A Fresh View: We’re All In Now

Hi everyone! My name is Jee Won Diane Kang and I’ll be your correspondent for A Fresh View this year. This column will chronicle some of my experiences as a freshman at Brown, and will include the highs and lows of that incredible journey.

Hello dear friends, and welcome back to A Fresh View.

I promised I would write about what’s it’s been like taking five classes, so it’s time to put my money where my mouth is.

Let me just preface this by saying that these are just some honest thoughts from my perspective; everyone else is bound to have a different experience, so please take everything said with a grain of salt. That being said, let us venture forth…

As I mentioned just now and in posts past, I am indeed taking five classes this semester. I am currently taking classes in political science, public policy, English, history, and creative writing, which makes for a semester filled with a bunch of reading and writing. I’ve definitely already fulfilled the writing requirement at least five times over. I’m doing tons of reading and writing papers, and as midterm season is already upon us, I find myself really struggling to keep up with the workload of keeping up with my readings and other assignments, especially because a lot of the readings that I keep being assigned are quite dense texts that are not easily skimmed.

While taking five social science/humanities classes is obviously a different ball game when compared to taking five STEM classes, doing either has its own monsters that need to be contended with. Ask a Computer Science major to read a couple hundred pages every night and write a reflective response, and they’d probably pitch themselves off the top floor of the CIT. Ask me to complete a problem set and a lab, and I’d probably throw myself into the Providence River. So, I like to say that there’s no escaping death when it comes to academics: you are just afforded the choice in which how you’d like to die.

Now, I’m sure you’re wondering, how much of that was just hyperbole and exaggeration? Surely, it can’t be that bad…

And your skepticism is totally warranted, because I was definitely overstating the situation. Now, enough stalling: let’s get to the truth of the matter.

ready

Taking five classes is hard, and I don’t want to imply in any way that it isn’t difficult. No matter what combination of classes you take, you’re going to have to develop some really awesome time management skills, and most importantly, you will have to learn how to prioritize.

To start off, I knew that taking five classes would be difficult, so I prepped myself for it the best I could by being realistic with what I could and couldn’t do. I split the work that I’d be doing across the week as evenly as I could, giving myself easier days to relax and rejuvenate. I decided to take some classes pass/fail instead of for a letter grade to ensure that I’d be able to explore something new to the fullest capacity without having to worry too much about what grade I would end up having. I invested in a planner and also started blocking off open spaces in my schedule to divide the time I was spending on assignments. And even though that’s all helpful and really important, the most helpful thing for me is honestly knowing when it’s okay to phone it in to get some rest and to give my brain a chance to recharge. Powering through on empty isn’t good for you, and when you’re burnt out, you need to accept that, give yourself time to recuperate, and keep moving forwards. My Meiklejohn gave me some great advice, which I’ve paraphrased for your convenience: be realistic with yourself about what you feasibly can and cannot do, and do not be disappointed in yourself by the things that are currently beyond you.

Achieving balance among all the different components of my life continues to be an uphill battle, especially since I haven’t eased up on extracurricular activities that I’m involved in. However, I’m glad to be able to have this experience so early on during my time at college; it has provided me with further opportunity to grow, and I while I’m definitely much busier than I used to be, I’m looking forward to the rest of the semester!

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Hopefully I don’t eat my words in the next couple of months…

Stay confident, friends, and I will see you next time!

Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments! You can reach me at jee_won_kang@brown.edu.

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