Things I Learned in College: Classes I Like

Hello!

Today, I want to discuss the classes that I’ve taken in college which, so far, have continued to stay with me, even long after I had finished them. True, I’ve taken courses which I’ve *shamefully* regretted, but there were just as many which have been amazing, or at least okay.

Why did I decide to write this? Well, just for me to…reflect, I suppose. It’s interesting, because in college, you get so much freedom- in everything. Including classes. It is not like high school, where you have to take specific classes along with everyone in order to get through the system. No, it’s not like that in college: we, as students, have the freedom- the choice-to major in any subject that interests us, whether it be English, Math, Chemistry, Anthropology, Music, etc. The options are limitless. And based on our subject, we get to choose which classes to take for it. Granted, there are certain courses that we don’t have much of a choice to take or not to take (like pre-requisites and all), but aside from that, classes can get pretty specific and, really, interesting.

So I’ve compiled a quick list of my favorite classes which I’ve taken over my almost-four years at the university, as well as brief descriptions as to why I love them. I’ve decided to list them in chronological order, starting from my first year up until now, just to keep it organized.

What classes have you liked so far in school? Let me know!

1. Sex: From Biology to Gendered Society (1st year)– This was one of my first classes that I had taken when I first entered the university my freshmen year. It was also slightly different from the other courses I’ve taken, for it was a year-round class (compared with the others, which lasted only one term). Granted, I struggled a bit during the first term, since it focused more on the biological/science-y part of sex (which I am just not naturally gifted in, sadly), but I hit my stride during the following term and then after, when we started to focus on the social/anthropological aspects of sex, sexuality, bodies, and whatnot. This class also got me interested in sexuality and LGBTQA issues, which partly inspired me to pursue more classes like it later in my college career.

2. Asian-American Literature and Culture (2nd year)– As an Asian-American, I found this course to be not only super relevant to me, but also really interesting. The literary works that we read in class were beautifully-written, with such subtlety and poignancy that continued to resonate in me long after finishing them. From the class, I discovered new writers that I would have otherwise not been able to, like Carlos Bulosan, Hisaye Yamamoto, and Sui Sin Far (granted, Far isn’t Asian-American, but her works were still striking and moving). Considering that not much of Asian-American politics and culture gets talked about in the United States, taking this course was an eye-opener for me, into the complexities and joys of the Asian-American experience.

3. Colonialism and Post-Colonialism Theory (2nd year)– Let me just preface this by saying that the title of this course, albeit dry-sounding, was a misnomer; the class was anything but boring. It was also one of the smallest classes that I’ve taken- only eight students, and all of us were girls, including our instructor. But I learned so much, and I believe that I wrote some of my best essays in that class. We read a wide range of works, from Herman Melville’s “Benito Cereno” to Aimé Césaire to John Donne (sexy as hell), finally concluding with the colonial poetics of Craig Santos Perez, now considered one of my favorite poets ever. I also became close with some of my classmates, as well as instructor, in there, and still say hi to them whenever I see them on campus to this day.

4. LGBT/Queer Theory (2nd year)– Taken in the same term as #3, this course was challenging, but almost super mind-stimulating. Before taking the course, I never knew just how complex, even complicated, the issues surrounding the LGBTQA community were. Granted, sometimes I couldn’t follow what the professor was talking about in class, because it was just so…beyond my scope of understanding. And the readings (there were a lot) that we did every week were just as enigmatic. But despite all of that, I enjoyed it. The professor was super kind and sympathetic, even when I had told him that I was not understanding the material. And once I understood these complicated theories, I felt…good! Like I had just cracked a code that before had been unable to decode, and now I had unearthed a secret. Sounds like a bad analogy, but anyway, I walked out of that class at the end of the term enlightened.

5. History of EDM (2nd year, summer)– I actually took this course over the summer between my 2nd and 3rd years and it was definitely one of the most distinctive, unique courses that I’ve taken in college so far. Short for “Electronic Dance Music,” EDM doesn’t consist of just the four-on-the-floor, dub-step generic David Guetta/Avici music that plays on the radio all of the time. No, there’s more: there’s reggaeton, moombahton, IDM, drum and bass, Dutch house, etc. And I listened to a ton over that summer, primarily through Spotify (as part of our course requirement- how awesome is that?!). Besides the easy A and the fact that it fulfilled one of my university requirements, the EDM class exposed me to so many new genres of music. I didn’t necessarily like all of the music that we listened to, nor got completely hooked on EDM, but I did discover some new music, as well as new artists, who I listen to now. Some recommendations: Diplo, Fedde le Grand, Dillon Francis, LTJ Bukem, Burial, and the list can go on…

6. Paris- Study of the Capital (3rd year)– Besides English, I’m also specializing in French (and am a huge Francophile). So taking this course during my third year, on Paris, was a dream. Conducting entirely in French, and with a professor who was actually Parisian, it felt like stepping into the city itself. We learned a lot about the history of the capital, its geography, and the literature that was inspired by it. You can bet that we read a lot of works from Victor Hugo, Charles Baudelaire, Georges Sand, Guillaume Apollinaire, and such. And I loved them all. Taking the course on Paris definitely inspired me to study abroad there that following summer, and since then I vow to return one day. Perhaps very soon.

7. Nature Poetry (4th year)– One of my favorite English courses, this class was dedicated to all things beautiful in the natural world. We primarily focused on poems from the late-18th/ 19th century, particularly from English poets. Considering that I especially love the Romantic poets, this course was definitely up my alley. I got to spend an entire term reveling in the delicious language of my favorite writers, including Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley, and so forth. My professor, who was actually new at teaching, nevertheless did a brilliant job of interweaving texts and close-reading them, but not beating them to death (one needs tact and subtlety when doing so, of course). I’m planning to take a seminar with her again in the upcoming term, and I’m definitely looking forward to it!

8. Creative Writing- Poetry (4th year)– I’m currently in one this term, and did so last term as well. I’m aiming to take another one again in the next term, in order to complete a concentration in it under my English major. I think that these courses (or rather, workshops) are my favorite ones ever; I actually get excited (yes, excited) going to these classes once a week, in the same room, with familiar faces. I always look forward to reading other people’s works, as well as craft my own. I’m definitely not shy about sharing my work, even if some are quite personal; I think that it is from the environment that we, as classmates and professor, in the course that has allowed me to feel comfortable in opening up myself to others. I’m sure that others might not feel that way, and that’s okay. But it’s just me and I love that I love this course. Hope to get into the workshop next term!

9. French Cinema and Culture (4th year)– Currently halfway through this course so far, but I’m enjoying it. I’ve never taken a film class before then, and so it is definitely a novel experience. We watch a French film (with subtitles) every Tuesday, are given the lecture on Thursday, and discuss it Friday. Granted, it’s a lot of time commitment, but regardless I find it nice on the Tuesdays when we watch the films to sit back, relax, and take it all in. You know, to escape from reality a bit, after a long day of class and other activities. I wouldn’t say that I’ve loved all of the films we’ve seen so far, but they have definitely stayed with me- mentally and emotionally. And the professor is fantastic; although the class is conducted in English, she sometimes peppers her talk with a bit of French, which she speaks amazingly, like a Parisian native (even though she’s not French). Plus, she’s not bad to look at… 😉

10. I’m leaving the tenth spot on this list blank, because I’ve ran out of favorite classes to list and also from the fact that I still have one more term left in college. Perhaps I will like the classes that I’m planning to take next term, and will come back to this list to fill in. Until then, I leave it up to chance.

That’s it for me! Take care!

– The Finicky Cynic

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