Home – or The end of the beginning

Experience Sharing US

I can’t believe I am 1/8 of college down. Time goes by so fast when you’re having fun! So much has happened since I lost blogged: last week of school, exam period, coming home 🙂 . And since it’s been so long, prepare for a long post!

Last week of classes culminated in the poster presentation for IQ Science. We, first-semester college students, presented in front of many science professors the results of our lab research. (Yes, you read well, we did actual research in the lab. Actually, I think that we, IQS students, were treated like real researchers from the first day of classes, only that we had tons of support and guidance: we were taught how to do research, and think like researchers).

Then the fever of exams began. I had my exams on the last 3 days of the exam period, so I had almost a week to prepare for them. But because it felt like so much time, I wasted most of it instead of studying for exams.I still have to work on my anti-procrastinating skills.

Anyway, they are over now and looking back I can say I learned a lot this semester.

Most of the books we read in our Core compulsory class were interesting, but none of them changed my attitude towards life or anything. Some friends of mine, however, found that some of these authors actually reflected their opinions. There’s this guy who realized he had the same attitude towards religion as Nietzsche; he just didn’t know how to express it. He definitely benefited a lot from Core. So Core may actually do some good for some people, but so far, not for me! All in all, the University of Richmond is getting rid of the Core class from next fall, replacing it with freshman seminars like those from many other US schools.

I don’t think there is much new to say about IQS. After all, I’ve been talking about it all semester, including above! I think it’s the best science course anybody could ever think of. Even before coming here I considered that no science can solve really big and pressing issues (such as my favorite – global warming) by itself. This course confirmed me that I was right, and put the foundations of my interdisciplinary scientific thinking. On top of that, we created a great atmosphere inside the course, getting to know each other, students and professors, as in no other course. A science course is not necessarily supposed to bond people, yet IQS was the most successful in doing so out of my courses.

As for econ, recently I was Christmas shopping in Target (a supermarket – think Carrefour in the US) when I was undecided about buying something and I started thinking of sunk costs (an econ concept) before making a decision. So I can already see the effects of a college education in my everyday life! I really enjoyed my econ class, despite all the little problems I had with it. We had lots of quizzes and exams, and I don’t know how it happened that they were in the exact same days as the IQS exams. So I had to study for both in the same time, and in those days I simply had to not like one of them. Since I always liked IQS, econ had to suffer. It took me a long while to realize that my teacher explained everything so well, that I didn’t really have much left to study. (you know the feeling – it’s too easy/too good to be true!).

In the econ class, I also learned many small details about US life that otherwise I wouldn’t have found in a college campus bubble. This is because we learned everything as applied to everyday examples from a typical (American) life. However, there is an important drawback to it. Once, because I couldn’t figure out a example, I didn’t get the economic concept beyond it. It’s true that it only happened once very early in the semester, and the rest of the time I was able to get the big picture even if I didn’t know every detail of the example. However, I did have issues with some practice problems that I couldn’t figure on my own because of cultural differences, and it was pure luck that such a problem never occurred in an exam.

Based on my experience, I think it would be a good idea for internationals to wait, if possible, and not take a social analysis class their first semester in a foreign culture. In my opinion, the benefits of learning about a new culture do not outweigh the risk of not understanding the material because of a reason beyond your control as cultural differences.

Now that everything is over, I am ready to enjoy my time with my family and friends here in Romania! I’ll recharge my batteries with homeness, before stepping into another US adventure, this time with the beginning behind me!

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