3, 4, 5? How many classes should you take?

Four. The answer is almost always gonna be four.
Buuut in case you need to be convinced (and in case you might be an exception to the ever-sacred Rule of Four), here’s a breakdown of the strengths and weaknesses of each choice:
The basics:
-you need to take (and pass) 30 classes to graduate, which means that you can’t take 3 classes every semester
-almost everyone takes 4 classes
-you are a human being and require sleep
           +and you like going out on weekends
Three classes:
Upside:
-tempting
-honestly so tempting, especially if the semester before was hard for you.
-If you’re on track to fulfill all of your concentration’s requirements, honestly why not? This can actually work to your advantage.
Say you have 3 very demanding classes on your plate. And you know that a 4th would only leave you playing a never-ending game of catch-up with one class or the other as you struggle to balance your workload, your activities, your friends, and your inability to stop browsing memes (and/or Facebook) instead of doing the work you should be doing. No one’s gonna blame you for taking 3!
-more free time! Unshackle yourself from the demands of four classes!
-if you’re a working student, especially if you’re working a lot, you might not have time to take a 4th class. And that’s totally OK. I found myself taking 3 classes for the first time this semester because, honestly, working 14 hours a week and taking upperclassmen-level courses was too much for me this semester.
Downside:
-there’s some stigma attached to taking 3 classes, but I feel like most of it comes from that ever-present anxiety that if you’re taking 3 you’re somehow “lazy” or “not doing enough” – and I get it. Odds are, if you go to this school you’re used to having to juggle a lot of work and you might berate yourself for not having the same number of classes as the majority of students. But all classes aren’t created equal, friend. And sometimes you just gotta take 3 – no shame in it.
-let’s say you take 3 classes and end up having way more free time than you thought you would. This can be good, but if you’re not filling this time with activities or working a job or something, then you might just be the odd-one-out who has nothing to do while your friends are all bogged down by their homework
-deciding to take 3 courses is an exercise in strategy: you really need to weigh the pros and cons when you’re making this choice, because what if you have harder courses next semester and regret not taking 4 this semester so you could have taken 3 the next one?? Decisions, decisions.
Five classes:
Upside:
-???
-I guess if you’re behind on fulfilling your requirements you would do this?
-Or maybe you’re just taking an extra course (and it’s SNC) because it doesn’t fall into your requirements, but you’re interested in it. In that case, go you! I’m proud of you for taking advantage of the open curriculum.
Downside:
-Why? You’re flying too close to the sun, Icarus.
-Are you taking this SNC, because you should be.
-You’re really busy. Really, really busy. If you’re taking the 5th class SNC (don’t do it for me, do it for yourself), then that helps, but you still need to pass the 5th class, so you have to do work for it.
-Idk how often you see your friends. Maybe y’all just hang out in the libraries – which is perfectly fine and group studying is lit, I’m just saying it might be nice not to live in the Sci-Li

You deserve better than this.

Four classes:
Upside:
-on average, people take 4 classes. Although, again, not all classes are created equal and the workload varies, taking 4 classes generally means you have time to hang out with people
-Sleeeeeep: my unproblematic fave
Downside:
-four classes is obviously already a lot of work, but generally it’s manageable if you manage your time. If 4 is too overwhelming and you can afford to do it, take 3.
-??? Just take four.

Returning Students Say Goodbye to Old Dorms, President Paxson Says Goodbye to Old Apartment

New year, new classes, new you – and, perhaps just as important as these, new dorm!

As the leaves change and the weather cools, so too do our dorms, our dens of security and school time homes, reflect the immense changes underway at the beginning of each year. From Keeney to Minden to New Dorm, each year has been undeniably shaped by where I’ve lived and what’s in my immediate proximity.

Keeney, for example? Seems horrifically far from everything that isn’t the Main Green or Wriston Quad. Pretty recently renovated when I came in as a Freshman though, and Arnold Lounge has a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream machine (this is both a blessing and a curse, I assure you).

It takes a few weeks to get the hang of things in your new building, to figure out its pros and cons and start to really feel at home. Personally, I still find myself zoning out and walking on autopilot towards last year’s dorm before I realize what I’m doing and turn in the right direction.

