Sunday, July 26, 2009

Cramming one semester into a week.

This last Winter semester at BYU I wrote five research papers, I have written that many this last week and a half on top of studying for a final exam. So that has pretty much consumed my life for the last week. It has been an awesome learning experience though. I am becoming much more efficient in my research and writing abilities. My supervision is going extremely well. I am a completely different writer now than I was two weeks ago. Professor Steinberg is honestly the nicest man I have ever met. He has this uncanny ability to tell your paper is horrible while making you feel great about yourself at the same time. For an hour we went over every line of the paper I submitted to him, and he pointed out everything I did well, and everything I did wrong.

It is unreal the amount of world class personal attention that I am getting here. For everyone of these five papers I have submitted I get one on one feedback from my professors. That is more than I have gotten in the last three years at BYU. I know for a fact that I will progress more as a writer here than I have in the last three years at BYU.

To give you an idea what I am writing about my last five papers have been on whether or not Spanish Carlists were fascist, why the US and Britain did not go to war again after 1815, advantages of constructing chronologies when doing research, why Francisco Franco rose to power instead of one of the more charismatic Spanish generals, and if manifest destiny was just America's version of British Imperialism. Not all of them sound really that interesting I know, but I have really enjoyed learning more about them. What I enjoy most about it is the challenge of finding the evidence to prove my thesis correct.

After my final exam on friday (the term is still not over some of the classes are only 4 weeks and others are 8) I took a much needed nap and then a big group of us went out clubbing. It was my first experience in a European night club, and it was actually a lot of fun. Then yesterday afternoon I went out with some guys to a pub to watch New Zealand play South Africa in rugby.

This morning I went to church and helped teach a primary class. Wiping noses, taking kids to the bathrooms, convincing them to come out from under tables to join the lesson, and keeping kids from escaping was a drastic contrast than what I have been used to after attending singles wards for the last few years.

After church I went to dinner at one of my professors houses. Dinner was really good, and afterwards we watched a documentary. I was happy to hear from him that I had received top marks on both my term paper and final exam. It has been great really getting to know him, his name is Dr Peter Martland and he is one of the top intelligence historians in the world. He is only one of two men in the world that does not work for the British Government to have been granted access to the secret MI5 archives.

After dinner the Cambridge Ward historian came and talked to us about the history of the church here in Cambridge. He had lots of interesting stories, but what was supposed to be a 45 min lecture turned into an hour and a half. One thing that I left excited about is that he told us the Cambridge University Library has a copy of the first Book of Mormon printed in Europe in 1841 that you can actually check out, along with all the original Millenium Stars. I am going to go tomorrow and check them out, hopefully I will have my camera back by then so I can take some pictures.

I am excited for these next few weeks. I will have more time to explore the city and see more of all the cool museums, libraries, and colleges. Most importantly I should have a camera, so I promise more fun, non-academic, picture filled posts.

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