The month-long stress-fest known as "midterms" (which may fall anywhere around the middle point of the semester, or three times during the semester if you happen to be taking a math or science course) is finally drawing to a close. I had two, and got B's on boths. For my foreign policy class, I am fairly happy with my standing. With the curve, I came out pretty much in the middle, which is admirable considering most in the class are not freshman.
As far as my Lit Hum midterm goes, I came out of it feeling a lot worse than a B. 60% of our test were quote identifications, which I am absolutely horrible at. The thing that struck me coming out of that test, which is more or less true for both the grades that I got, is that I am not really that worried about it. I came out of my test feeling really crappy about the way I had done, but I was completely fine with that. I am not sure if it is because I am in college or because I am at Columbia, but having the perfect 4.0 is no longer a goal for me; I am not worried about it. In high school I had a specific goal: I was going to be valedictorian. I decided that one when I gave the middle school prize up because of some stupid behavioral grade in the seventh grade. I didn't talk about it much, but being the best was what I was striving for in high school. Now the pressure is off, and a 3.5 GPA is perfectly respectable. I won't settle for a C, but a B here and there is just a product of my choosing to put myself in the most challenging academic situation that I could be in.
Life right now is about balance and diversification. There is a lot that I am looking to learn in college that has absolutely nothing to do with any lecture or calculus problem set. I place just as much value in the practical lessons of life that I am learning here, the friends that I am making, the events that I have the opportunity to participate in, and the simple fact that I am a young adult living in the City. That is actually one of the things that I have learned here. College is not just about the grades. I have a few friends currently in the job-seeking process, plenty of people that just want to talk to me about it generally, and even know a few people who actually have jobs in the city. The consensus is that the undergrad experience is all about making yourself a desireable person a 3.5 with the ability to schmooze a client is worth much more than the recluse valedictorian. So these days I work on myself every once in a while, too.
This is not to say that my $50,000/year education is going down the tubes. I study my ass off. For my American Foreign Policy midterm, I successfully completeld the courseload of nearly 1,600 pages of reading (in just about two months). That does not include any of my Homer, Herodotuse, or Greek tragedy reading for Lit Hum. I am already well on my way to being able to say that I have actually read and studied all of the poets, writers, and philosophers carved along the top of our library. Give me an essay and I will tell you all about ancient Greek literature (just don't give me three lines and expect me to tell you exactly who is speaking and to whom). I could tell you a hell of a lot about balance of power structures in modern and historical international relations, though.
Enough of my school crap. I went to the Halloween parade in the Village on Wednesday night (practical learning, no?). When people do Halloween around here, they REALLY do Halloween. The giant mob of freaks and geeks and drunks was just such a spectacle that I would have walked around looking at people for hours had there been anywhere to walk. Since I was having trouble getting past a two block strip, I only ended up being there for about an hour. On my way out, though, I ducked into a Westside Market to escape the crowd and was taken for a real French person! My costume included a beret, lots of black, and a pin of the Eiffel Tower. These French guys eating chesse by the window stopped me and started rattling away in French, and I gave myself away before I had time to relax and try to bullshit my way through a real conversation in French. I was so startled, though, I freaked out and my brain never caught on to what they were saying. Anyway, once they realized it was a costume and I wasn't a real Parisian, they offered me some cheese and I headed off towards the subway. That was the lesson of the night: when hot foreign guys start talking to you and want to give you national specialties, just relax and go with it.
This coming weekend (which would have started by now if I wasn't a poor freshman taking elementary language classes, which are the ONLY classes that meet on Fridays)is our official "Fall Break"/Election Day holiday. I have five days ahead of me to cruise the city and wind down from the stress of finals. Most people are going home, so it should be pretty quiet. I plan to catch up on some reading, work on the three Spec articles that I still have in my inbox, go to fancy dinner with my friend Diana and her family tonight, take a cooking class at Williams-Sonoma, take a walking tour of Revolutionary New York, and actually try to get a bit of sleep. Oh, and the marathon! The New York marathon is on Sunday! And my friend Yipeng is running in it, so I plan to go out to support him on Sunday, as well. Should be a blast.