An International Student of Literature in England.
Well… The time has come, it is the beginning of the end. I’ve been dreading this for months. My last semester of university at UEA (and probably at university ever — this is my fifth year) has started and I feel so sad. It’s not always been fun and easy, sometimes I was sick of literature and couldn’t wait for it to be done, but third year has really renewed my love for reading and for the study of literature.
Of course, if I say these things, it’s partly because I’m terrified of what will come after university. Currently, I have no plans. I want to work but nobody’s just waiting for me and it can be demoralising sometimes. I applied for several graduate schemes without success last semester. I have no idea where I’ll live when my house contract ends. Now I really need to find the motivation somewhere to start applications again despite being busy with readings and wanting to make the most of this year in terms of social stuff (me, being social?!), volunteering, work as a student ambassador, student guide… Yes – I’m basically compensating for doing barely anything in second year.
One thing I know is that I don’t want to leave UEA or Norwich. UEA is my home in England, I feel like I belong here and I love it so much… Studying English Literature here has really changed my life, it’s opened me to so many ideas and theories and one thing is certain: I need to continue studying literature — French, English and American — (and maybe even philosophy?) somehow!
In any case, I have made a promise to myself last semester: this final year must be good and memorable!
Module-wise, I am incredibly excited about New Worlds: Science Fiction and Beyond! The title is pretty straightforward. I knew when I applied for this module that I’d love it despite having read no science fiction novel and not watching that many films. It’s also perfect for me because my favourite things to study are contemporary novels (from the mid-20th century to now) or things that are not always seen as academic enough. So far it’s been awesooooome! I can’t describe how good it feels to be truly EXCITED to read novels again, especially one for my course. So far we have read The Time Machine by H.G. Wells and The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut – which were both awesome! There was also The Food of the Gods by H.G. Wells that I didn’t enjoy as much but it really reminded me of studying Gargantua by Rabelais for my French Baccalauréat. We’ve also studied several short stories (all super cool): my favourite one was ‘Behold the Man’ by Moorcock – about a time traveller who goes back in time to see Jesus and discover who he really was (I have a weird fascination for anything to do with Jesus as historical figure and Biblical themes) … There’s a cool sort of twist and the tension really lasts until the final lines. I don’t want to spoil it but I really recommend it.
My second module is Travel Literature! To be honest, the reason why I chose it is because we need to fulfil pre-1789 requirements and this one was, with Satire, the only one that didn’t sound too bad or hard. After the first seminar, I tried to switch to the Satire module which was very unfortunately full… I’ve been really torn apart between these two modules since last year and now regret not putting Satire as my first choice but I was worried I wouldn’t “get it”. Now I think I would have enjoyed Satire a lot more and that it would have been more fun, but I’m trying to remain motivated for Travel Literature. I don’t really have the choice, do I? There are other modules I did that I didn’t enjoy at the beginning and still ended up finding them very interesting (like 18th Century Writing in second year). It’s just that I would have preferred to do something I REALLY wanted to study, like Children’s Literature, Queer Literature and Theory…
However, I have to say the reading isn’t too bad or challenging. I don’t often admit it openly but I do struggle with 18th century writing in general or anything too academic. I’m bilingual but that’s very different from having a native level… I don’t want to be treated differently from other students but I’m just saying that it’s an additional difficulty I’ve experienced in my studies. I’m glad though because all the editions I bought for this module are modernised versions (not weird “S” things!!) and the books aren’t long at all. The first couple of weeks we started with utopias! Which is great because I wanted to read utopias one day! And… I realise they weren’t what I imagined at all, perhaps because I don’t enjoy 18th century texts.
One thing I didn’t expect and found interesting though was the overlap between these two modules. Travel literature (or utopias and adventure stories) and Science Fiction are both about the discovery of new worlds, they both raise concerns about society, politics and the future of humanity. In a way, it gives me the feeling to have a very broad literary knowledge and feel so smart when I manage to make connections between two texts that seem completely different!
Hopefully this semester will go well… I’m trying to stay positive and not stress too much, but there’s this pervasive feeling of ending, the frustration to do a module I didn’t really want to do, the dread of change, and the crippling fear of failing my last essays at the end of this semester. I don’t see why it would happen though.
See you soon for more updates on how my semester goes!