Free Fun & Ramblings about my Pre-Pandemic Social Life
As a low-income student, financial accessibility of social opportunities at Dartmouth has been crucial to my experience and have helped me find a great balance between work and play as a Dartmouth student.
A Very Social Science-y Term
This winter is my first term really focusing on classes in the government and economics departments, so I thought I'd walk you all through my class schedule and experiences so far!
- No. 1
Quantitative Political Analysis
Before classes began, I was not excited for Quantitative Political Analysis, which is required for government majors, because it is essentially statistics, which I have absolutely no background in. However, the class, taught by Professor Brendan Nyhan, has actually been my favorite so far! The subject matter, which combines math and data analysis with my interest in government, is super topical and provides an insight into how many of our assumptions about politics are formed. Despite the virtual format, the class is focused on group work and, because I’ve worked with the same group of four students for the whole term, we’ve all become friends, which is not something I expected during a virtual term.
- No. 2
International Politics is one of the classic introductory government classes at Dartmouth and offers a broad overview of international relations theory. I’m more interested in domestic politics, but the class has still been engaging and accessible, even as someone who didn’t begin with a super strong interest in foreign affairs. Because of the virtual format, we meet in small discussion groups with the professor for one hour every week. Throughout the week, we do readings, usually beginning with theory and concluding with articles that apply the theory to current events. Weekly written response journals also serve as a nice way to process the readings and get direct feedback from my professor.
- No. 3
My third and final class of my sophomore winter is microeconomics, which is also required for the government modified with economics course of study. However, I would still take this class even if it weren’t required because the material, which focuses on individuals’ economic decisions, is so important to understanding how the world works. I, like many of my friends in the class, was intimidated by the class because it is the “bootcamp of the economics department.” However, I’m five weeks into the class and have learned a ton! In my opinion, the best part of this class is how many opportunities I have to absorb the information; each week, there are pre-recorded lectures, live Q & A sessions, problem sets, individual office hours, and opportunities for group work. Because of the many ways the material is presented, I feel I’ve learned a lot and been successful, despite my relatively limited economics and math background.
A Term for Exploration: My Sophomore Fall Recap!
I decided to ignore preconceived notions about what I should take in my sophomore fall. Instead, I chose three classes that were admittedly a bit scattered, but which I found enthralling and rewarding.
- No. 1
The American Political System
Taking this introductory government class amidst the 2020 presidential election was definitely one of the top three decisions I’ve made in my Dartmouth journey. The class would be relevant regardless of the term, but I found it especially enriching to be able to discuss current events in the context of political science class. We read articles about topics ranging from how coronavirus surges effect partisan voting, to the effect of political institutional structure on racial inequality. One particular discussion that stands out to me was shortly after Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, in a week where we had just been discussing the Supreme Court. Despite the class being virtual, the discussion reminded me of my favorite part of Dartmouth – my kind, thoughtful, and intelligent classmates.
- No. 2
Introduction to Computer Science
I’ve always liked puzzles, so I took Introduction to Computer Science (known as CS1 around campus) in hopes of channeling some of that passion into the classroom. Turns out, that was an excellent idea! Once I got a hang of the coding language basics (Python, for any of you gurus out there), everything that I learned in lecture and from the textbook became a tool for solving whatever puzzles I might come across. Our grades in CS1 came from assignments that asked us to create drawings, interactive maps, and a ping pong game! Working on the homework and exams was a welcome change of pace from my other classes, which were more reading and writing heavy. Plus, coding literacy is a great skill to have moving forward, no matter where I end up!
- No. 3
Religion and Social Struggle
My third class of sophomore fall was focused on religion, a subject I never expected to study in a Dartmouth classroom! However, in the spirit of exploration, and after reading the course description, which described three case studies on religion’s role in social movements, I enrolled. After reading a few foundational pieces on religion’s role in the world, we began discussing the role of religion in Native American resistance movements, the Black Lives Matter Protests, and Hong Kong liberation protests. For each of these case studies, we had big and small group discussions, did lots of reading, and were visited by guest lecturers. My favorite case study was on the Black Lives Matter protests, when we were visited by Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, a Co-Chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, which was founded by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Hearing from such an influential figure on such a relevant and important topic was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had in a classroom.
Long Time, No Blog! Where I've Been & Where I Hope to Go
Since I last wrote, I've finished another term of classes, spent an off-term nannying, picked up approximately a bajillion random quarantine hobbies, and have begun applying to my first round of internships.
Transitioning from Public School to the ~Ivy League~
Like many of my classmates, Dartmouth is the first private school I've ever gone to. Coming from a small Southern town, the vast majority of people I know don't travel more than a few hours away for college.