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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Back to School

I went back to school last night after missing four straight weeks of classes because of all the holidays. In many ways, it was like I hadn't been gone for so long, but there was definitely a different feel to the class than when I had left. Walking into my building, I continued on my experiment to see how long I can go before I actually get asked to show my ID at the door. I think I am up to six or seven entries now, and not once have I been stopped. I guess I'm just have a trustworthy, non-threathening look. But still, I think I would feel a bit safer if I felt that security did their job. When I got onto the floor where my class is, as I walked down the hall, I realized I had forgotten the room number of my class. Thankfully, I saw a couple familiar faces just ahead of me in the hallway, so I followed the crowd. When the holidays started, we had only been in class a few weeks and everyone was just starting to get to know each other. As I walked in last night, there was a very different vibe to the class. It was obvious that during my absence, friendships had been established, bonds had been made, alliances had been created. Because we work in groups a good amount of the time, rapport and trust had obviously developed. And I felt very left out of that, like I was an outsider looking in. But people were actually really nice. After a few minutes of feeling left out, a classmate came over and asked about how my holidays were. Then another classmate came over and gave me handouts that she had collected for me. When the teacher started class, she welcomed me back. And during our break, a couple people came over and they were asking me about the different holidays and about being an Orthodox Jew. Like I said, the feel of the entire class was very different, but it was nice, because I definitely could see that the class has come together over the last few weeks to become a unit rather than individual students. We are practicing doing counseling on each other. I had definitely missed a bit in that part of the course. My group had developed some rapport and knowledge about what was going on in each others' lives, which enhances the counseling relationship that we are working to build. But my group partners were also very encouraging and nice; they welcomed me back and helped fill me in on those things that I had missed. I also got my first project back. It was a 10-minute counseling session that I had to transcribe and critique. The comments I received were helpful and positive. She said I was on the right track, which was encouraging. All in all, I had been dreading missing a lot with so many weeks away from school. I did miss quite a bit, but to the credit of my classmates, they really helped me feel like I was part of the group even while I was gone. Now I look forward to the rest of semester, and hopefully learning a lot while getting regular work on the development of my counseling skills.

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