Thursday, February 19, 2009

My college visit - Part 1!

Morning Lecture

Like I mentioned yesterday, my morning started off with me going to Professor Walter Mcdougall's class on "History of International Relations since WWI." 

What made me decide to visit this professor, who is in the history department and not in either field of my interest (political science or business)? As it so happens, my government/economics teacher in high school mentioned one of his favorite college professors from when he was at UC Berkeley. When he also told us that the professor, Dr. Mcdougall, had moved to teach at Penn, I knew I had to go to one of his lectures myself! 

So after grabbing some Starbucks for breakfast, I went to the Department of History in College Hall to try and find his classroom. When I asked for help in the office, I was told he was in the Arch Crest! (Where?!? And class is starting in 10 minutes?!?) After the lady at the desk gave me some descriptions, I realized the Arch in Arch Crest was referring to the Arch building. I was off, and thankfully found the right room quickly.

Professor Mcdougall kindly allowed me to stay for his lecture, and sit in. I thought his history class was definitely unlike any I had and have in high school; it was extremely an indepth and detailed analysis of the subject. Dr. Mcdougall was also very passionate about his subject, and I had fun listening to him. The phrases he used that I liked best were "heard the ominous drumbeats of another war," and "a storm brewing and crashing."

Almost everyone was taking notes during the lecture, and most students had laptops. I sat in between two very contrasting individuals: the person on my left was extremely dilligent and never ceased her note taking for the entire class, while the person on my right was constantly sighing and texting. Observing these two and getting the general feel of the entire class was a very good experience for me. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to experience being in a real college class, with actual students around me. I could see that responsibility and independance were an important part to succeeding: the material was presented, but it is up to the student to absorb the information and actually learn it. In this kind of environment, a student is not just learning what to think, but how to think.

At the end of class, I thanked the professor and we talked a little bit about where I was from. He was very surprised and delighted when I told him why I had came to sit in his class. He also told me he remembered my government/econ teacher's name, which my teacher will be very happy to hear about. =)

Lunch and Self-Tour

My mom and I had lunch at the White Dog Cafe, after which I took her on a tour of campus. 

I said the weather was like Cali weather yesterday, but not today! Today it was COLDDD! 

Shrimp Mac and Cheese, Freezing in front of the Quad, Inside Leidy Labs, College Hall

I'll save my reunion with June, her class, and our night out for tomorrow! 


1 comment:

Don Gosney said...


Another outstanding retelling of a visit. Your blog posting is a great example of what we’re after. I won’t go so far as to write that through your words we felt your cold but it was a great retelling nonetheless.

Being a hunt and peck typist, it’s hard for me to imagine all of these students typing out their notes on their laptops. It’s a different world. [Please note how I refrained from mentioning how in my day we took notes using clay tablets with the rich kids taking their notes on papyrus.]

It’s so very easy, Susan, to be enamored with a specific field of study and to focus all of your attentions on classes in that field but many years ago the wise university administrators learned the value of a broad and diverse education and put in requirements for every student to take at least a handful of classes outside of their field of interest. A wise decision on their part. It helps to make the student a more ‘well rounded’ person.

I hope you and your Mom are enjoying seeing the East Coast in the dead of winter (although Spring’s right around the corner). Seeing the photo of you all trussed up in your winter finery makes me appreciate seeing the sun out of my window.

If you get a chance, Susan, ask your mother to weigh in with a blog posting. It’d be nice to read about the experience through her eyes, too.