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My 1995-1996 year of Fun Happy Classes! (Blah!)

Here are the classes which I took my sophmore year at Cornell. Overall this year wasn't that bad, although there were some courses which I had to but had little desire to take. Oh well.

Fall 1995

Here is the schedule that I suffered through for the past 4 months. I survived and I managed to obtain a very respectable GPA which I do not wish to reveal in this medium, although if you ask me, I will gladly tell you. In the Fall of 1995, the hell schedule, which consisted of tons of readings, 13 prelims, and 5 finals looked like this:

  • Chemistry 357: Intro to Organic Chemistry MWF @ 9:05-9:55 AM Baker 200 Prof. Jean Frechet: Well as a prospective future medical student, I have to take this course which introduces me to the world of saturated and unsaturated hydrocarbons and many, and I mean many various types of chemical reactions associated with these organic molecules. Frechet is a really good lecturer who really knows how to lighten up the class with his own brand of humor (i.e. "You want electrons? I'll give you electrons! Here take them!) and unpredictability (as he likes to rag on his mistakes). There are three prelims and a final which were fair test of knowledge learned in lecture and in the text. Readings are not too lengthy as it's more or less self-paced (read when you want to not necessary following the lectures) as there are no problem sets to hand in. However, it is necessary to read the text before a prelim as they do focus on the text. Although chemistry is definitely not one of my main interests in life (not even close), this half of the Intro Orgo sequence was not all that bad.

  • Psychology 101: The Frontiers of Psychological Inquiry MWF @ 10:10-11:00 AM Bailey Hall Prof. James B. Maas: This course just happens to be the largest of all Cornell courses and quite possibly among the largest courses in the country. Psych 101 draws in about 1500-2000 students every fall on Monday, Wednesday and Friday to the steamy (even in winter) Bailey Hall. It is an extremely interesting class, nuff said!! Professor Maas is an excellent lecturer who combines various media to present to the class a broad introduction of the world of psychology, which gets you thinking about your own and other people's mind processes. However, what comes with a broad intro to Psych is the massive amounts of readings that are assigned which if you are a well-disciplined person (and I'm not) you can keep up with. The textbook was at times unstimulating and chapters drag on for pages and pages, while the supplemental readings, for the most part, provided a much needed relief from the monotony of the text. There is quite a bit of memorization for the class and all the exams (2 prelims and a final) are all multiple choice. But for me, I found it to be a great class that bought in much personal insight about myself and my friends.

  • Biology MI 290: General Microbiology Lectures MWF @ 11:15-12:05 PM Riley Robb 125 Prof. Sue Merkel & Prof. Marcia Cordts: It would be rather difficult to find two other people that were extremely excited about Bacteria with a capital B and other microorganisms than Prof. Merkel and Prof. Cordts. The two co-teach the course, switching back and forth at different units throughout the semester, offering an occasional refreshing change of pace. This course is very lecture based, as the readings which come from a $77 textbook are optional. A batch of lecture notes are given for each unit which coincide with the overheads used throughout the lecture, so you just kind of fill them in as you go along. It's a pretty cool course, as the professors are really energetic and friendly. Plus, you get to learn how exciting Bacteria and other one-celled organisms can be. For the most part, I enjoyed it. I recommend this course to anyone with an even remote interest in Microbiology.

  • Biology NB 221: Introduction to Behavior MWF @ 12:20-1:10 PM Uris Hall Auditorium Prof. Tom Seeley & Co. : First of all, if you're not willing to shell out 80 bucks for a course packet for this course, don't take it. Actually, the material presented in lecture was really interesting and simulating (when I was not half dead from running to the class from Riley Robb). The tests I believe were not the greatest in the world which led to my demise in the course. But you do get to learn a heck of a lot of things about animal behavior, especially birds. You know, I learned that birds can just do about everything imaginable and then some. This course is offered independently of Neurobiology (BioNB 222, which I happened to take) so there is no "required two-semester sequence," unless you are planning to concentrate in Neurobiology and Behavior. This course would be great for someone interested in obtaining an understanding of ethology and the research involved. The course does brush on studying human behavior as well, but it was all within the context of the larger animal world. I did learn many great little tidbits from this course, which sometimes shock people I know. The course consists of 2 prelims and a third prelim/cumulative exam during the final exam period. There is a 4 credit option that involves a weekly discussion section and a 5 credit option that consists of an intensive writing component related to the course (these options also hold true for BioNB 222 as well).

  • Psychology 277: Social Construction of Gender and Sexuality TR @ 2:55-4:10 PM Baker 200 Prof. Sandra Bem: This class is normally offered in the Spring semester and is very informative. The content of the course deals primarily with the ways gender and sexuality has been socially constructed (hence the title of the course). Various theories, ranging from biological essentialism to social constructionism, of how our society operates are explored, with insights into various issues (such as rape and homosexuality). Prof. Bem is an excellent lecturer, although she can talk rather quickly. Fortunately, she does repeat herself so that you are able to follow her points. Overall, I found that this course gave interesting insights into feminist theory (some of which I have adapted into my own thinking) and the problems that face the struggle towards achieving true equality for all peoples. She also mentions, in one lecture, the very fascinating way of how she raised her kids. I highly recommend this course.

