Freshwoman Year Pt. II: A Quick Reflection

Spring break: great to have my family visiting!
Spring break: great to have my family visiting! Here we are at the outdoor classroom.

’Tis Spring Break! My parents are here, visiting me from China. As we drive around the Golden State from SoCal to NorCal in the next few days, I (rather ambitiously) plan to read a few books, get my homework done, write some more blog entries, and get back to some of my friends (feeling guilty about not maintaing email chains during the busy academic year).

A brief summary of how my semester’s going so far might give you a good idea of the first-year experience at Pomona College. Time goes by so fast when we’re having fun! It’s crazy, really, to think that in a couple of months, we won’t “fresh”(wo)men any more…

This semester, I’m taking four full-credit classes and two quarter-credit classes:

  • Advanced Spanish — Challenging since I’ve only done 2.5 years of Spanish, but really, really interesting in terms of its literary / cultural / film content. This class makes me start thinking about minoring in Spanish.
  • Microeconomics — We make interesting connections to my politics class and IB Business and Management class.
  • Introduction to American Politics — I previously had almost no exposure to American politics / political development, so I am always happy to learn new stuff. Our professor considers us Guinea pigs because his formers students wrote a curriculum on corporations, (more specifically, on how the private and public sectors are interdependent on each other), and we are the first cohort to test this out. It’s working well so far, I think.
  • Shakespeare on Film — Wow, I’ve never seen so many films in a short period of time (an average of 2 films per week). We write forum posts and the class is taught seminar-style. It’s very interesting to see Shakespeare across time and cultures.
  • Advanced Spanish Conversation — A very fun and informal way to practice with a “language resident” who’s a native speaker of the language, and of course, with my peers. We sometimes have our lessons outside, since casi siempre hace buen tiempo en SoCal.
  • International Standard — Ballroom dancing! I wish I could remember the dance steps more easily, but it’s really hard for me…

Last semester, I took Calculus (though I’m not a maths person, I loved this class), Intermediate Spanish (more grammar-focused than Advanced Spanish, so I formed good foundations), Macroeconomics (the first Econ class in my life, yay), and a Critical Inquiry  (ID1) seminar (I really enjoyed mine, which explored the construction and commemoration of icons around the world from an anthropological perspective), a PE class, and a Spanish conversation class. I really enjoy all of my classes and feel challenged, engaged, and curious at the same time. It’s been great to collaborate with my peers and to get to know my professors during BBQs, office hours, and department events.

My mum and I at the new Studio Art Hall!
My mum and I at the new Studio Art Hall!

In terms of the Pomona General Education requirements, I have completed four area requirements, as well as the PE and language requirements. I like how Pomona allows a great degree of flexibility in which specific classes we plan to take in the five academic areas. It may not be the case that one loves all five fields before coming to Pomona, but it is possible to fall in love with an academic subject during the process of fulfilling these GE requirements. I have yet to take classes in the natural sciences and in subjects like history and philosophy; I will probably take a physics seminar class that focuses on energy policies and a history class on Latin America. There are so many interesting fields that I want to explore, like linguistics and cognitive science, psychology, classics, etc. “Big picture”-wise, I plan to major in International Relations (or Politics) and minor in Spanish (sí, ¡español!). I might study abroad in my junior year, but honestly, I would really, really miss the stunning campus here in Claremont, my professors, and my friends if I were to travel for a semester or two. We will see.

Outside of classes, I’m involved in quite a few things, mostly media and student government related. I blog / write / edit for a range of publications, many of which focus on international relations, and am a news hostess at our local TV and radio stations. I co-host a new speaker series called ‘Pass the Mic,’ where marginalized voices get heard and speakers who are not usually considered “speakers” get the mic, as well as a luncheon colloquium at times. In addition, I’m part of three committees: the Student Media Committee, Speakers Committee, and Faculty Orientation Committee. These extracurriculars really enrich my life on campus and my ability to apply knowledge beyond the classrooms. As my peers and I have mentioned previously, the events of all possible types on the 5C campus can be brilliant lessons in themselves. They all form significant components of Pomona’s unique liberal arts education.