This year, C Pax is going through a readjustment period just like the rest of us. Earlier this week, true leader of the people and President of Brown University Christina Paxson listed her “Tribeca crash pad for $1.7M,” reports Luxury Listings NYC.

Ooh, nice. (Credit: David Elliman, Source: Luxury Listings NYC)

I’m sure she’ll miss her old digs dearly, just like I miss that mysterious syrup smell that comes out of Barus and Holley at random intervals and coats the air around Minden (no, seriously – what is that smell, where does it come from, what sort of amazing science is happening in B&H and how can I be a part of this syrup-smelling science??).

Pictured: one of the Toronto Maple Leafs realizing everyone’s childhood ambitions by drinking straight syrup

Surely, however, President Paxson must have some things she won’t miss from her old apartment. I mean, look at that bathroom for one thing! Sleek, straight lines; modern, functioning fixtures; and not a lick of dust or grime? Her true Brunonian spirit must have recoiled at these features, but bravely she endured.  

(Credit: David Elliman, Source: Luxury Listings NYC)

This is Brown. We bathe in dim lighting, small showers, and/or in close proximity to some distinctly colored muck. It is an unspoken requirement in a school with relatively few requirements to speak of, and I am sure it must have been one of President Paxson’s primary motivations for leaving this apartment behind.

I can’t blame her. This year, with my clean, spacious New Dorm bathrooms, I find myself longing for Minden, and not simply because of that syrup smell. I miss my private bathroom. It was private, it was dinky, and most of all, it exposed me to a variety of diverse experiences, which is truly the Brown way.

My bathroom last year. (Credit: Me)

Added bonus: as a fan of Stranger Things, I truly valued the week-long stretch during which the removal of a water-drenched tile allowed my roommates and I to peer into the Upside Down every time we reached up for our shampoo.

So long, Minden. And so long to President Paxson’s Tribeca apartment. May both of them provide their next residents with equal amounts of happiness.


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Allison Paschke’s “Please Touch”

Do not touch the art. This is an edict all frequent museum and gallery goers know to heed, tiptoeing through exhibition spaces, aware of their bodies, ensuring a safe distance between themselves and the artwork. But Allison Paschke’s latest exhibit at AS220 is slightly different and may appeal to those who have always been tempted to touch a piece of art when no one’s looking.

As you enter the installation space, porcelain pyramids of varying shapes, sizes, and heights litter the floor, arranged carefully to form an aesthetically pleasing pattern. Paschke’s installation, entitled “Please Touch,” allows her visitors not only to touch her artwork but encourages them to move pieces around to their liking.

The show consists of four interactive art pieces, two of which are comprised of 2,000 small porcelain pieces and the other two of hundreds of pieces of resin and acrylic. People kneel on the floor of the gallery, examining, touching, and rearranging the pieces.

On the back wall hangs a shelf where more abstract porcelain pieces are assembled. According to Paschke, these pieces were created to exist on the border between abstraction and reality — shapes that can vaguely resemble real physical objects, as long as you use your imagination. Paschke made certain that none of her pieces were too literal, so as to make sure that visitors can enter their own worlds based on their personal interpretations of what the pieces represent. “I love other people’s interpretations and sense of discovery,” Paschke told me. “They become artists, coming up with things I could have never thought of.”

The same idea applies to her resin piece, comprised of small, curved pieces of resin that hang from the wall by delicate pins. Arranged in a grid pattern, the pieces of resin — or “drops” as she refers to them — boast vibrant hues of yellow and orange. Visitors are asked to move the resin pieces from pin to pin or to add new pieces, which are placed in a basket nearby with a sign stating: “Add, remove, replace, and move elements, from pin to pin.” Needless to say, I couldn’t help but rearrange some elements to my own satisfaction.

On the far right wall hangs another shelf, where colorful geometric shapes of resin and acrylic lean against fogged mirrors. While the mirrors are stationary, the resin and acrylic pieces are movable and can be arranged to the viewers liking. Paschke wanted to ensure that people could not see their reflections perfectly in the mirror, but rather provide the viewers with a vague sense of self-awareness and the ability to acknowledge their presence and interaction with the art.

