Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Home Away From Home

My first week is over at Brown University. I have been away from home for twelve days. I do not know if any other people in the ILC are homesick, but I am not. The longest I have been away from my family is a week when I went to Washington D.C. in eighth grade. I feel that since I have been given the opportunity to go to the east coast for twenty-eight days I am somewhat prepared for college. Sure, I miss my family and friends, but I have family and friends out here too. Brown is my home away from home.

Ms. Larson came to campus today to check up on us today! It is always great to see a familiar face. We gave her a tour of the entire campus including my dorm room, V-Dub, Science Library, and the bamboo garden on Thayer Street. It was nice to have Cohort #1 together again. Of course we make new friends while we’re here, but we also keep our old ones close.

College weekends are much different than those back home. Students here sit on the grass and talk, play Frisbee, walk tightrope, juggle, and do homework instead of staying inside on FaceBook. I feel that the student body here actually does something rather than waiting for something to happen. When we are outside with people, that is when we relate more and bond. I am really enjoying the face to face socialization here. Also, Thayer Street is always there to provide endless possibilities for shopping and dining. I have never had so many options only minutes away from my living space.

I enjoy the diversity of the people at Brown. I get along very well with my floor mates, which is really important when it comes to quad pride and unity. The community at Pinole Valley High is similar to Brown in this way. As a band kid, I am very close to all eighty-six members. We get along and learn how to live with each other. We find similarities and make respectful disagreements. This is how we live together.

A bunch of the people here went on a field trip to Boston today. Cohort #1 chose to stick around campus and enjoy the smaller crowd. The rain finally stopped! Welcome back, sunshine.


Today was a very relaxing day. Many of the students here went to Boston on a trip. They woke up early, unlike me. I slept in until 12:00 PM. Instead of studying I went to eat lunch. My class has no homework, and it is extremely easy. But tomorrow I will do independent studying! I feel like the AP Biology class has prepared me for this course. I know a lot of what we are studying already, and it is because of AP Bio and AP Chem. Although, I know it only gets harder from here.

I like the college environment, but I wish I knew what it was like when college students populated the school. Food is still average, and they are opening up another cafeteria on the 26th. I really love it here. The people are great and literally everyone I met has a higher SAT score than me. And mine is over 2000. I am sad, but motivated. Tomorrow I will study for Monday, and I will have lots of fun.

Schedules and Plans

Today was great because I did not have to wake up early for class, rather I got to sleep in late. The high school and college life are a lot different. In high school your parents, guardians, and teachers are seemingly hovering over you to make sure your actions align with what you are to be doing. But in this college atmosphere there is no one to really regulate your actions. Our professor even said that if you want to just get up and leave for a while, go and do so. So in college it is very important to keep yourself in check and examine your own ways. Also in college it is very important to schedule your time. With a week’s worth of class under my belt I have realized that it is important to prioritize and schedule the things you really want to do and need to do. Today was a great example of me still thinking as a high school student. I have a lot of homework due on Tuesday and I planned to start most of it today. But with no authority to tell me to do it, or ask me about it, I put it off and now as I blog I have made no progress. So what I have done though is to make a schedule for myself to stay on task and finish my homework before Tuesday. I believe that today I learned a life lesson of making schedules and plans in order to optimize my potential.

So Far...

It is the first week out of three weeks, and I still haven’t felt the strain of getting everything covered in class. It is a friendly environment where everyone works at his own pace—I get to focus and completely understand the biotechnological techniques. I can go up to my professor and ask questions; it is a place where I can get help, compared to High School where there are too many students for the teacher to handle, and instruction are simple and concise. Since there is no group work, which is the best deviation from High School, I am not doing the work for other partners, but focusing on myself, on what I can learn.

I really thought I was going to struggle more in the class, which I experienced in the first quarter of my AP Bio class. I was concerned that the work would be harder but, my professor discusses material, contraire to my assumption that college professors explain the concept rather than application, that I read in the book. Instead, I understand most of the book and am only confused about material Professor Hall covers after corresponding lab work is done. I do have problems with the articles she assigns because they are very dense with scientific words and proof from complicated graphs—that is just something I must overcome with my work habits. I feel that my AP Bio class, despite all the hours of sleep I missed because of it, has prepared me well for this class and for science classes in college.

