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One year more. It's going fast. Am I taking advantage of every opportunity? You betcha.

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Posts Tagged “classes”

Core Classes

A key component to the liberal arts education that Butler University offers is the core curriculum. These classes cover a broad range of topics from the creative arts to the hard sciences, and a lot in between.

At the start of this semester, I was kicking myself for putting off my Natural World core class till the very last semester. Genetics and Evolution. However, it’s actually been a fantastic experience, much better than I had expected. I wasn’t hesitant because I thought the class would be bad, but I was worried about the longevity of my motivation in the final months before graduation.

We began with genetics, working to understand the mechanisms that drive our genes on a molecular genetics. Now we are zooming out to see how that works on a global scale, delving into the work of Darwin and his theory of evolution. Yet this class never focuses too narrowly on the specifics of how these all work. Rather, we goo deep enough to understand the concepts, and then broaden our scope to see how this impacts our understanding of cloning, genetic recombination and modification, and how insurance companies are trying to steal our DNA (not really, but watch out…).

Andrew? Andrew? …Beuller?

I’m coming to the end of my semester here in Italy. Well, quasi-end. I’m actually about to take final exams, but I will still have one more month of classes, which I will take at the next level (B2 instead of B1 which I have been in for the next semester).

And I must say that I am quite ready for the change. I made the decision before I came to study solely language here in Italy, and it has gone fantastically. However, there were a few things I didn’t account for:

It's certainly not the most brightly decorated room either.

-1 subject, as compared to the 5 or 6 I normally have at Butler University
-4 teachers, with 80% of my time spent with two of them
-Also, 80% of my time spent in the same classroom
-When I arrived, I was way behind. After three months of speaking Italian on a regular basis and devoting all of my studies to the language, I’m way ahead.

So I have my two final exams this week (Wednesday and Thursday) and how did I decide to spend the weekend studying? Well naturally I took a trip to Lake Trasimeno a half hour away from Perugia with my two American friends and two Korean friends. What proceeded was a lovely day of cultural exchange, a good amount spoken in Italian, all while appreciating the quaint town resting on its banks. (Turns out the Koreans have a game almost identical to Rock, Paper, Scizzors, but when you lose you get flicked in the head. On a related note, my forehead is sore.)

But all of this drives me to a slightly longer post today than the usual. For a period of the semester I was frustrated with the pace of my learning. With my friends, we would always imagine ways in which our learning might be quickened. Part of this comes from a massive stress that I am certain falls on every  student who decides to go abroad. The problem is simple. There is a infinite number of opportunities to pursue, yet all of them are limited by two thing: time and money.

The greatest stress for me is that all of Europe’s experiences are only a decision away, yet I know that I shouldn’t because if I, say, decide to take a train to Switzerland this weekend, I won’t have the time to go to Palermo at the end of April as I am also planning. At the same time, I couldn’t stand the thought of spending a weekend relaxing in my room, appreciating the city that I’m staying in. Why is that? Because I have only been given four months to live here, and I would feel as if I were wasting the little time I have. As it is, I have accepted that I will only spend my trips inside of Italy, to save on costs but also to enter as completely as possible into this culture that I have invested a semester of my collegiate career into.

NOSTALGIA!!!

Two weeks ago I became so dispirited (as my bank account plummeted viciously) that I longed for the weekends at Butler where I could just lounge on the mall for hours without worry. Yet, simultaneously with this thought is the realization that when I return to the mall, I will miss the hill country of Umbria.

In somma, I have had to deal with a number of disappointments, either with too-slow classes or too-limited travel plans. In the end, I need to accept all of this. Why? If I fail in this, I will end up tainting my entire experience with negativity. Attitude makes or breaks an experience. And always I can appreciate that I have so many opportunities available to me that I can’t take in all of them. Any economics class will teach you about cost-benefit analysis. As I enter into the final stretch of lessons, final stretch of time here, I’ve promised to myself to keep a positive attitude. Without this, I met as well as remain in my room for the remainder of my time here.

It's like this Bacione. If I tried to eat it all, I'd have a stomach ache! As they say, don't bite off more than your digestive system can handle.

 

 

The Prob-lution

I’ll admit, that based on all of this, class became quite dull. It was not the fault of the professors, I’m the one who asked for the full-immersion semester. And I would be lying through my teeth if I said that my Italian wasn’t light-years ahead of where I started.

However, when I arrived, I was challenged heartily by my classes. Since improving myself inside and outside of class, the pace of our learning has slowed as new students have entered the class from lower levels. So here I am, two weeks before an exam that will allow me to enter the next level, and I find myself incredibly under challenged.

What I have resorted to practicing and learning Italian outside of class. What this means: I am reading Harry Potter in Italian, which is a great way to see more advanced grammar. I’m also watching films in Italian, which is great practice for understanding. But above all, my skills are put to the real test when hanging out with Italians.

 

Class: A Snapshot

It’s been an interesting ride this semester. When I got here in the spring, I could speak just about…well, nothing in Italian. Honestly, I don’t think I can even judge how far I’ve come since then, because all of the days and weeks just meld together.

One of the most interesting aspects of this semester is the difference in routine. At Butler, I’m normally throwing myself into five or six different classes with a wide range of subjects or even departments, all while keeping up with a number of activities outside of class.

Here, it’s one subject: Italian. I have four professors, but eighty percent of my time is spent with two of them. That eighty percent of the time is spent in the same classroom. In terms of outside activities, I must organize them on my own, can’t rely on a generous university to walk me through my day.

But what does this all MEAN?!?!