Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hello, Syllabi

Part I. Awkwardness and Grace

Fumbling with my card at the door, sporadically and hopelessly punching in my code between card scans while balancing poster tubes and a roll of vellum that I will never use again, I deduced that my Italian ID is the only card that works now. Abandon hope, all ye American cards.

Walsh is beautifully located off God Quad and houses the most spacious single one could imagine. I am now properly settled in minus a few more decorative desires, such as more Christmas lights to replace the fluorescent atrocities. I need white lights for Narnia too. Narnia is my walk-in closet, the "hermit hole within the hermit hole", but actually just a brilliant little storage space.

Between timidly asking my sister "What code do I punch in at the doors again?" and actively researching the dining hall hours of operation it's a little strange to be back in a college setting. After cooking every meal in a kitchen with friends for the past year something seems off about the luxury of having various cuisines laid before you.

Coming home hasn't changed anything about my excitement to be here, not even slightly. As my brother and I pulled off the toll road a few days ago I was practically shrieking with joy behind the wheel, "Where's the dome? Do you see it yet?". It's still an honour to spend another year (two!) on campus at this university. The novelty of it just doesn't seem to wear off for me.

Part II. Enter the Syllabus

Classes began on Tuesday and the first and most exciting was furniture design. After the safety lectures about possible "dismemberment and even death" we were released into the library to search for design precedent. The theme of potential death continued into environmental systems when hypothetical situations were addressed. I can't recall another semester starting off on that foot.

Those of us who were abroad in architecture for a year are foreign to worksheets and tests. We're slightly disgusted that "homework" is still an accepted concept. We're spoiled with design work and painting so structures and systems worksheets with numbers are both ugly and frightening. Suddenly carrying a backpack and being assigned homework seems extraordinarily childish after becoming accustomed to learning through one-on-one discussions with professors, walking cities, and listening to guest lectures. I don't know what other schools and departments are like, but I am thankful that in the School of Architecture we cultivate personal relationships with our professors and chat with them at literally any time of day or night. There's mutual respect and they tell us that we're capable of doing more than we often realize.

With every syllabus it seems that another weight is being given to us. At the end of the day they stack up and you can feel the pressure of assignments building up -- oh, and here are some forms to fill out and some emails about the information we'll be covering and other classes you might want to take. It has begun, friends, it has begun.

Part III. Barbarians and the Cave

After completing my environmental systems worksheet I set out with the intention of going to Morrissey Mass. I remembered that there isn't a way for me to swipe in so I hoped to rely on the kindness of a resident. However, when I reached the threshold I saw in the lobby a flood of freshmen and chickened out. Then I observed a friend running in through the side door but she was gone before I could call out. So, that's not happening I guess. I'll try tomorrow. 

I casually looped around Bond and towards the lake where I saw fire flaming in the water. It was a gargantuan bonfire across the water by the CSC. By the time I turned towards the peaceful flames of the grotto barbarian chanting was audibly accompanying the wild fire. I can't wait until beginning-of-the-year dorm activities end so the grotto returns to its silence. Eventually the wild yells increased in volume until I got up to leave. A literal hoard of barbarians wearing horns and running shorts jogged roughly towards Main Building. Ugh. Siegfried. I rolled my eyes.

Now it's time to read all the emails from professors.