From my student blog!
A “Pninian Dilemma”
Hello! Sorry for the inactivity—I usually post Sunday night, but with exams and such, I didn’t have the time. It’s Wednesday now, and I’m glad I waited. Man, what it week it’s been…
I’ve noticed that in almost all of my posts, I mentioned my First Year Interest Group: Exploring English Literature (I suggest you all take advantage of RU seminars). This week’s reading was an excerpt from Pnin, a novel by Vladimir Nabokov. Basically, the first chapter tells of a Russian professor’s (Timofey Pnin) experiences in America, and his struggle to make an important appointment (he boarded the wrong train, lost his briefcase, carried around an expired bus schedule, etc.) Through broken English and awkward mannerisms, Pnin was a stereotypical foreigner in America—he was implicitly made fun of, for example. I’m writing this because I can relate to poor Pnin, and I’m sure most of my fellow freshman can, too. My “Pninian Dilemma” involves (or should I say “involved,” because it’s not so obvious now) myself awkwardly traipsing throughout Rutgers, visibly confused and hesitant about almost everything. Oh, and my giant book bag can add to that image. The first instance in which I was clearly a “Freshman” occured in the library—I wasn’t sure how to print, and only after I attracted a few pitiful glances did the librarian reluctantly (and impatiently) teach me how to do such a simple task. The next incidents are of me struggling to open my mailbox, running to catch a bus (which is difficult with a heavy, swinging book bag), and searching for the conveyor belt for my tray in Brower Commons. I take it back—the fact that I’m a first-year is totally obvious, even after almost two months time to adjust.
Let’s go back a few days, on Friday, my birthday. Usually, I’d have to wake up and shuffle over to Expos, but instead, my Byrne Seminar: “What is Culture?” travelled to New York City to visit the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There, we examined the different presentations of exhibits with a concentration on Native Americans (a natural history musuem’s display vs. a fine art museum’s). It was interesting, taking such a technical approach rather than the usual “stop, state, and onto the next exhibit” manner. But, the highlight of the trip was not our tours, Central Park, or the the Nuts 4 Nuts—it was on the second-floor of the American Wing’s “White House” style exhibit. I’m pretty sure I was in a public archive, but it didn’t matter. After wandering around, I came across an aisle (the room was like a supermarket of items, with everything lined up in glass cases in aisles) full of paintings of the sea. Of course, they were breathtaking, and my affinity with nautical art was reflected in my wide, enthralled eyes (I regret not taking a picture). The beauty and power of the sea just has this affect on me that I can’t explain; it’s like another world.
Unfortunately, the clock was ticking on our moment of “free time,” so I had to cut my wanderings short. Overall, it was a successful and enlightening trip to the city.
I forgot to mention: Thursday night, around 12AM (technically Friday) my roommate and our friends surprised me with a cake for my birthday; I cannot express grateful I was, or how thankful I am that I’ve met such great people at Rutgers.-Ryan Feuer, 10/26/11