Looking back I realize I haven’t said anything about my actual classes. I am taking “Contemporary Cinema,” “Current Irish Cinema: Debates and Contexts,” and “Deeply Divided Societies.” My film classes take place in the “Queen’s Film Theater” or “QTF,” which is an actual theater playing regular features at night. It is a full sized screen with plush red seats that have mini pull-out desk tops. If only I had a light-up pen! These classes combine a lecture, a screening, and a discussion once a week. In “Contemporary Cinema” we just finished our unit on Asian cinema (Hong Kong, Thailand, and South Korea), discussing what is new, what makes the films contemporary. In my Irish cinema class I’ve learned about Ireland’s economic history and we’ve discussed outside views of Ireland verses internal identity.
My politics course has two lectures a week plus a tutorial. We have studied South Africa, Yugoslavia, Israel and Palestine, the nature of violence, and nonviolent activism. It is a large class and I have been disappointed in the loose communication between the three lecturers and my tutorial leader. The reading, lectures, and discussion don’t overlap much, and I feel I haven’t gotten to “unpack” what I’ve learned.
The semester officially ends in January. The spring semester at my home university starts in early January, so I will be completing “alternative assessment” before I leave. For my politics course, instead of an exam I will be writing two essays, and for my film courses I have to turn in my papers early. This worries me, for in the UK school system one exam or essay usually constitutes 90% of your grade. In my program in the states I receive written evaluations instead of letter grades, so these three grades will be my entire GPA. And not all learning is done in the classroom!
So I’m trying to balance school work, travel, and keeping in touch with home. I read my homework on jolting trains and buses. So it goes.