Monday, December 25, 2006

An Overview of My First Semester in the U.S.

Hello world! Long time no post. I've been bad, I know! But I was really busy, and somehow lazy. My first semester is over at last and now I'm having a winter break for a whole month in which I have nothing to do but watching T.V. and taking rides on the bus around town! There's not that much to do around here, actually. It's a small town and everything in it is based on the university, and now the campus is totally empty, almost all the students have left home for the break except me and other few students who are stuck here or prefer to stay on campus.

Since I arrived here two weeks after the beginning of classes, I didn’t get the chance to see anything or go anywhere. There were many trips for international students to New York, Washington D.C. and other big cities, but I couldn't go on any of them cuz I had to catch up with the studying and everything. Then one day my roommate and I decided to go on a trip to Washington D.C. after we finish the semester. A friend of mine was supposed to come to the trip with her husband, but later she canceled it and I ended up going with my roommate and three of her Taiwanese friends. The trip was for only two days cuz they had to come back to campus, pack and fly back home for the break. So, we called it a short and quick trip.

We hit the road on Saturday morning and started our trip to D.C., and about three to four hours later my friend called me to check that everything was going well and that we were on the right road, and when I was reading the signs on the side of the street she realized that that was not the right road to D.C.! And when I told my roommate that, she said that we were just following the direction that we got from the internet. Only when I saw the directions, I knew that we were actually heading to a mall in Fairfax, Virginia!! She FORGOT to tell me that we were going to Virginia first!

Well, later, they didn't like to stick to all the plans that we had and preferred to spread out, everyone on his own for the day doing whatever they want to do. So, I ended up alone in D.C. for about the whole day, and I spent the whole time walking from the Capitol building, and all the way till Lincoln Memorial seeing everything and visiting The National Gallery of Art and The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History (that what time permitted for museums, it was just one day and we had to go back home before sunset).

Though I was alone, my day there was amazing. The weather was so warm, people were everywhere in the National Mall jogging and walking their pets. I really felt that I was in the U.S.! Yes, it's really true!

And here are some photos that I took :)

Though I felt that I kind of messed up in my first semester, the results came out a couple of days ago, and guess what? I got an "A" on my three courses! J This first semester was hectic for me, and I had to read three novels a week and some essays and writing response papers and all. Then came the time when I had to prepare for my three final papers, and oh God, I was freaked out the whole time! Well, the system here is way different from Iraq, everything in class is different, the teaching methods, the way of writing paper and researching. Therefore, I had to learn how to switch to all those new ways in a very short time and try to catch up with everything. But thanks to God, everything went fine and the result came just as perfect! There was this one professor who wanted our final paper to be eligible to be published and wanted rough drafts for the paper along with long presentations that were taking most of the class's time. Some of the students in this class were complaining about this (I thought I was the only one!) and one of them said that he would write her a letter and say to her that she was wasting our time by those long presentations and rough drafts.. bla bla bla.

My three courses were Women Literature, Topics on American Literature Before 1870, and Topics on American Literature Since 1870. The last one was the hardest. We read the novels that were called "Proletarian" novels and the themes of naturalism, realism, postbellum issues and more. My favorite novel in this course was "The House behind the Cedars" by Charles W. Chesnutt.

Women Literature was my favorite course. It was so much fun and somehow easy. We read postcolonial novels and essays in this course written by women or about women. My favorite novels were "Beloved" by Toni Morrison, "Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston, and "The Woman Warrior" by Maxine Hong Kingston.

As for my favorite novels in the "before 1870" class, they were "Uncle Tom's Cabin" by Harriet Beecher Stowe, "Billy Bud" and other stories by Herman Melville, and of course "Leaves of Grass" by Walt Whitman. "Walden" was hard and I didn't like it!

It's getting really boring here now! My room is the first in the hall and located next to the main door that leads to the staircase and the outside, and today, I never heard that door opened AT ALL. I think I'm the only person staying in the whole building for Christmas! We, I've got nowhere else to go! It's not how I planed to spend my break here, but there is no other choice for me. Even the buses are not running for two days, so it means I will be stuck up here till everything comes back to life after the break. At least I have T.V. and cable in the room. My favorite channel is tbs.

Alright, I've been keeping this post for too long now, it's time to publish!

Merry Christmas everyone :)