My Favorite Classes from Undergrad
Second Semester Senior Year. I’m moving on in a few months and I figured now was as good a time as any to put this out there. :)
- Foundations of Behavior
I take a lot of pride in being an Anthropology major. I started with 101, but this was the class that really cemented it for me Freshman year. This class took an evolutionary approach to human anatomy and human behavior. Not only was it amazingly fascinating to learn for the first time the anatomical adaptations for bipedalism, language, tool use… Or taking a human life cycle approach. Like how dentition changes because humans are less competitive and aggressive than chimpanzees. It was just a lot of fun seeing how something like one bone of Lucy’s foot made the difference in declaring her bipedal versus walking on all fours like a chimp. I also became very close to my professor and TA’d for his class the following year.
- Anthropology of Death and Burial
Another professor I’m very close with (she’s actually married to the one above. They’re incredible; as close to real-life OTP as you can get). Given the subject matter, the readings and the conversations could get a little ‘morbid’ but it was endlessly fascinating. Like to have a real discussion about Bodies: The Exhibition, or assisted suicide, or cryogenics. Or the implication of necrophilia in Snow White. It also has a lot more practicality than you would think; especially because I’m going into medicine, I really appreciated the classes which gave me exposure to real issues that are never given attention outside of the profession.
- Medical Anthropology
Speaking of which, medical anthropology covered a very broad range of topics and issues in medicine I was never even aware existed, because you just don’t see these issues arise in House or Grey’s Anatomy. When House encounters a patient who doesn’t speak English, well lucky them, House is also fluent in Spanish (and Mandarin, Portuguese, and Hindi). But we learned about Shamanism, and comparative health care systems, and issues of Western v. traditional medicine, even the integration of sociology and how socioeconomic status effects health. It’s something I would definitely recommend to anybody who is pre-health, even more so than Biochemistry or A&P.
- Dostoevsky in English Translation
This one is just personally special to me because I have a soft spot for Russian literature, and Crime and Punishment is my favorite book of all time. It’s really difficult to talk about how brilliant Dostoevsky really was. Not only did the class put his novels into the context of his personal life and Russian history, but the novels themselves. My goodness, when you see how deliberate everything, from symbolic choices he makes to the structure of the chapters within the context of the novel. Introduced me to Poor Folk, Notes from Underground, The Idiot, Demons, and The Brothers Karamazov, but C&P will always be my favorite.
As for my favorite pre-medical requisite:
- Organic Chemistry
I know right?! Orgo is probably at the heart of everybody’s worst experiences, and it’s kind of part of mine. But I don’t know, now and then I get sort of nostalgic for those night before all-nighters with my roommate and my friends, cracked out on bad Instant Folgers Coffee. I had the best time in lab. Orgo was a huge portion of my research experience. I had an amazing professor and lab teacher (both of whom wrote letters for me) who taught me that, you know what? it’ll be okay. Even the material— doesn’t everyone feel a little proud when they draw a perfect hexane? Or think that naming is kind of sort of fun. Even though memorizing reactions is a b—, isn’t it really cool how it all makes logical, chemical and physical sense? Am I right? At least we were all miserable together.
reblog if you believe in rodion raskolnikov.
guys lets be a fandom
Book Review: The Idiot - Fyodor Dostoevsky
And of all the books we read, The Idiot was probably the least exciting for me. That being said, it was written by Dostoevsky and still incredibly powerful.
Prince Lev Myshkin travels back to Russia after spending several years in Switzerland, where he was being treated for his epileptic disease. Despite being a prince, he considered an “idiot” by society—not someone stupid, but someone who is simply naive and socially inept. Now that he’s back in Russia, Myshkin finds himself caught between a beautiful but fallen woman, Nastassya Filippovna, and a sweet, pretty girl, Aglaia. As it turns out, his goodness only leads to disaster, ultimately proving that the real world is no place for an “idiot”.
This one definitely reads as more soap-opera-y of Dostoevsky’s novels. While Crime and Punishment and The Brother’s Karamazov had more concrete conflicts and plots, The Idiot sort of meanders around with Prince Myshkin as he tries to make his way in this upper class society.
This one’s interesting because Dostoevsky departs from the gritty impoverished underclass of Russia, the other side of the city where the dirt and bankruptcy are found not in the streets, but in the hearts of the people themselves. Myshkin is a Christ figure—completely and honestly loving, trusting, and innocent-hearted. But in a society as cruel and unforgiving as the upper class are, there’s no place for him. His unconditional love and forgiveness is interpreted as idiocy and incomprehensible to mere humans. The focus centers around a love square in which Myshkin is torn between Earthly desires of loving Aglaia, and his Christ-like need to save Nastasya, who is being pulled in the other direction by the demon of this story, a beastly and lecherous man, Rogozhin.
Ultimately, Dostoevsky answers for us whether there is a place on this world for his most beautiful figure— a man who is both a lion and a mouse.
The other interesting thing about this one is that Myshkin is an epileptic. Not only is it a physical means to mentally and physically cripple our prince, but also provides understanding into the author’s own experience. Dostoevsky too suffered from an epileptic condition, and the way it’s conveyed in the novel feels very personal, the way only someone who himself has experienced a seizure can relate. It was a very cool, if not morbid, insight.
Count your blessings. <3
Fall 2011 Semester (Pt. 2)
Uugh whyy did I take 21 credits?
Dostoevsky in English Translation: I LOVED THIS CLASS. So even if I can’t write philosophy, political science, or anthropology essays, I can write English essays (very well I think). My only A this semester, I took this class because Crime and Punishment is my favorite book ever. We read that one, The Idiot, Notes from Underground, Poor Folk, and The Brother’s Karamazov. Not only was it amazing getting even more insight into C&P the third time around, but seeing how all of Dostoevsky’s novels manipulate the same archetypes and ideas to make new insights about the world. And my two Russian professors were probably the two cutest people ever. This one probably saved my GPA from dropping this semester. *phew*
Medical Anthropology: Also a somewhat difficult class due to essay writing and awkward class structure, but what an amazing class. As a pre-med, it is definitely definitely a class I would recommend for any pre-health student. Not only does one have to realize that medical school is sort of a homogenizing process and one must keep in mind that the American way is not the only effective method of practicing American medicine, but also that the United States is a melting pot, and not everyone believes or completely trusts biomedicine, and it is important to be culturally humble. I switched into this class last minute, and it worked out so well!
Everything else? Well, as a 3rd year transfer, it’s really hard to get involved in clubs and the like, when the upperclassmen are already established, and you’re reduced to being a new freshman again… Volunteering also, was difficult to fit in because my schedule kept me so busy, but again, it’s difficult to get involved when you don’t really know anybody in this new school. Because Anthro Majors are uncommon, I was lonely a lot of the time during school, since I would go entire days without seeing anybody I really knew. That was sort of depressing…
So… here’s to next semester, where I’m only taking three classes—Physics II, Concepts and Methods in Biological Anthropology (so much better!) and biochemistry—and will bring my GPA back up. Only taking 12 credits since I’ll also need the time to study for MCATs (which are scheduled for March), and get all my clinic and nonclinic volunteering and shadowing hours in…. *sigh* It was hard the last to years, going to school in the middle of nowhere without a car, and now this semester in a new school where it’s hard to navigate and get involved. Anyway I have next semester all planned out (almost!). Hopefully it will be better. ^^
And then applications in June… OMG