I’ve often toyed with the idea of going for a particular course or a different degree, but have always brushed it aside since it seemed to be not just too much work, but also taking away too much time from my actual work and family. Writing is after all a hobby and if I didn’t feel like writing, I just didn’t. Random reading also helped only to a certain extent, since it’s really limited by how much patience you have to sift through piles for a few nuggets of gold.
Well, all that changed when a good friend recommended Coursera to me. I fell in love at first glance. Here was the world at my fingertips, just waiting for me to enroll into whatever I fancied! Everything looked so exciting and I had to really control myself. I went ahead and enrolled for their Fantasy and Science Fiction course, and it was truly amazing. Prof Eric S. Rabkin was wonderful with his video lectures, and the books themselves were slurpilicious.
I normally speed-read through books and my reactions are really gut reactions, not nuanced analyses. In this course, I had to really think about what appealed to me. In order to write the mandatory essay, I really had to work towards the message that I wanted to convey — it wasn’t enough to just dash off a few careless lines, if I wanted to do it right. My weekends suddenly became ultra-busy, and I tried to catch up on the reading and lectures after my work at night, or during early hours, before my usual day commenced. It was great fun, even though it coincided with a very hectic period at work. The sense of accomplishment I felt after submitting my essay was great, and the comments from peer reviewers were eagerly awaited. The insights of fellow students on the discussion forums were simply amazing; it was a wealth of information that only made me hunger for more. All in all, it was a wonderful way to expand my horizons, and just learn for the sake of learning.
The course draws to a close this week (another one is planned, in case you are interested). I experienced sharp withdrawal pangs last week, and felt almost tearful at the thought that there would no longer be all that reading and writing to do. So I did what any other sane person would do. Very late in the night last week after a really looooooong day, in a moment of highly irrational exhuberance, I enrolled for a few more courses! 🙂
At this rate, I think I shall become the eternal student — I had no idea that learning could be so addictive!