Friday, March 07, 2008

Classses I enjoyed taking

Here are classes I enjoyed taking:

1. Anthropology-The Washington Post quotes a student from 1935 who said that anthropology was a complete waste of time better situated to the 1890s than the 1930's. Well, it's the 2000's and I think it's back. I got a C in this course because the questions on the tests were so arbitrary and vague but on the flipside, I had an enormously entertaining and funny professor, who did things like do Austin Powers impressions (it was the summer after Austin Powers: Goldmembers) and stick a finger into an electric socket to note the difference between science and religion. There are a lot of disciplines like sociology, psychology, media culture, philosophy, etc. that challenges our way of looking at things, but personally, I feel that the other ones involve a little bit of common sense

2. Urban Geography-I learned the history of the D.C. area and all kinds of fascinating things about how suburbs first came to be formed. Since this course was taught an hour away Mary Washington, where I first attended college; a good amount of our focus was the Washington D.C. area, so we learned about how Tyson's Corner was once upon a time (not too long ago, 30 years ago) just a soda shop, and now it's the 13th biggest economic center in the country. We learned all kinds of things like how traffic in 2000 in Manhattan goes almost twice as slow when horse drawn carraiges were going through the streets in 1900; how parking lots are set up because people are unwilling to walk more than 600 feet at a time which is also why malls are set up so that people can't see from one end to the other with plants in place and all; how glass elevators were designed to protect against rape; how the names of many suburban housing complexes like Pheasant Run, East Meadows, The Woods at Fairfax, etc. reflect the English and later-American traditional dream of owning a little piece of the countryside, even though ironically, the housing complexes are tearing those very same countrysides down. I also did a project with two other guys, both of whom I made good friends with and continue to keep in touch with, where we went into a Salvadorean pocket of immigrants in Bailey's Crossroads and learned about the community.

3. Cultural Geography-I was a geography major and didn't regret it at all because that was full of mostly very interesting classes. In cultural geography, we learned about the spread of culture and the class was full of interesting material, such as how music spreads along geographic lines (i.e. rap is found in cities, jazz started in New Orleans and spread along the Mississippi River), how gang culture is exported to Guatemala, how you can mathematically tell about the culture of a place just by looking in a phone book, how different languages can be created by barriers like mountain ranges and oceans.

4. Energy and Transportation-I transferred to James Madison after two years and in order to graduate in two years, I didn't have room for a single elective, but my senior year, I decided to take this course and postponed graduation for another month anyways. It was the year of Hurricane Katrina and when gas prices started to spike up for the first time, and I thought it would be interesting to understand how it all worked, plus it complimented my urban geography class. The course gave me a C+ (most of these cool classes, unfortunately, resulted in low grades for some reason, often because the "cool" teachers might not have had standardized tests and things which I do better on) and the teachers relied too heavily on google and wikipedia, but we did a lot of interesting experiments, like make our own biodiesel, melt wax, and grow our own ethanol-producing plants. The class taught me where oil came from, how it was running out, and generally scared us to death about how bad the state of our energy resources are

5. Kinesiology-Kind of like an advanced version of P.E./Health at the college level. Two days a week we played sports, so who can complain about that. Being forced to exercise twice a week was definitely a good way to make sure I kept in shape. One day a week, we'd have health but it wasn't the kind of lame health classes we had in grade school which serve the purpose of warning us of the dangers of drugs and sex. These classes taught us about exercising in ways that won't result in us getting hurt, dealing with stress and eating nutritiously.

6. Film Courses-Offered at most colleges, these courses helped make up for the difficulty that I had transferring. I met a number of people with like interests, and spent time watching films. These weren't electives because I ammassed enough film courses to make a minor. Aside from being exposed to some of the best and most influential films in history and getting college credit for it, films can also teaches you a lot about society and history.

7. Band-In between Mary Washington and James Madison, I took a course from George Mason University and thought I might try to do something social while I was there, so I joined the concert band for half of a semester and it was a lot of fun. I was in the band in middle school and a year of high school and I enjoyed it but there was also a lot of pressure to be good and subsequent feelings of rejection for not being that good. When I joined the band at George Mason, I felt liberated from the pressure and didn't care that I was last chair in my section. That was probably the most fun I had with music.

1 comment:

Yasmine said...

wow, urban geography sounds really cool. i learned a lot just from your post on that.