Today was the ideal blend of academic life and personal life – insofar as I was able to actively ensure neither was left lagging behind. My interactive session was at 1pm and I had some reading to get through before that, so a quick lecture-watch and it was down to readings. Something I’m discovering is that I need to concentrate a lot better, so music I choose to accompany me as I read is a lot softer than it used to be at undergrad. My system of note-taking is still a work-in-progress. In the past few days, it’s become apparent to me how much the system here relies on self-motivation and figuring things out on your own – there’s a lot less instruction and a lot more of a guiding hand, if you’re ever in doubt about things.
The 1pm session was incredible. The Professor teaching the course is somebody I’ve wanted to work with and learn from for a while so it was excellent to be able to meet him at last (albeit virtually). The lecturers here have such a vast body of experience, and work on such current issues that there is a joy they derive while speaking about it. What I found most curious yesterday was two things. First, the characterization of the course as being a system of learning, rather than teaching, which when explained, placed a lot of onus on us to really get into the subject and interact and gain from the ecosystem he’s providing. Second, was how when one question was posed from him, he very nonchalantly replied, I don’t know. To me, that was the hallmark of somebody good – because he followed it up with the fact that he’d be wasting our time if he gave us an answer immediately, but he was looking into it – and would have an answer by next week. That was enough, to be honest. I admire that honesty, particularly because it showed me how much confidence he had over core subject-matter, and how willing he was to engage with us on issues that were developing if we gave him time.
Then in the evening I went out and did errands: paid up my Union membership, met some friends, and got back home – all while cycling the rain. I spoke to the parents, cooked myself a hearty meal, relaxed in the evening and planned for the week ahead. Having 4 days without interactive sessions is genuinely just a gift of time being given to you – to prepare for what is to come.
In other news, I have now discovered I am a member of the Cambridge University Symphony Chorus – which I’m supremely excited about, as I’ll truly be able to learn perfect pitch. Should be a good year.