It was the second to final semester. I needed one comparative literature class that fit my schedule and couldn’t believe my luck when I found this one that met on a Friday (yeah, we’ll get back to that). Classes were generally on Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday. This was an incredibly good fit with my job.
“Introduction to Ancient Norse Mythology”; how fun! Odin, Loki, Freya, Sleipnir, Odin’s 8-legged horse! This was going to be great.
You know there’s a catch coming, right?
We were reading these sagas in the archaic form of Icelandic in which they had originally been written. The reason the class met on Friday was to allow linguist majors from Princeton to come up and attend.
I had no business being in that class.
I didn’t even know what a noun case was. For those so masochistically inclined, here’s the full scoop:
Grammatical case - Wikipedia
Case is a special grammatical category of a noun, pronoun, adjective, participle or numeral whose value reflects the…
My dilemma was that there was no other course I could slam into my schedule at this point and if I just dropped this one(no harm, no foul), I’d be stuck pushing back graduation by a semester to take one final comparative literature course.
So I was going to learn to read and write in archaic Icelandic if it killed me (it didn’t). But it did bring my GPA down to where I didn’t get the pretty gold braid on my graduation gown. Poor me.
The professor wasn’t overwhelmingly helpful but didn’t chase me out of the course. By this point I was well used to be the oldest person in class. I approached a younger classmate, got myself tutored up and went to work.
I am probably prouder of the “C” I earned in that course than in anything else I did in college beyond actually getting the damned degree. I never tried to go full time because I always worked. I went into the whole experience knowing I was so far behind the starting line that there was no reason to sprint. I’m a university marathoner. I also didn’t kid myself that I was making myself more “marketable” and aiming for the big bucks.
Hence the degree in Literature Writing.
Can I read or write Icelandic today? Oh, hell no. When we were in Iceland we made up names for the places we’d see on signs because it’s that impossible to pronounce. Here are our adventures:
Then again, I can’t speak or write Italian and I took two years of that language.
But I came away from that experience knowing that I really can do anything I really put my mind to and that there are many (many) worse things in life than graduating without honors.
What do they know anyway? Getting a “C” in a course I was in no way equipped to take is pretty damned honorable in my book.
© Remington Write 2019. All Rights Reserved