With this exhibit, Paschke breaks the stereotype of staid and standoffish art galleries by coaxing out each visitor’s playful and imaginative nature. I left with the strangely comical impression of gallery goers on the floor, playing with and rearranging porcelain pyramids as if they were Lego pieces. There were people who showed a bemusing hesitance to touch the art, people who likely feared that they had misread the “Please Touch” signs pasted around the gallery. The casual air of the installation and the rapport between those who were participating in it was like a breath of fresh air compared to stuffy galleries where shudders can be felt if you so much as breathe near the art. If you’re anything like me, someone who is always tempted to touch anything that is accompanied by a prohibitive sign, I highly recommend you check out the exhibit. Even if you’re not anything like me, there is much satisfaction to be found in participating in Paschke’s exhibit and becoming an artist yourself.

 

Cookies and Drones and Weather, Oh My!

The best thing invented since warm cookies delivered at 2 AM is warm cookies delivered by drones. If you haven’t heard about the epic saga of the airdropped cookies yet, you are in for a treat.

Insomnia Cookies upped their game on March 13 by announcing a free cookie giveaway on the Main Green. Unfortunately, two days later, they had to cancel the event because Brown University had not approved their use of the space, much to the public’s chagrin.

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The next update we received on the event’s Facebook page was that Insomnia Cookies submitted a proposal on March 19, “outlining how we will be adhering to all FAA sUAV guidelines and the additional steps we are taking to maximize safety.” For those of you who don’t know (like me before a quick Google search), the FAA is the Federal Aviation Administration, and sUAV is not a typo but rather stands for “small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.”

And soon enough, we got the good news:

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Seeing this on my newsfeed took a little bit of the sting away from getting my latest dismal midterm grade back. And I’m sure it lifted the spirits of many others in the Brown community dealing with the struggles of the endless midterm season, the scramble for summer internships, and the myriad of other everyday stresses that come along with academics, extracurricular, and social activities. Needless to say, it was a big day for everyone involved; the post even got almost 300 likes! However, because the entire world seems to want to prolong our airdropped-cookie-less suffering, we found out about a week ago that, “Due to weather, we are rescheduling the event to May 2, Tuesday after Spring Weekend.” But you know what—you take what you can get, and what we have is something to look forward to. The long, hard battle we have fought for our drone cookies and the emotional rollercoaster that came along with it is almost reaching an end. All we have to do is wait, catch, and appreciate this sweet end to the spring semester. So remember to mark this in your calendars, folks!

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Donovan House

I find that being a substance free student can be discouraging. From substance using students not understanding me, to my sub free dorm not actually being sober, there are very few places at Brown where I actually feel comfortable being myself. I spend most of my time alone in my room or at Andrews up until the point when the stoned/drunk students come in. It is a combination of feeling ostracized from others and self-imposed isolation. But Brown has come up with a solution for students like me — the Donovan House.

The Donovan House is a program house for sub free students and students in recovery. The Donovan House, which I am very excited to live in next year, will offer a number of advantages to the students living there. There will be a zero tolerance policy of substance use by anyone in the house, something that is not currently enforced in my “alcohol/drug free” dorm. I will no longer have to fear leaving my room and smelling weed at 10 am when I’m walking to class or see boisterous drunk kids roaming the halls on the weekends. I’m not trying to shame anyone who participates in those activities — have all the fun you want— but it does personally affect me when it happens in my living space where it isn’t supposed to. In the Donovan House, I will have a space where that fear won’t even enter my mind. I know I will be able to take solace in that fact. In the house, I hope I will be able to get to know people intimately for who they are and, possibly, why they don’t partake. Without the presence of drugs or alcohol, I find I really get to understand and empathize with someone.

