5 Things I Learned in Grad School

As the quarter draws to a close, I thought I’d do my part and enlighten what few readers I have to the things that I’ve learned in the past few weeks. I’m not talking about film scholars and theorists like Comolli and Narboni who, to be fair, sound more like Italian pastries than they do scholars. No,, I’m talking about those day to day life lessons that you pick up along the way, the life lessons that you won’t find on any professor’s syllabus. No need to thank me, I know I’m doing you all a great favor and by sharing my wisdom and I’m sure God will reward me in the afterlife. Anyway, here it goes…

5. Shushing is still a socially acceptable practice.

Remember when you were a kid and your teacher would hold her index finger to her lips and everybody just got it? “Oh, her finger’s on her lips? That must mean it’s time to shut up.” As the years went on, we had a number of different ways to achieve silence, at least in my school. There was this thing where the teacher would raise her hand and then everybody knew to be quiet. Other teachers just yelled at us to be quiet. The irony of that is not lost on me. Still, nothing makes you feel more infantile than that shushing noise. I don’t know what it is, but it immediately transports me back to being a kid. But lo and behold, this past quarter, I got shushed. Did you know people still did that? I honestly thought it died out with the macarena, parachute pants and other relics of my childhood. Consider my lesson learned. If you don’t like what somebody else is saying, it’s okay to shush them.

4. If you’re losing an argument, it’s okay to make up facts.

We’ve all had those moments where we realize we’re on the losing end of a battle. Whether it’s the eternal debate over who was better, *NSYNC vs. BSB, or the question of which Star wars movie is the best of the original trilogy, there are some fights you just can’t win. But ya know what you do then? You make up whatever facts you can in order to support your argument. For instance, when discussing Bill Clinton, one particular student said, out loud and with not a hint of sarcasm or irony in her voice, “Well, ya know, adultery is illegal…” to which I responded, “Really? In the United States?” The follow-up question might have been what tripped this particular student up, but she said, “Well, I mean, it’s grounds for divorce…” Granted, “illegal” and “grounds for divorce” aren’t really the same thing at all, but when the chips are down, it’s nice to know that you can toss out a bold-faced lie in a feeble attempt to win whatever debate you were having.

3. Everything I’ve ever said is “fantastic” and my professor has “never thought of it like that before.”

I love my parents to death. They’ve always supported me, financially at least, but let’s be realistic, they struggled with the whole “art school kid” thing. My professor this quarter? All the emotional support I was craving for from my parents long ago was returned ten fold in this past quarter. Seriously, I think I might OD on positive feedback. Even the few times (okay, I really feel more comfortable saying the “several times”) that I brought wine to class or got drinks beforehand and showed up to class with a slight buzz on, this guy was there for me. I’d slur something unintelligible out or just get that really hyper/chatty kinda drunk, but without fail, it was always met with a “that’s fantastic” or “that’s so interesting!” Now, I’d love to think that everything I say falls into one of those two categories, but considering I got shushed this same quarter, there’s a little disconnect for me there. Still, I choose to believe that I’m fantastic.

2. Drinking in class doesn’t go out of style when you graduate from undergrad.

We’re goin’ with the whole “class isn’t challenging me, so I act out” defense or maybe the whole tortured artist angle, to explain why I drink so much. Maybe I just like to let loose? Whatever, shut up, I don’t need to drink to have a good time… okay, sorry, that went to a weird place. Anyway, for whatever reason, sometimes I like to sneak a drink or two into class. When I was in undergrad, it was the thrill of being underage. Now that I’m in grad school, the appeal of drinking has lost its appeal to many of my cohorts, but something about the boredom and tedium of some of these classes just drives me to it. It’s the whole “Why did you take off your panties at dinner?” thing. No real reason. Just because I was bored and I wanted to see if I could. So, although the reasons for drinking in class may change from undergrad to the graduate level, the overwhelming desire to drink remains a constant.

1. If you have a different opinion, you just didn’t understand.

if I’ve learned anything this past quarter, it’s that I’m a misogynist. Evidently, I also have an issue with gay people. That one was trickier, considering I then had to out myself to the entire class just to stop getting dirty looks from some of the folks in the room. Still, the one thing I will never forget is my own opinion. For instance, when asked about a reading, my professor told me that I had an interesting perspective, but ultimately I just didn’t understand the reading. The professor then proceeded to explain the meaning of the article, which capitalized on the exact same points I had just mentioned. Still, I had the audacity to speak ill of one of the selected theorists and that was what made the professor so sure that I hadn’t understood the reading. Last I checked, you can understand and still disagree, but I guess that’s an antiquated practice that’s just a little too outdated for the cutting edge grad school curriculum.


2 thoughts on “5 Things I Learned in Grad School

  1. This really brings me back to frustrating days in undergrad philosophy classes, where I disproved someone’s (moronic) argument about why airport security is useless and they paused (gears turning, you know?) and scream at me “YOU ARE JUST MADE BECAUSE YOU ARE WRONG.” People would also constantly shush each other in that class to the point where as soon as the professor stopped lecturing I had to stop listening for my own sanity. Congratulations on finishing up school!

    Maria from http://www.whyisthispopular.com

    • Yeah, class gets pretty messy… but I made it through that one and I’m gonna pretend I’m a better man for it haha
      Thanks for reading!

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