The Last Semester
September 30, 2016
Karalyn Grimes ’16
Quick note about Oberlin's Course Credit System Before I Begin the Blog:
We used to be on a standard credit system but now we have moved to a course system which is, in essence, more simple. Although there are a lot of nuances to navigate. Basically every college class you take is worth 1 course and you need 32 courses to graduate, so you need 4 courses a semester. Some labs are worth 1.5 courses, module courses are worth 0.5 courses, Athletics courses are between 0.25 - 0.5 courses, and ExCos are also 0.25 - 0.5. That sounds like a lot, and it is pretty confusing, but you adjust. Or you don't and you have to call the Registrar every semester and ask if you're on track to graduate.
Okay, we got it? Great. Now here's what's happening with me these days:
Africa and Environmental History (1 Course)
This is a course in the History Department taught with Professor Willis Oyugi, the first Africanist in our History department in the entire history of Oberlin. And he's just a visiting professor. Hire a tenure-track Africanist Historian, Oberlin! This course is only five people, which I am absolutely loving because it gets to be like an intimate seminar. The professor does spend a fair amount of time lecturing and assignments are a little confusing, but it has promise for more discussion the further we get into the semester.
The first quarter of the course is a crash course in African history and then the rest of the time is spent looking at five country case studies: Ethiopia and the African Landscape; Kenya, Gender, and Environmental History of the Poor; Nigeria and Marginalization & Conflict; Democratic Republic of Congo and Cold War Legacies; and South Africa and the Politics of Disease, Racial Identity, and Conservation. As an environmental justice major, this course is everything I dream of when it comes to college classes.
Caribbean Literature (1 Course)
After seven semesters of trying, I am finally in a course with Meredith Gadsby! DREAMS DO COME TRUE! This is a particularly good course to have with her because her discipline is Caribbean Women's Writing and her interest really shines through in her excellent lectures. Every book we have read I have loved, and every lecture I learn a lot in, and I find myself getting caught up in discussion and contributing. Class time is a good mix of lecture and discussion, with some lectures led by Ms. Gadsby and some led by students. All the students in the class seem to be deeply engaged and they are all people I admire for their opinions and work they are involved in.
Practicum in Agroecology (1/2 Course, 1st module)
This is the last course I ever have to take for my ENVS major. It is a lab course where we meet at George Jones farm and the first part is spent on a lecture about permaculture and/or agriculture and the second half is spent on practical application of these concepts on the farm. Basically I farm for three hours on Friday afternoon. It's pleasant. The farm has an educational garden that I want to work on putting signage up in identifying plants and their medicinal uses, as I think this is a good entry point to farming for folks who haven't spent much time working with plants. The one challenge for me with this class is that as it is a lab attendance is super important and I actually have a relaxed attendance accommodation for anxiety stuff, and therefore I worry about having to miss class. But so far Brad, the professor and head farmer at George Jones, has been chill about making up missed class time.
Research in Environmental Studies (1/2 Course, all semester)
I'm getting research credit from my advisor Chie Sakakibara for my senior capstone project. There is an upcoming post dedicated entirely to what my capstone is, but in the meantime I will say the research part of this is brushing up on methodological approaches to ethnography, youth studies, naturalized play, and placemaking practices.
Because of my capstone and research credits, I get my very own Scholar Study!
Community Responses to Sexualized Violence ExCo (1/2 Course, all semester)
Taught by blogger emerita Radia and my friend Wren that I founded PRSM with! (Sidenote, I don't think I've ever mentioned on the blogs that I founded PRSM and that is a blog post long overdue, so please do let me know if you want to read more about Oberlin's Title IX office and how we respond to sexual misconduct here.) This ExCo is primarily concerned with transformative justice responses to sexual misconduct, support skills to utilize among peers on campus, and envisioning creating a community where sexualized violence is not tolerated. So far we have had intense and stretching conversations about defining sexualized violence, connecting sexualized violence to mass incarceration, and about what it means for each of us to be involved in this work and these conversations. As I am actively applying to anti-domestic violence positions as my first post-graduate job right now, this feels like a fitting course to be a part of during my final semester.
Bowling I (1/4 Course, all semester)
I'm finally taking Life Advice with Tom Reid Where Incidentally You Learn How to Bowl! I love the Lanes, as demonstrated in previous blogs, and while I am a tenured Lane Attendant, I have never been a bowling student. It is great to learn from Tom, who is already my mentor on so many levels, but learning how to bowl from him is a new honor. I love having time in my week to focus on skill development, patience, and defeating the Evil Pins. Working on my bowling game is also a practice in working on who I want to be as a person, and I'm grateful to have time to do that this semester.
Stuff Outside of Classes:
The Oberlin College Lanes
Catch me at the Lanes Monday nights for Classic league, Tuesday mornings for Rising Sun, and Wednesday evenings + Saturday afternoons for opening bowling. At Lorain County's toughest house shot and a darn good place to bowl.
I write for you all! This is the best job ever and I'm always looking for your opinions on what you want to hear about from me. Do please comment below with your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions.
This is the first semester ever that I am only working two jobs and while I am nervous about money and my post-graduate cushion fund, it feels really nice to be devoted to my studies my last semester here. I adore having time to hole up in my scholar study for hours on end and focus on research. Additionally, fewer jobs means more shifts at the Lanes and more time for blogging, which have always been my two true work loves.
After taking the Baking ExCo last semester, I wanted to ensure time for baking this semester and so I became one of my co-op's breadmakers! I bake for Harkness' 116 diners (roughly) once a week. That means 25 - 30 loaves of bread! I say roughly because I work a lot outside of the co-op and also handle some chronic illness + fatigue stuff so I'm not actually up to baking every week but when I am able to bake, boy, do I make some good bread. So far I've made Lavender Rosemary bread and this week I am aiming to make vegan and non-vegan challah.
And that's what I'm up to this semester! As always, please tell me about your life and what you're currently working on and excited for in the comments.
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