Stepping up


By Naomi Bloomer
October 23, 2009
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In stark contrast to last week, this week I am quite a happy bunny.

I am now a proper full-on real-life grown-up student! I handed in my first essay. It was awful, and makes me want to cry thinking about it, but I did footnotes and EVERYTHING. A bibliography!

Having only done bibliographies for AS and A2 English coursework, and never having done footnotes, I discovered that doing them properly is my ‘Nam. The most horrendous experience. Worse than the essay itself. In fact, I think most of it was footnotes… I remember very little about the actual essay. The topic was a comparison between the biblical Flood story and the Babylonian Flood stories.

Now, I’m not particularly religious, so perhaps I found this subject slightly more hilarious than others in my class. If I had been brought up going to Synagogue and studying the Torah, I’d definitely not have found it as hilarious as I did.

What amused me was watching two very lovely friends of mine having a little shouting match with the lecturer when something that they had believed for years about the Flood and Noah was thrown out as seemingly “religious rot” by the “archaeological evidence and primary sources from the time”.

For example, Saul was the first king in the Bible, yes? Well, not in academic terms. Once you lay out the “requirements” of being a king, in comparison to other kings in the antiquity, Saul was not a king. No court, no palace, no taxes, no standing army, no foreign diplomacy and therefore foreign wives…

This morning, the argument was about whether different Kosher laws (glatt, double glatt and so on) were there to make sure separate religious “sects” kept separate (Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes) or was purely because of different religious ideas.

My friend fell on the “the effect was to keep them separated but the motivation was different interpretations” side, whereas the lecturer fell on the “it was a political religious separation, in motivation and effect” side. To be honest, I’m not particularly interested. But for the religious students, it’s probably more important than to me, who believes but has been brought up semi-secular.

Anyway, my point is this: The difficult thing about going from A Level, in your home town, with your friends, with your familiar teachers who you’ve known since you were 11, all the way to university in a big city, with new people, with lecturers who don’t know your name in a classroom that changes every week, is that what you always thought you knew about life, the universe and everything is thrown up in the air.

New ideas, new people, new ways of doing things – it can get too much for some people, which is why they drop out.

But I love new ideas, new people and new ways of doing things. It’s what makes upping sticks and schlepping all the way to university so worth it.

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