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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A Delayed Commentary on Returning Back to School

Hopefully everyone who wanted to read my vacation reports has, because I’m going to start updating on what I hope to be a regular basis. Like last year, I’m going to try to write or post something during the days that I’m least busy, generally Fridays or Saturdays.

I’ve been back at UND for a whole three and a half weeks now, having moved in on Saturday, August 19th. Classes started the following Tuesday, the 22nd, and so far everything has been going well. I was actually surprised to find out what a difference having already spent a year here made. Everything that took some time to figure out last year, like what all of the names of the buildings are, how many minutes it takes to walk between two points on campus, and what the daily specialty bar items at the dining centers are, I already intimately knew. Additionally, in contrast from last year, I knew people or recognized faces right from the first day. The result of all of this was that the enjoyment of discovering something new pretty much every day for the first few weeks was gone. Instead, I essentially just settled into an everyday routine a whole lot faster than I did last year.

Now I know I posted my schedule shortly after I registered for this semester last fall, but, even so, I doubt anybody remembers that far back. So, once more, here are the classes I have:

8:00-8:50 M,T,W,F Organic Chemistry I
9:00-9:50 M,T,W,F University (calc-based) Physics I
11:00-11:50 M,W,F German III
12:30-14:30 T Metrology I Lab
15:00-18:00 W Organic Chemistry Lab
18:00-19:30 T,Th Meteorology I
19:00-22:00 W Physics Lab

Let’s do this in a list format.

Organic Chemistry – Without a doubt, this has been my favorite class for the past 3 1/2 weeks. I have really enjoyed learning what I have so far, although I’m in no ways surprised that I ended up liking this class so much. After all, chemistry is the subject I’m attempting to get a major in. It’s also worth noting that, from what I’ve heard, the professor teaching this class this semester is a whole lot better than some of the ones that have taught the class in the past. Unlike some of the past professors, the guy teaching this semester actually speaks English without too much of an accent. If you listened to him, you would be able to tell he comes from Russia, but, still, you would likely be able to understand everything he was saying just fine. Besides that, he seems like a pretty easy person to go to get help, and, so far, he’s been able to explain everything in his lectures to my liking. He also can be quite humorous at times, which is a good thing at 8 in the morning.

Physics – Like I pretty much already knew, I don’t care for physics that much. Perhaps my problem right now is that I’m not learning too much new material; most of what the professor has lectured on in class has just included things I either learned about in high school physics or in some form of chemistry course. The one thing I have to look forward to in physics is its generous grading scale – any grade that falls within 80-100% is considered an A. Along with that, the professor drops the lowest test score and the four lowest quiz scores when calculating final grades. Other sections of Physics 251 have a more common grading scale.

German – German III at UND seems to be like a mirror image of German II, with the only difference being that different professors teach the two courses. German III basically consists of reading short stories out of the textbook or from printouts that the professor hands out, writing a short essay every week, and completing grammar-related exercises in the textbook. Along with that, we usually form groups of 2 in class and take 5 or 10 minutes to discuss a pre-planned topic. With only 11 students, German III is by far my smallest class. Unless you count labs (which are generally limited to no more than 20 students), all of the other classes I have this year are housed in large lecture halls that seat no less than 50 and no more than 150.

Meterology – If you recall what I mentioned last spring, I decided to take this class largely out of interest. Right now, I can tell you that I am highly satisfied I am in this class, since I do think the subject matter is interesting. With a total of 124 enrolled students, meteorology is the largest class I have. In total, there are some 400 students at UND who are taking ATSC 110 – Meteorology I. The main reason why so many people take Meteorology I is because the class is a requirement for most of those who are pursuing some sort of aviation major through UND’s well-known School of Aerospace Sciences. As far as my class goes, I’m sort of an anomaly. Not only am I not a freshman, but I am also not majoring in aviation. The fact that I’m not involved in an aviation program is made acutely aware when I look around in class and see that I’m one of only a handful of people who doesn’t have one of those Dell laptops that the Aviation Department supplies to every incoming student majoring in aviation.

Labs – I haven’t really had enough labs to form an opinion on them yet, so I won’t say much. With that said, I can say right now that, like last year, chemistry labs will probably be a lot of work for just one measly credit. The other two labs I have, in physics and meteorology, shouldn’t be too hard, although I may end up aggravated with my physics lab. Apparently the Physics Department at UND is in the process of its labs to a model developed by the University of Minnesota, and the students enrolled in physics labs this semester are sort of the guinea pigs to see how well the new system works. So far, lab assignments have appeared rather disorganized and appreciably vague. All I can do right now is hope all the kinks are worked out within the next few weeks.

I thought I would absolutely hate having class at 8 AM four days a week, but so far I haven’t had too much of a problem. I really enjoy how my schedule is laid out this year. Being done with class at noon on Mondays and Fridays is a great way to start and end the week, and, of course, not having class until 6 PM is wonderful on Thursdays. Tuesdays and, in particular, Wednesdays, are busy, but at least I can get all the labs out of the way by the middle of the week.

That’s my report for this week. Next time I decide to write something, I’ll post some excellent aerial photographs of UND that I found over the summer. If you’ve never been to Grand Forks or seen the campus, you’ll want to stop on by to see what everything looks like.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad you are back at school. summer went by way to fast. take care sw

Thu Sep 14, 12:36:00 PM CDT  
Blogger Houley said...

My OChem prof is pretty sweet as well, which really helps in the 6-9pm weekly lecture...

Tue Oct 10, 01:48:00 AM CDT  

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Mitch's Blog began on December 23, 2001