Eighteen Credits

September 8, 2010 Comments Off on Eighteen Credits

My last semester has begun. Although I’m taking eighteen credits, it’s mostly full of stuff I’m excited to take. I’m going to hurry and do the overview now, before I become disenchanted with all my classes. As of today, I still like them. More on that later.

English Phonology. Much of the work looks like it will be a duplicate of what I did for Wisconsin Englishes last semester, but in general this class is about describing unique aspects of English pronunciation. Our final project is to do a “phonological sketch” of another language, which includes describing its pronunciation and identifying which sounds a native speaker of this language would have trouble with in English. What a cool idea. The best part is that it will probably be a pretty obscure language, because only obscure languages get good descriptive grammars written about them—no one bothers describing English or Spanish or German. The professor I’ve had before, and he’s exacting but a very fun teacher and I’m looking forward to this quite a lot.

Italian for Speakers of a Romance Language. Best idea ever. The teacher is energetic and has the magical ability to psych us up, even when unleashing a torrent of Italian on us (did I mention it’s an immersion class?) immediately after the first bell rings on the first day of class. So much fun. Except now I just want a private tutor so I can go as fast as I want and learn what I want to learn when I want to learn it. For example, I badly want to begin learning conjugations and making sentences like a big girl, but apparently the alphabet is more important.

General Microbiology. So I got a chirpy automated email telling me, “Don’t forget to apply for graduation! It’s easy and you don’t want to forget to do it and accidentally not graduate! Especially after six and a half years!” And I thought to myself, What a good point, UW AI. Don’t mind if I do. But then I noticed that I was signed up for a B.A. in geology. Who gets a B.A. in a science anyway? So I looked up what I need to switch over to a B.S., and the answer was: 3 credits of a biological science. So I looked for low-level three-credit biological-science courses, and came up with Microbiology 101, which should be interesting and doesn’t have a lab or anything, so I’m doing that, which brings me to eighteen credits.

Sedimentology and Stratigraphy. I needed just a few more geology credits to finish off the major, and this is it. It’s taught by a professor I had three years ago who blew my mind, and I’m really excited to have him again. The only thing is, the longer I’m in geology, the more I feel like I will never get a great grasp of it, and I have to do a big paper and present it. Urgh. Also…field trips, which I have intensely mixed feelings about. On the one hand, they’re amazing and fun and I learn a lot. On the other, they’re stressful and uncomfortable and I have to be social for too long to stay sane. The major one this semester is a weekend trip to Michigan sand dunes, which actually should be awesome.

Comparative World Dress. This class should mostly be fun—it’s about not only the different kinds of clothes and body adornments/modifications that different cultures use, but how they interact with other cultures or styles and how people use them to make statements, include or exclude themselves from groups, &c. Like dress anthropology. Only thing is, the professor is a spoiled city-girl academic. I want you to take a moment and consider what someone must be like in order to drive me to call them a spoiled city-girl academic. She appears to have been hermetically sealed in academia for her entire life, teaching classes that don’t matter and at all times having the leisure to confront “difficult” issues such as “What does ‘ethnic’ really mean?” She’s very nice, very let’s-all-sit-in-a-circle-and-be-friends, and clearly fancies herself a Thinker and a Teacher, which would not be a bad thing if it didn’t lead her to deliver circular lectures in her soft, thoughtful Thinker’s voice. All this makes me seem more down on her than I really am, but I do sort of want to punch her. A little. Not in a mean way. Just kind of a wake-up punch. *Punch.*

French Independent Study. I somehow got an awesome professor from a couple years ago to agree to be my proctor/mentor/grader/whatever-he-is for a translation project. This is the guy who blew a hunting horn in a tiny Van Hise classroom and shouted an inspirational Charlemagne-style speech about killing pagans. Far and away the best French class memory ever. I’m taking two short stories by Quebecois writer Johanne Alice Côté and translating them into English. One is called “The tomatoes will grow on their own,” and it’s about a young girl in some kind of cult where she was in charge of the garden until they all decided to move to another plane of existence. They all take sleeping drugs except her; she sets their building on fire and is supposed to drink poison, but before she does she goes to write a letter to her childhood best friend and ends up spilling half of poison on the ground. The other story is called “Stone Back,” and it’s about a girl who badly wants to be a real First Nations girl, mostly because this one guy is all outdoorsy and into his heritage, so she buys a canoe and a ton of gear and goes out to where she thinks he is. She sees him asleep and decides to wait for him to wake up and be proud of her. She falls asleep and dreams, and wakes up to find that what she thought was her boy was a trick of stone and shadow, and her canoe has drifted away. They’re strange stories, and to be perfectly frank, if I’d read them before I’d signed up for this, I would not have picked them to translate. But they’re the best of the collection, and it should be a good experience anyway.

So this is my semester. Eighteen credits plus Madrigal Singers. Let the adventure begin (for the last time!)!

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