  • Chemistry 251: Introduction to Experimental Organic Chemistry Lab: R @ 8:00-11:00 AM Baker Lab 301A Prof. Steve Russo: I hate to say it, but chemistry lab can actually be a fun thing. This course was not bad at all for the most part. In Chemistry 207 and 208, the labs were just terrible (many people who took the course this hell course with me can attest to this fact) but here it was definitely more relaxed. The labs themselves were cake compared to the 207-208 labs. There were no formal lengthy lab reports, just a nice little sheet of paper with some questions and results to fill in. The concentration here is to learn procedures and techniques for playing around with organic molecules. And yield was not important so you never had to be completely exact and precise about what you were doing (just very careful!). There is a lecture once a week and Prof. Russo is just such a funny and nice guy from my impressions. The sole prelim in this class was actually the most relaxed one I ever taken at Cornell.

  • Spring 1996:

    Well, it's been awhile since I have taken these courses, so my memory may be a little bit sketchy on the precise content. But here are some general thoughts on each course.

  • Chemisty 358: Intro to Organic Chemistry MWF @ 9:05-9:55 AM Baker 200 Prof. John McMurry:
    Seriously folks, unless your are serious about wanting to go to medical school, a biology or chemistry major, or have a strong liking towards Chemistry, this course will not be a happy one for you. Actually it may or may not be a happy course if you are one of the aforementioned people. This half of organic chemistry sequence is the dreaded one. There are reactions upon reactions on top of more reactions. An example: How do you get from compound A to compound B, using only reagents C and D and organic molecule E. Before you run off and start memorizing every single reaction, you should realize that overall, there are about 4 or 5 reaction mechanisms that are popularly used in this course. Once you realize what they are, it becomes less of a pain (but it still is a pain). Prof. McMurray is less enthusiastic than Prof. Frechet and I found his teaching rather tiring after a few weeks. He became more monotonous as the semester went on. Definitely not a class to choose as an elective (so why the heck did I choose it as an elective. Oh well.). So, don't take it unless you have to. Sometimes I wonder if the honors Orgo Chem sequence 359-360 might have been worth it. There are less people in the class but that can have its disadvantages. Hmm....

  • German 123: Continuing German Lec. M @ 9:05-9:55 AM Morill 106, Section TWRF @ 10:10-11:00 AM Morill 410 Prof. David Hobbs: I thought the third semester of German would be terrible and difficult so I took it S/U. If I took it for letter, the class would have brought up my GPA (Oh well, in the end grades don't matter). Overall, I enjoyed learning German yet again. I had some fun in the class, although it is quite a bit of work. Prof. Hobbs leads the two sections, which is the major component of the course. There were weekly progress quizzes and much covering the basic reading, writing, and speaking skills required in better understanding and communicating in a language.

  • Women Studies 206: Gender & Society MWF @ 11:15-12:05 PM Warren 251 Prof N. Glasgow: This course was similar to Prof. Bem's course, and in a way I would have liked to have taken this course first before I took the Social Construction of Gender. This course gives you an overall perspective of feminist theories and gender issues. Prof. Glasgow was not a very good lecturer though. Half the time, she did not appear to know where she was in her outline and she did not speak very effectively. Luckily, I found the sections to be a great outlet for actually learning the material as well as for some stimulating discussions about gender issues (only on days when the group was in the mood to talk, of course). Overall, the course content is good, but the professor just did not satisfy me with her teaching skills.

  • Biology NB 222: Introduction to Neurobiology MWF @ 12:20-1:10 PM Uris Hall Auditorium Prof. Miriam Salpeter & Co: This is the second semester the introductory neurobio and behavior courses. This class has a particular focus on the neurobiology aspect of the field, which includes some involvement with chemistry and physics and is therefore considered to be the more difficult of the two. While this does seems true 90% of the time, it still is an interesting course. This course is taught by a number of neurobiology professors each discussing their speciality within the field. The course covers a broad spectrum of topics involved with neurobiology, including neural systems, electrical properties of neurons (this part happened to be the most confusing and the most boring part of the course for me and as far as I can tell, most of the Uris Auditorium), neurochemistry, sensory systems, learning and memory, and most importantly of all, the effects of various environmental stimuli on various sensory systems. In one meeting, Prof. R. Harris-Warrick gives an unbiased look at the neurological effects of some common street drugs as well as some nice poisons. I did learn quite a bit from this lecture and other lectures as well. While this course was more intense than BioNB 221, 222 was just as fun. The Human Brain Coloring Book was used as a study aide for the basic structures and functions and it was nice to express my artistic side in a course like this. BioNB 222 may be taken independently of BioNB 221 and if you had to choose just one and was more interested in biological structure and function, then take this course. It's the same basic format as 221 as there are 2 prelims and a combined third prelim/final. I also think I gained more insight into figuring out various neurological and genetic disorders through this course thanks to Prof. Booker's lectures.

  • Biology & Society 206: Ethics and the Environment TR @ 11:40-12:55 PM Baker 135 Section W 1:25-2:15 PMProf. S. Hilgartner: Bio & Society 206 is one of the two options available to me to fulfill my ethics requirements for Biology & Society. This also happened to be a rather confusing course for me. Prof. Hilgartner was an okay lecturer but at times he would whiz by a comment that just did not make sense to me. The course has good intentions, but I am not a very philosophical person myself, so I found the discussions to be pointless at times and just plain bleak at other times. It starts off with a basic grounding on ethics and then moves on to apply this background toward environmental issues. There is an exploration into various environmental problems using different ethical principles. I'm not really sure what I got out of this course, except that it just made me think how difficult it is to solve problems in the world with many different beliefs out there and the need to work together to see what outcomes are feasible for all.
  • PLUS: I also took Advanced Beginning Swimming for P.E. on TR @ 1:30-2:15 in Helen Newman Hall in order to get off my butt and be a little bit active. And I did end up going running towards the end of the semester with Brigitte, so I did do more than just bum around and do nothing during the evening. Thank you Brigitte :).

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