Oberlin Blogs

What I'm Up To

October 1, 2018

Ruth Bieber-Stanley ’21

Hi, readers! It’s been a moment since I gave you all a more in-depth update on everything I’m doing this semester. I’m really enjoying all my classes and extracurriculars, and basically I want to geek out about them right now, so I’m putting that on the internet for all of you to read. Enjoy!

Here are the classes I’m taking this semester:

Intermediate German (GERM 203):

My intermediate German class is taught by Steve Huff, who also taught my German 101 class and is my advisor for my German major. He’s truly a gem of a professor. In class so far, we’ve been reviewing grammar topics from the 100-level German classes, and we’ve started reading German short stories. It’s SO EXCITING to read something in its original form! It’s been challenging so far: the stories have a lot of new vocabulary and can be grammatically complex. I often feel as if I can’t analyze the stories very well because I have to look up, like, every third word. But it’s still really exciting to read stories in the original form, rather than in translation. The fact that I’m getting to do this after only a year of German instruction is pretty remarkable! In the second half of the semester, we’re going to be reading a short novel (!!!), which I am looking forward to greatly. 

Fundamentals of Linguistics (ANTH 202):

As a self-professed language and grammar nerd, I was really excited to take a linguistics class this semester!! For my debut class in the Anthropology department, I am learning to look at language in a scientific and quantitative way. Even though I always enjoy my humanities classes, I also like thinking more quantitatively and analytically about the world around me. So far, the best part about linguistics has been learning portions of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). As a kid, I often invented my own alphabets and codes and taught them to myself until I could read and write without a key. I was that one kid who learned runic from my “Dragonology” book. You get the idea. I was a fledgling language nerd. Using the IPA feels like the nerdy fun I had as a kid! It can be hard, but I like looking at data sets from real languages and trying to find patterns. Basically, ANTH 202 has been a great way so far for me to think about languages in a new way! And I get to satisfy the more analytical side of my brain. I highly recommend this class to anyone remotely interested in language. Get ready for Prof. Jason Haugen to scribble haphazardly in multiple colors of chalk and get ready to make weird nonsense sounds with 25 other people for a solid 75 minutes. 

Research Methods I (PSYC 200):

Research Methods is a statistics and methods course for psych majors. This semester I’m taking it with Nancy Darling, chair of the Psych department and deep admirer of the Chi-Square statistic. For me, this class has been a nice review of statistics concepts I learned earlier in my academic career at Oberlin. I’m really glad I have a statistics background already, and it’s been useful to apply these concepts again. I think I have a much better understanding of many of them than I had before. We’ve also been doing a lot of group work in the class, which has been so helpful. This is true of many things—especially with statistics for me—but having to explain your reasoning and the thought process behind your work means that you have to know it and understand it. For this reason working on stats and critical thinking challenges in a group has been really beneficial. In Research Methods I I’m also learning how to use SPSS, a statistical software. It was intimidating at first but I recognize how useful it will be and I’m really glad I’m learning these skills now!

Social Psychology (PSYC 218):

Social Psychology is a class all about the intersection of society and psychological thought and behavior. By viewing humans as social beings and exploring all the ways in which we act and interact in social situations, we can think about the broader implications of social behavioral phenomena. Learning about the different ways humans act in social situations is giving me so much insight into my life and the people around me. I look forward to lecture (taught by the incredible Cindy Frantz) every single day! I literally feel as if this class is changing my life. I am viewing myself and others differently. I am so aware of all the social-psychological factors at play in our society, whether at the interpersonal or the socio-cultural level. I HIGHLY recommend this class for everyone, even if you aren’t interested in psychology or neuroscience. Social psych has ramifications in almost any field you could imagine, from environmental science to Africana Studies. I think about the things I learn in that class almost every single day. 

Now that you know what classes I’m taking, here are some other things I’m doing this semester!

PAL (Peer Advising Leader):

Being a PAL at Oberlin means I got to campus early for orientation to work with a group of 15 first-year students to help them adjust academically and socially to life at Oberlin. Besides leading various sessions throughout orientation, I also facilitate a biweekly class called “LEAD 050: Introduction to Oberlin Life and Learning,” which is essentially a continuation of the informational sessions held during orientation. I have really enjoyed this job so far. I love working with the first years and providing advice and being a resource for them. My first year at Oberlin was the pilot year of the PAL Program, and I’m so honored to be a part of it during its second year. 

Girls in Motion ExCo co-instructor

Last but CERTAINLY not least, I’m co-teaching the Girls in Motion ExCo again and helping to lead the after school program. In the ExCo we train mentors to be part of the after-school program. Usually the ExCo class is a mix of facilitation workshops, game-playing, and discussions about challenges we’ve had in the schools or about how dynamics like race, gender, and socio-economic status play out in the school system. When we go into the sites, we play games with the girls, dance around, and help them choreograph their own dance which they get to perform on a stage at a local performance venue, the Cat in the Cream (aka one of my favorite places in Oberlin!). I love being a part of the greater Oberlin community and breaking down the barriers that can exist between the college and the town. I consider my involvement with Girls in Motion some of my most meaningful work I do at Oberlin. 

So that’s it! I’m doing a lot, as always. At the beginning of the semester I was definitely overwhelmed by everything I had decided to do (read about that here). But now I feel as though I’ve found a rhythm. Even though I have doubts sometimes, I feel like I have a better handle on things than I did during the first couple of weeks. I’m really enjoying all the things I’m doing this semester, and I hope that they continue to be a source of growth and learning. 

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