04 September 2010

The first week of classes

It's Saturday morning, and the football team is on the road for the first game of the season.  Perhaps this explains why I haven't, until the past 15 minutes or so, heard any traffic at all from the street outside.  or, it could be that my new neighborhood is actually pretty quiet.   There are the occasional groups of students walking by outside at night, and often during the day will arrive home in my building and crank up the tunes-- but the volume is usually turned down after a couple of minutes.  The quiet then returns. 

Logic may dictate that on any given road game Saturday, a campus will be quiet.  Most of the staff and faculty that work here do so on a schedule that runs Monday through Friday, and so they simply are not here on the weekends.  Note that I say most of them; it is not unusual to see professors on campus for a few hours on the weekend, and there are some staff whose normal schedule includes the weekend. 

It's still quiet.

This first "week" of classes, I was in the same lecture hall that I was in during spring semester, where I zorched two classes; I was also in the same lecture hall once where I zorched my other class in spring.  For all three lectures, I ended up in the back row, back against the wall, with a wall on my right-- quite possibly the safest chair in the room.  That goes against the advice of many, who say that sitting in the front of the room gives you a better connection to the lecturer.  I say phooey, I feel safer in the back where I can see everyone else.  There is one exception to that rule, a class in a building I'd never been in until this week.  For some reason, sitting up front in that class seems to be more comfortable, and I'm not sure why that's true.

I've tried to make it a point to be social in class; turns out that I knew someone in one class from the work-related seminar I was in over the summer.  In another class, I saw two people I'd worked with in class at the community college I'd attended.  One other class, which requires working in groups of two, I just tagged the person who'd sat next to me and said "Hey, let's work together this semester."   Working with classmates is something I did not do during spring semester, and it really cost me in terms of being successful.  When I had problems understanding, I was going it alone, and it's when you're going it alone that the PTSD can really kick in.  Back when I was at the community college, I studied with the same group of people every day.  As stressful as school was, that made it bearable and I got through okay.   My first semester here was just so overwhelming that I never quite made it to finding study partners until it was far too late-- so I'm trying to not make the same mistake.

I have also been trying to make it a point to talk to my professors about my need to take tests in quiet rooms.  My PTSD paperwork from the VA and disability resource center applies to this semester, but it's up to me to coordinate with my professors.  I'm finding that part difficult.  All of my professors are busy people, they all have high profile research going on, and I'm making them make special arrangements.  I know I'm entitled to ask, but I really hate calling attention to myself as having a disability and needing special treatment.   (Maybe it's an old stereotype of mine  that mental illness and mental capacity are not the same thing?  Especially in fields like computer science and mathematics, where smart is where you wanna be, people generally don't go around honking their horn about disabilities inside their heads.)

Overall, I feel better starting this semester than I did starting last semester.  Knowing that a quarter of the people here are newer than I am actually helps.  I don't have all of the logistics issues that I had last semester.  And, by living so close to campus, my apartment is a safe place that I can retreat to during the day, relax a bit, and then return to either my next class or the library to study.

Now, I'm out of coffee, and that's a bad thing.  Otherwise, so far so good.

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