Everybody must have noticed that Gelman has become the busiest place on campus. The reason is simple – midterm exams are close and students are submitting a lot of papers these days. For most of us, classes involve more than just the lively discussions we have been having during the first weeks of the semester. It has become quite a stressful period of time. However, even in light of this information, I can still praise the classes and the learning environment generally.
I cannot possibly express how grateful I am to all the professors at George Washington University. All of the them are willing to help anytime and are never annoyed or bothered by our questions. In contrast to my home university, they all want to make sure we are doing our best, are curious about our work, and interested in its progress. Taking courses from two different departments – English and Woman Studies – showed me that it is the University code, not the departmental one.
Quite a new experience for me is having teaching assistants in our classes. Again, I think it is a great idea. They are mostly PhD students, therefore one is less intimidated to approach them. Moreover, it makes professors more relaxed since the assistants are very helpful to them as well. Mostly it means that the professors do not have to worry about some technical issues, and thus can fully concentrate on the class and discussions.
Outside of class it is crucial to find a good spot for studying. The above mentioned Gelman library, located just two blocks from my residence hall, is certainly very helpful, mostly because it is open 24 hours a day all week long. Starbucks (“Gelbucks” in the campus slang) situated right next door is open all day long as well; one can certainly use a cup of joe, when finishing a paper the night before it is due (unfortunately, I know what I am talking about). Other than the hours, Gelman's main advantage is the possibility to reserve a small study room for yourself and your friends in advance. This is what I have found very useful. You are not disturbed by others and at the same time you don't have to be afraid of disturbing them, when talking to your friends. When encountering any troubles, you can always talk to a person in charge, most of them are very nice and willing to help despite the late hours. After spending a night in Gelman writing a paper, I recommend printing it right there in the library, so that a tangible proof of your accomplishment is in your hands and makes stepping out to the empty street awaiting the sunrise more pleasant.
I believe I am not the only one who is counting the days to Spring Break. This has been a couple of stressful days and some more are to come. However, when finishing the work and having it marked, you can tell the effort pays. But I guess that this is quite a universal aspect of studying.