Your Questions Answered!

To all the lovely prospective students that have been sending me such great questions all year, thank you so much for your willingness to contact me and for your interest in WashU! I hope my answers have proven to be helpful.

Your questions have been so fantastic that I thought it might be useful to include them on the blog so that other students can get the benefit of seeing them, too. It might take me a while to re-post all of the questions that people have asked me so far, but I hope that doesn’t discourage you all from asking even more! Please feel free to use this contact page that you can access anytime on the side of my blog to get in touch with me for any reason. I’d love to be of help to you in any way that I can.

For now, here are four questions answered that you might have been wondering about as you consider WashU.

1) What are some required freshman courses?
The only required freshman course at WashU is Writing I (the introductory writing course), which makes for a super flexible first-year curriculum! You’ll have plenty of time to explore your options before you declare a major in the second semester of your sophomore year. You can even place out of this requirement if you’re in the Engineering School and have a high enough score on an AP or IB English exam.

2) What is housing like for freshman in your opinion, and do you know how roommates are determined?
The housing here is absolutely amazing. You have a choice between so-called traditional dorms and modern dorms. All residence houses are coed, with same-sex rooms. Most freshmen live in double rooms, but there are also a few singles and triples available. I lived in a modern dorm (that happened to be just me and my roommate in one room with no adjacent suite because we lived right next to the RA) and loved it. Every modern suite (four people maximum) includes a bathroom. Twice a week, we get our bathrooms cleaned, too! So basically my room was even nicer than my room at home…

I can’t speak much to the traditional dorms, but everyone I know who’s lived in them really likes them. Traditional dorms are just a little older and feature a common bathroom between the whole floor. What they lack in amenities, however, they more than make up for in the social experience and bonding that happens when you live so closely with other people. WashU generally does a fantastic job of bringing floors in all of the dorms together through activities organized by the RAs and the college council.

Ultimately, it’s all about what your preferences are, and people usually get what they mark as their top choice on the housing application.

Roommates are determined by a housing survey that you fill out at the beginning of the summer, and Residential Life does a great job matching students’ personalities and lifestyles. I’m still really good friends with my roommate from last year. It was uncanny how similar we were in our interests and living preferences. Most of my friends across campus had great roommate experiences as well and still keep in touch with the people they lived with their freshman year. Many roommate pairs that I know have even continued living together their sophomore year and beyond.

3) What surprised you the most about WashU?
What surprised me the most was how nice and laid-back the people are here. Maybe it’s a Midwestern thing, but it genuinely amazes me how relaxed everyone is. I came from a very competitive and cutthroat high school, so this was a big change for me. I love how people don’t brag about their accomplishments, and instead how their achievements are just naturally evident from how they get involved on campus. I manage to learn something new about my friends everyday. I’ve met some of the most incredibly talented and intelligent people I know here, but they never fail to impress me in how modest they are about all that they can do.

Also the weather. It’s crazy. On a totally different note, the weather’s probably the one downside of being a student here. It can be 80 degrees and sunny when you wake up and freezing rain by the time you’re eating dinner. You get used to it after a while though.

4) What you recommend for an upcoming student?
Just remember to take care of yourself, and make time for “me time” once you’re at school! There are a million things happening on campus every day, and life gets so crazy when you’re around thousands of other fun people your age, it’s easy to forget how nice it is to be alone sometimes (especially if you’re living with a roommate). It’s really important to schedule time to separate yourself from college life every once in a while, at least to breathe for a second and reflect on how you’re spending your time. But that goes for any student at any college.

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And so, the first installment of questions comes to an end! Stay on the lookout for additional posts with other questions I’ve answered, but in the meantime, please feel free to continue asking me new ones!

