This past week has been a great example of something that I find utterly… itch-inducing about college: the simultaneous dragging-on and obliteration of time. I spend most of my time worrying about things that are far enough in the future that I cannot do anything about them (family health issues, my post-grad employment prospects, registering for classes in six weeks when the course atlas isn’t even out) while also freaked out about the things that are approaching faster than I want them to (the timeframe to write my 100-page thesis, the end of the weird cocoon of the last few months, registering for classes in six weeks because the course atlas isn’t even out). Time–at least for me–never, ever passes normally in college. As a result of my particular cocktail of neuroses, this means that I’m pretty constantly anxious about projects that exist in the collegiate timeframe.
I realize that this is a weakness, but I really love short-term projects where I control a large part of the process. I like having a clear beginning and end date and am happy forging a path to connect the two. But when we get to something like my honors thesis–a 100-page document of original research which I have to have written and defended by mid-April–I’m at a loss. It’s a huge project! I want to be working on it so it can be done by February!
But the other weird flipside of that is that people expect you to be able to be fairly immersed in your at-home life while you are abroad. This happens on both a social (“why haven’t you uploaded Facebook photos yet?”) and academic (“you need to register for classes/apply to the honors program/find your summer internship”) level.This has been a weirdly America-focused week for me. When people talk about the dangers of technology while going abroad, they seem to be focused on you withdrawing—staying on Facebook (or blogging, ahem) rather than engaging with wherever you are. This happens, of course, and I’m guiltier of it than most.
After a minor existential crisis earlier this week, I decided to pursue an honor’s thesis for the coming year. Because you’re required to file all of that paperwork before April, this has meant that I’ve spent a lot of this week writing in English, to other English-speakers, about things I’ll be doing when I’m back at home. Ditto with the very weirdly terrifying experience of asking someone whose work I really like if I could maybe possibly work for them this summer—which requires me being able to email them. Continue reading →