I’ve stressed the importance of my anonymity a few times now, but here’s a fact you need to know: it snows where I go to school. Today was the first day of the new semester, but the weather doesn’t take into account that several thousand students will be wandering campus in a slight daze, trying to find their new classes before the clock strikes. It was thus how I found myself sloshing through freezing puddles of gray-and-white slush while fighting against a bitter wind that was forcing the falling snow to fly directly horizontal. All of this at 7:40am. All of this whilst I was wearing nothing on my feet but ballet flats.
Ballet flats in the middle of a snowstorm? Am I from out of town? Have I never experienced the cold of an angry January?
No. I’m just stupid. Eventually I made it back to my dorm, and I immediately put my feet by the heater and let the circulation restore itself, and I changed back to boots. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Continuing…
I made it, dripping with melted snow and a bit blue in the toes, to my 8am class. I made small talk with another girl, who, after the classroom door was finally unlocked for us by a passing custodian, immediately sat beside me. A good sign. Ten students showed up. A few minutes later, a young and highly attractive man walked through the door, slightly breathless and five minutes past eight. “Sorry, guys!” he said brightly. “Dr. Knoll will be in soon. We went to the wrong class, thought this was being taught two doors down like last semester.” As promised, an elderly professor in a red pullover walked through the door and introduced himself, and it was with great delight that I realized my new professor was an Englishman. A hot teaching assistant, a British professor, and, to add to my joy, Dr. Knoll announced that our class would indeed only hold eleven students.
I very nearly fell out of my chair with delight.
After that class, I had to find my next class in a building I had never even laid eyes upon before. Stumbling through the snow with my inadequate footwear, I somehow found it and the classroom within that I needed. There were many students lining the hallway, waiting for the door to open, but none of them looked familiar, and certainly none looked particularly friendly either. I shuffled over to the door, and lo and behold, my floormate was sitting alone outside the door. Turns out she was in this class too, and like me, she knew no one else in the section. We both heaved a sigh of relief and sat together.
Lunch was great; my three closest friends were all free at the same time, so we went together, and we were our same goofy, slightly embarrassing selves.
My final class of the day was philosophy. It was certainly my most interesting, though I’m not sure if I can say that in a positive way. My professor was soft-spoken and seemed kindly. I’m sure, overall, he is. But, as it were, I ended up sitting in the very front and center seat, and to my dismay, this professor liked to pace back and forth across the room only inches away from the first row of desks. He liked to lean on the desk of the guy sitting next to me. He would also move and stand over my desk, in a position where I would have to tilt my head back just to avoid looking straight up his nostrils. Not wanting to sit in such an awkward position, especially because he would always move just as I convinced myself to do it, I decided I would listen intently but keep my eyes fixed blankly on the chalkboard before me. This, of course, registered in my professor’s mind as me not paying attention, and so he rushed to my desk and asked me, “Do animals have free will?”
Now let’s bear in mind, I’m terribly shy, and it takes a while for me to participate in class. Here I was, first day of philosophy, a question demanded of me to which I could not really form a suitable answer.
“Yes,” I managed, trying to muster as much courage as I could.
“What kind of animal were you thinking?” my professor asked. “A mouse…?”
“A lion,” I muttered. “Or some other wild animal.”
“Do you have any pets?” he asked.
“Do you think a dog knows it’s a dog?”
I frowned, wondering if he’d heard my response in which I’d stated that I had no pets. “Not by… definition,” I nearly whispered.
“And what does that mean?”
I shrank down in my chair, feeling the eyes of all these strangers in my class watching me be questioned about some abstract idea to which I could not find a response. “I don’t know,” I finally admitted.
He stared at me, as if he were trying to pierce through into my dull little brain, and then moved on.
I felt reassured after class when I heard some of the guys snickering at the question he’d imposed upon me, wondering if this class was going to focus on trivial things like the nature of a dog’s existence. It was good to know they hadn’t, as I’d feared, been mentally criticizing me.
And so ended my Tuesday. I trudged, this time with my feet in some good winter boots, back to my dorm, where I realized I’d left my keys in my room. I told this to the desk receptionist, who kindly forewent taking my name down (each subsequent time after the first instance that you lock yourself out of your room [and this would be my second time], you get charged) and lent me the lock-out key to my room. I have no homework due tomorrow. I do have different classes tomorrow than I have today, and I’ll have to find those classrooms now. The start of a semester is always two days of finding the right place to go and warming up to your professors before the real work begins.
At least I’ll have proper shoes this time.