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Staying positive a challenge under semester system

Last week, I wrote a column about greeting the semester switch head on without complaint, diving into the cold waters, leading the charge.
But that was last week. After less than a week of class, I’ve decided that five classes are a lot to handle. Maybe a little too much, in my opinion.
I suppose we’ll see what progresses and how events unfold, but I basically spent the first meetings of each class drowning in an inundation of assignments and homework.
It is certainly a positive that we aren’t in almost two-hour classes two or three times a day, but I theorize that the more frequent class changes are contributing to the overwhelming hoards of people milling about every time I step outside. I’m in my fourth year here, and I’ve never seen this many people in between classes.
One of my goals this year is to maximize my time, so I’ve been riding the bike I stole from my brother to class. This has become quite the challenge. Even when I’m riding on the streets, following the rules of the road like I’m supposed to be, people are always running around in front of me. Friday, for example, I was riding my bike down 19th Avenue and there were a couple people crossing the street. They saw me coming and stopped in the middle of the road, as if that would somehow help the situation. I had to slam on my run-down breaks (my twin brother got this bike in middle school, so the breaks are a bit worn at this point) and hop off my bike to avoid a catastrophe. Then I was still all flustered when I reached my destination, so I dismounted very ungracefully, resulting in a large bruise on my shin.
That wound is healing, but the constant confusion about the new class numbers hasn’t seemed to let up yet. One of my majors is in comparative cultural studies, and this semester, I’m in three comparative studies classes. I have yet to figure out how any one differs from the other, and without the sense of the old numbering system, it’s always a bit of a surprise as to which lesson I’ll be learning that day.
I have two classes three times a week, and one is Portuguese for Spanish speakers. So basically we’re learning how to speak Portuguese in Spanish. My Spanish is a little rusty, so it’s also acting as a refresher course for me. Our first lesson was about false cognates, which is essentially a word that looks the same in both languages but has a different meaning. Let me tell you, that’s even more confusing than the new course numbers. In Portuguese, the word “salsa” means parsley. The word for “secretary” in Spanish actually means “office,” and the word for “office” means something completely different. The Spanish word for the letter “x” is pronounced the same but spelled differently as the Portuguese word for “route.” And it’s very important that you grasp these differences and not just go about thinking that speaking Spanish will get you by because then you could make an embarrassing and dire mistake. For example, if I try to tell you that “your purse is exquisite” in Spanish, a Portuguese speaker might think I’m telling them that they have strange testicles. As you can see, there is a lot of weight riding on sorting all of this out.
This semester transition is proving to be by no means easy. But I do still stand by what I said last week. Just because we’re confused about lessons and class numbers and drowning in work after the first three days, it doesn’t mean we should rush it. Especially those of us who will be graduating a month earlier than last year’s seniors.
Soon, we’ll be able to look back on these confusions and laugh. I hope.

 

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