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A ‘First’ Class Semester

Posted by on Wednesday, November 26, 2014 in Academics, College Life, Economics, Freshman Life, Studying, Teachers.


As this semester draws to a close (and before the hurricane of finals week arrives!), I thought it would be a good idea to tell y’all (yes, I have indeed succumbed to the southern lingo) about my first classes at Vanderbilt as well as the amazing professors I have had the pleasure of being taught by.

In this fall semester, I decided to take just 14 credit hours or 4 classes to keep my first semester manageable. All these classes are offered by different departments, allowing me to make the most of the liberal arts curriculum at Vanderbilt. My classes are:

  • Econ 100 (Principles of Macroeconomics). I intend to major in Econ and if you’re an Econ major at Vandy, chances are that you will have taken this intro level class with none other than, the one and only, LEGEN….wait for it…DARY Professor Buckles ( I just had to thrown in a Barney Stinson reference!). I have taken macroeconomics in high school before and I was worried that this course would not present me with any new concepts. How wrong I was! We revisited the familiar concepts of demand, supply, monetary policy, fiscal policy, exchange rates and international trade. However, Professor Buckles ties different concepts in economics seamlessly and urges his students to constantly delve deeper into economic concepts. We connected the course material to the latest economic news in the world and this practical approach helped me better understand issues such as unemployment, inflation, foreign exchange etc. This course is NOT an easy A, even if you have take Econ before. Professor Buckles challenges you in every lecture, midterm and paper, and he expects you to explain each and every step of an economic process in detail. This is a good thing. This course has stimulated me intellectually and made me appreciate economics even more. Professor Buckles is a legend at Vandy. Even though his lectures seat over a hundred students, his engaging and creative explanations of economic issues command the attention of all those present in Wilson 103. In one class, he used magic/sleight of hand to demonstrate the creation of money by banks and in another, he held an auction for oranges to demonstrate the law of demand (one girl ended up paying $20 for one orange!). I highly recommend this class to anyone who wishes to learn economics in an engaging, creative and thought-provoking way. I have also enriched this course and I am working closely with Professor Buckles on a research paper, examining the growth paths of India and China, and connecting it to the course material.
  • Spanish 100. To be honest, I only took this course to fulfill the Foreign Language proficiency requirement of AXLE. Yet, after taking it, I have fallen in love with Spanish and I will definitely take more courses in it. Apart from learning the basics of Spanish grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary, I also got the chance to learn about Spanish speaking countries and their culture. Every Wednesday, we are given a cultural assignment to work on. So far, I have studied about Latin American music, painters, names, films, festivals, traditions and architecture. The cultural knowledge I have gained from this course has inspired me to take an honors seminar on ‘Public Opinion in Latin America’ next semester. During Halloween, our Spanish class celebrated the Mexican festival ‘Día de los muertos’ ( the day of the dead) by decorating sugar skulls in Rand, a refreshing break from regular classes.
My pitiable attempt at decorating a sugar skull!

Professor Forehand is a graduate student at Vanderbilt and her helpfulness, creativity ( she used the Kardashians to help us learn names of family members in Spanish!) and warmth have made her one of my favorite professors at Vandy. Ella es la mejor!

  • Calculus 150A (Single Variable Calculus). I had taken a LOT of calculus before in high school, so this course was fairly manageable. I got the chance to revisit concepts and brush up on basics in preparation for my intended math major (if I can survive the dreaded math major!). My professor Sam Corson and my TA Sahana Balasubramanya are excellent resources and are eager to help students succeed in this course. I will take Math 150B next semester in my calculus sequence ( and then 170, 175 and so on…more math!)
  • Women and Gender Studies 115F. This is my first year writing seminar titled ‘Love and Marriage’. Even though it is a WGS class, it is taught by Professor Kinard of the English Department. In this seminar, we studied the familiar works of Shakespeare and Jane Austen, but with a WGS viewpoint. I also got the opportunity to explore the works of Henrik Ibsen, Emma Goldman, John Cheever, Alice Munro and many other renowned authors and poets. This class was a very tight knit group of 15 freshmen and thus we got the opportunity to interact with each other in an engaging and stimulating way. Through this class, I also got the opportunity to develop my writing skills. I am sure most of the students at Vanderbilt are good writers. The billions of college application essays we wrote are a testament to this fact! Yet, professors expect so much MORE when you present your arguments on a few pieces of paper. Your introduction, thesis, main arguments, conclusion and the dreaded citations ( all hail Purdue OWL)  have to reflect a certain level of sophistication and maturity. The Writing Studio is an immensely helpful resource that can assist you during the development of your paper. Of course, your professor is the BEST resource to utilize when you get stuck in the writing process. Going to Professor Kinard’s office hours enabled me to get a clearer idea of the direction of my essay and thus expedite my writing process (I am one of those people who work on a first draft weeks before the essay is due). In this class, I wrote papers on a wide range of topics: Disney fairy tales, Bridget Jones, Elizabeth Bennet, Ibsen, Goldman and the concept of marriage. We also got the opportunity to examine films such as Pride and Prejudice (1995 and 2005), Bridget Jones’s Diary, 10 things I hate about you, and others (a paradise for a movie geek like me).

So this was all about my first semester classes. Even though I do hear complaints about the strict requirements of AXLE, I personally have enjoyed taking the different courses it offers and exploring diverse fields of study. I will write more about my second semester classes in a few weeks.


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