What I’ve Read (Updated)

Just for fun, here is an updated list of the major works I’ve read since…

Freshman Year:

The Iliad Homer

The Aeneid Virgil

Metamorphoses Ovid

Il Canzoniere Petrarch

Confessions St. Augustine

Symposium Plato

A Winter’s Tale Shakespeare

Crime and Punishment Dostoevsky

Pere Goriot Balzac

Don Quixote Cervantes

The First and Second Discourses Rousseau

The Trial Kafka

Letter to my Father Kafka

Mother Courage Brecht

Six Ideas that Shaped Physics Moore

Reflections Benjamin

Notes to Literature Adorno

Dialectic of Enlightenment Horkheimer; Adorno

Illuminations Benjamin

The Aesthetic Dimension: Toward a Critique of Marxist Aesthetics Marcuse

The Mass Ornament Kracauer

La Ciocara Moravia

Summer:

A Room of One’s Own Woolf

Into the Wild Krakauer

Madame Bovary Flaubert

Siddhartha Hesse

Chronicles of a Death Foretold Marquez

Heart of Darkness Conrad

For Whom the Bell Tolls Hemingway

Olive Kitteridge Strout

Brave New World Huxley

The Corrections Franzen

Sophomore Year:

Molotov’s Magic Lantern: A Journey in Russian History Polanski

No et Moi De Vigan

Le journal intime d’un arbre Van Cauwelaert

Medieval Russia’s Epics, Chronicles, and Tales Zenkovsky

The Overcoat Gogol

Notes from Underground Dostoevsky

A Hero of Our Time Lermontov

Uncle Vanya Chekov

Master and Margarita Bulgakov

Boris Godunov Pushkin

Turn of the Screw James

Kiss of the Spider Woman Puig

Aeneid Virgil

Elissa Mellah

Medea Euripedies

Phèdre Racine

Ubu Roi Jarry

Miss Julie Strindberg

The Hairy Ape O’Neill

Summer:

A Moveable Feast Hemingway

The Stranger Camus

When Engulfed in Flames Sedaris

Junior Year:

Don Quixote Cervantes

Inferno Dante

The Key Tanizaki

On Love Stendhal

A Room of One’s Own Woolf

…and the list continues

Fall W.I.L.D. 2013

WashU’s biggest concert of the fall semester, Walk in Lay Down, is almost here! This year, I’m particularly excited about the event, not only for the cool names that are coming to town, but also because I’ve had a bit of a hand in helping get this year’s WILD going.

In an effort to give myself more of the creative outlets that I need to be happy, I applied to become a member of WashU’s Social Programming Board, the newly consolidated student group that is responsible for putting on university-wide events for the student community. This semester, I’ve worked with their PR team to design a few posters advertising the event, which has been a rewarding and fun process. I’ve included them here to give you a better sense of what this year’s Fall WILD was all about:


Final WILD Poster

The array of artists that have come to past WILDs is absolutely incredible, and as a student at WashU, you’ll have plenty more to look forward to in the coming years now that SPB is such a giant event-planning machine!

Other cool events they’re hosting this semester that we have to look forward to as students include a show by Ra Ra Riot, who’s closing out its tour here in St. Louis, and a comedy show with the one and only Nick Offerman from Parks and Rec!

The City of St. Louis, As Seen in My Head

A Mental Map of St. Louis

On October 5th, I had the privilege of joining the leaders of WashU’s Material Monsters to explore the city of St. Louis from a new, two-wheeled perspective. As a self-described “material reuse and research initiative,” Material Monsters is organized by a group of architecture students in the Sam Fox school with a passion for “investigating the intersections of art, architecture, design and environment.” That Saturday, I gathered with a group of twenty or so students to go on their Bubble Butt Bike Blowout, which involved an afternoon-long bike tour around St. Louis, meeting with community leaders to discuss the city’s infrastructure, and homemade pasta on the Hill.

We spoke with a historian in the predominantly Italian Hill neighborhood about the ethnic issues that divide its social landscape, an artist and former construction worker at the Missouri Botanical Garden about sustainability and environmental art initiatives, and a restaurant manager in the Grove about issues of gentrification and urban renewal. We ended our afternoon with a visit to Grovefest, one of the biggest block parties in St. Louis (where there are many).

As an aside, I never knew how much I wanted to be a part of a bike gang until I became a part of one on this trip. There’s something indescribably awesome about riding through the streets of St. Louis with a pack of eco-friendly friends.

