Friday, October 01, 2004

I can always be one of "those kids"

You know you’re not in America when it’s Friday night after a long week and the choice between having a night out and staying in to watch television is not an easy one. Tonight, it was a unanimous vote in favor of Green Wing. (No, that's not a pub.) In case you don’t live around here, Green Wing is a very surreal comedy series set in a hospital, which sounds a lot like Scrubs, but it’s even crazier. The show is so funny I can’t laugh hard enough, so I just sit there wetting myself and wondering how it’s possible for something to be so funny. The fact that it will probably never be seen in America is tragic on a level comparable to the new cover of "Car Wash" by Christina Aguilera and Missy Elliott.

I tried a third time to attend History lecture yesterday. This was obviously a foolish thing to do because nobody showed up yet again. I mean, nobody to teach us. By "us," I’m referring to myself and the two (2) other people who bothered to give showing up to this class another shot. The three of us loitered outside the lecture hall for 10 minutes, looking up from the floor occasionally to check on each other’s status. It’s a question every student has asked himself: how long do you wait for an apparently late professor? Most people will tell you 15 minutes, but everyone clears out as soon as they see one person give up and leave.

Today was my first seminar, for my English class. Seminar is when the lecture class splits into smaller groups to discuss the material with a different professor each week. It’s probably not the best sign that I was so surprised to find a real live professor in the classroom when I arrived, not just because of my History class but because the room was apparently located in the center of a subterranean labyrinth. I was expecting maybe David Bowie to be at the head of the class when I got there. Late, of course. This was quite embarrassing until two guys showed up later than me -- then I felt okay sitting there and judging them for their lack of punctuality.

I was right about one thing: after being denied so much socialization most of the week, I didn’t even vomit at the prospect of the dreaded "getting to know you" exercise, a horror I thought I had left an ocean and a continent behind me. We were instructed to pair up and find out and announce to the class our partner’s name, where they come from, and their most embarrassing experience ever. The great thing about embarrassing experiences is that it’s so much fun to hear a stranger describe yours to a room full of more strangers. We also had the option of choosing who you would want to be stranded on a desert island with, but I wasn’t going to go anywhere near that one because everyone knows you’re supposed to choose some kind of famous genius so you could pass the time having deep conversations with them (until you starve to death), but I would be more likely to inquire whether 17 clones of Tobey Maguire still count as one person.

Anyway, I told Iain, my partner, about the time I was coerced (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it) into printing fake SIFF tickets and was busted in front of the whole screening audience. I still get knots in my stomach when I think about how awful that was. (I was telling Luke about the "most embarrassing experience" thing today and he knew immediately without being told which incident I’d chosen.)

So then I got to tell everyone about Iain’s most embarrassing experience, which I won’t repeat here because maybe we’ll become friends later and he’ll find out I spilled his secrets on the internet and decide I suck and not be my friend after all. It will be just like in all the romantic comedies where the couple falls in love, and then the girl finds out about something hurtful and stupid the guy did before he realized he was in love with her. I’m not saying Iain is the bottom in this relationship, but I’m not saying he’s not, either.

On this occasion, "getting to know you" wasn’t nearly as bad as I always remembered these things. I really think it has something to do with people’s attitudes -- it’s always so awkward and joyless in America, whereas the students here seem much more relaxed about socializing. A lot of things seem more laid-back, seminar itself being an immediate example. I think there's more mutual respect between students and staff here. I’ll keep an eye out to see if my suspicions can be confirmed.

I haven’t made any friends yet, but I’m less nervous about it. I really, really hope I’m not getting ahead of myself. I still ate lunch by myself today, but at least I pretended to read while crying inside. If nothing else, I’m really enjoying class itself!


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