Random musings about classes and other stuff

Wednesday, 2001-10-10; 09:33:00

Posting on a non-blog-like personal webpage talking about classes, some events, etc.

So, this is where I'm supposed to talk about my life, right?

Well, I've got a lot to talk about since class has been in session for about 2 weeks now.

I might as well talk about my classes first and get that out of the way.. :). My IHUM class (Introduction to the Humanities that all freshman have to take) is about the History of Nature, and man's relationship to nature throughout history. Currently we're reading Aristotle and Darwin, and I have my first paper due next Friday. With each IHUM class, there's a section that goes along with it, which is a class of about 10-20 students, as opposed to the 100-200 students in the lecture hall. There we have discussions about the reading and the lectures, and we get to interact with other students and the teaching fellow, instead of sitting in a chair listening to a lecture.

Italian class is fun, too, since I can already understand Italian from my trips to Italy almost every summer, so I have an advantage in the class, which is always nice. :) The teacher is focusing on Italian music (Italian pop music is actually catchy... but kind of amusing, too), but we're also slowly learning vocabulary, verbs, and grammar. We actually haven't done much, but we already had our first quiz on Friday, which wasn't too hard.

My Early Life on Earth seminar is very interesting... we're learning about the origin of the universe and our planet, and where life came from. The text is a Scientific American issue from 1994 (no dry textbook), but we're learning a lot in class, too, like what meteorites can tell us about Earth's history, the age of Earth and the universe, and the composition of all the different kinds of meteorites. I'm really enjoying the class, especially since there's only 16 people in the class, and we all get to do some research and present on a topic to the whole class -- I'm doing mine on archaebacteria (if you want to learn more, you'll have to see my presentation ;) ).

Math is a REAL challenge. I'm taking the 51H course (yes, that means "honors", not "hard"), and the pace is really fast, in stark contrast to some math classes I've taken. I still enjoy it, though.. the topic is linear algebra and multivariable calculus.. we started the year off with stuff I've not had much experience with.. vectors (well, yeah, I've seen vectors in physics and stuff, but these aren't vectors in the traditional sense.. it's basically a set of numbers, and it can be more than 3.. it's not confined to physical space). So I'm having fun with that too... I'll probably major in math, but who knows, my interests still may change! I don't have to declare until the end of my sophomore year.. so I'll just "shop" around and see what interests me.

The class load actually hasn't been that bad yet, as noted by the time I'm writing this. :) Compared to my junior/senior combo year of high school, this is much less intense.. it'll probably get worse further into the quarter, though. I guess I'll find out soon enough. :P

As for dorm living, it's absolutely fabulous, fun, great, and any synonyms thereof. My roomate is a football player (I don't know HOW we got paired together.. it seems we don't have much in common, though we get along nicely). There's also a lot of other nice students in my dorm, so I frequently see them as I'm going to my room, or in the lounge while playing ping-pong or just talking. We also talk a lot over meals. Everyone's really friendly and fun to talk to.. I've frequently stayed up a couple of nights just talking to people. Loro is a four-class dorm so there are some sophomores, juniors, and seniors around (nice for the experience :) ). It's also been really great being out of the house, with no parents to bug me. :)

Dorm food is actually quite decent... I was surprised at 1) the quality and 2) the wide selection of things they have to eat. They have extensive vegetarian (I'm vegetarian if any of you didn't know) and vegan foods, which is great for those people, and they have such a differing array of foods to eat, that you usually get a meal you like (it's nothing like REAL home-cooked food, but it's better than any cafeteria food I've had). There's everything from pasta, to self-serve tostadas, to salad, as well as ice cream, frozen yogurt, spanish rice, grilled tofu and vegetables, and soup. At breakfast there's even 3 waffle makers, so you can get Sunday meals every day! -- they make the batter, so you just have to spray the waffle irons, pour the batter on, close the iron and let it set for about three minutes. Best of all you don't have to do any dishes. :)

There's a real great support system here. For one, there are the RAs (resident assistants) that help you with anything you need... the first day I came they had made flash cards of all our faces and names so they were like, "Loro gives a shout out to Simone!!", and I was really suprised that they knew me before they actually met me. :) They all go out of their way to help you, and really enjoy talking to anyone, so it's nice to have them around. They organize a lot of the events and stuff (sheesh I just remembered something else to talk about.. remind me to talk about the Scavenger Hunt we had last Saturday... thanks) so we have fun all the time in our dorm.

