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My Classes: Thoughts Half-Way Through

Aidan talks about his courses after five weeks of class!

Aidan talks about his courses after five weeks of class!

Usually at Carleton, it takes me a couple of weeks to settle into my classes. Like at most schools, the first day is typically just the syllabus. Not great. Not bad. The rest of the first week is still usually getting the engine revving. Everyone in your classes gets to know each other and becomes more comfortable. You also get into your rhythm for studying—find your study spot for the term too. Then the next three weeks are just normal life. You might have some essays and other small assignments. Perhaps a short exam? 

Then fifth week comes. It’s midterms. Seems early, but it’s halfway through our ten-week trimester. At this point, you really have to get into your grind set.  By the end of fifth week, you will know exactly how you feel about each of your courses for the term! If you hate them, they’ll be over soon (I’ve never hated a course before, but I guess it’s possible). And if you love them, you still have five weeks left! This term I have been thoroughly enjoying each of my courses and will give you my thoughts from halfway through.

RELG 121: Intro to Christianity 

I came into this course a little nervous. As a Religion major, I have to take two courses at the 100 level which serve as introductions to different religious traditions. Typically these would be among the first courses you take in the department, but not for me! This is my first ever introductory course in the religion department and the fifth 100 level I’ve taken overall (I don’t personally recommend this approach to class selection). 

I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this course after having already taken multiple courses in Christian traditions, but I have thoroughly enjoyed it thus far. All of the readings have been super fun thus far. I particularly enjoy the abundance of theology. I haven’t had the chance to read much theology before, so everything we are learning still feels new and fresh, even with my prior knowledge. It’s also nice to take a class with a bit less reading during the spring. So many events are happening (Sproncert, Farmstock, etc.). I’m happy that I can get out and enjoy the sun a bit more. 

class outside
A common sight! Class is often also held outside in the spring. Photo by Kallie Rollenhagen

RELG 329: Modernity and Tradition

The second of my two religion classes this term. Also the more difficult of the two (although unsurprising considering it is a 300 level). This class fulfills one of my two seminar requirements for the Religion major. Although it is necessary for me to take this for my major, I also really enjoy the (admittedly vague) course material. 

The aspect of this course that I love the most is how much we collaborate. Each reading we do is chock-full of information and would be nearly indecipherable if it was just me reading it. Thankfully, I don’t have to. The class community is just great. We all discuss and figure out together what exactly each reading is trying to convey. The professor (Lori Pearson, who is also my professor for Intro to Christianity) is always a fantastic help kindly explaining the content to us whenever we are truly confused. Having a community of supportive religion-minded people has been super excellent and allows me to truly prosper as an intellectual. 

students eating ramen
My friend Ashley (a fellow Religion major) and I enjoying ramen after a long night of talking about religion.

CCST 270: Creative Travel Writing Workshop

Finally, a non-religion course (I would take all religion courses if possible but I know I should branch out). This class is completely different from both of my others. But after five weeks, I have grown to appreciate the difference. Truly a breath of fresh air. You might be asking why this class is so different, so I’ll answer that for you. For starters, it is three hours long as opposed to my normal one to two-hour long classes. At first, I was intimidated to be in class for such a long stretch of time, but truly this class flies by. 

The structure is also completely different with next to no lecturing. Instead, each week six people bring in a creative non-fiction short story about their travels during their Off-Campus Study. We then spend the class period offering our critique of their pieces which they will then revise and submit the following week. This may seem scary, but really everyone is so nice, and getting feedback is super helpful. It has really allowed me to flex my writing muscles in a capacity other than academic papers which I have thoroughly enjoyed. In all honesty, I think I might have found a new passion because writing creative non-fiction is fun!

student in paris
A night from my OCS in Paris I wrote about for my Travel Writing class. (feat. another fellow religion major and friend Maxine!)

Closing Thoughts

In spite of the vast amounts of writing that I have to do every week, I have been really enjoying my courses thus far. As I said, I’ve never taken a course at Carleton before that I’ve hated. Even the courses you have to take for your major end up being truly lovely!



Aidan (he/him) is a junior from Batavia, IL coming back to Northfield after a semester off-campus in Paris. He is a Religion and French and Francophone Studies double major with a passion for ceramics. Outside of class, he enjoys spending his time cooking, hanging out with his housemates in the Culinary Interest House, and performing in Carleton’s sketch comedy group. You can often find him at the campuses’ two dining halls chatting with other students while working as a student dining hall manager.