Spring 2020 will be a semester I will remember for the rest of my life. From leaving the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus, shifting to remote learning, not being able to see my friends, to making my childhood room my new workspace, this semester has been a journey. I am so happy that it is almost over; it almost does not even feel real.
With this week being our final week of classes, I thought it would be fun to recap this memorable semester. Hopefully, this will give you all not only a glimpse of what an untraditional semester is like here at UMass Amherst, but some courses to look into during your time here.
COMM 497DL - ST- Comm, Tech & Work
This course, taught by Seyram Avle, examines the different ways that communication and digital technologies are shaping notions of work and labor. We engaged with ongoing debates on topics such as the sharing economy (e.g. Uber/Lyft driving), microwork (e.g. Amazon Mechanical Turk), microcelebrity (e.g. YouTube stars and Instagram influencers), tech entrepreneurship both in Silicon Valley and other parts of the world, as well as the work that goes into making popular consumer technologies like the iPhone.
As someone highly interested in our growing technological market, I was eager to take this class. It did not disappoint! One of my professional goals is to work in marketing communications in a tech-based company so I found this class to be incredibly fascinating. At the end of the course, I got to write a research report on a topic of my choice with a partner. We decided to write about YouTube as the workforce of the future for pre-teens and teenagers. This was hands down the most fun I have ever had writing a paper for a class. If you are a communication major, I would highly recommend taking this course.
ENGLISH 300 - Junior-Year Sem English Studies
Organized around themes of the graphic memoir, this course, taught by Janis Greve, stresses analysis from critical and theoretical perspectives that sharpen understanding of texts, their contexts, and our reading of them.
I originally signed up for this class to fulfill my junior year writing requirement. As an English major, you typically have a wide range of topics to choose from for your junior year writing course. Taking an English course where we would be reading and writing about graphic memoirs sounded very refreshing compared to the typical topics you engage in as an English major. We even had the opportunity to make our own graphic memoir, which has easily become my favorite assignment of my college career. Professor Greves’ is a wonderful and caring teacher. I highly recommend taking any of her courses!
ENGLISH 494DI - Dystopian Games, Comics, Media
In this class, taught by TreaAndrea Russworm, we studied video games, postmodern cultural theory, and (tangentially) comic books as we asked questions about the persistence of dystopian narratives in print and digital visual culture. This was also a team-based learning class, meaning that I worked with a team playing a leading role in class discussions, and was required to work closely on digital projects and select other assignments with members of a team.
I have been wanting to take this course for a long time. As someone who loves video games, taking a class on the topic, which also fulfilled one of my major requirements, was a match made in heaven. While it was a two-and-a-half hour class once a week, it was a lot of fun playing and analyzing video games. Being a team-building course, there was a large emphasis on working in teams, which was a lot of fun. If you are an English major or IT minor, I highly recommend taking this course!
GEOLOGY 103 - Intro Oceanography
This course, taught by Isla Castañeda, explored the natural processes of the ocean, including earthquakes and volcanoes, the hydrologic cycle and weather, ocean circulation and the global energy balance, the carbon cycle and productivity, biodiversity and marine food webs, and coastal dynamics. It also took a look at global warming, sea-level rise, environmental degradation, and how the ocean system responds to human activity and global change.
I was extremely nervous to take this course. I enrolled in this class to satisfy my physical science general education requirement. Being someone who is terrible at math and science, I been dreading finishing this requirement. Through recommendations, I was told to enroll in this class.
If you are like me, this is an ideal physical science course. While there is some math, it is nowhere near the amount you would be doing in a traditional physical science course. The class’s topic, the ocean, was also highly interesting and eye-opening, which made the course much more enjoyable. If you are looking to satisfy your physical science general education requirement, I cannot recommend this class enough.
This has been the most draining and confusing semester of my life. Not due to my courses, but due to the current state of the world. I never would have anticipated that I would have wrapped up the final semester of my junior year in my childhood home. While It has been difficult, this semester has taught me how to be adaptable, effectively manage my time, and, most importantly, to be thankful for what I have. While there is little I can do to change my current situation, I can remain positive and do my part to flatten the curve.
Here is to a bright, successful, and healthy fall 2020!