And on the side…

Apparently, we UW students are expected to attend class tomorrow morning. Disconcerting news, to say the least. The beginning of each school year is nothing if not a time of sacrifices: Goodbye luxurious stretches of free time; so long, late morning wake-ups, 11:00AM brunches and midnight movies; etc.  But what I’ll miss the most after tomorrow comes is the unrestricted freedom to self-educate. After all, school is where auto-didacticism goes to die.

Yet, almost everyone I know does something or other on the side in order to keep their minds a-clickin’ and their sanity intact. Some read novels before going to bed each night. Some fit in a few movies a week, taking those two hours of relatively immobile spectatorship as an excuse to unwind. Some visit Madison’s various art museums and galleries on weekends. Some, like yours truly, try to juggle all the above while simultaneously attempting to teach themselves a second language (mais, mon français demeure des travaux en cours).

But I’m curious about what others do on the side when they get the urge to “cheat” on their studies, so to speak. Not everyone, apparently, has 6 or 7 films a week in ’em; not everyone lives next-door to the best movie rental place in existence (that I know of); not everyone has the attention deficit disorder necessary for reading many books at once. Even so, I’d like to think that my peers here at UW-Madison consider self-education imperative. I’ll only know for certain once the semester begins, when socializing on weekends begins in earnest, and I find myself in the position of having to convince a small band of fellow literature lovers that it’s a poor idea for us to try to tackle Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow in a book club. Self-educating on the side is as much about preserving one’s sanity as it is about self-improvement.

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