For the last week or so, the flow of email from the Shakespeare Institute has increased. This has allayed my irrational fears that I had not, in fact, signed up for a post-graduate degree, but had in fact been scammed.
I knew Juliet wouldn’t let me down.
(Juliet is the Administrator for The Shakespeare Institute, and the person with whom I have most been in communication. I get a little chuckle that the Shakespeare Institute’s point person is called Juliet, and I amuse myself terribly whenever I email her; I address every email “Good Morning Juliet” in honour of Anne-Marie MacDonald’s Good Night Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet.)
A few realities about beginning post-graduate studies has set it.
1) It’s going to be a lot of work. I know this is a stupid statement, worthy of a “no shit, Sherlock” response. I think it’s more the reality of it that has taken me by surprise. Or just the realization (which came immediately after I clicked “Send” on my tuition payment) that I have, indeed, signed up for a major academic undertaking.
2) It’s going to be difficult. I figured this no-brainer out as I slogged, nay, drudged through the first book I chose to read from my Shakespeare’s Theatre reading list: Court Masques: Jacobean and Caroline Entertainments 1605-1640, edited by David Lindley. It’s an anthology of Court Masques, which were theatrical entertainments popular in the above-mentioned period, where playwrights such as Ben Jonson wrote allegorical scenarios meant to glorify the host of the masque (often the King or Queen) and to let the lords, ladies and other invited guests show off their skills at dancing or singing.
They are as trite as they sound. I literally fell asleep during each and every one, no matter what position I tried to read them in (luckily, none of these involved standing, but it did involve me missing my stop of the subway not once, but twice.) I expect that once the reason I’m reading the damned things is revealed (beyond the obvious relation to Shakespeare’s canon), it’ll all make sense.
Beyond this, I am starting to be reminded of the level of inquiry that is required in real scholarly work. I’m also in the process of summarizing the eight plays I need to know before the start of classes, and luckily my ciritcal thinking skills are coming back to me quickly.
3) It’s going to be lonely. Aside from the important emails regarding using the online classroom website and ensuring that registration has taken place, I am by default part of the grad student emailing list, and have been receiving forwards about all of the plays that students studying in England can see for discounted prices. Students are now currently being oriented to campus, meeting classmates and colleagues and professors, and I’m here in Toronto going about my daily life as per usual, except with a shit ton of extra work to do, with no support (other than the emotional support of my friends, for which I am of course, grateful.
I spoke with a few friends of mine who have done the part time / distance learning thing, and their experience seems to have been some variation on that theme. They felt like they were doing all the work with none of the fringe benefits of being a student. While I certainly do not need or want another Frosh week — my first two were pretty epic, and I’m not in my late teens or early 20s anymore — but I do wish I could be there right now.
September 30th – the official start date of classes – is quickly approaching, and while I feel more or less ready, the unknown is always scary.
Here goes nothing.