My British Classes

On my computer desktop is a post-it note reminding me to submit my Course Request Forms which I should have done while I was in the UK, but oh well now. While I’m looking at that, I might as well talk about my classes!

Economics 111: Introduction to Microeconomics
The class that everyone who knows me stops to say, “What?” And then, “You?” Indeed. I’ve never been particularly interested in Economics, perhaps because my brother did it in high school and the textbooks were huge and boring to my eight- or nine-year-old eyes, and mostly because I was just interested in other things. Macroeconomics did crop up in one of my Anthropology 100 lectures last term though and I found myself wanting to know more about it. Unfortunately, macroeconomics wasn’t on offer at Herstmonceux, so I thought I’d go with microeconomics. I figured that since I’m in a different place I should try something I wouldn’t normally do at UBC. It’s good to know some basics anyway.

Much to my relief, this course was mostly theoretical comprehension and didn’t involve much maths. It’s definitely got to be my most succinct class of all — each class “block” is usually 1 1/2 hours long and most classes have 2 blocks put together so you’re in class for 3 straight hours. Our prof condensed it into a single block, though, and since there were only 3 people in the class — that’s right, just 3 — we managed to move the class up from 7:00 pm to 6:30 pm, so we could leave earlier too. (The original schedule had us in there from 7:00 to 10:20 pm. A bit brutal.)

English 262: Modern British Poetry & Drama
And of course I took an English class. I’m not that unpredictable. I’m not sure what I will do when I graduate and no longer take English classes. It seems impossible.

But this class was very good. We covered a whole range of poetry from World War I and T.S. Eliot’s “Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (which, by the by, I still do not like all that much even after doing it in English 221 as well), and finished off with W.H. Auden’s “September 1, 1939”. We also read Oscar Wilde’s play The Importance of Being Ernest, performed some Samuel Beckett, and watched a screen version of Joe Orton’s Entertaining Mr Sloane, a rather upsetting play if there is one. I found it very discomforting, anyway. I really encourage you all to look up “Ping” by Beckett and see what you think of it: that’s the play we had to perform and I had the honour of saying “ping!”

Our field trips were truly excellent and I am going to dedicate a whole new post to it later on this week. Our prof is the nicest guy: one of our blocks was a late night one from 9 to 10:20 pm, and he always brought cakes and/or cookies for us to munch on out of his own pocket. It was the sweetest gesture.

INTS 301: “The Mirror Class”
That’s not what it’s really called; the actual name is much longer, but this is what it became known as throughout the Castle (i.e. the students at the Castle). INTS stands for International Studies and should cover various European countries, but I think this class comes closer to Women’s and Gender Studies than anything else. It was my favourite class of all: the study of the mirror as a cultural symbol in art, literature, film, psychology, philosophy…

Oh, there are so many things about the mirror that we covered: the history of people’s perceptions of it, the duality of the mirror, self-portraits, the mirror as a border between two worlds… We read myths, fairy tales, a chapter from Harry Potter (guess which one!), The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, studied mirrors in art, watched an array of movies including snippets from Fight Club — my class consisted of six girls and we gathered together one night to watch one of the movies together (Dangerous Liaisons). We also went out to dinner together on the day of our last class at this really excellent Indian restaurant in the local village. Such a lot of amazing and admirable women. I think the world of them, and of our amazing prof, who is this lovely, kind-hearted soul.

I think I grew the most in this class — for example, I hate public speaking of all kinds (actually, I hate being in the spotlight in general; having a public blog makes perfect sense), but I managed to pull of two presentations, one 30 minutes long and the other about 60-70. Neat, eh? This class really brought out the feminist side of me — out of all of us, I think. (We ate a bar of chocolate together; the packaging says, “Not for girls!”, which outraged us and is a marketing ploy to outrage us to buy it, I daresay. Which worked the first time but not anymore since it was just chocolate and there was nothing good about it.)

And if you ever want to know if you are looking at a double-sided mirror where the people on the other side can see you, here is a trick: if you put your finger to the mirror and there is a gap between your finger and its reflection, then it’s one-sided; if you put your finger up and it’s directly touching the reflection without there being any sort of gap, then the person on the other side can see you.

There, now you will know when not to flex your muscles!

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