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Aloha everybody! After a much needed break for the summer term, I'm super excited to be back and writing to you all as I tackle my sophomore year taking online classes in New Orleans, Louisiana. 

This term, though virtual, will be different than my previous virtual spring term because I moved into a house with a few of my Dartmouth friends here in New Orleans. We'll all be taking our different classes together but living under the same roof, which almost fills the gap of not being able to be in beautiful Hanover. My favorite part about Dartmouth has always been the people, and this way it's like bringing Dartmouth to us.

As a non-STEM major, the distributive requirements that Dartmouth has can seem daunting. For those of you that don't know, distributives are course requirements needed to graduate. As a liberal arts institution, these requirements exist to encourage us to try many different things. Some of these requirements have to do with the arts, languages, and sciences. For me personally, as a relatively non-artsy, decidedly un-STEM person, I was especially intimidated by the art and lab distributes — that was before I realized I could take classes relatively close to my comfort zone, allowing me to try new things while also working towards my graduation requirements. 

Image of computer program
One of my first assignments was to code a children's book cover, so I just had to rep my own favorite. Not too shabby, you think?

My first class is COSC 1, better known as Introduction to Computer Science. We're currently learning the Python coding language, and though the pace has been brisk, in my first week alone I was able to relearn a ton of coding concepts that I haven't used or remembered in many, many years. I had a bit of coding experience from when I used to be an indie game developer during middle school, but it was all self-taught and pretty disjointed. My class has gone through a very structured introduction that's rapidly reacquainting me with my coding basics and showing me the fundamentals to a coding language I've never tried before. Because I currently intend to be a Linguistics major, this computer science class could help me further explore the intersection between language and machines — which opens up opportunities in game design, speech recognition, or even AI. Computer science is allowing me to pursue or and glimpse the horizon of this interdisciplinary path while also giving me a lab credit — for a guy that doesn't necessarily science, I couldn't be happier. 

My second class is LING 35, known as Field Methods, taught by the same professor that taught my first Linguistics class just a year ago. During this class, we're exploring a rare, almost completely unstudied language and taking  extensive notes and documentation. It's simulating exactly what linguistics do when they go somewhere in the world to study an unstudied language, and being able to take part in this firsthand research is an opportunity I simply couldn't pass up. This class makes me super excited and is just another fruit of my discovering the Linguistics department at Dartmouth, which is almost certainly going to be my major.

My third class is CRWT 40.01, known as Imaginary Countries, taught by the same professor that taught my incredible First-Year Seminar during my first winter term. Professor Chee is a total legend, and the class is currently structured so as to let us dive into speculative fiction in all of its beautiful absurdity. We're learning a lot about how setting informs plot, and on the first day of class, we all told ghost stories. I've always loved creative writing, but this is my first creative writing class at Dartmouth and I'm already really excited to be able to have an outlet other than my Notes app to write stories. Not only will I be having fun finally pursuing my passion for storytelling, but I'll be satisfying my art distributive. Words are art, don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

If you guys couldn't tell, I'm bursting with excitement about this term and really invested in all of my classes for their individual experiences. I have so many plans for this term, and in many ways, at the risk of being cheesy, in my head it felt much like taking this post's featured picture on the plane ride: a blank canvas or new horizon. Even though I'm a sophomore, I want to keep up my freshman year trend of trying new things and reaching, and I won't be stopping anytime soon.

I will most definitely be diving into each of my classes in greater detail as the term progresses while also showing you how I stay engaged with the Dartmouth community regardless of my being as far as New Orleans. In the meantime, stay safe and healthy and I couldn't be more excited to be back on the blog!

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