Reflections on My Spring 2014 Semester

This year’s extracurricular activities and involvement

K.A.R.L. Improv, as usual 🙂

Fun fact: Spring Awakening‘s Tony Award-winning writer, Steven Sater, is a WashU alum.

I also saw several performances put on by WashU’s various theatre groups. First, I saw the Performing Arts Department’s performance of Spring Awakening. The show was stunning, and there must have been some onion-chopping ninjas in the audience because I cried a few times. Then, I saw Black Anthology’s 25th anniversary show, Post-, which was sooo good. It was about WashU’s black history and the experience of being black at WashU. So much of Post- echoed the same thoughts I’ve had as a student here. StudLife wrote an article about it, if you’d like to read more. Next, I saw the PAD’s hilarious You Can’t Take it With You. Lastly, I saw AST’s (All Student Theatre) production of Neil Simon’s Rumors. If you’ve ever visited WashU in the spring and wondered why there are large wooden constructions and a tent by the stage in front of Brookings Quad, the answer is AST. AST does their performances outside, so the cast and crew take shifts watching the set, even overnight!

I also got more involved with ABS (Association of Black Students) and ASA (African Students Association). The general assembly meetings I’ve been to have always had stimulating discussions, and both groups have fun annual events such as ABS Formal and the ASA Fashion Show.

Spring 2014 Courses Recap

 First-Level Modern Japanese II — The second semester of Japanese is much more difficult than the first semester. It’s great though because you learn so much in just eight months.

Linguistics and Language Learning — This class is taught by the outstanding Professor Cindy Brantmeier, who just got the new Applied Linguistics major approved. I switched from the Linguistics major to the Applied Linguistics major as soon as it was available.

The Craft of Poetry: Writing as Social Media: Digital Tools for Poets — I didn’t think I was a poetry person until I took this class. There’s a lot of cool art being made in the world of contemporary poetry. The social media component of the class was the icing on the cake. Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, even Instagram — nothing was off-limits as we talked about poetry in the digital age.

Resources of the Earth — I took this class because I needed something for Art Sci’s Natural Sciences and Mathematics (NSM) graduation requirement. It didn’t feel like I was “just filling a requirement” though; I was really excited to take a class that was outside the fields I usually study. Professor Jill Pasteris is an excellent professor with an impressive knowlege of the earth and the environment.

Introduction to Semantics — You know when a sentence doen’t sound right, but you just can’t put your hand on why? Did that last sentence sound weird to you? That’s because I said “hand” instead of “finger.” In this class, you’ll learn about the nuances of communication and meaning in language. Be prepared to second-guess what is acceptable speech and what is not as you analyze the linguistic patterns that you use everyday.

Creating Video Documentaries — I am now the proud writer, producer, and director of a short documentary. Working on my documentary was like taking care of a baby: it was annoying at times, but I still loved it. It’s called Coming Out, and it focuses on the stories of 8 students, including myself. Not all the coming out stories are about sexual orientation. Some of them focus on explaining a change of religious beliefs to your family, while others are about being open about having a mental disorder.

My Courses for Fall 2014 

Second-Level Modern Japanese I
Sociology of Education
Exposition (Writing 311)
Physics and Society
Second Language Acquisition and Technology
Language, Culture and Society

Personal review of how spring semester went

Through a lot of work–and a bit of luck–I got an internship this summer at a film music company!

I think this semester was my favorite semester at WashU so far. It’s also the semester where I took the most credits (20 credits. I do not not not* recommend this for freshmen), and somehow it turned out to be the semester where I got the best grades. That was a pleasant surprise because I was worried at the beginning of the semester about how I would cope with so many credits. It had to be done though because of my crazy graduation plan, which I will explain in a bit.

I also did a lot of thinking about what I wanted to do after graduation. I went to a career fair in the fall, got a mentor through the Spin-IT program, and did some informational interviews with film industry professionals. Remember when I talked with Brad Short and Holli Kubly, my Spin-IT mentor, about music supervision? Well, I decided I wanted to make that a reality. Through a lot of work–and a bit of luck–I got an internship this summer at a film music company! I’ll be blogging about that this summer, so stay tuned. 🙂

*three negatives is still a negative. Don’t do it.

My high and low points of the school year

My low point was when I had my major crisis. Not major as in “big,” major as in “the main thing you study in college.” I came to WashU as a Linguistics and Computer Science double major, but I ended up dropping the Computer Science major this semester. I was really reluctant to change my plan because I felt that by doing so I would be giving up.
“I don’t have to play into the ‘everyone changes their major in college’ stereotype,” I thought. Plus, there was parental pressure not to change it.
It was a tough decision, but that’s what I did.

My high point was when I got an internship through Twitter, but that’s a story for another time!

What lessons did I learn?

Protip: Bear Bucks are cheaper than meal points because Bear Bucks are dollar for dollar, while each meal point costs more than a dollar.

1. The secret to the meal point plan is to buy the bronze plan and then add money when you run out. (Freshmen are required to buy the silver plan, but you can do this sophomore year.) I decided to get the bronze plan because it’s cheaper than the silver, and I calculated that even if you add enough Bear Bucks to make the points equivalent to the silver plan, you’d still save some money. But there’s an even better solution than adding Bear Bucks to the bronze plan when you run out — buying meal points from other students. Some students end up with hundreds of extra meal points at the end of the semester, so they sell them for a discounted price. WashU Dining Services allows the transfer of meal points between students, so it’s actually pretty convenient. Near the end of spring semester, I bought 200 meal points for $60. Not bad at all!

2. Keep track of your graduation requirements yourself; don’t just count on your advisors to do it for you. When I met with my major advisor during registration period, she said my graduation plan looked fine. Two weeks before the semester ended, I double checked and noticed the credits didn’t add up. I realized I was actually two classes short! I met with my advisor again, and we were able to make adjustments to my plan.

What I wish I had known before starting sophomore year

1. If you want to live off-campus in housing that is not WashU housing, start early to look for apartments.

2. A budget is your friend. I didn’t really watch where my money was going during fall semester, which led to some unnecessary purchases. When I started a budget at the beginning of spring semester, it was really helpful to be able to keep track of everything. I downloaded a template from Bank of America, but other banks probably offer them as well.

What I will do differently next semester

1. I’m living off-campus in the WashU Co-Op!

2. Explore St. Louis more and partake in any WashU tradition that I haven’t experienced yet. Next year will be my last year on campus :/

So far, the most challenging aspect of college has been

Figuring out how to get all my requirements for a major, two minors, and the IQ curriculum done in three years instead of four. It’s possible; you just have to plan very carefully. I’m planning to spend my senior year abroad in Japan (!!!), so I need to make sure I have everything finished before I go.

My most rewarding experience this semester has been

Probably making my documentary! I also enjoyed doing informational interviews. I was able to talk to and learn from working professionals without the pressure of being scrutinized for a job or internship. The Career Center has good tips and resources for how to conduct an informational interview.


So there you have it! Sophomore year went well overall, and now I’m now halfway done with college. Where does the time go?