Five Essays, Two Months, Two Trips, and Too Much Chaucer

Now that it’s December, my time abroad is officially waning; I’ll be back in Boise in exactly two months. When I booked my plane tickets back in January, I was under the impression that semesters here run through January. And they do. Kind of.

Classes end here in December—I’ve got two and half more weeks to go. But finals are done a little differently. For the School of English, all final essays are due online by January 12th. So there was actually no real need for me to be here during January, since I could have submitted everthing from afar. But that plane ticket home was already booked, and I have to pay for my dorm accommodation through January anyways. So I’m going to turn in my essays, then catch a flight to Barcelona, kick a few days, come back, pack up, and then go down to London for a week, where I’ll reunited with the C of I London group for a few days. But all that’s on the horizon.

What’s happening now is a lot of essay prep. I have five essays to write by that January 12th deadline—one for Chaucer, one for 19th century lit, and three for poetry. I turned in my practice essays a few weeks ago, and got feedback this week and last. Apparently they don’t do essay titles in the UK, you just head your paper with the prompt. But otherwise, all went well with the practice essays, and I’m on to the summative work. I haven’t picked the poetry collections I want to analyze, but for Chaucer, I’ll write on Chaucer’s treatment and use of older authors within the literary tradition, and for 19th, I’ll write on the Big House as a place of imprisonment rather than privilege for Anglo-Irish women. The last one is what I’m looking forward to most, probably because I have the best grasp on it. Try as I might, I just can’t get into the middle English, which makes it especially hard for me to write about Chaucer.

In light of all those essays, I’ve rededicated myself to the library. You can tell that it’s near the end of term—it’s really hard to find a good seat. Yesterday I walked through three floors before I found something decent. And each floor here is at least three times the size of a Terteling floor. But while the library’s population has skyrocketed, the class size is plummeting. There’s a much more relaxed attitude towards class attendance here, even though classes might only meet for only two or three hours a week. Nonetheless, by my count, Monday’s Chaucer lecture was down about 35%.  It doesn’t give me high hopes for a full class in tonight’s three-hour poetry seminar and lecture.

I’m killing time in the library before I head off to that lecture. What I should be doing is working on a grad assistantship cover letter, but I just read three critical essays on Chaucer, so my mind feels a little numb. My last letter of rec went through last night, so my grad apps should be all ready for consideration now, even though I submitted them a few weeks ago. I may or may not end up in any of these programs, but working on the applications, and now the funding applications, helps me feel like I’m doing something to combat the anxiety that the looming post-graduation void inspires in me. I might be in for a rough few years after graduation. But I’ve been keeping an eye on the people who graduated three years ago, at the end of my freshman year. They seem to be doing ok, so I have hope that there’s an end to the void, whether I get there through grad school or by working.


From the McClay Library,

Megan Mizuta