HOD, English, & Chinese: My Academic Interests
Hey guys! I’m super excited to say that this is my first post here on Inside ‘Dores, and I hope that I can provide some useful snapshots into my life as a Vanderbilt student going forward. To introduce myself, I’m a sophomore from Bellevue, Washington double majoring in Human and Organizational Development (HOD) and English with a minor in Chinese.
To address what you’re probably thinking:
- Yes, this does sound like a lot
- Yes, I can still graduate in 4 years
- Yes, I still have time to sleep at night and have a social life
Now that we have the basics covered, how did I end up with this combination of academic interests? Well, to start off, I came into Vanderbilt with a lot of AP credit (25 hours’ worth, to be exact), which meant that I was able to get a lot of the liberal education core for my major out of the way, and begin taking major/minor-only classes by my sophomore year. Peabody in particular accepts more high school credit than the College of Arts & Science, so that was also part of my motivation in making HOD my primary major.
The main thing that attracted me to HOD was the skill set that I’d be able to gain. You can read more about HOD on its website, but essentially, as an HOD major I knew that I would be able to walk away with strong speaking, reading, and writing abilities by learning to apply human-centered theories to real-world settings. I’ve always been interested in how people think and act, and I found HOD to be the perfect major to explore this combination of interests through a practical lens. For example, I took HOD 1300: Small Group Behavior last semester, and it was a class entirely made up of group projects (either awesome or the stuff of nightmares), and it totally changed the way I think about group dynamics and how to function in a small group.
I was a pretty passionate reader as a kid (per minute I literally did, and continue to, read faster than anyone else in my family), but as my classes became more intense in high school, I found myself losing motivation. Reading for fun didn’t seem as attractive when
I had a couple hundred pages of Jane Eyre to get through first. But I still remembered how it felt to be pulled into a novel, so during this past semester I decided to take my first few English classes at Vanderbilt. It was definitely rough at first. Whether it was trying to grind through Eliot’s Middlemarch or endlessly confusing poems from Byron and Shelley, I felt lost and uncertain about the subject that I thought I had loved. This was a new approach to reading, and I wasn’t sure that I was cut out for it. But over the semester, as I slowly learned to understand Victorian prose and analyze poetic form, I found myself returning again and again to the works that I was reading in class. I wanted deeply to understand, because nothing was more thrilling than finally making a breakthrough in understanding what a single line or phrase or word meant. English is hard and frustrating sometimes, but I love it. And that’s why it’s my second major.
I grew up with my parents speaking Chinese to me, but I only spoke English back (you could say that I was a bit of a stubborn kid). As a result, I would say that my listening comprehension is decent, but my speaking abilities in my first semester of Chinese? Well, the less said the better. But, like with English, I’ve always wanted to become better. My high school didn’t offer Chinese, so this was the first opportunity that I’d ever had to study Chinese in a formal classroom setting. And it has been a discouraging one at times with the difficulty of the language, but I continue to come back to it anyways because it’s indescribably rewarding, and I can see the progress that I am (slowly) making in being able to speak increasing amounts of Chinese with my parents. That sense of gratification is the reason why I picked up Chinese as a minor. I also have to mention—the Asian Studies department, and the Chinese concentration within it, is relatively small. But, that also guarantees small class sizes and close relationships with professors, and I’ve had an awesome time taking Chinese with what feels like a tightly-knit cohort of peers, taught by the same set of professors each semester.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you (seriously), and I hope that you’ve enjoyed my breakdown of how I’ve found my academic interests at Vandy. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to ask any questions you might have about Vanderbilt, college, or life in general at my email: firstname.lastname@example.org