This summer is either a waste of time or a fulfilling experience of German, PoliSci classes, lots of cooking, little reading, and even fewer blog posts.

First let’s talk about classes.

German 3: One and a half year after my last German class is probably not a good timeframe to take German classes. But I took it anyways. I wanted to do an independent study on German politics, and I thought knowing some degree of German might be helpful. With such a simple and naive goal I found myself entering into German 3 with much difficulties even to understand what the teacher was talking about (again, 1.5 years is way too long a gap, enough to burn away my shallow possession of German knowledge). I felt immensely hard to blend into the class, as it’s so clear that I am the worst student in class. I made grammar mistakes all the time, have no idea what some of the basic vocabulary means, basically, I have to meet with my instructor after class to discuss extra exercises and in some cases, online textbooks so that I can hopefully catch up in two weeks. (The class is a summer class which normally only lasts for around 6 weeks. And I spent 3 weeks to catch up. )

https://www.lsa.umich.edu/german/hmr/

Thanks to this website and University of Michigan (my instructor finished her undergrad over there), I was able to (finally) write German in fluent sentences. I haven’t posted anything I wrote in German3 on my blog because I was embarrassed all the time. Anyways, for the first six week from May 20 to end of June I spent my morning feeling bad for myself, (“Why won’t you take German3 sooner so that you won’t be the idiot in this class”) and trying my best to learn German. You know the metaphor of learning like a sponge absorbing water and become fuller in appearances? That was me in German3. Not that I really want to learn a lot of German, I just don’t want to fail myself and my instructor, who spent way too much time after class trying to help me.

Ok, I have gotten over the hardest part of my Summer. Now off to the easier (?) classes.

PS 129B: Russian politics. I have really high expectations towards comparative politics class, but then again like I wrote in previous post, the quality of a class really depends on a lot of things. The class always start 10 minutes late, which I already got used to from previous PoliSci classes. (Is it a departmental tradition or is it just some instructors who like to start late?) The only problem with the class is that it starts right after my German3 class. I got so nervous about missing it that one time in my German class it was 11 am and I thought it was 12 pm because some part of me just wouldn’t stop yelling “dude it’s 12 you’re late for class!” I made such a clown out of myself that time. I felt bad even now, thinking back to the moment standing up so determined that it MUST be time for my next class and I have to leave. Also, some coincidences happened when I found several German words in my Russian politics reading like Rechtsstaat and Bundestreue. The two times I felt like learning German aside PoliSci is not a bad idea.

PS W145: Indian Politics. I took this class mainly because it’s an online class and I like garlic naan…… I hope none of the people from that class can see this but in any cases I registered and there were so much readings. Although the last week of readings on electoral politics, collations, rise of regional parties and BJP was really fun. But to be honest I only spent around two days on those readings. I think India is interesting, and the class would be much more interesting if I am taking it in the semester, so that I have more time to digest the readings.

German 4: As I struggled so much in German 3, I seriously don’t want to go back home and have to take German 4 next summer. And so I finished the two classes together in one summer. German 4 is actually a lot better than my experience in German 3, maybe it’s because I already have rebuilt some of the basic grammar in German 3. Although to the end of the class I got so carried away by PS W145’s assignments (I have never written an Op-Ed before. ) I think my writing improved a lot and I was just watching an Arte documentary (dubbed in German) regarding international relationship between France and Germany, and I can roughly grasp the general idea.

Then it’s off to extra-curricular things. I finished Edna O’Brien’s “The Country Girl” series and her autobiography. I also finished several film by Tran Anh Hung, the director of “Scent of Green Papaya”.

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(shot from “Scent of Green Papaya”)

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I also learned how to make Granola. And it tastes exactly the same as the ones they sell in FSM!!

Now I just want to stay home for an entire week. I felt so exhausted and some part of me just hope that I didn’t take that many classes in Summer. But looking back, it is a very enriching experience.

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