Classes for Spring 2012: A Detailed Look

The tradition of listing and describing my classes for each semester of high school and university since this blog's existence has been a long one, but the protocol hasn't been consistent. I did it late last September for my classes in Strasbourg, for example, but for the semester before that (Spring '11 at Georgetown) I rattled off my classes in early December 2010, as soon as I found out my registration had been fully successful and I'd gotten a full course load.

For this spring semester I also got a full schedule - every class I asked for (and I realize I'm quite lucky for that). This time, though, I've waited till now - after over a week back on campus - to get around to listing the courses. It's an eclectic mix - and though at first glance it might seem there wouldn't be any overlap between subjects, I'm already finding a fair bit. Anyway, here they are:

  • International Finance
  • Tradition et Modernité en Afrique francophone
  • The History of Modern Korea in Northeast Asia
  • Wealth and Poverty: The History of Development
  • Native Americans Making North America

IFinance has in its first three sessions dealt with a few interesting topics, namely exchange rates, currency markets and derivatives. As you may know, I'm not much of an "economics person," and at times I find it difficult (or loathsome) to "buy into" the mindset of traders, financiers and big businesses. Nevertheless, I understand these are important things to know, and I get the impression that I'll be a lot more familiar with economics for the rest of my life after having done these four required courses than most of the public is.

I chose my French class last, after having picked out the other four, and I'm really glad I decided to take it. Sure, taking French isn't required for me now, since I will certainly be put down as having fulfilled by foreign language proficiency requirement once my grades come back from Strasbourg, but all the same I am very glad to get to speak and listen to French for at least two and a half hours per week. I think it would have been saddening to go back to a 100% English life after just coming back from France. Concerning the class itself, I am always very interested in Africa and African history, and I don't think a little literature (which this course will be based on) hurts every once in a while. I'd much rather look at French literature than English.

As to my class on Korea, I will say that it has now become a goal of mine to seek out "virgin history." I don't mean that in any perverse way - I just mean that I've found it very enjoyable at Georgetown, in Strasbourg and elsewhere to explore histories which were up to that point unknown to me. The only Korean history I ever remember learning in school was a little bit in my AP World History class, and there Korea was placed in the context of a periphery state of China - a tributary member of China's international system, along with Vietnam and to a lesser extent Japan. Now that time period and political characterization is but a jumping off point to learning about modern Korea, and I look forward to looking at things in the coming months that I know nothing about, namely Japanese domination of Korea and the Korean (Civil) War.

Wealth and Poverty is a seminar that seems entirely designed for me. There's only been one session of it so far, yesterday, and that hour of introduction certainly can't be taken as indicative of how the whole semester will go, but nonetheless the course is centered exactly on my self-designated theme for my major: the history of poverty. I am very glad that my professor is foremost a historian, so the goal of this class - to place wealth, poverty, and development across the globe into historical context - conforms precisely with what I outlined as my specific goal within my major of international history. Besides all that, discussion among the other students in the class should be lively and enjoyable, and I really look forward to starting it.

Along those same lines, I am taking another seminar as well, this one about Native Americans. Though the title indicates something more holistic, the course is actually centered only on those peoples who inhabited the area from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec up to what are today the southwestern and south-central states of the U.S. (It seems I have been again tricked into taking a course about Mexico - just like in my freshman year.) That doesn't bother me too much, though: I know that there is tons of interesting, new and revisionist history to be discussed, and we will in fact be having that discussion for the first time in just about a half hour. I'm all prepared and I can't wait. All my classes have interesting facets to them, and as long as my interest is satisfied and perpetuated, I know I'll do well in the classes.