It’s the first day of December, the second-to-last day of classes, and I have 13 days before I get to go back to Vegas for the first time in 5 months! I just spent Thanksgiving with my friend Emily and her family in Bethesda, a holiday during which I watched a ton of television, (The Tudors, Chopped, Downton Abbey, a Lifetime movie in which a girl is transported to the future by an eclipse, etc.) ate cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcakes, and wrote three papers.
With the end of the semester so close, I realized I hadn’t done a classes blog (though I do reference one of my classes, Arabic, a lot.) That changes today.
History of Occidental Civilization: Europe and the Wider World
We spent an entire day in October talking about witch hunts in early modern Europe, and I think that pretty much sums up how awesome this class is. I am a history nerd, so perhaps I get way more enjoyment out of this class than I should, but it is still very fun. We basically learn about historical events in the early modern period in Europe, (so basically from the Black Death until the French Revolution) and read a bunch of cool books from Voltaire, Machiavelli, Locke, etc. This class satisfies two of my desires in life: reading a lot of classics and coping with the fact that the History Channel stopped airing shows in any way relating to history.
Expository Writing: Analyzing Debates in International Relations
The expository writing program at Hopkins is basically a way to improve your writing by writing about topics that you consider interesting (I think there were also expository writing classes on fairy tales, religion and violence in America, etc.) I consider analyzing if democratic states are more peaceful than non-democratic ones to be a nice way to spend 9 am on Tuesday and Thursday, so I chose this class. It’s really been helpful for my debate cases because it exposes me to a lot of international relations terminology and theories, and I feel like my writing has definitely improved from high school. Right now I’m writing my last essay for the class, which analyzes if terrorism is still a viable threat, which makes me feel super cool and like I’m a national security advisor. Writing about this class also gives me an excuse to link to this Foreign Policy article about post-conflict solutions in the context of Harry Potter. Read it.
First Year Arabic
This is the class I talk about most in my blogs, the class I knew I wanted to take when I was applying to college, and the class I am the most glad that I’m taking. Arabic is widely considered one of the most difficult languages for English speakers to learn, and the fact that it requires you to learn a completely different alphabet tends to scare off a lot of people. In reality, it’s not as bad as you think. I took Spanish for five years, and even thought the languages do not seem very similar at first glance, knowing how to study for a class in a foreign language helps no matter what the language is (hopefully this logic holds when I add another language, either Farsi or Chinese, to my classes in the near future.) Whatever language you’re studying, you’re going to have to put some serious work in, and you’re going to need flash cards, some mp3 files pronouncing the words, and a lot of dubbed Disney songs.
It’s a song set in China dubbed in Arabic originally written in English. Globalization at its finest.
Three nights ago we had a make-up class in which close to 200 people had to cut short their dinners to attend a lecture. Fortunately, that lecture was on nuclear warfare, and it was easily the best lecture I’ve had this semester. We’ve had other lectures on the rise of China, increases in violence in the international system, and a bunch of other really interesting topics. Even if you’re not an international studies major, this class is just plain cool. Words have not been invented that accurately describe the coolness of this class, but rest assured that if you take it you too can go around randomly saying things like “Mogadishu line“, “Melian Dialogue“, and “complex interdependence” in everyday conversation and sound very knowledgeable.
Freshman Seminar: The Nobel Prizes in Medicine and Chemistry
I’ll be taking another freshman seminar next semester on the Cold War, which I am beyond psyched about, but this class was just plain cool. We basically each prepared a presentation on a particular nobel prize in medicine or chemistry, presented it to the class, and had discussions based on that presentation. JHU_Kevin and I took this class together, and it was really fun and a nice break from the more reading-intensive classes we’re used to as social science majors. I also brought in donuts to demonstrate how many genes control transcription in organisms, and any class you can bring food to is okay in my book.
See you next time for my last blog of the semester!