For one of our activities, we convened in Tower Grove Park to draw our personal mental maps of St. Louis. By looking at each other’s maps, we could see which areas of St. Louis WashU students visit the most. For most, especially freshman, this included the places that were most accessible by public transportation or walking, such as the Loop, the Central West End, and Shnucks–which isn’t a neighborhood but by its frequency on these maps deserves to be its own national landmark. Upperclassmen with cars and a greater working knowledge of the city tended to explore a little further, in areas like Soulard, Cherokee Street, Tower Grove, and downtown. Nevertheless, there were some parts of St. Louis that people rarely explored, such as the areas immediately north and further south of campus. We discussed why we may or may not be more inclined to visit certain areas, exploring both the geographical layout of St. Louis and physical roadblocks that may impede accessibility, along with sociocultural barriers.

Though I had to turn in my original map at the end of the activity for an upcoming exhibition Material Monsters is planning on doing with our work, I decided to recreate the map both for your benefit as prospective students and  just because it was so much fun to do. Looking at the map, you can see by the places I’ve highlighted in dark green the trips I take and places I travel everyday, in light green the locales I frequent about once a week, and in orange, about once a month.

I’d like to think I’m well-traveled in St. Louis, but when I look at my map, all I can see is the many places I have yet to visit. At least the bike ride showed me how quickly a WashU student can get to most places in St. Louis by biking, especially my personal favorites, Tower Grove and Cherokee Street. I never used to go by myself, thinking that it was too far away for me to access by bike–now I never have to deprive myself of their spectacular restaurants and art galleries again, knowing that if I just push my pedals a little harder than I normally do, I can get there within twenty minutes.

My Schedule: Fall 2013 Edition

Though it took me a little while to finalize my schedule, I’m happy to report this semester that I’m signed up for an incredible array of classes with some equally incredible professors. I have to say–it’s the quality of teaching at WashU and the mentors I’ve met that have ultimately defined my academic experiences at school, even more so than the awesome classes themselves. On that note, I’m really looking forward to the challenging intellectual experiences my professors are sure to provide me this semester in the following classes:

Introduction to Women and Gender Studies: this interdisciplinary examination of major topics in women’s lives and in the development of feminist theories is a class I’ve been dying to take since I first set foot in WashU. I’m so happy to finally have this class on my registration list!

Creative Nonfiction Writing I: a course designed to introduce students to the fundamental craft elements involved in writing creative nonfiction with attention paid to both literary journalism and personal narrative.

World Literature: This course is an introduction to World Literature in which we will read some of the most influential classics of Western and Eastern traditions. We will study literary texts and films from different parts of the world (Europe, Africa, the Caribbean, Asia, Latin America) while providing an introduction to the concept and practice of comparative literature across historical periods, cultures, and genres. Some of the texts we will read are Dante, INFERNO; Cervantes, DON QUIXOTE; Stendhal, LOVE; Tanizaki, THE KEY; Borges, LABYRINTHS; Lispector, THE HOUR OF THE STAR; Brathwaite, THE ARRIVANTS; and Al Aswany, THE YACOUBIAN BUILDING. We will also watch Kurosawa’s RASHOMON, Antonioni’s BLOW-UP; and Nolan’s MEMENTO.

French Film Culture: French director Jean-Luc Godard once stated: “I pity the French cinema because it has no money. I pity the American cinema because it has no ideas.” This course offers an overview of French cinema, focusing on the factors that have shaped its narrative and non-narrative styles and genres. As Godard’s provocative remarks suggest, French cinema, a rich source of intellectual and artistic innovation, unfortunately lacks the financial stability of Hollywood, and therefore has a very different history. This course addresses the impact of various cultural, political, technological, industrial, and aesthetic contexts on the major developments in France’s national cinema, including the origins of film (Lumière brothers, Méliès), the early art film (L’assassinat du duc de Guise), serial storytelling in the 1910s (Feuillade), the first avant-garde of the 1920s (Un chien andalou), the push for sonic fidelity during the conversion to sound, the avant-garde publicity films and poetic realism in the 1930s, the centralization of production under the German Occupation, the “new avant-garde” (Bresson) and popular genre filmmaking (the film policier) of the postwar era, the emergence of the ethnographic documentary (Rouch), the rise of the politique des auteurs and the nouvelle vague (Godard, Truffaut), the shifts in filmmaking and criticism during the political climate of May ’68, the new prominence of female directors in the 1970s and 1980s (Varda), the hyper-stylized cinéma du look (Besson), the “nationalist” heritage film of the 1980s and 1990s (Germinal), and the blockbuster martial arts film in the 2000s (Kiss of the Dragon). With one of the most significant national industries in world cinema, France has both led the way with new forms and ideas and grappled with the “artisanal” and unstable nature of its production and Hollywood’s global success.

