And Good Riddance: Reflecting on Undergraduate Nostalgia

10 Dec

It is Friday. I am sitting in the last class I will ever take in my undergraduate academic career, ‘Religion and Culture before 1000 CE’. My classmates are presenting their Viking projects, and we’re currently watching a video about a Viking longship in Norwegian.

I have mixed feelings about this (the fact that this is my final class, not the subject matter). I considered blowing it off, as I gave my presentation Wednesday, complete with pictures of gorgeous viking loot and treasure, but this class is taught by my favourite professor, so I wanted to ring in adulthood with a pleasant memory. Had I chosen not to attend this class, the final class of my undergraduate education would have been my 400-Level writing class, and that is the VERY LAST class I want to hold in my memory as the final experience of classroom education I’ll have in college.

In brief, my writing class this semester was rather on the side of disastrous. I hadn’t expected much out of it knowing my school’s creative writing department and their attitude towards so-called ‘Genre fiction’ (“you can’t write sci-fi and fantasy! It’s all cliche’d and been done before! Now write a coming-of-age story about someone living on the Great Plains!”), but all the same it was an exercise in having teeth pulled. In our final meeting yesterday our professor assailed us with his opinion one last time, giving us what has to be the most unusual backhanded compliment I’ve ever heard.

It started out nice enough:

“This class has more talent than any undergraduate writing class I was ever a part of…”

but then rapidly progressed downhill:

“Granted, that talent was not evenly distributed among you.”

Wow. Talk about words of inspiration. My friend Thomas and I gave each other a look that had grown familiar between the two of us in the sixteen weeks we suffered through that class, a look that expressed  the thought: “Is he serious?”

We stumbled out of the English building, high-fiving in jubilation that our misery was finally over. Our portfolios were turned in, our god-awful stories we vomited out at the last minute for the assignments at last behind us, and I turned with a double middle-finger salute towards the English department, crying a mighty “FUCK YOU” to literary bullshit, academia, and all things close-minded and ridiculous.

Good riddance to you, English department. The good things you held up were sadly not enough to make up for the ones that made me want to commit violent acts upon you with an army of bears. I hope you choke on your hipster attitudes. Choke on them like you would a dick.

Anyway, happier times are ahead, since this is my final class, and we are learning about viking longships before I bid my favourite professor farewell for the last time. After this I have one final paper left to write, a ten to twenty page research paper on the religious philosophy of Saint Augustine (which sounds harder than it is). It is a week and one day until I drag myself out of bed at ass in the morning to don my ridiculous regalia and slowly cross the stage in the graduation ceremony, trying to remember to smile and not trip in my heels.

I could take some time to reflect on my college experience, but I’m not usually one to wax nostalgic. So I’ll be brief:

I’ve learned that a lot of people brought high school with them when they moved on to higher education.
I’ve learned that gen eds will follow you everywhere until you want to kill yourself instead of study another rock sample in Geology 101 (despite being a fucking Lit major).
I’ve learned the joy of Shakespeare under a good teacher (and the hell of Shakespeare under a bad one).
I know now that I will never succeed as a writer of ‘literature’ and my classmates have often had their dreams crushed by the pressure of pompous literary fiction. Seriously. It’s like these people don’t understand what ‘fun’ means any more.
I’ve discovered the joy of holding down two part-time jobs at once.
I’ve had awesome roommates and god-awful ones.
I’ve lived in dorms and apartments.
I’ve eaten godawful cafeteria food.
I’ve gone out dancing until 1 in the morning when I have class at 9.30 the next day.
I’ve gotten drunk at 3 AM and woken up six hours later still incredibly drunk.
I’ve experienced heartbreak and been responsible for a few heartbreaks in my own right.
I’ve studied things I never thought I’d find interesting (like Latin), and things I always thought I would (like the Holocaust).
I’ve made some friends I’m pretty sure will want to put up with me for the years after I get my diploma.
And I’ve had enough painful and nonsensical experiences in my four and a half years here to write fifty novels, let alone one.

So there you have it. Brief undergraduate nostalgia. Class will be over in 12 minutes and I’m ready to get my diploma now.

You know, just as soon as I get a job lined up for post-graduation.



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