Ready… Set… Prove Yourself!

These past few weeks have been whirlwind adventures as far as my academic endeavors are concerned.  After living and breathing microeconomics for the week before the final exam (read:  no leaving the house, sleeping with the textbook, etc), I promptly tried to gather all relevant international relations theories readings that were huddling in some dark recess of my memory in order to pass the IR theories waiver exam.  During the exam, I realized, in fits and starts, that it’s been an awfully long time since I’ve written an essay test.  Directly after theories, I remembered that I would be attempting to obtain my proficiency in French, which would be another two hour extensive written and reading comprehension exam with the reputation of being rather impossible.  However, after studying French in school for seven years and speaking it in Cameroon for two, I didn’t really know how I could study, except read Le Monde and bite my fingernails with anticipation.

Finally, after taking the French exam and starting REAL classes, I found out that I passed everything!  This was an immense relief because: 1) it means that I don’t have to worry about obtaining language proficiency, 2) I can somehow do enough math to pass econ, 3) I have one core exam out of two under my belt, and lastly, 4) even though the school has been threatening us with speeches such as, “don’t worry if you don’t do as well as you’d like here, it’s normal,” I now feel like I can, as a British friend once told me, run with the big dogs instead of sleeping with the puppies on the porch 🙂  Before all of the exams, I felt like one big pile of rust, trying to scrape through the past couple of years of academic inactivity to remember what I know.  Now, I feel like I am relatively well-prepared to take on the challenges of the semester…  In theory anyway.

With all of these super-fun, party-time exams, I’ve also been doing some direction-related soul-searching (with lots of hyphens to emphasize all of the half-ideas and sub-options).  After much deliberation, I’ve decided to switch my concentration to African Studies (and international economics, which is what we’re all required to do).  I have been avoiding this step for a long time, wondering if it will confine me to work only in Africa.  However, after considering it for awhile, I realized that if I’m not working IN Africa, then I will probably be interested in working somewhere that has projects in Africa or deals with African issues.  It is what I know.  It is what compels me (and frustrates me).  Picking the concentration feels like I’m asking someone to marry me.  Maybe you’re never completely, 100% sure and sort of wonder if something better will come along, but at some point you know that it’s the right thing to do.  Oh god.  Please do not let my marriage be like this…

Courses for the semester (if all goes as planned);

  • Macroeconomics (scintillating subject material that will hopefully culminate in an epiphany that let’s me solve the economic crisis in one, fell swoop)
  • Politics and Policies of the American Emergency State (taught by a NY times op-ed columnist and offering a more “progressive” view of American foreign policy)
  • Modernity and Nationalism in Egypt, Iran, and Turkey
  • War and Conflict Resolution in Sub-Saharan Africa (if I can outlast the bidding war and bowl people over with my enthusiasm for the class- it’s capped at 17 and has more than twice that who are enrolled)
  • Arabic (beginning, of course.  3 days a week, in an attempt to branch out from romance languages)
  • Comparative National Systems (only auditing in order to take the core exam, which is a requirement for the African studies concentration)

Bear in mind that most of these classes are only once a week, the others being two days in a row every two weeks (except for Arabic).  This means that I have lots of time to fill with reading and anything else I might (have time to) fancy.  For now, this includes activities like choir at the university of Bologna, wine club, Africa club (when it finally meets), and French conversation.  There may not be enough hours in the week, but I’m excited to be active.  We’ll see if I change my mind once it gets REALLY cold, the days get shorter, and my life is completely inundated with reading and papers.  For now, however, I’m having fun writing in my  planner and taking in as much as possible.


~ by Emilie on October 13, 2009.

3 Responses to “Ready… Set… Prove Yourself!”

  1. interesting post !

  2. African Studies is meant for you, I don’t see why you are getting cold feet. cheehee.

  3. Hello Emilie,
    I am interesting to know the outcomes of your business class in Cameroon. Also I am working on a proposal for rural income incubator in Cameroon. I would like to know what cities your visited while in Cameroon and what are your recommendations for seting up a business in Cameroon.

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