black dog day

Last week things gradually settled down. My presentation for Thirty Years War went pretty well, as did the meeting with Group Research people on Thursday. I seem to have become the organiser/admin bitch for Group Research, sending around the emails and taking the minutes and such – which is fine, if the rest of them will carry me through the actual work. Hope springs eternal.

Nick came over on Sunday, and I made curry for him and Olly. Unfortunately, Rob didn’t show up to the Monday Vietnam seminar, so we basically just pootled aimlessly around campus, and he hardly got The Student Experience. Still, it was good to have a bro around.

I sent an email a week ago to Dan Joplin asking him (nicely!) to explain the miserable shambles that’s the Redbrick site, but he’s not replying. On the verge of saying “sod it” to this whole Redbrick thing. I can’t maintain their website if the idiots who made it last year won’t even talk to me, and I don’t have the skills (or time, or inclination) to rebuild the entire website from scratch, which is what it needs.

I’ve been looking too much at careers/advice/graduate stuff/activism websites like Graduate Fog and Jilted Generation, which seem to say that basically if you’re my age and want the relatively comfortable middle-class existence your parents had, you’re FUCKED mate prepare to fight tooth and nail for the next decade. They’re probably accentuating the negative, but it seems that even the ones studying a worthwhile subject will be saddled with immense debt and have to do unpaid internships for months upon months to get into their field. Because everything in this failing, directionless pimple of a country is “competitive”, which means “exploitative,” or “the ones who lie the hardest on their CVs win,” or “plain bloody luck.” And our benefits are gone, and our house prices are insane, and there aren’t any jobs, and we’ll be paying the pensions and paying off the mistakes of previous generations, and that our politicians are clueless imbeciles just breaking the system further, and that in a time of greater supposed productivity and “wealth” than ever before, we’re going to have to fight harder than any generation alive to get the same security, prosperity and peace of mind. So yeah: they’re accentuating the negative, but from here it’s easy to believe, sitting reading depressing news in the grey rain.

Back on the smaller scale of university, War Studies are getting the short end of the stick anyway. We compete on the same playing field as the regular History students for our options, without getting first stab at the war-related modules. I was fast and lucky with the online signup, so it wasn’t as much of a problem for me, but a couple of the war guys have their option (one of the three regular contact hours – yes, three – we get a week) – as something totally useless and unrelated to their degree. So it could be worse for me.

I don’t know who I can complain to, because while last year it was run by the politely competent Mike Snape, the War Studies majordomo this year is Toby Mcleod, who has, in my admittedly limited contact with him, been rather less use to me. At the start of Rise of Modern War this year, he told us that we couldn’t afford to miss anything; that it was Getting Serious Now and that employers would look at every module; that if we needed help with anything, ask him, it’s what he’s for. So today when I felt horribly ill and incapable of even getting out of bed, I sent him a polite email asking for help catching up. His response? “Ask a colleague for their notes…” That one patronising, useless sentence, with an ellipse tacked on at the end like a condescending drawl. He hasn’t even put the lecture powerpoint on WebCT, or the one from last week.

And the rest of the History department are certainly no better. As mentioned previously, a while ago I sent an email to various people asking to become a student rep, because the department are failing us in a lot of ways. I got thanks and assurances from various academics. There was a meeting last Friday, but I didn’t go to it, because despite the promises nobody told me about it. I got, by email, an attendance question and the minutes. But no inkling the actual meeting was going to happen. And no replies to my requests for such.

Some days I really wish I’d done a real course. Not just because, in this shitty economy and collapsing country, I won’t be able to afford to rent on the miserable shelf-stacking job this arts degree – this laughable excuse for an arts degree – will get me, but because I’d love to know what it’s like to have a faculty that seems to give a toss about its students, to get more than four contact hours a week for the same three grand as an engineer or medic who works five times as hard and will get ten times the payout. I can work, when I have to, I’m doing my reading and book reviews, but I don’t feel like a full-time student; I feel like I’m on a correspondence course. And I’m confounded at every step by the very incompetence I really want to overcome.

But the grass is probably no greener outside the War Studies ghetto, and I don’t know what I’d even do if not this (Law?) because making up essays is the only thing I seem to be capable of. But that’s not the point, really. I just want to feel like I’m working towards something worthwhile, and at the moment I absolutely don’t, because I’m not.

I’m going to bed, and I may be some time.


One thought on “black dog day

  1. ‘but it seems that even the ones studying a worthwhile subject will be saddled with immense debt…’ I think about this a lot, with graduating at the end of this academic year looming over me. I’m just trying not to think about it too much (possibly not great future-wise, but if it stops me completely spazzing out right now when it’s still 7 months – shit that doesn’t sound long at all – away, then it’s a plus). Trouble is the only real option other than unemployment and living gloomily at home whilst my dad nags me about it all the time, is doing an MA, which I’m not sure I want to do, costs loads /more/ on top of the stupid subsidising-science-students amounts paid already (okay, I don’t know if that’s true, but I wouldn’t be surprised), and I don’t know if I even need one to go into what (I think) I want to do.
    You’re either being very proactive, or very masochistic in finding out gloom-inducing stuff about jobs etc in your 2nd year :/

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