Sep 4, 2012

Hakuna matata

When one of my friends (who studied abroad here last fall) found out that I had chosen Ireland, too, one of the things he told me to expect was an Irish housemate.  American universities, it seems, have figured that a good way to make American students mingle with/learn from Irish ones is to have them live together.  So Teresa and I waited, and Conor arrived on Sunday.  Now, I have to say that I wasn’t crazy about the idea of living (i.e. sharing my bathroom) with a boy – my closer friends know that this is just one of those things that I’ve always been very particular about.  Thankfully, Conor contradicts a lot of generalizations I often make about boys.  How, you ask?  He cooks.  He cleans.  He won’t allow either of us girls into the kitchen to help him.  He even fixed the three of us tea last night, before bed…and he does all of these things of his own volition.

I must admit…I’m impressed.

In other news, classes started yesterday.  NUIG begins each semester with a two-week period that allows students to sit in on any classes they like before they must officially complete registration.  Given the limitations of my program, though, I’d known for awhile that I would need to find two science classes here, and so had already confirmed with Union that the LIM program would accept the credits if I took Neurophysiology and Endocrinology.  So on Sunday, I realized that this two-week period is kind (and certainly more than the time Union provides), but I wouldn't be needing it.  Oh, one more thing: my Mondays through Thursdays, 9 am to 11 am, are off-limits because that’s when I’ll be in either Prof. Jenkins’ Irish Music class or my Irish Language and Culture (ILC) class.

So Sunday evening, with all of these restrictions in mind, I hoped that the timings for Neurophysiology and Endocrinology wouldn’t conflict with my other two classes, and examined the Physiology department website to find both classes’ timetables.  And of course, they did conflict…and with each other.  They were being taught at the same time.  Ugh.  Why can't this just be easy?  Grrr.  After spending a few hours worrying and anxiously combing course listings for other classes for which I might be able to obtain approval, I sat back in my chair, tired and annoyed.  Friends, the pickings were slim...I didn't really want to spend four months learning Wave Optics or Inorganic Chemistry (Organic was more than enough for me, thanks very much.)  In the end, I decided to quit worrying, visit the Physiology department the next morning, and find a person who might empathize and help me out.

Spoiler alert!  It turns out that the moral of the story is this: don’t worry.  Worrying is useless…it does nothing but cause headaches, more hassles, and (if you’re truly unlucky) heartburn.  (For the record, this isn’t the first time I’ve learned this lesson…maybe one day, it'll actually stick.)  Anyway, when I finally found the Physiology department yesterday afternoon, all of the doors were closed and everything was quiet.  I hadn't a clue where to find the administrative office, much less a person to talk to.  So I decided to be bold for once, knock on a random professor’s door, and ask for directions.  “Hi – I’m a visiting student for the semester," I explained to the delicate blond woman in the ergonomic chair.  "Do you know who I’d talk to if I wanted to take Neurophysiology or Endocrinology this term?”  I got lucky, friends – I didn't get reprimanded, and I didn't get shooed in the other direction.  Actually, the professor smiled easily, motioned to an empty chair with one hand, and extended the other to shake mine.  “I’m Michelle.  I teach both of those classes – have a seat.”

And my good luck didn’t end there.  When I asked Prof. R which course she would recommend I take, since they were offered at the same time, she laughed and told me to take both.  Apparently, they’re taught at the same time of day, but one after another during one semester.  One class at a time!  The stressed-out-almost-doctor in me was delighted...and finally, at ease.

In order to discern whether I could handle the classes, Prof. R spent some time quizzing me about all sorts of science-y things, and I was able to answer every question.  Finally.  Those fifteen minutes were such a relief, friends – and as I spoke, my mind buzzed: thank goodness.  I know how an action potential works.  I know what a steroid receptor is.  This is okay.  I do know what I’m doing.  I can take both classes, and I don’t have to worry anymore.  Whew.

Prof. R sent me on my way with an encouraged heart, a firm handshake, and a chirped reminder: “First lecture’s tomorrow morning at 11, dear!”  And this morning, not only did I find the lecture hall successfully, but I also found it on my own (okay, almost on my own):
Those are construction beams, yes.  There's a ton of construction going on all over the campus, which unfortunately makes navigating it that much more difficult...
When I walked in, my first thought was, it looks so...academic!  To put a terrible twist on that quote from "Jerry Maguire" had me at hello. the middle of a word?
The lecture hall, before the hundred or so students filed in at 11 am.  Thanks to Union's emphasis on small class sizes, this was the largest class I'd ever been in.
And it may have been more crowded than I was used to, but that made no difference - it was easy!  The NUIG professor used an hour to explain what any of my Union professors would have blown through in ten minutes.  (I love my school.)  After I realized that I was completely overprepared for the lecture, I leaned back, surveyed the neuroanatomy diagram before me with great satisfaction, and cruised through the lecture.

Moral of the story, friends: Timon and Pumba had it right.  Don't worry.  Trust.  Things often have a way of working themselves out.

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