Introduction to Dance as a Creative Art Form: Through practical work in the studio, students will gain an understanding of the human body as an instrument of expression and of motion as the medium of dance. This class will involve technique, analysis and creative work.

Study Abroad 101: This mandatory course will provide essential general and program-specific pre-departure information for students who have applied to study abroad through the College of Arts and Sciences. It must be taken in the semester immediately prior to study abroad. Students must register for both section 01 and the discussion section that corresponds to the program to which they have applied. Students will attend a maximum of 8 classes throughout the semester, with dates specified on a syllabus to be distributed at the beginning of the course.

Topics in Physical Education: Independent Fitness & Conditioning: Students complete fitness testing at the beginning and end of the semester. Individual workout schedules are followed outside of class time.

Hello again!

Hi there, everyone!

It’s great to be back and blogging here at WashU!

I have no idea where the time has gone since my first few days as a freshman on the South 40, but at least I know that the past two years, though they have passed by in a blur, have been fun, challenging, and enriching blurs for me.

Now that I’m blogging as junior, I’m living off-campus, making my own food (or trying to, at least), narrowing down my academic goals, and planning to study abroad. Many things have changed in my life as a student here, but some aspects remain the same: whenever I return to campus my soul is flooded with a sense of gratitude for the opportunities that are offered, the incredible people I’ve met and continue to meet, and the support the university provides to help me realize my goals.

In any case, no matter what has changed, I hope to remain a resource to all incoming and prospective students who’d like to know more about the WashU student experience! I’m always available to answer your questions, and I hope to post frequently about the new experiences coming my way as a junior in college. On that note, if you’d ever like me to profile something in particular in campus, just let me know! I’d love to work on whatever you all are interested in.

I’ll start off my posts this year with a profile of my new apartment in the WashU Co-Op, which is an alternative form of housing off-campus for WashU students. Our community, inhabiting 6015 and 6021 on Pershing, is notable for its environmental and sustainability initiatives, social justice work, and commitment to cooperative living, among other joyous festivities like our potlucks, open-mic nights, and parties.

As is stated on our website, the Washington University Cooperative was created in summer of 2005 by a group of design students who wanted to create a community for students to live, cook, work and celebrate together. They took the basement of 6021 Pershing (“The Perry”) and transformed it into a large communal kitchen, dining room and large living area.

Today the Co-op consists of the 6021 Perry and also the 6021 Larry apartment buildings.  Each apartment has a full kitchen and living room and either two or three single person bedrooms.  But the most important space in the Co-op is the basement of the Perry, where members cook, eat, and hang out together.

The Co-op is committed to intentional communities, individual and group activism, sustainable living, artistic creativity, personal openness, non-judgemental acceptance, and generally having a wonderful time.  People living in the co-op find a community where they can be open and friendly with other members without fear of negativity or cliquiness.

So for all of you prospective students who are interested in the subcultures of WashU, here is some insight into where some alternative groups on campus collect (along with photos of my new digs)!

DSC_0519

This is not to say, however, that I don’t also have plenty to say about my two years on the 40 (which were amazing), so if you ever have questions about either, please feel free to ask :)

[Incredible art featured in this post was made by the incredible Georgia McCandlish of WashU Co-Op Fame.]

Spotted at WashU:

IMG_0281

This llama.

(Photo taken at a portable petting zoo on campus, ostensibly for de-stressing. I forgot who organized it, but I guess that’s ok because LOOK IT’S A LLAMA!)

(Have I ever shared with you how much I like llamas? Because I really like llamas.)

(I actually wrote a ten page report on llamas in the fifth grade. It was titled, “In the Life of a Llama.” It is still my proudest creation to date.)

(But I had never actually seen a llama up close.)

(UNTIL NOW.)

(Thanks, WashU, for helping make my dreams come true.)