By Readers’ Request: More on Why I Emigrated, Part I

Reader Maria says, “I’d like you to finish the “Why I immigrated story.” For those who missed the first two installments, you can find them here and here.

The last straw for me was something that happened at my university. In post-Soviet universities, you didn’t choose what classes you had to take. Each semester, a huge hand-written table appeared in front of the Dean’s office informing each group of students which courses they had to take, where and when. We weren’t computerized then (I don’t know about now), so sometimes a mistake or two would creep into the schedule.

Once, at the beginning of the semester, my group huddled in front of this hand-written course schedule to see what classes we were going to take. Immediately, we noticed that two classes were scheduled (by mistake, of course) to take place at the same time on the same days of the week.

Now, I’d like everybody to take a moment to consider what you would do in such a situation.

For me, the answer was simple: let’s go to the Dean’s office and tell the people who work there that a mistake had been made in the schedule. My groupmates, however, shushed me down.

“Why do you have to be such a troublemaker?” they asked indignantly. “You never even show up for classes, yet you want to make trouble for everybody.”

“What trouble?” I asked. “I’m just saying we should inform people in a very polite way that there is a mistake in the schedule.”

“Will you stop being such a jerk?” one groupmate exclaimed. “You always have to protest, complain, defend your rights. You are so annoying!”

Of course, I shut up and withdrew. It was true that I wasn’t planning on attending either of the courses scheduled for the same time slot. In the meanwhile, the group discussed the situation and decided to show up for one of the courses and ignore the other one.

By now, readers must be wondering why the group was refusing to mention the problem with the schedule to the authorities. Please, offer your answers in the comments. I’d love to hear what you think.

To be continued momentarily. . .

P.S. Thank you, Maria, for asking me to write about exactly what I wanted to the most. 🙂

8 thoughts on “By Readers’ Request: More on Why I Emigrated, Part I”

  1. Oh, so it would be caught as an error at that point? Even though you could pass both classes without attending much? OK.

    Well then — the two professors were at war with each other, so the vice chair had decided to set them into combat using the students as foot soldiers, and the students decided it was safer for them to muddle through the situation than to raise it as a problem. [Now I am just describing the kind of thing that happens in US Romance Language departments, though.]

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      1. I have writing style for fiction, yes, but I swear to God, this kind of drama is what I observe in daily life. You can’t make it up! Remember how the French were instantly convinced the DSK thing was a plot by Sarkozy? Well, take a few paranoid graduate students from a few countries with a lot of planning and plotting in them, and a few similar assistant professors and recently hired outside chairs, and you can really come up with some bizarre departmental situations!

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        1. 🙂 Oh, you are absolutely right. I have witnessed a couple of inter-departmental dramas of Calderonian proportions, so, yes, academia is a place for very crazy situations. On the airplane that took me to my new country 13 years ago, I read CP Snow’s The Masters, about the drama of academic existence and all the little intrigues and everything. I thought the author was exaggerating. Little did I know. . . 🙂

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