It has been three months since I started attending classes at the University of Utah in pursuit of my Spanish degree, and I’ve learned a lot, both inside and outside of the classroom.
For one, I’ve learned it’s a whole lot harder to keep up with my homework when I have a full-time job — a challenge I didn’t face as a 20-something-year-old undergrad at Southern Utah University.
Back then, I worked at the student newspaper, the University Journal, but that was a job that included hour-long breaks to watch reruns of “The Simpsons.” There is little time for cartoons while working in a professional newsroom like at the Transcript Bulletin, except maybe during the dog days of summer when there aren’t any high school sports events going on. (And, even then, I’ve matured beyond cartoons. I’ve graduated to YouTube videos of Bob Ross’ “The Joy of Painting.”)
However, I’ve also learned that it’s a whole lot easier to get good grades when I actually do the work. To say I had severe “senior-itis” by the time I wrapped up my first bachelor’s degree would be a vast, vast understatement. Let’s just say being 21 years old and a little more than two hours from Las Vegas didn’t do my grade-point average any favors.
As for being 33 years old, single and without cable television in my humble little bachelor pad? Well, what else am I going to do with my time except study and do homework? Sleep? With finals serving as the fast-approaching train that is casting the light that I see at the end of the tunnel, any sort of rest is at a premium. But I find myself getting far more out of my college experience this time around than I did when I was a kid. My current grades reflect that — no more “C’s get degrees,” as was my motto when I was slogging my way through the doldrums of finishing my generals.
It is particularly important to stay as focused as possible when I’m taking classes in two different languages. I find myself alternating between Spanish and English throughout the day, thinking in Spanish during classes that are taught in English and vice versa. (The fact that one of my classes is taught in English by a Spanish professor often throws me off.) If I lose focus for a second, I end up with an English paper written in Spanglish, or I almost send a Spanish-language text message to Transcript Bulletin editor David Bern to keep him updated on my schedule. (¡Lo siento, Dave!)
When I entered the adult world, I always longed for the opportunity to return to the supposedly simpler times of my college years. I’ve since remembered that those years weren’t quite as simple as they seemed in retrospect.
But, in truth, I have no regrets about any of it, even as sleep becomes little more than a rumor. Next semester, I’m set to take the last language and grammar class I will need for my degree, along with a cultural history class that I’ve looked forward to since I decided to go back to school.
It has been more difficult than I expected, but it has been well worth the time and effort so far.
Darren Vaughan is the sports editor for the Transcript Bulletin. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.