Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The first day of school.

Here I sit, in my slightly larger than nine-by-twelve feet dorm room in Storrs, Connecticut, mulling over my first day of classes while nursing a stomach ache probably induced by too much dairy. I need not mention, though I guess I am now, that three of my last five meals have included a grilled cheese sandwich from the cafeteria; it's a comfort food, and when you're nearly 25 and surrounded by 17/18-year-old kids staring at the most scantily clad girls I've ever seen, well, you need comfort food. Perhaps I'll venture to Nosh, the Kosher dining facility, starting tomorrow. But back to the basics.

I had two of my four classes (only three of which I'm registered for -- one I'm just sitting in on) today, one of which was three hours. My first class was beginning modern Hebrew, which was absolutely wonderful. The teacher is energetic, the class is full of interesting and interactive people, and the professor began speaking Hebrew right away! Lots of what is your name and yes and no and how are you (tov, ma'od, todah rabah!). I felt really good leaving that class today. And after visiting the Judaic studies office and hearing about my eventual fellowship check, etc., etc., I came back here for some downtime.

I was actually really excited for my evening class on biblical interpretation in medeival and post-modern literature. I mean, medieval was what I'd wanted to do when I started out on this whole grad school adventure a few years ago (well, that's when I started applying anyhow). So why shouldn't I be excited? I got there, am in the class with four comparative lit students and three other Judaic studies students -- all at the grad level, so far as I know -- and that gave me hopes. But ... yikes.

<<>> Edit: Okay, I'm going to give this class a chance before I start kvetching about it. I'm far too impulsive. <<>>The upside is that he mentioned the importance of the word olam, which I've written about at length here and here, so hopefully I can turn that into a term paper (since, I think that's really the only grade IN the class). It's supposed to be a lot of exegesis, which I love, but the first class just wandered and wandered and wandered and I wasn't exactly sure what the class was meant to be about. So I'm going to start in on Qohelet (Ecclesiastes) and hope for the best ... let's hope that "I'm Rashi's long lost daughter" comes in handy with the picking apart of the text. <<>>More editing<<>>

In other news, the Jewish barbecue last night was great. I met a lot of people who gave me some interesting insight into how the Jewish campus runs. There is a Jewish fraternity and a Jewish sorority (ooh scary), and there is a Hillel House and a Chabad. Turns out that the Hillel building has been deemed unsafe, so they're not going to be able to use the building for the Reform/Conservative/Orthodox Shabbos services; instead, they'll be moving to another building for services. But what I've heard is that there's usually no Orthodox or Conservadox style service, just a Reform/Conservative service, but more at the more liberal end of the spectrum. Chabad is sort of off campus, in the rabbi's house. There is dinner, shmoozing, etc., etc. and it sounds like a good time. In fact, Chabad also does Torah on Tap on Mondays (yup, that's tonight) at 8:30 at the bar at the hotel on campus, but, well, this stomach ache is not leaving me in the mood for d'var Torah or beer. But there are oodles of Jewish kids in my Hebrew class (the prof got excited with every Hebrew name -- Rivka, Dovid, Rachel, etc.). So, I think I've got myself into a good situation. One of the girls even called tonight to remind me about the Torah on Tap. 

So anyhow. That's how my first day was, and what's mulling about in my head. I have a lot to do before I hit the sack tonight. The busy of the graduate student doth begin!