I love this time before a course starts, when it's all anticipation. I read the course outline obsessively, fill in all the lecture times in my diary, and try to get as much pre-reading done as I can so I'm all ready for the first lecture (one of the great advantages of studying in the 21st century is online course materials - no more having to wait until the first lecture to collect a reading packet). I'm feeling a bit cheated though - there's no textbook for this course, so I miss out on one of the great joys of starting a new paper: bringing a brand new book home from the bookshop and browsing it in anticipation of what's to come.
Maybe I'm just weird, but I always find it so exciting to browse through a textbook that's full of completely incomprehensible material, knowing that in just a few months it will all make sense to me, and that the horizons of my knowledge will have been expanded yet again. It's all so mysterious when you first dip into it, full of new ideas expressed in a language you haven't quite grasped yet (I'm sure that at least 50% of understanding any subject is just learning the jargon), and you're about to be guided through that maze and come out the other side knowing so much more. Why wouldn't that be exciting?
But no textbook this year, just lots of journal articles to read. Oh well, maybe I'll make an excuse to visit the bookshop anyway (I'm sure I must need some new stationery), just to breathe in the atmosphere of pure knowledge just waiting to be explored.