Student Voices is a WOA blog feature that presents the experiences and point of views of current Arts students around campus. Get to know our creative and passionate students through their “voices” and get a snapshot of life as an Arts undergrad. The views and opinions expressed within these student voices posts are solely those of the author.
Being abroad at a new university with different class structures makes me think about what I miss back home at the University of Alberta. And as a fourth-year student, knowing that I won’t be back for another semester at the U of A makes me reflect on past experiences and fond memories at my home campus.
One of the perks (or at least they’re perks for me) of being an English major is being involved in smaller, discussion-based classes. The courses are set up for you to develop a close relationship with your professor and feel comfortable enough with your classmates that you don’t worry about contributing to class discussions for fear of saying something incorrect.
At the University of New South Wales, these dynamics aren’t quite the same. Classes are divided into lectures and tutorials; lectures have a rather large number of students (including English classes), and tutorials are divided in to smaller groups of around 20 students and are most likely lead by a tutor (or TA figure) rather than your professor or lecturer. Although I am enjoying my classes so far, I’m missing that connection with my professors, so I thought I would take this opportunity to thank some of those professors who have positively affected my university experience at the U of A. Think of that Jimmy Fallon “Thank You Notes” segment, but without the sarcasm.
To Dr. Robyn Fowler, thank you for being one of the most organized and most knowledgeable English professors I’ve ever had. Your class structure and eloquent speech inspired me to become more engaged in your courses (and other English courses), and encouraged me to expand my vocabulary and engage in more challenging pieces of literature. Your enthusiasm regarding Canadian literature has also rubbed off on me, causing me to gravitate towards texts written by Canadian authors.
To Dr. Theo Finigan, thank you for sharing your academic interests with your classes and for giving me advice regarding my own personal academic aspirations. Your passion towards American literature translates positively in the classroom, inspiring me personally to pursue an academic future in American literature. And thank you for the types of academic assignments you allow us to do in our various undergraduate degrees, forcing us to discuss our ideas and opinions in a group setting, and preparing some of us for the next steps of our academic careers.
To Dr. Mark Morris, thank you for your sheer excitement and knowledge of literature and history. Your classes go so far beyond the level of the texts as you contribute your own personal stories and information to the class discussions. Your Shakespeare class and Children’s Literature class have produced some of my fondest memories and most enjoyable teaching moments of my university career.
To Dr. Stephen Slemon, thank you for being so kind-hearted, so welcoming and so encouraging. You truly are such a lovely person and I can honestly say it was a privilege to be in your class. Thank you for creating such a wonderful English literature family.
To Dr. Ted Bishop, thank you for not being a conventional English professor (in a good way, of course). Thank you for always providing entertainment and for pushing us beyond our limits into a realm that we never expected to enter. Thank you for your harsh lessons, but necessary guidance, and thank you for forcing me to look at my own writing in a different light.
There are many more professors who have shaped who I am today, and for that, I thank them. I don’t want to say goodbye to these professors, and I don’t want to leave the U of A (I’m still considering the five-year plan). But I know there are many great things ahead and many new things I should experience, an exchange in Australia being one of them. So here’s my official goodbye and thank you to the University of Alberta for the past four years!