.
I have also officially changed my major from Joint Honors Comparative Literature and Philosophy to Joint Honors English and Philosophy. I could not be more pleased, and what a relief this is. I finally feel as though I can relax in my degree subject and really focus on what I am passionate about. Onwards to Celtic mythological glory!
New Friends and Old
Though I already have a solid group of friends that I enjoy spending time with, I am eager to meet even more people and really expand my network of acquaintances. I recently had tea with a very nice girl who had Comparative Literature tutorials with me last year, and we both are keen to become better friends with one another. We are actually quite similar: quiet and shy at the start, but I’m sure once our friendship grows our true selves with come through, and it will be as though we’re old chums. As for the suitor department, as I am sure all are dying to hear about since I tend to be a wee bit secretive, I regret to inform my readers that I am alone, as per usual.
This summer I learned that one of my closest friends, Justin, has been accepted to a six week study abroad program in London for the spring semester. Though things are just in the talking stage, we are hoping to spend some time together. Having a friend who will know London a bit will be great, as I have yet to travel to London, and I of course love showing people around to my favorite St Andrews haunts. Justin and I have been good friends since we were just a wee three years of age, so I am beyond thrilled to share this next phase of my life with a friend so important to me.
She Rides Again
After much consideration, and a summer of pony fun times to boot, I have decided to join the St. Andrews equestrian team. Try outs for the official competitive team are next Wednesday. Apparently, thirty-five riders have indicated they wish to try out, and only eight spots are available. I am so nervous! Though I have fourteen years of experience, those three years out of the saddle really took their toll. While I did my best to get back up to speed this summer, I still do not feel completely confident, much less competition ready. However, if I just keep telling myself that I am going for the love of riding, I think I will be much better for it. If I do not make the team, I can still train with them and get time in the saddle, which is what I want to do the most.
Originally Written 21 September 2013