The Anti-Slump: Unpacking those buzzwords

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I have a long and troubled history with epistemology. I have no beef with the branch of philosophy that it refers to, but the word itself caused me a good deal of grief last year.

Like, I presume, most first years, I arrived at Brown with little knowledge of academic buzzwords. One of the most intimidating things about being in class as a first year is the volume of specialized vocabulary that you seemingly must learn in order to receive a passing grade and/or carry on a coherent conversation. (Let me add here that during freshman fall I took a couple of Anthro classes, which are essentially glorified buzzword orgies.)

Some of the most common academic catchphrases are easy enough to understand. To “unpack” is to dissect the complex meaning of a phrase, action, or thought; a “dichotomy” happens when there are two things; and “problematizing” is the process of realizing that something you like actually sucks.

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Prospective students: It gets better after ADOCH

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I had a weird time at ADOCH. I spent most of it getting lost and making excruciating small talk with all the other overly excited pre-frosh (just for the record, I also felt that the term “pre-frosh” was remarkably pejorative).

I stuck with a couple other prospective students, and together we shuffled around campus, clutching our little Brown folders that contained a map, a schedule, and the contact info of our hosts. We ran into about a thousand a cappella concerts during the three days of ADOCH. Seriously, we couldn’t go anywhere without having our path blocked by a horde of jauntily-dressed students swaying, singing, and snapping like their lives depended on it.

Yeah, it was kinda bizarre. But for all the pre-frosh who felt weirdly about ADOCH, take heart. Being a student at Brown is a lot better than being a pre-frosh.

You might get lost sometimes at the beginning of freshman year, and for the first couple weeks of school conversations with other first years can feel repetitive — “Where are you from? What do you plan to study? Where are you living?”

But it gets better. And it starts to feel normal as you meet and learn about other people, get into the rhythm of your classes, and figure out the nuances of the dining room schedules (Pro tip: Sweet potato fries are in the Ratty on Wednesday).

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The best first-year dorm is… Morriss?

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“I’m going home/To the place where I belong/Where love has always been enough for me.” -Chris “Morriss” Daughtry

Everyone knows that Andrews and Keeney are the two worst freshman dorms. This left me to wonder, where is the best place for first-years to live?

Morriss, of course.

Since I do not have swipe access to Morriss, I relied on an informant whom I’ll call Brendan (because that is his name) to get me into the building.

As soon as I stepped through the door, I knew that Morriss was different. Maybe it was the cinderblock walls, maybe it was the fly infestation (Brendan said some kids threw trash down an inactive trash shoot), but something about the place just made me feel comfortable. I know it sounds crazy, but even though I’d never been in Morriss before, I felt like I was home. Continue Reading


Close Encounters with a Take-Home Midterm

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Take-home midterms are easy, right? You’ve got all your notes and can complete the test on your own time, so how bad can it be? All footage shot during an actual Middle East Studies take-home test. Narrated by the voices in my head.

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