You know those "In the beginning of the semester... In the end of the semester..." memes that have Barack Obama on them, on one picture beginning his time as the POTUS (all bright and shiny), on the other one in the end of those years (all gray and withered). Yes. That's me in Newbold, and it has only taken 1,5 weeks.

It's a bit of an army regime over here. 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. in the classroom, from 7 p.m. in the library. It gets harder and harder to get up every morning. If I drank coffee, I would totally do it now.

The whole process of getting accepted in Andrews was slightly frantic so the list of pre-intensive books which we should have read by now landed way too late on our desks. So everyone is desperately trying to get as much reading done every day as possible. And book reports written. Some evenings I get a double vision from all that reading and book-reporting which is something I rather didn't tell my doctor of an optometrist.

I walk about 250 steps each day. Dorm - class - caf - library - dorm. My body is not happy.

But it's not all sweat and tears, of course. There are many wonderful things about this course and - make no mistake - I am very glad to be here! First, the group. We have 20 people in our cohort, all from different parts of the world, and I really like them. Obviously, I knew some of them guys from my Newbold days (NJ, for example) and others I had never seen before. But it has taken us no time to get into this good supportive group spirit. It was sometime last week, heavens, I am not quite sure when - probably Thursday? - when we watched a movie with our group (Remember the Titans) and suddenly pop-corn and crisps appeared and for the first time I felt like these were my people. Wonderful stuff. Almost all of them will come to the European Pastors Council in Belgrade in the end of August so I am looking forward to our first post-classroom-madness reunion! :)

And then, of course, there are all those wonderful lecturers. I popped by G. R.'s office last week and got him to agree to read the chapters of my future dissertation, once I get to writing it. Because I want to do my thing on Homiletics and G. R. was the first one to introduce me to the world of preaching. Dr A. N. had a full day of lecturing last week and I loved every minute of it. I am totally biased and one-sided when it comes to her but I don't care. I love that woman so much. And T. did a brilliant job yesterday when he lectured on Postmodernism and Metamodernism. I can't help but pop by his office every day - just for 20 minutes or so - to talk about stuff. He's one of the kindest people I've ever met. And talking to him always feels like a breath of fresh air. Things like this - no, people like this - just make me so grateful and happy to be here.

Obviously, there are a million assignments to do and mountains to climb but it's all good. The emails I get from home - about usual work stuff in the conference - seem to be coming from a different planet. I'm mentally very far from my every-day work, and that's probably one of the perks of my studies.

Again I have wasted some 30 minutes of perfectly valuable library time on my blog. Blogging really isn't or shouldn't be a part of an army regime, should it? No, sir!

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