My last first week of classes at Smith has come and gone, and that means it’s time to end my accidental hiatus and get back into the swing of things with my first Week in Review of the academic year.
A brief overview for those of you out there who have heard nothing from me since he beginning of August. I arrived back in the U.S. on August 29th, and I spent the next week at home with my parents generally not doing any of the things that I told myself I would do, and then on September 6th I moved back to Smith.
How is it being back?
Is the question everyone has been asking, and the answer is, simply, it’s good, but it’s weird. First of all, I know fewer people on campus than I have at any other point since first year. An entire half the school population arrived after I left campus the last time. But that means that the few people I do know, I know better. For instance, the girl I always saw working at the library is gone, but the people I actually recognize will slow down for a brief chat when we pass each other. And really I am happy to be back and be taking Smith classes again, but I still wish that I could still be in Paris or Berlin, and that feeling is almost certainly not going to go away any time soon.
The Smith classes were what I missed the most about being in Paris, and so far having classes in English remains slightly novel. But anyway, I’ve had all but one of my classes so far, and I really like them all. I’m taking Old Norse with my minor advisor, which I’ve planned on taking since sophomore year and may be able to continue next semester as a special studies. By the end of the semester we will be able to read Old Norse texts and I’m still over the moon about being able to take a class that relates exactly to what I want to do with my life. Next up is my German class, going into it I wasn’t quite sure what to expect since I’ve never taken a ‘real’ German class at Smith, only the intro course. I was afraid it was going to be another department like the French department, all German all the time, which would be pushing my skills past where I could contribute well in a class of seven people. Luckily though, the German department is much gentler, we can switch into English during discussions, some of the readings are in English, and our single five page paper can be in either language. Plus the topic is very interesting, as we’re focusing on the reconstruction of literature in Austria and Germany after World War II. My third class is another type of class that I’ve wanted to take for years, it’s a UMass class called Research techniques of Physical Anthropology, what that means is that I’m taking a lab course on learning about the human skeleton and the many applications of osteology within Anthropology. I’ve always wanted to be able to study skeletons in depth and this class is perfect for that, we actually get to work on actual human skeletons that the University has and I’m thrilled about this class. It’s also practically a Smith course, there are 16 students and only 2 guys. The fourth and final class that I have been to so far is my Anthropology Senior Seminar on the Politics of Language, this is the first time it’s been taught but it basically entails each of us investigating a particular issue facing a particular language in depth and then developing a 20 page seminar paper on it and presenting our research to the class. I’m thinking of doing a cross comparison between the efforts and hindrances facing the use of Samí language in Norway, Sweden, and Finland or alternatively, looking at how the Russian conquest of half of Karelia has effected the use of Finnish in the region across the last century and galvanized (or not) the Finns in Finland. Everyone had very diverse areas of interest and even though I know that this class will entail a massive amount of work, I think it will be very interesting and worth it in the end.
I know I have a very full semester ahead of me, but I know that even though I’m busier than I was over the summer, I’ll be much better able to regiment my schedule here than I was in Berlin, and I know that I’ll especially want to document this final year at Smith, so you can expect the blog posts and vlogs to be coming more regularly again, and have a slightly higher production value, after all, I have a laptop again (!!). So welcome back! Let’s have an awesome year and an awesome week! See you soon!