My professor’s teaching is entirely different from what I have expected from teachers. She explains techniques after we have used them so then we care about what happens. I would like to know what to expect, but it does work, and I am always curious how my mistakes can be corrected.

I am surprised that my professor did not give our class homework this weekend. Kathleen, Erin and Andrew were assigned problems for Macroencomics, and there is so much biotechnology that cannot be covered in three weeks. This year it is a compact class so we have less time to get everything done, and Professor Hall has already cut some laboratory work. In my AP Bio class, we did not have enough time to cover everything in class and it was supplemented as homework. I like how lax the class is, but now I have nothing other than going to Summer@Brown events to do. I would have liked to read something because my books I brought are already finished.

First Week Reflection

One week at Brown has passed. Already? Only? I can argue both ways. I am so accustomed to life at Brown that it feels like I have been here for months. But on the other hand, one-third of our stay has already gone by, and there are only two weeks of class left. While I feel homesick, I am not ready to leave this wonderful college that I have begun to call my home.

Taking a course at Brown is unlike taking one at a high school. Because I go to Contra Costa College, the course load is not much different. However, in our macroeconomics class, our teacher teaches mostly through PowerPoint due to the advance technology installed in the classroom. Our class also moves at a fast pace so if we don’t understand something, we have to work it out ourselves outside of class. The material we cover is not difficult, but in our scarce amount of time, we have to condense the broad subject into a mere three weeks. It takes a while to process the abundance of information we obtain from each class. Our professor emails us the PowerPoint slides for each lecture. Some people will print them out, but I prefer to take notes during class and refer to the slides if I need them.

College is stricter than high school, although Brown leans to the more lenient side. Unlike in high school, students here don’t have side conversations and actually pay attention when the professor is lecturing. The students in my class are all serious about education and never hesitate to ask thought-provoking questions that sometimes our teacher can’t answer. Our homework for the weekend consists of eleven problems, but each question has multiple parts to it. I have formed a study group with some friends, and we usually go to the Rockefeller Library to do our homework. Working in study groups help me understand the material more than working alone.

For me, macroeconomics is an interesting subject. However, I don’t fancy learning through PowerPoint presentations. I’d rather our teacher lecture by writing on the chalkboard, like he did yesterday. This way, he captures more of my attention and I’m more likely to be engaged in class. Despite my criticism of how our class is taught, I look forward to class every day.

Friday at Brown

Friday was most likely one of the best days at Brown. Everyone was laid-back and ready for the coming weekend and we had a huge amount of free time. I woke up early to study for my test and do a little homework, showered, then went to breakfast.

Breakfast was alright, they serve a similar breakfast everyday. After breakfast, I went to my class, where everyone helped each other study for the test. The interesting thing was that the test, in addition to biology, was on faces and names. It was a great way to force students to learn each others names.

The test was much shorter than expected and everyone thought it was pretty easy. After the test we watched a short science movie, from the PBS program NOVA. It talked about how your actions now affect your future generations epigenetically. For example, if you smoke a lot now, it will have adverse affects on your future children. This is because the changes you make to your body cause your body to change when you express certain genes.

Following class, I went to Toledo Pizza to get the infamous pizza in a cone. I ate and chatted with friends before going to see off one of my friends, a one-week student. He will be missed.

Afterward, I went to yoga and stretched more than ever. The yoga class was much smaller this time around. After yoga I had nothing much to do, so I napped. After my nap I walked around with my friend and we went to dinner. For dinner, we had nachos with pickles. I rediscovered my love for pickles here at Brown.

Later on, I went to watch Inception with my friend, Patricia. After Inception, I went to my dorm and napped until curfew. Tomorrow, the campus will be emptier because a lot of students are going on a trip to Boston. Nonetheless, I know we'll have fun here.
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