I am a Type-A overachieving nerd.
There, I said it.
In general, I like school. I like school a lot. Hell, I’m even seriously considering getting a Ph.D. in English and becoming a full-time professional student to (sort of) support my pretentious creative writing habit. There is little better to me than reading great literary works and getting into loud, lusty arguments about them (or, ahem, cracking snide, innuendo-laced jokes).
So . . . why do I feel so unmotivated here at the University of Strathclyde?
It’s not that I despise the classes or anything. I’m taking Enlightenment to Romanticism, Order and Nature in Renaissance Writing, and Detective Fiction (which is pretty much my trying to address the part of literary history I’ve conveniently ignored in my Agnes Scott career, i.e. most literature before 1800). So far, I’ve found something(s) to like in each class, whether the literature (The Moonstone? Yay! The Rape of the Lock? Yay! ) or the professors/tutors (my Renaissance professor does something awesome-sounding called Animal Studies. Yeah, that exists.) or both.
I’m not even technically slacking off. I finish my readings before lectures, take notes for discussion, and during tutorials, talk. A lot.
(I actually fear I’m becoming the sterotypical loud American. Or the angry feminist/postcolonialist. Or what-have-you.)
But still— why do I feel like my brain is only half-turned-on all the time?
I’m sleepwalking through my classes: rushing through my readings, scribbling down shallow answers to discussion questions the morning of my tutorials, and writing this blog post near midnight instead of taking notes on Ben Jonson’s masques.
Maybe it’s because I’m taking three classes as opposed to my usual four or five. Maybe it’s because I have only six papers and exams all semester as opposed to 20. Maybe it’s because I’m taking all these classes pass/fail. Maybe it’s because, as a local student in my Enlightenment/Romanticism class pointed out, “It’s like a holiday for [me].”
There’s a booming voice in my head that is shouting, “YOU ARE ON HOLIDAY. YOU ARE NOT AT AGONY SPOT (hahaha). YOU ARE IN EUROPE. PARTY PARTY PARTY PARTY PARTY, etc.”
There’s also another, quieter voice in my head that is gently but persistently telling me that just because I am “on holiday” doesn’t mean that I should disrupt the classroom experience of my fellow students who are not there “on holiday,” who are not taking these classes pass/fail, by being woefully unprepared or downright contemptuous of the proceedings.
Then again, the last sentence I just wrote is unnecessarily judgmental. Who am I to say what works best for individual students studying abroad? Who am I to deem all local students as necessarily more “serious” than exchange students?
Not to mention, even though I am an aspiring academic, the whole point of studying “abroad” is to have the whole experience of living in a foreign country, not just lock myself in the library. There’s a new country and continent for me to explore and frolic about on. If I shut myself in, I might as well have stayed home.
In the end, I really just need to find my happy medium, between getting off intellectual autopilot and having fun on holiday and to have both the “study” and the “abroad.”