I get a message late evening which says that the page where you sign up for seminars is open. Which one will you be in? I want Tuesday, I say, but then I see it. For Term 1 I don’t recognise the name of the man who will tutor but for Term 2 it changes. To her. To the woman I was so happy I’d never ever need to have as a seminar tutor ever again. I instantly feel sick. I instantly feel like crying. I think to myself that there is no way I am going to sit through another year of her treating me like I am stupid and discarding my ideas before I even have had time to express them fully. She who says things like “You’re only saying that because you’re a white girl” and whether it is to provoke or to make us think I do not know. I just know you don’t say that. She dissected my entire essay and told me that I show signs of “inattentive technical writing”. I would have thought that one of my previous teachers or tutors would have told me about that before she does it straight to my face while I am crying and she ignores it.
Luckily I can change to a different seminar group, the Thursday one. It means that my Thursdays are hell – 10am start, 6h of seminar time in total of which 5 are back to back, and 8h in total on campus (11h if I join the hip hop dancing sessions in the SU) – but it is worth it if it means I won’t have to spend 2h per week in a small circle in a big room with that woman staring at me, expecting me to say something clever about what we have just read at the same time as she has already made up her mind about me being stupid so that she expects nothing of value to ever pour from my mouth.
I don’t think that I really realised it fully last year while it was still happening, but she made me feel like crap every week. On Mondays my mood would get worse and worse until I got home and made dinner, went to bed and woke up on Tuesday mornings already extremely stressed. The pressure in my chest would only increase as the day went on and not lighten until after the seminar when I knew it would be another week until I had to see her again. I will be open-minded and say that she did teach me things as well and she made me think about my essay writing and what/how I argue but she also made me completely doubt myself and my academic abilities instead of inspiring me to develop. It’s a fine line that. Too strict, too soft. Too forgiving, too harsh. She was too much of everything and seemed to dislike students just because they wear fake tan or a lot of make-up. One of the best parts of finishing second year was knowing that I would never have her as a seminar tutor again and for a moment I almost thought it would all repeat itself. Luckily it didn’t but it also made me think that if my reaction, the physical reaction of feeling sick, is so strong months after the actual event I mustn’t have been feeling very well at the time when it actually took place and all the sobbing I did against my boyfriends shoulder further proves that.