Friday, July 15, 2011
A week (or so) in...
The above image is of the William Morton Smith library on the Union campus. Though Greek isn't exactly a research class, I've spent a good bit of time in this library for study: make the vocabulary flashcards, work on the homework sentences, etc., sometimes alone, sometimes with a group of classmates. It's by far the newest building on campus, though built to blend in with the other structures, some of which date back to around the turn of the last century. OK, I'm a sucker for academic antiquity, I admit it. Thursday and Friday of this week turned out to be lovely days, with gorgeous skies and temperatures quite a bit cooler than before. Very easy to begin the process of soaking in the place under such conditions.
The summer language school setup has produced a particular routine: class in the morning, some fairly intensive review/assignment completion in the afternoon in the above library, and a little more review at night. It's almost a full-time job in some ways (just without the pay). In such intense contact, you begin the process of getting to know the folks with whom you're going to spend the next few years in the pursuit of this nebulous and uncertain calling.
Gosh, they're young. No, not all of them, of course, and I'm sure that will be even less the case when a full semester kicks in on a full campus this fall. But I know I'm at least the second-oldest person in the class, and might just be the oldest. (Don't know about the Hebrew class in the next building.) And there are times when, well, it does make me feel old to be in a class with a bunch of kids who are the age of most of my students from two months ago. Yeah, I knew the moment was coming, and it's just as well to get it over with early on, but lordy, do I feel old. And I'm going to feel old for the next few years on occasion. At this point I can have the moment and brush it off with a "whatever" and get back to work. But it is almost amusing to observe these moments in myself.
They seem pretty capable, for the most part, and generally tolerant-to-welcoming of the guy who thinks more like a professor than a student. It shall be interesting to see how this year and this class (level 1's like myself) evolves, and to see the surprises come out of people who don't show surprises in obvious ways to this point.
As to other, more frivolous observations: Richmond drivers are pretty awful. At times they unhappily remind me of south Florida, and that's saying something. The city and area turns out to be fairly pleasant when it's not experiencing heat indices of a hundred or more. Chesterfield County, where I actually live, hasn't shown much yet besides chains and strip malls (Shoney's is still in existence? That blew me away for some reason), but there's still time and we haven't gotten out that far into this particular area. The city proper should be interesting if we're not too broke to enjoy it.
We've visited two churches so far, both in Richmond proper, and both were without their regular preachers when we visited (in both cases the absent preacher was off at Montreat, by coincidence). Second Presbyterian and Ginter Park Presbyterian will probably get repeat visits at some point when under a more normal schedule. There are several still to visit (though interestingly enough, none in the 23236 ZIP code. Not sure why I find that so interesting, but I do) and more weeks left to make visits.
So the rest of July and about half of August is a process of "survive and advance." Get through the day, get through the week, advance to the next week, the next day, the next tense or conjugation or declension. With any luck enough of the language will stick so that I'll be able to tell when the preachers of my youth lied to me about what the New Testament actually says.
Until next time, good night and good luck.