Jerusalem is Calling

Strolling down to the Old City during the late afternoon is always so beautiful.
20120829-202901.jpg

Singing Hatikva during a tekes at the Kotel (soldiers being sworn in.)20120829-202924.jpg

Advertisements

Why I’m Excited for School

When I was younger, I thought there would be nothing better than a summer which infringed upon long stretches of the school year, in both the beginning and the end. The summer always seemed to slip by so quickly, and I remember many a year in which the summer’s fading rays of twilight delivered another dreaded academic year. This summer was the longest I’ve ever had, and naturally I was thrilled for 3 1/2 months of vacation: over a quarter of a year!

Yet this time I’m excited to go back. In talking to a friend recently, I noted this point, along with the fact that there is something inherently intriguing in anonymously walking in stride with an enormous crowd on campus. One of my favorite things to do on campus is simply people-watching. I get a tremendous kick out of the various people that are rushing by, each enrolled in the same institution, and yet all remain anonymous. Last semester I had a class that was a 20-25 minute walk away, and what passed the time for me was viewing the hordes of people all rushing by, mostly headed to class, some still in pajamas and others dressed to the T, with makeup and heels and curled hair. Sometimes, when it rains, many people walk around barefoot or with just flip flops, even in February!

Whatever the day, weather, or occasion, people-watching on a college campus won’t be disappointing. 

How I Met My Match

I’ve been accused of being an overachiever, and I get death stares in the event that I dare complain about getting a B. I admit it.

During my freshman year and first spring semester at UMD I decided that I wanted to be a junior in the fall, mostly for ranking privileges that are awarded to upperclassmen and which will be extremely helpful to me and almost necessary. I had completed 47 credits (13 of which came from APs), which left 13 to go, and with this in mind I signed up for summer classes.

I met my match.

13 credits and an internship later, I can honestly say that this is one of the first times that I regret being a workaholic. Throughout the summer I was incredibly stressed out, working and trying to do well in my classes, which I took online with Montgomery College because I figured community college would be easier for me since I was taking a large course load. It wasn’t. They were less stimulating, but the sheer amount of work and reading required was absurd, because the professors chose to let us teach the material to ourselves instead of recording lectures. In 5 weeks, I had six papers due, along with the requisite discussion board posts and reading. It left me absolutely no free time, and one night a few weeks ago I stayed up until 1:30 am and woke up at 6:30, because there were simply not enough hours in the day to get everything done. I was more overwhelmed this summer than I was during the school year, which I find rather ironic. And then the bombshell dropped.

I found out that UMD doesn’t list transfer credits on transcripts, nor do transfer grades factor into one’s GPA. Well that was a surprise, considering I only had a week left of classes. I’m pretty sure I earned a B in one of them, but hey, it’s not transferring anyway. Don’t bite me.

The moral of the story here, folks, is that next summer, I plan on taking it easy. Sometimes, jumping on the fast track to nowhere just isn’t worth it. 

Aside

The Social “Sciences”?

The completion of two years of a formal secondary education calls for some serious reflection of the academic world. This summer, I took sociocultural anthropology and American government for specific reasons: I thought that the former would be a breeze, while the latter would teach me what I desperately wanted to know about the basics of our government system. Granted, I entered anthropology with some serious reservations, based on past experiences with the social sciences. I had my first taste of the soft sciences in eleventh grade with A.P. human geography, and in twelfth grade I took A.P. psychology. I’ve since taken sociology, communication theory, and now anthropology, and I can draw some pretty broad, pretty unfavorable conclusions about nearly all of them.

The social sciences, to me, are a conglomeration of academics who have risen to prominence because of the extent of their publishing which analyzes some social aspect in depth and tries to base its research on some fuzzy reconstruction of the scientific method. They conclude that no conclusion can be reached, and that a real resolution is likely a combination of several theories. Yes, this is an overgeneralization. But take introductory psychology: most theories conclude that no conclusion can be drawn, or tell us what we already know. “Tip of the tongue phenomenon” is a “real” psychological concept, which explains that sometimes we forget what we’re about to say, without giving any elucidation or description of why this happens. Then what, pray tell, is the use of these fields?

Next, and what to me is the single most infuriating factor of the soft sciences, is the simple fact that so many things in these fields cannot be proven or disproven, and when presented in a dissertation or as concrete research findings, the theory won’t be rejected so long as it can be verbally substantiated. I’ve written many an academic paper in which I didn’t believe my fundamental thesis, yet I wrote a good argument and earned a good grade. If it can’t be disproven, it’s accepted as factually correct. Every high school student who has taken SATs knows this to be true: a good essay that earns a 12/12 on the standardized test is one that makes a good argument and twists facts to its advantage.

This is all being said, I’d like to point out the merits that I found of my government class. My textbook and my professor were inexplicably impartial, and we learned the facts of how the American government works without the insertion of fluffy theories or untestable models. There was no political correctness involved, dancing around the vulnerable points of specific groups of people and then redeeming their questionable moral and ethical standards on the degrading platform of “cultural diversity”, like my anthropology textbook did this semester.

I could probably write an entire book on why I feel that the social sciences need drastic reform, but for now, here’s a taste of my opinion. I hope that it stimulates thoughts and opinions that you may have previously taken for granted, and gets you thinking a little bit about the world of academia.

 

 

Food Wonders

The beauty of a big breakfast! It always makes my day. Your mom was right when she told you that it would give you the energy to slog through your morning classes. Or work.

This morning I went all out and had 2 bowls of cereal, and then I decided to make a creative sandwich with cream cheese, tomatoes, and avocado. Eat a good breakfast tomorrow-it’ll brighten your morning and leave you energized!