In just a few hours I’ll be off to the UK for the second time. I won’t return to my home country until September 2nd.

As I mentioned before, this is scheduled to be the longest I’ve ever been away from home, but I’m not too worried about that. I’ve already made friends with a number of people in my course, so it’s not like I’ll be isolated there at all. And I’ve already planned a few awesome trips on the weekends, so even if the course were to end up being terrible, I’d still have those to look forward to.

The course itself will be interesting, I think. It’s on the social history of 16th century Britain. Social history isn’t my cup of tea – My focus is on the acts of kings, queens, and politicians rather than how the rank and file lived their lives (unless they’re revolting, of course). But, the fact that this course is being taught on location, the fact that we’ve got field trips to museums and notable locations lined up (including a trip to Stratford to see a Shakespeare play), and the fact that we’ll be studying directly from primary source documents (ie, documents actually written in the 16th century, as opposed to textbooks written in 2008), makes this much better than your average social history course.

I’m a bit worried about this professor though. I had him before during my first year at U of T, and it wasn’t the best experience. For one thing, he’s a bit of a technological dinosaur – he uses overhead projectors, for fuck’s sake! You can make the argument that he’s entitled to teach the course however he sees fit, but I think it’s embarrassing to see a professor teaching at one of the top 25 universities in the world using obsolete technology in class.

Not only that, but his class remains to this day the lowest mark I’ve ever had in any academic institution, with the sole exception of Grade 3 art (I was bad at colouring within the lines, okay?). That’s somewhat troubling.

With that said, there’s a bright side to both of these problems. This course is a seminar course, not a lecture course. This means smaller classes and more discussion amongst the class. It’s highly unlikely that he would use overhead projectors here. Plus, it’s Oxford University, one of the top ten schools in the world. Surely they’ve discarded all their old technology by this point.

As for the marks, it’s true that the professor himself never marked anything I did in that previous class. It was all done by my TA. The professor has some input, but the TA determines the mark. It’s possible that I just had a bad TA. The fact that the class average as a whole was 8% lower than the majority of U of T classes would mean that either BOTH TAs were cruel, or the professor himself was responsible for that anomaly. I’m hoping for the former. Otherwise, I’ll just have to content myself with knowing that this is an entirely different style of course, and that any preconceptions are going to prove useless. I should just go in like everyone who hasn’t had this professor before, with an open mind.

One final piece of good news is that I’ll have my computer with me while I’m away, and so for the first time ever I’ll be able to post from another continent. Crazy stuff.

So, is Summer ’12 over, or is it just beginning? I’ll find out soon. Wish me luck.

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