Amid the whirl of graduate school applications, international moves, apartment hunting and just plain ol’ adjusting to my third international move in as many years, it has failed to hit me until just recently that I am going to be a student again. As such, I must register at school and pose for a Student ID card. My student ID card affords me loads of glorious, glorious discounts – meals, bank accounts, internet service, bus tickets, even haicuts. All discounted, all for me with a magic wave of my card. After 7 years in the “real world,” I’m really and truly a student again. It’s an odd realization, but not an unpleasant one.
There are surprises around every turn, and I haven’t even begun school yet. For example, I walked through the leaf-shaded campus the other day and stumbled into a student society fair. A band played, jugglers juggled, and a variety of free goodies were being offered at the maze of booths: a bottle of free dishsoap to pay dues for the Drama Club, a somewhat fresh brownie with each Hurling Club membership. Yet another thing I’d forgotten about student life: clubs. One more? Spastic teenagers bursting free from home for the first time. The things you forget in 7 years of letting your brain turn to cheese. Yoga was the group I wanted to join, but in trying to find that booth, I wound up joining the Literary Society as well as the Japanese Club. Apparently, I can get a semester’s worth of classes for 15 euro – unimaginable in Japan. And, yes, I would love a free cup of ocha with that. Mochiron ya.
There are professors, department heads, and fellow students to meet. Soon, I will sit in lectures and bare my vulnerable soul in 3-hour long writing workshops. I’ll wear blazers, lounge in places where I don’t belong, and kick leaves out of my path as I cross campus on my way to class. My first official day of school is tomorrow but instead of worrying about the aforementioned potentially soul-gutting workshops, I wonder if everyone will take notes on a laptop, if I’ll be the only American there. I also wonder if graduate students are supposed to care about what they wear on the first day. I certainly never cared when I was an undergrad – far bigger a concern was actually getting out of bed in the morning. But things are different this time around.