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LETTERS FROM COLLEGE
I meant to write you at once, but it took me rather long to get used to College life. College1 is a very big place and at first I got lost almost every time I left my room. Things are much easier now and I hope you'll look me up some day and let me walk you about. You won't be disappointed, I promise. Oh, I'm good at showing people about. I'll say something like this:
Our College was founded over two hundred years ago. On your right is the library which was built about the same year the College was founded. (So you can easily imagine how it looks and smells inside!) The building on your left, which rather reminds me of a Gothic Cathedral, is in fact the gymnasium, and the Tudor Romanesque2 next to it is the new infirmary3 and so on and so forth.
The trouble with College is that they expect you to know such a lot of things you've never learnt. To be quite honest, I never knew I was so much behind the others. It'll take me months of real hard work to catch up with the fellows!
I made an awful mistake the very first day. Somebody mentioned Maurice Maeterlinck,4 and I asked if he was a Freshman.5 That joke has gone all over College.
Did you ever hear of Michael Angelo?6
I didn't, until last week. He was a famous artist who lived in Italy in the Middle Ages.7 Everybody in English Literature knew about him and the whole class laughed because I thought he was an archangel. He sounds like an archangel, doesn't he? Now I know better. When people start talking about things I never heard of, I just keep quiet and look them up in the encyclopedia.
We've been studying hard all through the term. Now that the exams have started, it's got even worse. I've learned fifty-seven French irregular verbs in the past four days— I'm only hoping they'll stay till after examinations.
The fellows have been telling me that some of the boys sell their textbooks when they're through with them, but I'm going to keep mine. Then, after I've graduated, I'll have my whole education in the bookcase. It'll be so much easier than if I try to keep it in my head.
Now, more news coming, if you're still interested. They've organized a Freshman basketball team and I'm joining it. There'll be a sports competition at the end of term and I hope I'll be good enough to take part in it. It's great fun and then, anyway, the doctor says I need more exercise.
That was all good news. Now for the bad news. You know what happened? I failed in mathematics. It wasn't really my fault, it was just bad luck. I'll be taking another exam next month. I'll do my best to pass, but be ready for the worst and don't say I didn't warn you. As for me, I take it easy, because I've learned such a lot of things not mentioned in the catalogue.8
That's all for now. Hoping to hear from you soon, Dan.
P.S.9 Speaking of classics, have you ever read "Hamlet"? If you haven't, do it at once. It's perfectly splendid. I've been hearing about Shakespeare all my life, but I had no idea he really wrote so well.
1.College: here a school of higher learning giving a Bachelor's degree (a first university degree). It is worth noting that the first two years in an American college or university are a continuation of secondary education. During this time certain courses in English, social science, natural science, and so forth must usually be completed before a student may begin an intensive study of his special field.
2.Gothic;Tudor Romanesque: styles of 15th century European architecture
3.infirmary: a room used for people who are ill or injured (in a school, institution, etc)
4.Maurice Maeterlinck, 1862-1949, a Belgian dramatist and poet, author of "The Blue Bird", received the Nobel prize for literature in 1911
5.Freshman: a student of the first year. An American university student, in the typical case, takes tout years, known as freshman, sophomore, junior and senior years. The British university student typically takes three years: these are known as the first, second and final years.
6.Michelangelo, 1475-1564, an Italian painter, sculptor, architect, and poet "Michael Angelo" is the way Dan hears the name, he has never seen it written.
7.Middle Ages: the period of European history between about 500 A.D. and 1650 A.D. (Anno Domini — in the year of our Lord)
8.catalogue (AmE): University Course-list (BrE,) curriculum
9.P.S.: postscript, a short addition to a letter, below the place where one has put one's name