Monday, September 24, 2007

September 18-20

I started classes on Tuesday. My two classes Tuesday were Thermodynamics and a humanities class called Media, Communication, and culture. At first it was very difficult. I had no idea what was going on. There was a girl in Thermo. That helped me out some. That was nice. Also, I introduced myself to the professor, and he was very helpful and eager to aid me as he could. I appreciate that. My humanities class was a big lecture. For the first year of humanities, students take four different courses. Each one is only half a semester and is not that intensive. It is mostly just a seminar for students to see what areas they like the best. Then in the second and third years, students take the two humanities classes of the four that they liked best. Those classes are more in depth. I will be taking Music History for the second half of the semester. Since the professor of this class was a communications professor, her PowerPoint was very clear and helpful for taking notes.
Wednesday, I had Electrotechniques. For the most part it was a review of what I have already done in Physics, which was nice for the first day. I think it will be a valuable class, especially for Nondestructive Engineering applications.
Thursday, I had my first class for Intro to Materials Science. This is another first year course, but it transfers back as a required course for AerE, which is very nice. After my materials class, I had a recitation for Thermodynamics. Usually, each course only meets one time a week for about three hours. For each hour there is a 15 minute break that many students use for having a smoke. Two of the hours are lecture and the third is a recitation. During the recitation, the professor passes out problems that students work on together. There are also assistants present to help out as needed. There are no assigned problems to work on outside of class, so I’m learning to study differently.
I didn’t have to buy any books for this semester. That’s very nice. I did have to buy two polycopiés though. Basically they are just packets, (like mini-textbooks) that professors put together of printouts of all of the notes they will be using. For thermo, my Xchange buddy loaned me his book. He’s a master’s student now, and doesn’t need the book. The bookstore doesn’t really have a buyback program though, so he’s stuck with it. It was very generous of him to loan it to me.
I have yet to seen any marker boards; all of the classrooms that I have seen have chalkboards. There are about three chalkboards stacked together, and when the professor has filled one, he can slide it up and write on the one behind it, this way he doesn’t have to erase everything all the time. I think chalkboards are superior to marker boards. One might argue that they are messier, but I don’t really believe that is true. Dust is just as prevalent for dry erase markers as it is for chalk. Also, with chalk, the professor doesn’t have to waste 5 or 10 minutes trying to figure out which marker works. I appreciate that.
It became easier and easier to understand the French as the week went on. Now that I have my books and my polycopiés to study, it will be even easier. Not that it is easy yet, just easier.
I have another class on Monday; Composite Polymers. I’m excited for this class. I’m intrigued by composites and look forward to learning about them. I will also be starting my French class next week, but it isn’t until Thursday.

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