Life’s Been Good.
I’m now in the sixth week of our thirteen-week semester. I’ve nailed down my routine to the point where I have a good sense of what work I’ll be doing when next week. I’ve survived 2 midterms and a major paper. I’ve also not yet gotten sick, a feat that might be more impressive than the A on the physics midterm.
I have definitely settled in to life here at Hopkins.
Truth be told, it’s been a lot of work. Most days of senior year of high school, I had less than an hour of homework to do that night. I’m not sure I’ve had a day with that little work since orientation! Unlike most seniors in high school, though, I viscerally hated that stagnation, that idleness. Nothing is more fulfilling than spending hours on a Cold War paper and receiving praise from the professor in his assessment of it. Nothing is more fulfilling than looking at a sentence written in a language spoken by Caesar and Cicero 2000 years ago, and really, truly understanding it due to the hours of study you’ve put in.
Nothing is more fulfilling than effort paying off.
While I may vent to my floormates about the 200 pages of Cold War readings from time to time, I know deep down that I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Freshman Fall Schedule Review
So, this schedule really couldn’t have worked out any better. Monday and Tuesday can be a bit difficult, but the flexibility I have on Thursday and Friday definitely make up for it. I’m generally pretty good with time management, so the huge swaths of white “free” space aren’t as daunting. The lack of 8 am or 9 am classes is certainly no accident.
AS.171.105 – Classical Mechanics I
Prof. Daniel Reich / 4 credits (+ 1-credit lab) / Areas: EN
Classical Mechanics is the first course of an introductory sequence that physics majors take. It’s not dissimilar to AP Physics C Mechanics, only with a bit of added rigor. As someone who was lucky to have taken three years of physics in high school, I’ve found that my previous exposure to most of the material has really helped me understand it all. That said, Prof. Reich is a very effective lecturer, and even without the prior exposure, I’m sure it would be still be possible to do very well.
I don’t have too much to say about the course, as it’s a standard introductory mechanics class. My journey of becoming a physicist starts here, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it even if it’s not necessarily new.
AS.110.211 – Honors Multivariable Calculus
Prof. Richard Brown / 4 credits / Area: Q
HMVC is the honors variant of Calculus III, intended for mathematics and physics majors. What really stands out about this course is Prof. Brown. I can’t imagine a better math professor and communicator than him, and neither can my classmates nor can the upperclassmen I’ve talked to who’ve had him in past years. Multivariable calculus is at times a difficult subject to grasp, since some functions can exist in 4, 5, or 18 spatial dimensions. Trying to imagine what this would look like with our mere 3-dimension brains is often an exercise in futility.
Nevertheless, Prof. Brown is able to weave the theorems and spatial reasoning together to the point where I feel that I grasp all the concepts pretty completely; quite a feat for a professor to accomplish. Due to the combination of my interest in mathematics and his outstanding teaching, I can confidently say that HMVC is my favorite class. If you have the chance to take a class taught by Professor Brown, do yourself a favor and take it.
AS.040.107 – Elementary Latin
Prof. Ryan Franklin / 3 credits / Area: none
I’ve always had a bit of an interest in grammar and linguistics, so studying a language like Latin has long seemed appealing. The course is fast-paced, but the textbook supplemented by in-class lectures is very effective. Learning a language requires a lot of independent study, and Latin’s numerous conjugations and declensions doesn’t help. Nonetheless, there is something really fulfilling about learning a language, on a different level than other courses. As a physics and mathematics major, a class like Latin is quite different that my major-required courses, but I definitely have developed a passion for learning the language. Plus, a minor in Classics would not be too difficult to achieve if I continue with the study of the language in the future.
AS.100.215 – Freshman Seminar: US-USSR Cold War
Prof. Jeffrey Brooks / 3 credits / Areas: HS / Writing Intensive
In terms of sheer workload, Cold War definitely “wins”. However, this was to be expected considering that it is a writing intensive course. Each week, we have to read ~200 pages from various biographies, essays, and historical accounts and complete a short journal entry. Prof. Brooks is an expert on Russian culture, and visited the Soviet Union numerous times before it fell in 1991. His personal stories of life in the USSR, combined with our screenings of several Soviet films, give a interesting glimpse into the Soviet Union. As American history classes often talk about the USSR from a US-centric perspective, it is truly eye-opening to see the Cold War from the Soviet perspective.