Tag Archives: College Life

Thanksgiving at College, 2010

I’ve been in academia for all of my adult life, first as a student, then as a professor.  I’ve experienced many, many Thanksgiving holidays.  Here are a few thoughts.

By Thanksgiving week (November in the USA), students and faculty are worn out.  Classes began in late August.  Students had orientation before that, faculty started preparation activities in anticipation.  Naps, once a luxury, have now become a necessity.

At my college, classes are in session on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Thanksgiving week.  Students are expected to be in class through Wednesday afternoon.  Hah!  Either my freshman students have a lot to learn, or they have uncommon wisdom.  Starting the week before, one after another informed me of approaching absence.   I’ve heard the tone before, “This is the way it is going to be.  Deal with it.”

In my opinion, they have it figured out.  At this time of the term, a four day holiday weekend isn’t enough.  Why?  There is a need to deal with sleep deprivation.  Then, there’s that professor dump thing going on.  Professor dump?  That’s when professors dump end of semester projects and papers on students, all at the last minute.  They have an inordinate impact on the course grade.  If students were to spend all of Thanksgiving break on their projects and papers, they simply would not have enough time to get everything done.  I am not the only person to be working on Thanksgiving Day.

Thanksgiving Day is a time for binge eating!  Meat eaters and vegetarians alike look forward to this day.  If a student doesn’t pick up five of the freshman fifteen here, then that student simply isn’t trying.  Tales of pigging out instantly become legend.

Thanksgiving is a day for reflecting on life’s blessings.  You know, a stop and smell the flowers type of thing.  At a time of collegiate upheaval, I am grateful to have a job in academia.  That my position is at a well regarded liberal arts college is a true blessing.  I’m grateful for my students.   They are smart, study a lot, and seem to care about the course they are taking from me.  Moreover, I like them as people.  I was never that cool as an undergrad, and I’ve not been that cool since.

Social media is both a blessing and a curse.  Throughout the day, I’ll be able to communicate my love and affection.  The curse is addictive behavior.  Why, on a day that I should be home with family, am I alone on my computer?  I’ll be Skyping back to Ohio where they’ve set a place for me.  1,000 miles away, it is pumpkin pie for one.

I’m grateful for being a professor.  It is the only way for me to live.

– – David Albrecht

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Friday Bodyspeak

I heard it.  “Call and cancel all my appointments!  I just can’t do it today.  This is non-negotiable.”

It had been a while since my body spoke up.  Except for a few minor grumblings, there have been no major complaints since that red hot hot hot chili back in early September.  I stalled for time, “I’ll get right back to you.”

Tried to start the engine, but only heard coughing and sputtering.  Not enough juice in the battery to turn it over.

Started through the diagnostic checklist from the top.

Brain?  Dead.  The computer is on but the screen is blank.

Tummy?  Tummy? Tummy?  No answer.  It is a really bad sign when there is neither bile nor guile.

Intestine?  No gas.  No get up and go.

Legs?  No spring in my step today.

It spoke again, “I feel it in my bones.”  Oops, forgot to check bones.  “I will hurt you if you get me out of bed.”

And then I knew, today is Friday.  There is only one word for a day like today, “Ugh!”

Welcome to a collegiate Friday, aka Ughday.  Professors and students alike stumble through the day, exhausted.

Student absenteeism is greatest on Friday.  It isn’t due just to Thursday night partying.  A busy week of study has worn down even the strongest students.  Even if they drag themselves to class, their brains are lifeless like a dead sea.  No original thoughts are birthed on Fridays.

Professors usually come to class on Friday.  To call off class would look too much like playing hooky.  Despite being there, they are as dead as any student.  Friday classes are never characterized as energetic, engaged or inspiring.

Students and professors both hear Friday Bodyspeak.

My last class of the day started at 2:40.  My students had some energy.  We hummed through the lesson of the day.  Brains were percolating.  Original thoughts enjoyed new life.  I was feeling good.  Friday Bodyspeak was no more today.

Then at 37 minutes into the class an amazing thing happened.  Each student’s brain congealed.  At precisely the same instant.  Bright college students became zombies.  Eyes blinked, but no one heard me.

So I dismissed class 30 minutes early, what else was there to do?  As I turned off the lights and closed the classroom door, Friday Bodyspeak whispered, “Gotcha once again.”

by David Albrecht

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