Goodbye, Freshman year!

Hi everyone!

As the 2015 spring semester comes to an end, I would like to take some time to reflect upon the classes I took in the fall and spring. These classes, although very diverse, helped me determine what I want to pursue in these coming years of college as well as figure out what I want to do in my future.

Originally, I applied Early Decision (ED) to Wash U in hopes of being a future doctor (yikes…). Before making my decision to ED Wash U, I even attended the 2013 June Pre-Medical Institute the summer before my senior year in high school.

During this three-week-period, I stayed in one of the modern freshman dorms, Dardick, and attended classes both on campus and in the Medical School. In addition, I ate delicious food and explored the beautiful campus—this experience convinced me to attend Wash U.


“Graduation” certificate from the program!

After being accepted, I researched the pre-med classes that undergraduate students need to take in order to be prepared for medical school. I noticed that General Chemistry and General Chemistry Laboratory are two separate classes. The best thing is, those two classes counted toward the biology major, which is what I wanted to major in.

As a result, for the fall semester, I signed up for the following classes:

General Chemistry

General Chemistry Lab

Writing I (a required course for all Freshman)

Beginning Arabic I (a five-unit course)

MedPrep I– The Lecture Series (a one-unit pass/fail course recommended for all pre-med students)

Symphony Orchestra

Small Chamber Ensembles

Strings (private lesson for violin)

Studying for GenChem...

Studying for GenChem…

GenChem was a tough class that required a LOT of studying outside of class (as seen in the picture above^).

However, the last three courses on my list were more like “electives” than actual classes, since I enjoy playing music. Even though I had fun in those classes, I still had to practice a lot outside of class in preparation for concerts.


First orchestra concert!

After the end of the first semester, I took some time during Winter Break to think about the classes I liked more than the others. Surprisingly, I realized that I prefer classes like Arabic and Writing I (instead of the science classes).

As a result, I made a big decision to no longer pursue pre-med. Now, this part sounds easier than it actually was—I basically had to choose between pursuing a dream I’ve had since I was a little girl and an interest I discovered after one semester of college. I talked to my four-year advisor (a great resource, by the way! I highly recommend going to them for help!), parents, and friends, and they all encouraged me to use freshman year as a time of exploration.

Instead of focusing so much on what to major in/what classes I need to take, I should step out of my comfort zone and take a bunch of classes that interest me.

I looked through the Course Listings page and selected those that sounded “cool.” For example, one class I took in the Spring Semester is “Romantic Revolutions in European Music History and Culture.”

This way, I can figure out a major that interests me!

I ended up taking that advice for second semester. Instead of taking pre-med courses, I switched from the sciences to humanities.

In the spring semester, I signed up for the following classes:

Modern and Contemporary Chinese Literature

Introduction to Traditional and Literary Chinese II

Fifth-Level Modern Chinese II

Romantic Revolutions in European Music History and Culture

Symphony Orchestra

Small Chamber Ensembles


I signed up for two language courses, two humanities courses, and three music courses.

I learned from first semester that although the music classes are one/two unit(s) each, they still take up a LOT of time outside. To better balance out my time, I only had a total of 16 units total (including music).

Additionally, it’s not usually recommended for a student to take two language courses in one semester. Since I already spoke Chinese fluently and only wanted to touch-up on my grammar, my advisor told me that I should go ahead and take both.

I actually enjoyed Chinese so much that I decided to take Chinese next year as well!

My friends and I like to do homework in BD at night, since its open until 3 a.m. on weekends!

Finally, the two humanities courses helped me figure out that I like reading & writing more than math & science. A lot of the concepts I learned in these two classes, moreover, are about social justice, equality, freedom of expression, etc. These topics really interested me. Aside from those topics, I also like the international part of the classes. Since I grew up internationally, I enjoy learning about different cultures and languages.

Eventually, I talked with my advisor one more time, and she introduced me to the International and Area Studies major.

And that is my current major.


Happy Wednesday,

Nancy <3