Sunday, March 1, 2009

barbarism begins at home

I do believe that I may have made a small mention of the event that is my return to UNSW. I didn't want to make a big thing out of it or anything, because you know, thousands of people do this university thing. Hence the university becoming such a meat machine. And thus losing its (admittedly somewhat tenuous) grasp on common sense.

I had an inkling, a feeling in my water (one day we'll have to talk about what that phrase means.) But it all came to a head a few days ago, when I found myself at a party, dressed as a cowgirl. Talking to Postman Pat, his Black and White Cat, and Wilma Flintstone.

I was depressingly sober, and thinking that it couldn't really get any worse. I was surrounded by people I'd never met before, all of whom appeared to be studying Law and dressed as fairies. Except for Postman Pat, who's studying Resource Economics, his Black and White Cat who's a Biology and Sanskrit student, and Wilma, who's in Social Care. Apparently Wilma goes to UNSW. Everyone else appeared to go to UTS. I was drinking guava juice. And dressed as a cowgirl, did I mention that?

Postman Pat was trying to explain to me exactly what Resource Economics is, but struggling. I was about to suggest he stick to delivering the mail on time when Wilma asked if I was returning to UNSW. I replied in the affirmative and let off a firework, just for fun. She ignored the firework and asked me if I knew about O Week and Week O. "The calender been attacked by a dyslexic again, huh?" I asked, remembering the Great Debacle of 2007 when something similar happened.

"No." said Wilma. "No, O Week is Orientation Week, when the university has lots of parties and sumo wrestling. Week O is Week Zero, which they've initiated because the University Admin wanted thirteen teaching weeks, but the academic staff wanted fourteen. So they compromised on Weeks Zero to Thirteen."

There was a stunned silence, broken only by the happy machinations of the Black and White Cat as she frolicked in a bowl of sushi.

"So we still have fourteen weeks of teaching, but we're starting from zero?" I quavered.

"Yep. Something to do with numbers being relative and the positive fact that students are starting from zero." Wilma stood, and winced, rubbing her leg.

"What's up with your leg?" asked Postman Pat. Wilma explained that whilst tearing around UNSW Campus, she had cut her leg on a door frame. She'd had it stitched up by a 2nd year Medical student though, so she thought she'd be ok, and was going to have some more punch.

Postman Pat and I stared at each other for a bit, an ominous feeling spreading through my body. I tried letting off another firework, but it did nothing to assuage the doom. Postman Pat told me it could be worse. "They could be using the word 'facilitate' at you."

I nodded, cursed my sobriety, and tied a firework to Fairy Real-Estate Law's wings. Later that night, the Black and White Cat drove me to my grandmothers. I fell asleep to the sounds of Patsy Cline, forgot about the doomness of UNSW's 0-13 policy and waited for March 2, when classes were due to start.

Until Thursday. Thursday is a day of notoriety in my family. My mother is famously Arthur Dent-ian about Thursdays (she can never get the hang of them) and poor Lizzle often can't wrap her head around them. It was the same for me this Thursday when I logged on to my UNSW Email (soon to be changing to Z Mail. Which is apparently exactly the same thing, but with Z's) There was my course handout for Metaphysics and Epistemology, which I think has something to do with John Donne and Bullshit (which means it's going to be exactly like most of my previous education) I perused the handout, noting that UNSW was saving paper and the planet by asking me to print my own handout. And then I noticed the lecture dates. There was no mention of the infamous Week Zero. There was Week 1, which apparently started March 9. Hrmm.

A quick shufti around the UNSW website revealed nothing except more faffing about ZMail. Finally I found the Week O program. Turns out there are no actual classes in Week O. Instead, one can attend lectures on how to write a paragraph, how to win at an interview, and how to fill out your parking permission slip for UNSW.

I realise I'm making mountains out of molehills, but I'm irate for several reasons.
1.) Irate is more or less my default state.
2.) I'm bored. I'm very bored. No one will employ me as I'm over 18 and have to be paid decently, and I'm bored and ready to be doing something again, even if that something is being annoyed by the UNSW English Department again.
3.) Why do people have to over complicate things so much? Like, really, why? As if O Week and Week O wasn't confusing enough! Why can't we just start classes and if you want to learn how to write a paragraph, you ASK someone. UNSW has a perfectly good student help desk. Or they did, back in 2007. Maybe Voluntary Student Unionism has obliterated that.
4.) Why is everything online but hidden from the prying eyes of people who need to know about it?

Ugh. So. Really. What I could have taken five words to say is that "UNSW Classes start March 9." Which means that I have seven more days of doing very little, except reading Herny Kissinger for my International Relations course, because if I'm going to do this university thing for the third time, I'm damn well going to do it well.



Apparently Wilma's stitches came undone the day after the party.


In addition to Kissinger, I'm reading Nancy Mitford's "Pursuit of Love" which is rather twee. I'm listening to lots of Sons & Daughters because they're rather awesome. And I'm eagerly awaiting my latest etsy purchase, a lovely spotted green dress that I can't wait to wear.

Oh, and I've got my glasses. Stuff is slightly less fuzzy.

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