Semester 1, Sophomore Year: Check!

Happy New Year! Perhaps it’s time to reflect a little on the semester that we just successfully completed. So here we go:


From escorting U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, to mealtime conversations with old and new friends, to Athenaeum dinners, classical music at Little Bridges, Law Journal weekly meetings, to playing with kittens during Sophomore/Finals’ Destress events…

Pomona Xiaoyi Xu 2015 12


I love moments where professors drag a book right out from their shelves during office hours, seemingly capable of memorising individual lines from certain pages. Here are some questions that defined my semester:

How to find that balance between how much to tell the reader as contextual information and how much to keep obscured in order to maintain their attention and interest?

How to contribute to academic dialogues when the topic has already been explored by established scholars?

How to write a policy prescription to alleviate global poverty, such a complicated and haunting global issue?

How to tie political philosophers’ writings with their historical context in an interesting way?

How to confidently speak in upper division Spanish classes with several native speakers as peers?

How to apply theories to real life?

What shall I do when I step outside of my comfort zone (e.g. read an 18th-Century Jewish philosopher’s work and discuss it in a seminar without much prior knowledge on religion)?

And of course, I also learned to deal with stress and try to work with my controlfreakness… Haha. And I learned to see the value of footnotes and maps, which I would have skipped otherwise.

What did a typical day look like?

Surely, it is hard to generalise, since there are so many different activities/events on campus on a daily basis. However, here are two examples of my typical days.


7:30-8:00 Frank Breakfast (yum, omelette and avocado!)

8:00-10:00 Emails, schedule events (e.g. Facebook is a good source to learn about campus events) for the week or next, work on some readings, etc. (As a morning person, I find that my brain functions well at this time of the day and I love to harness this feature)

10:00-10:50 Early Modern Europe (History class)

11:00-12:15 Spanish Literary Analysis

12:15-13:15 Oldenborg Luncheon Colloquium (or lunch at the Spanish table at Oldenborg)

13:45 Head to International Relations Office Hours

14:00-14:30 International Relations Office Hours

14:30-15:45 Spanish Office Hours

16:00-16:30 History Office Hours

16:30-17:30 Relax a little, do some homework

17:45-20:00 Dinner talk event at the CMC Athenaeum (there are some very awesome speakers)

20:00-20:30 Weekly Meeting, Executive Board of Claremont Journal of Law and Public Policy

20:45-21:00 Planning Committee Meeting for the First 5C Publications Debate (hosted by Claremont Journal of Law and Public Policy)

21:00-22:00 Another event (talk given by a scholar of a specific field, or a campus-climate related event like “Pass the Mic”, which I co-organise)

22:00-23:47 Homework!

On a Friday, certain parts can be predictable (this semester, that is):


Morning: breakfast (sometimes at the village; usually the amazing local bakery Some Crust, which serves delicious egg sliders, milk with chocolate, and chocolate & banana danish and where a random customer next to me exclaimed, “Whoa! She is reading Moses Mendelssohn!” and turned out to be a creative studies professor at one of the Claremont Colleges)

10:00-10:50 Early Modern Europe


13:00-16:00 Work at the Communications Office

Dinner (sometimes a dinner meeting or casual friends’ gathering, often at Scripps’ dining hall since the dining hall opens at 16:45 and I like getting in line first for the delicious made-to-order pasta)

17:47-18:10 KSPC Newscast

Events, homework, socialise, catch up with my family, etc.


There were days and nights where I cannot stop thinking about a particular paper (secret, shh: ’tis good to be nerdy at Pomona), picturing the structure of each paragraph and even specific phrases at times first thing in the morning or at a random moment during the day or at night, or visualising a historical timeline, striving to know the course materials from the inside out, etc. Looking back, I really enjoyed them and find these moments particularly rewarding learning experiences.

Looking forward to a fulfilling new semester with a healthy balance between family, academics, extracurriculars and exploring our passions! Good luck:)