Oberlin Blogs

My Final Schedule

February 11, 2011

Zoe McLaughlin ’11

Well, it's my final semester of college. I may have mentioned before that this thought is terrifying, and let me be the first to tell you that the terror has not worn off. I may know what I'm going to be doing after graduation, but that doesn't really help. It suddenly hit me that this is my last chance to take classes at Oberlin, ever, and there are so many classes that I haven't had the chance to take yet. This is a sobering thought, especially since I've also suddenly been hit by an overwhelming desire to understand everything. There will never be enough science classes in the world.

Here, however, are the classes I'm going to take. I'm not entirely happy with this schedule (I feel simultaneously like a slacker and overworked), but it is what it is.

Headlines in the History of Life--Karla Hubbard
This is a geology class about the major stages of life on Earth. This is something that I've been interested in since I was about six years old. I've also done a lot of reading on the subject, but again, that was between the ages of about six and ten. Consequently, the information in my head is not organized in any meaningful way. It's also a bit out of date. That's why this class will be useful: I'll actually get something on which to base any further knowledge in this area that I might acquire. The only problem is that this class isn't going to go into the sort of depth that I want. Case in point: on the first day, we touched briefly on how fusion occurs in stars. I wanted to know more, but this was quite clearly out of the scope of the class. (Remember it, though, because it'll come up later.)

Introduction to the Qur'an--Jafar Mahallati
I'm taking the class in part because I've always wanted to take classes in the religion department, in part because I'm going to Indonesia after I graduate, and in part because I'm interested in Islam. Also, I heard that the professor is awesome, which so far has definitely turned out to be true.

Bioanalytical Chemistry--Rebecca Whelan
This is a seminar class, meaning that instead of lecturing, the professor leads the class in discussions. In this case, we're discussing journal articles having to do with how one performs analytical chemistry on samples of biological origin. While this class is very intimidating, I'm also really excited for it. I'm going to get to write (a lot) about science! That's something I've never really gotten to do before. I'm also going to get really good at reading journal articles, which is just a good skill to have. The most terrifying part of this class? A chalk talk, meaning you stand up in front of the room at the chalkboard and talk for fifteen minutes about a topic that you've researched, with no help at all from such things as Power Point.

Chinese Calligraphy--Li Kai
I'm taking this class for fun. When I was a first-year and still taking Chinese language classes, I considered taking this class because I thought it looked cool and because I thought it would help me learn characters. I didn't end up taking it because I didn't have the credit room, so I figured I'd take it now. What I can report thus far: it quickly becomes exhausting to listen to a language in which you really only know connecting words (but, and, therefore). The professor speaks only in Chinese, and then has a student translate into English, but even so, I still feel like I should at least try to understand the Chinese. To no avail.

Advanced Writing Project I--Bernard Matambo
Also known as my creative writing capstone. Basically, I'm writing and revising a bunch of short stories. This is, as you can probably imagine, both exciting and terrifying. I spent last semester writing nonfiction and poetry, so it's taking me a while to ease back into the fiction side of things. I actually wrote something yesterday, though, that wasn't just a lament about how I have no plot. It should be noted that despite the light-hearted air I'm taking here, I'm actually taking this really seriously. Now, instead of staying till midnight in the Science Center working on problem sets, I'm staying till midnight writing. It's a very odd change, but it's also pretty exciting.

I am, of course, continuing the research that I was doing last semester. My NMRs are now complete, but they look a bit weird, so the first order of business is to figure out what's going on with them.

College Orchestra
Oberlin College Arts and Sciences Orchestra has become an ExCo! This is really, really exciting because it means that people can play in the orchestra and get credit for it. It also means that I am the "teacher" for the ExCo, meaning that I get credit, too. Which is also exciting.

Astrophysics--Dan Stinebring
I'm not actually taking this class, in part because I don't have enough free credits and in part because I don't have enough math and physics background to do well without throwing all my effort behind this class. And with my capstone and Bioanalytical, that isn't going to happen. However, I made a list of reasons why I'd like to take the class, went to the first lecture, talked to the professor, and decided that I'd still be able to get something out of it if I go to the lectures and do as much of the work as possible, so that's the plan. Hopefully I won't crash and burn.

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