Saturday, January 19, 2008

An Imperfect Report from Waco

By Britt:

In continuing with my D's thoughts from below, I too must confess to a hesitation to post for many of the same reasons:
1) I'm a bit of a perfectionist as well and cannot commit to blogging unless I am in the right frame of mind and have enough time to do it and do it well.

2) I enjoy writing, or at least the process of it, but I have big shoes to fill!

3) I too would rather sit one-on-one and rehash the day's events ... impossible right now .. but I guess I will have to look forward to something like that in the future, maybe later on as a married person. :)

Anyway, I have been avoiding posting as a result of my inability to portray the last few week's events well. So here I am, ready to do it once and for all - but with no promises of perfection.

I moved in last Thursday and since then it has been a whirlwind of events and activities. Registering for classes two days before they started was interesting, but somehow I still ended up with an amazing group of professors and courses that I am very excited about. I have not been this excited academically since kindergarten. Actually, I feel a little bit like a baby kindergartener - thrilled at the new experience all the while sort of shoving aside the sheer volume of work it will take to get from where I am now to "the goal."

Classes started Monday and I am pleased to say that I survived the first week and managed to stay awake for my first two 8am 80 minute lectures (I don't know how your attention span is in the morning, but this is kind of a big deal for me ;) My classes are arranged M,W,F and T, Th.

French is my favorite class. I dropped my psychology class after the first day, realizing that I might not need that exact class for my degree, and added the first four of my required sixteen credits of a foreign language. So I missed the first two days of classes but walked in on Wednesday afternoon to the professor speaking French and French alone the entire time. That was .... cool. Yeah, cool - because wow, Creole IS a lot like French. So far I am absolutely loving this third language - I understand most everything but open the book to look up proper spellings for vocab words (oops - Creole's phonetics kind of made me lazy.)

I also have political science, pre-calculus (ya, Kristin V, I decided to retake it - our mountaintop tutor sessions are helping give me a head-start this time around - thanks!), chemistry pt II, Christian Scriptures, and Tennis. Tennis is one of Baylor's four required semesters of what they call 'HP' courses - which stands for human performance. They have a lot to choose from, but tennis was the only of about forty with an opening. So far it is fun, my prof is a Baylor grad student from the Czech Republic - she says my name like the thing a girl uses in her hair -- very throaty and mildly entertaining. Tennis is my other 8am class.

I am also 'enrolled' in chapel which is held twice a week. Political science is my next favorite after French - big surprise considering who my grand-Poppy is. :D (Picture at above left is of my favorite Baylor building - the Burleson Quadrangle. It is where I take poli sci and French)

I am a note taker too - I started a list of blog post ideas at the beginning of the week. Follow-through would be where I am lacking. But moving on ... one of the things I wrote down was about one of Baylor's many student organizations. I emailed one of the people listed on this organization's website for more information. He replied saying that the group had unfortunately dissolved indefinitely as a result of most of its officers having graduated last year. Want to know the name of the organization? The Caribbean Student Association. Now think about it for a second ... this makes sense right? I mean, in Caribbean terms - if the officers graduate then that's it - group's over! It would be out of the question to, say, elect new officers and keep moving forward with keeping the Baylor Carib students connected to each other. Haha! I thought this was so funny and very in synch with the island approach to life. It will be interesting to see if the CSA ever starts back up again, but it probably won't be the interested white girl who brings that to pass.

Other interesting Carib connections I have made: 1) My first day of French class, the prof was going around the classroom asking students common questions and looking for an all-French response. One of the students answered his question like so, making my ears perk up about 7 inches off my head "Non, je nes pas patri American; je suis Ayicien." (*So I know I messed that up grammatically, but I've only had three classes so ya) I was SO pumped to learn of the Haitian in MY french class! I couldn't help myself and approached him after class, asking if he spoke Creole. He said that he does not, though his family does. I said that I did speak Creole and in fact had been living in Haiti over the past couplde years. His reply: "Ohhh. I'm sorry about that" in a very snide yet sympathetic tone. KER-PLUNK! So much for sharing a love for his homeland and my adopted homeland! I have not had the opportunity to discuss this response further, nor to ask him what his background is. He is very boujwa, that is apparent. I am looking forward to having the semester to question (and disagree with) his response. It's understandable that he might not be too fond of his roots as they are ones with deep history and dread, but I was just crushed to receive and apology in response to my thankfulness/pride over having lived nan Ayiti.

