Saturday, October 25, 2008

I Knew Latin Would be the Bane of My Existence...

So remember how I keep complaining about Latin class? How it's like getting my soul dragged through the mud 3 times a week? Yeah.

I was in the British Library yesterday for my manuscripts class (more on my super-awesome manuscript later) and my course tutor was wandering around, helping each of us in turn decipher bits and pieces of our manuscripts. He gets to mine, and we go over to the reference room to look at some resources about my book. When we're in there, he pulls me aside and lowers the boom: "So, your Latin professor tells me you're really struggling through her class."


Now to be fair, I know I'm struggling. I suck at Latin. A lot. Anyone who didn't know me and only saw me in Latin class would think me a complete dunce. Languages are not nor have they ever been my strong point. But I didn't think I was SO bad that my teachers would talk about it behind closed doors. Ouch. He was very nice about it-he asked me if I would feel more comfortable dropping down to beginner level Latin, and I said no-it's not that I don't understand the concepts of the language-I very much do. I just suck at memorizing my declension and verb endings, and rush through my translations, making a lot of silly mistakes. There's nothing anyone can teach me that will make that better; it's something I need to do on my own. I told him that I feel like I'm learning more in a class that's a little above my level, and he understood.

But herein lies the bigger problem-I need to start my PhD applications. Like, yesterday. I was planning on asking him for a recommendation, simply because he is my advisor after all, and the head of the department. But after he spoke to me yesterday, it dawned on me that all he really knows about me is that I suck at Latin and I'm also not a great paleographer. I joined this programme for exactly that reason-I'm not a linguist, a historian, or a paleographer, and I wanted a program that would play to my weak point, helping me to improve and give me more job skills for the future. However, that doesn't change the fact that because I'm studying things I suck at, I constantly look stupid. My advisor doesn't know that as an undergrad, I wrote papers that I've been told are near-publishable. He doesn't know that when it comes to discussing theology, I really am very good. I know more about the theology behind evil than most PhD religion students. I'm not stupid or uneducated in my field. However, if he hasn't seen any proof of that, then how in the world is he supposed to recommend me for doctoral programmes? It's a conundrum. I'm starting to consider maybe taking another year off in between the masters and my doctorate. Not that I particularly want to, but I need time to write my thesis and get everything in order and prove myself not completely inept before asking for recommendations. I don't know.

It's all very stressful.


Jake Kim said...

Dunno anything about Latin, but I can crack languages if I'm dead serious. (threw away Mandarin 'cause I wasn't so serious about it) Conjugation, declension and inflection can be fitted into, say, a huge table or chart.
Try math - this is killing me. All the concepts I've learned were mostly in words, graphs or the simplest form of formulae composed of scalar. Now I'm calculating utility maximization everyday with a Lagrangian function of vectors and matrices, assuming that consumers are fracking smart enough to go through all that to get the money's worth. And max U(c1, c2) subject to bla-bla-bla is an easy part. Most other expansions were already complicated enough when they were scalas. Econometric regression and interences looked so simple and clear back in college - now I'm beginning to doubt that after learning how the error terms should be roasted (residual control) and the least-square estimator should be sugarcoated (compensated). No wonder we've got a quitter in my class already.

Arianne said...

Keep ya' chin up! If you were just a dumb ass (like me) you wouldn't have gotten into that school to begin with! Remind yourself that everyday! And you have to give yourself some credit: he offered to move you to a easier class and you said you wanted the harder class. That speaks a lot of your determination to learn and the fact you are not a quitter.

Colleen said...

If you call yourself a dumbass one more time in my presence, I will cyber-slap you. You're brilliant. Embrace it. :)

Arianne said...

Hahaha... Cyber slap me? Ewwww... Kevin might get jealous! ;)