Also with the support system, they have RCCs (resident computing consultants) who help out with any computer problems (yes, Mac OR PC) or with any of the computers in the computer clusters... if you don't have a computer you can just use the one's downstairs that are equipped with every application you need. For classes, you get a PAA (peer academic advisor) and AA (academic advisor) who help you with choosing classes and stuff like that. It's really nice, because they can tell you if you're taking a good class load, or suggest other alternatives or tracks that get you into better, smaller classes... they also know good professors, and give you good advice overall with your classwork. The PAAs and AAs are based on your initial interests when you get into college.

There's also a lot of fun things to do here.. I went to two Taiko workshops, which is Japanese drumming.. it's really fun, but a great physical workout.. the Taiko team plays at a lot of the assemblies, and they always sound really phenomenal. I tried out, but I didn't make the cut. :( Maybe next year. There's also Sunday flicks, which is a Sunday showing of a movie in Memorial Auditorium (MemAud), which they have every week. They are at 7 and 10 PM, but the 10 PM is always rowdier.. the last 2 times I went to the 10 PM flicks, people had brought toilet paper and TONS of newspaper and were throwing them all over the auditorium (it sits about 1500, so you can just imagine how many balls of newspaper were being throuwn around... I pity the people who have to clean up). It's really fun, though... they showed Shrek the first Sunday, and Moulin Rouge this past Sunday (I enjoyed both of them.. I hadn't seen either before). I got a pass for the whole quarter, so it's 11 movie showings for $20.. much better price than the big-screens at Shoreline. :) They're showing some good movies, and it's always nice to have a theater really close to where you live. :)

The school spirit really shows itself, especially at football games and other school events... the Stanford band is always playing at the events (they even played inside the auditorium at the first Sunday flick), and it's really fun to listen to the music they play, especially their "All Right Now" theme. Dorm pride is also very present, since at a lot of the assemblies every dorm does their cheer as loud as they can (ours is "Who's house? FloMama's house!" -- kinda corny, I know). It's always funny to hear people bash Branner hall. We also have dorm competitions -- one Saturday we played capture the flag in the main quad at 10 o'clock at night... damn was that fun, but the other dorm cheated at the end :(. It was a blast while we played, though! I've never played capture the flag on that scale.. (not even in Unreal Tournament or Elite Force ;) ).

Well, it's getting late, and I should get to bed (read: "I have to read my IHUM book"), so I guess this is a good place to stop. I can't think of anything else to talk about r... oh, wait, I have to talk about the Scavenger Hunt we did last Saturday! (D'oh.)

We went up to San Francisco to have a scavenger hunt. All the RAs of West FloMo organized it, and we went up on Caltrain as a big group, and then split up into smaller groups of about 5 people. Then we went around the city and had to take pictures of us making fools of ourselves in a lot of places... we had to imitate the Golden Gate bridge, or imitate the Transamerica Pyramid with it in the bathroom, or pile into a bathroom stall of Coit Tower (ew). There were other fun things like taking pictures with celebrities or people with pets... making faces in the SFMOMA cafe window, chasing the pigeons in Union Square, or doing a street peformance for money. There were things that a lot of the groups didn't do, like have the guys in the group dress up in miniskirts at some clothes store, or streak through some of the streets of San Francisco (if you don't know what streaking is, don't ask). At the end of the day, I was soooo tired.. I was glad to be able to sit on the train for an hour before going back to the dorm.. it was a really fun and hilarious to be on... I'm glad I went.. I also got in line for the Apple Store grand opening the same day at 6 AM.. I was watching anime DVDs on someone's Titanium Powerbook G4, and then one of the employees let me use his for about 20 minutes... I was one of the people in the first group to go into the store, with all the store staff clapping and Love Shack (apparently one of Steve Jobs' favorite songs) playing. It was a great experience.. and now I get to ditch Fry's Electronics for good!

Ok, NOW I'm ready to go to bed.. feel free to e-mail me any questions or anything, and I'll probably talk about them the next time I post news. Hope you guys are all having as much fun as I am!

-- Simone

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