Apparently there are quite a few Haitians here at Baylor - I wish I could put a want ad out to locate the rest of them - but I will try to do so in a more socially acceptable way. If I were going to publish an ad - it would read something like this: "Pale white girl seeks Creole-speaking Haitian student at Baylor. Can offer bribes of famosa ketchup or tablet pistach from the homeland!" I'll try to let you know how that plan plays out .... ;)

French class, besides being generally awesome in and of itself, has provided the most connections so far. #1: I met with my professor to introduce myself and get the notes I missed from the first few days. He didn't even give me the notes, told me that I had great pronunciation, and that I should really watch the movie he and his wife had watched the night prior -- it's called 'La Case Negre' and is a French-made movie that was filmed in Port au Prince. He is supposedly going to loan me a copy. Should prove to be interesting - I am especially anxious to see how PAP and Haiti/Haitians in general are depicted. #2: I was partnered with a kid who lived in the Cayman Islands for four years; his dad did pastoral work there. Way cool! #3: There is a Haitian surgeon that works at the hospital here in Waco. Apparently he is a great friend of the university and the pre-med program. One of the girls in my class nannies for him. I want to meet him and shadow him!

I also have a few random facts for you that I have learned in various classes/discussions/observations throughout the week:

  • In Austin, TX, you can be arrested for using "the bird." Very important to know.
  • George Bush, Sr. hates broccoli. (I was told by my mother that this is old news and I am just too young - but I found this and the Nat'l Broccoli's response to that statement to be highly entertaining and noteworthy)
  • Polyantic --> new word I learned, though cannot find in the dictionary (?). I wrote down the word 'Isaac' for my definition. The prof described it as one who is eternally joyful, maybe even annoyingly so, but just incredibly happy nonetheless.
  • Waco has some strange excess of stray cats. It kind of grosses me out. I had absolutely no problem with the dingos, er stray dogs (sorry about the ignorance of calling them dingos ;) in Haiti (unless it happened to be biting at my ankles on a run ... then I had issues) but for whatever reason I cringe every-time I see the mangy beasts paroling around campus - and so far they never try to bite at my ankles.
  • A 'mum' is kind of a big deal here in the soooow-uutthh. Apparently it's some sort of streamy corsage/banner thing that you wear over your shoulder or on your person for the week of high school homecoming. My roommate and I were in a craft store and she asked me if "y'all did mums up north?" I thought she was referring to the chrysantheMUMS and nodded my head in stupidity. She then proceeded to point at a sample one on display. So strange. I just don't get the point of a $40+ streamy piece of ... well, streamy stuff.
  • I don't grin every time I hear the word 'all y'all' anymore. It only took a week to lose its novelty. I do feel kind of awkward or left-out saying 'you guys' though ... ;)
  • I almost got a ticket on my bike for going the wrong way on a one-way street. I think my mom will find this particularly entertaining, considering my recent issue with one-ways and traffic officers in general. Next time I won't do that (it was like 5 blocks out of the way to do it the right way)

For all of you meteorology-types, it has been freezing cold here. Interesting how quickly I turn back into a wimpy islander. The last few days the highs have only been in the mid 30s. The average high at this time of year is about 55 with lows in the 30s. It was hailing a little bit this afternoon while I was walking back from the bookstore. That was great fun. We aren't allowed to open our windows in our dorm rooms (I guess it messes up the ventilation) but I do every morning to check if I can see my breath or not. Gram, you were right - I definitely needed my wool coat from MN. I hope it is less dreary next week ... I wore shorts last week during move in but today I was cold in two coats. Boo weather!

I took a few pictures of our dorm today ( above is the outside of the hall I live in that houses about 500 other ladies too.) My roommate is awesome; she is a nursing major and has been here since the fall. It has been good having her to be able to answer questions and kind of show me the ropes. We feel like we've known each-other forever -- a huge answer to prayer and really just amazing that it worked out the way that it did. So I am going to post the pictures and then get back to some homework before I ale dormi. I can't think of much more to tell you; but I could try to come up with more as the 3-day weekend rolls on. I also got my mailing address, for anyone who wants that or my email, please contact my Mom.

A painting that I stole off of John McHoul's wall that is now on my wall

My bed ... thanks for the bedspread, Yonkers! Mom - I painted the B red & used the stickers;
it looks so cute!

My desk ... complete w/ coffee machine; thanks Berg family!

"Food Station" / the fridge that I finally got to stop freezing everything (good advice, Poppy) and to the right my map of Haiti art-work.

"The Judge" aka Baylor himself.

Pat Neff Hall ... an amazing building close to my dorm complete w/ bell tower. Has cool inscriptions all the way around the building. My favorite is the north side which says:
"Wisdom is more valuable than rubies."

Thank you all so much for your prayers and concerns. The encouragement is felt - I am doing very well - better than I could have imagined. I am genuinely happy here and thankful for the peace that I feel amidst the distance of my loved ones/best friends (one-in-the-same). Well, I can't fight the urge to one-up D and end in a Bible verse that has echoed my feelings this week:

"I bless God every chance I get; my lungs expand with his praise. I live and breathe God; if things aren't going well, hear this and be happy; Join me in spreading the news; together let's get the word out. God met me halfway, he freed me from my anxious fears. Look at him, give him your warmest smile. Never hide your feelings from him. When I was desperate, I called out and God got me out of a tight spot. God's angel sets up a circle of protection around us while we pray. Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see - how good God is. Blessed are you who run to him."
~Psalm 34: 1-8 taken from The Message