Fall semester (so far) in review

I’m taking 5 classes this semester, and something that’s been surprisingly nice is that I have a pretty regular schedule (and no classes on Fridays).

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Monday through Thursday, I have a class 11-12:30, a one hour lunch break, and then either a 1.5 or 3 hour-long class. I realized that having a consistent daily schedule really helps with establishing a regular sleep schedule and morning routine. Usually, I wake up a bit before my alarm at 9:20 (unless I go to bed late/am super tired, in which case I wake up later and skip breakfast), and have a slow and relaxed morning in. Usually I have time to walk to class early and either journal by the Woody Woo fountain or reflect inside the Richard Serra sculpture.

In terms of my classes…they’re definitely a lot of work as a whole, which I kind of touched on in my last post. I’ll just go through them one by one.

World Drama (English / Theater): I am taking this class to satisfy my requirements for the theater certificate, and I didn’t really have high expectations for it, but it’s probably my favorite class this semester. The work is manageable and quite regular (<100 pg. readings and maybe a short response for each class), and I enjoy the discussions. In general, for classes in disciplines that I’m not familiar with, the big things I want to learn about are how people in that discipline think and communicate, and what they think is important. I feel that I’m getting that in this course, and I also really appreciate that the contents of each class are, for the most part, directly influenced by what the students feel is interesting or important in each work. I’m also happy that I can participate in/contribute to the discussion despite my limited background. This class has also made me think a lot about the purposes and goals of theater, which has actually been really helpful for creating my thesis show as well.

Attitudes and Persuasion (Psychology): I had actually wanted to take a course about North Korea in this time slot, but wasn’t able to enroll in it, so I took this one instead (thinking that it would still be quite interesting). Unfortunately, this class is not what I had hoped it would be. I would have probably dropped it if I had made that realization (or been more confident in my intuitions…) in time. Although most of the people in the (~15 person) seminar are seniors in the psychology department, I don’t really feel like I’m learning much about the discipline and its discourse. Most of the discussion in that class is based on our personal experiences with and subjective evaluations of methods of advertisement, and it doesn’t feel like I’m learning a whole lot (other than just memorizing facts about certain studies and models). Fortunately, the class only meets once a week and is pretty relaxed, so I’m trying to just live with it.

The Asian American Family (Asian American Studies) – I feel like I only figured this class out quite recently. I was initially really confused about how to interact with the readings and what the professor wanted us to take away from them, but I feel like I got a better understanding after talking to Ab (one of my classmates) about it. I have a lot of respect for the people in this discipline because of how many modes of analyses they have to utilize. The only negative thing about that is that I feel like I can’t really contribute to the discussion in a meaningful way, but it’s fine because I still feel like I’m learning.

Automated Reasoning About Software (Computer Science) – I’m taking this class to satisfy my theory requirement for the COS department. Although this is a graduate level class, which was definitely a deterrence, I found the topic more interesting than the other available options, which is why I decided to enroll. I feel like I’ve gotten pretty lucky with both of my COS professors this semester, since they both seem like nice people who actually care about their students’ learning, and are effective lecturers. I actually don’t mind this course, but I do feel that the material is a bit too much for me to fully learn. My attitude towards this course now is to just learn as much as I can, and not get discouraged if I can’t learn it all, since this is my first time being exposed to most of this material, and I feel like I usually have to be exposed to something a few times before I can really learn it. The hardest part of this course is probably just trying to not compare myself to the grad students.

Information Security (Computer Science) – The teacher for this class is a really good lecturer, and I get the sense that he’s actually thought a lot about effective pedagogical practices. This is the second COS class I’ve taken in which the teacher tries to learn everyone’s name, and it’s the first COS class I’ve taken in which the teacher incorporates sections for discussion amongst ourselves AND gives a break every (1.5 h-long) class. The material for this class is also pretty interesting, and I’m happy to have a chance to learn it. My only complaint is that there are regular coding assignments, but it is an applications course, so that’s basically what I signed up for haha.

Overall, although this semester’s already had a lot of ups and downs, this is probably the first break ever that I’m actually looking forward to returning to school. I think this is in large part due to me really enjoying my living situation in Spelman, and taking academics a bit less seriously/stressfully than I used to. I’m seriously so grateful to be living in Spelman this year; I enjoy all the modes of being that it supports. Some other things that I’m looking forward to on campus: the community in IFC, social activities, my improv group (!!!), visiting NYC with Sonia, and getting back to my at-school routines.

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