The RPL of the house will be sub free and therefore have an intimate knowledge of what the students in the house struggle with on a daily basis, making them well-equipped to help out. To tell you the truth, I don’t know much about the RPL’s in my dorm. I’ve probably interacted with them a handful of times, and that’s fine, but, on a particularly hard day, I don’t feel comfortable confiding in someone I don’t know. From what I have been told about the RPL in Donovan House, that won’t be the case. The RPL there will be there to support the members of the house in their times of need and also to enforce the zero tolerance policy. That will be a tremendous relief to me.

 My hope is that the various programming to be offered at Donovan House, which is likely to include discussion groups, will help bridge the gaps among sub-free students. People are sub-free for various reasons whether they be religious, related to past trauma, a matter of personal preference, or experience with addiction.

I’ve noticed a common divide between those in recovery and those who are not. Students in recovery tend to stick with one another, and those who aren’t do the same. I’ve wondered why this is the case. Perhaps it is a matter of mutual misunderstanding. Since the members of the Donovan House will be living with one another and will be in programming together, the two factions in the house may come to know each other and set aside what differences they have.

Living there, I know all of the members will have one thing in common — we don’t get intoxicated. And while that might not be important to most, it is to me. My entire life is based around the avoidance of substances and to meet other kids like me can only positively affect my interactions.

Maybe I’m being too idealistic about what will actually go on in the house. But I imagine Donovan House being the first place at Brown where I can feel totally comfortable, knowing there won’t be the looming presence of alcohol or drugs, where I am surrounded by people who actually understand me and who I, in turn, understand as well.


A St. Paddy’s Day Extravaganza

 

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With the inescapability of the color green, the wild outfits, the chaotic parties, and the copious drinking, St. Patrick’s Day is one of the most hyped-up days of the year on college campuses. It’s a day that many students look forward to so that they can really “let loose,” even though the same thing happens pretty much every weekend. While I obviously can’t speak for everyone, I can say with certainty that my day was not exactly the day of debauchery many expect. Here’s what happened.

6pm-8:30pm: This is prime time for doing absolutely nothing. I watched some YouTube videos, scrolled through the internet, and before I knew it two hours was up. Some of my friends sat beside me as well, interspersing the quiet with wise words such as “Bruh, this is gonna be dope, I love St. Patty’s Day,” and “OMG, St Patrick’s Day is my everything.” A few planned to have a really big night, because their uncle’s cousin’s boss’s nephew’s roommate or someone was Irish, so they had to drink for them.

8:30pm-10:30pm: A dorm party, exactly like the one that happened last Friday. Thirty kids or so packed into a tiny dorm room, standing awkwardly with a solo cup in one hand, phone in the other, so that they can look busy and avoid small-talk. Music plays from someone’s squeaky and aging Bluetooth speaker. Everything smells awful and sweaty as well.  But this time everything was green! Here’s a beer, but this time it’s green. Here’s a hat, but this time it’s a green hat. Standing around while listening to “Closer” by the Chainsmokers blare on the speaker for the 500th time was a terrific way to respect Irish culture. A few kids wandered around, more than a couple beers in already. “I’ve been drinking since 1,” one giggled, because apparently St. Patrick’s Day means we all have to get dangerously intoxicated.

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10:30pm -1:00am: A larger party–one of those beauties where it’s impossible to move, the music is super, super LOUD, and it’s pretty dark so seeing becomes a difficult task. Hundreds of people were packed into a far-too-small area, so I was constantly bumping into others and getting stepped on. It was also really hot in there (not in the good way), so more than a couple timeouts were taken so we could gasp for cold, clean air. Green hats were definitely bouncing though, and there were a lot of “Ireland” chants. And there was also more throw-up than usual (not green, in case anyone was wondering), which was fun to almost step in. Seriously, if there’s one thing to take-away from this little, sarcasm-filled blurb, it’s that self-care is important. No need to go out and rapidly inhale 15 drinks only to damage a liver or get EMSed (because let me say this, there were a lot more EMSs than usual).

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1:00am-3:00am: Sat in the dorm hallways for a while before wrapping up the evening. Some people wandered in and immediately went to bed. Others chattered for hours, remaining in the hallway until 4 or 5. I watched a movie with a couple friends before going to bed, ready to do the exact same thing Saturday night, except this time without all the green.

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