I am so, so sick of not understanding school.
I know this sounds really arrogant, but I've never not understood school before. (This is probably due in no small part to the fact that the subjects I don't understand -- such as physics, chemistry, and calculus -- I simply didn't take.) Maybe I'm not the top student in the class, but I've always been able to grasp the subject enough to get a decent grade. I've never sat in a class and thought, "Wow, I have absolutely no clue what's going on."
Until this semester, when I am now sitting in all three of my classes thinking it.
I don't know which one I'm most frustrated about not understanding. History is annoying because it's such a black and white subject -- this happened at this time because of this person/group of people. But in this History class it's impossible for me to figure out what I'm supposed to be learning because it's like they already expect me to know everything anyway. Which, um, if I already knew it, I wouldn't be taking this class. It doesn't help that there's no set text, either. They just gave us a book list and were like, "Read a couple books from that. That one is about facts, that one is about ideas, that one has theories behind people's motives. Just read whichever one you feel you'll get the most out of." Um, what? Which one is going to be on the exam? Because that's the one I'm going to read. It's not like I'm taking History for fun!
Which I think might be the whole problem, because Gen Eds are evidently a foreign concept here. For example, in my Philosphy tutorial we each had to state why we were taking the class, and I said, "I'm taking it because my university requires it, and I figured I may as well take it here." And all the natives were like, shocked that I was required to take Philosophy. I tried to explain that it was one of many classes I'm required to take, but they all looked blank. So I guess here if you take a class, you are taking it for fun, or you're taking it for your major, but either way I guess you're expected to be interested in the subject. Which is a hugely foreign concept to me.
Sociology is also a really frustrating subject because I feel like I could understand it if it weren't taught in a monsterous lecture hall and/or the lecturers would speak in a volume louder than Whispering Wind. And for the record, I'm sitting in the third row. It doesn't help. Sociology also doesn't have a set text because the exams are notes/lecture based, but the notes make about as much sense as what I can hear in the lectures: NONE AT ALL. It didn't make me feel any better when I expressed my confusion to one of my flatmates and she said, "Well, Sociology is mostly common sense." I HAVE COMMON SENSE, DAMN IT! If Sociology is common sense, I should understand it!
I think perhaps the most frustrating subject, however, is Philosophy, because for the first week I actually thought I understood what was going on, and this appears to be becoming a pattern. I think I understand what's going on in the lectures, but then I go to tutorial on Friday and my tutor asks a stupid question like, "What is a fact?" and then I get really confused. And the more my tutor tries to explain the concepts -- concepts that I actually understood before tutorial -- the less they make sense. My only comfort is that the guy I sit next to feels the exact same way, so at least I know it's not just me. But still, there is something inherently wrong with a subject that makes less sense the more you explain it.
What I really want to know is if the problem is that I just happened to take three subjects I don't understand at the same time, or if I don't understand the subjects because of the way they're taught in Scotland. Because if the problem is that I don't understand them in Scotland then that's a huge problem, because that means I have to stay in America the rest of my life, because you know what? I am an intellectual snob, and I can't bring myself to live in a country where I'm stupid! I just can't. And maybe that's horrible, but I don't care, because I do not want to spend the rest of my life as confused and frustrated as I am this semester!