School, Dry Thunderstorms, and Book Reviews

Hello everybody, it’s Elsie again. I see that it has been 12 days since my last blog post, which is actually pretty good, at least for me, because I’m usually very lazy about updates. My life has been fine and I hope yours has been, too.

I have mixed feelings about going back to school. It’s the 19th of August today, which means I have exactly 13 days till my first day of school. That’s less than two weeks, which is kind of crazy. I’m also leaving Shanghai in 6 days. I’m excited to see all my friends again, read in the beautiful Huffington Library, take piano lessons, run cross country, learn new things… but at the same time I’m just not ready for the hustle and bustle of it all. I don’t want to be stressed and sleep deprived again, so soon.

Dry Thunderstorms
I keep seeing these weird flashes of light in the sky. They’re kind of like lightning, and I’m pretty sure I hear thunder too, but then there’s no rain. This has been happening a lot recently. Apparently they’re dry thunderstorms. I have no idea why dry thunderstorms are happening in Shanghai, since Wikipedia tells me that they usually occur in deserts or places with low atmospheric water vapour. Shanghai summers (including this one) are hot, humid, and rainy. We have dehumidifiers in every room at home. Dear weather, what the heck. Can you please be normal? Thanks.

Book Reviews
I’m thinking about doing book reviews on this blog, in the near future or something. Please don’t hold me accountable for this statement, though. I recently won a giveaway of two YA books so I might review those (might being the keyword). I haven’t read YA literature in such a long while. As for the philosophy stuff I read, I’m hesitant about expressing my views on any of them. I don’t consider myself well read at all, so I will not inflict my ignorance on you, my wonderful readers, as much as I can help it.

Other Stuff
We ran out of milk so I made a green tea latte without the milk. I guess it doesn’t qualify as a green tea latte anymore, but whatever. I added two spoonfuls of honey to make it less bitter but it’s still pretty bitter. 😦 On a separate note, I have developed a mild addiction to Reddit. Some of the subreddits are just pure gold. 🙂

Thank you for reading. Have a good night, everyone!

P.S. I don’t trust everything Wikipedia tells me. I mean, there’s a reason why high school teachers hate that amazing site. I check the footnotes… so, no need to bash me about that.
School, Dry Thunderstorms, and Book Reviews

Courses I’m Looking Forward To (11th Grade)

I started this “Courses I’m Looking Forward To” thing last year. Just like last year, I will list one thing I am looking forward to in all my academic courses next year (11th grade). If you haven’t read the 10th grade version of this, the title of the blog post may be a little misleading. “Courses I’m Looking Forward To” is supposed to be about the two or three courses I am looking forward to the most. Instead, I will be writing excitedly about all my courses, because… long story short, I want to be that student who finds something interesting in everything. Imagine how awesome my school year would be if everything is interesting! Okay, this is too cheesy. Maybe the long story, back in my blog post last year, might actually be better. Please check that out, thanks! 🙂

Without further ado…

Co-Curriculum Internship (Citizenship): I’ll be working for a Senator on Capitol Hill for 5 weeks in Module 4! Getting exposure to American politics like that will be a unique opportunity, especially as an international student! I can’t wait to take notes in hearings, answer phone calls, and all that. I’ll blog all about it! I’m also excited about wearing some super formal attire, because I normally dress very casually. 🙂

AP US History: I’ve heard a lot of complaints about this course last year, mostly due to the heavy workload. But at the end of the year, most students agreed that they grew a lot as a reader and writer. I hope I do, too. Plus, I think I’ll enjoy studying all the court cases, because I find law fascinating.

English III (American Literature): I’ll be taking 3 blocks of American Lit—From Slavery to Civil Rights, American Gothic, and Native and Asian American Voices. I’m especially enthusiastic for American Gothic, because a student taking it last year had extremely positive things to say about it! Reading Edgar Allan Poe in class will be very cool.

Chemistry: I took Chemistry for a semester during freshman year, and I remember enjoying that a lot. Well, at least compared to Physics, which I took for the other semester. :p The course description says that the class “includes chemical investigation through experimentation,” and I love experiments. I get to pretend to be like Sherlock again! Sherlock is love, Sherlock is life.
(from Bing Images)
The fangirl in me goes like: Just look at how CUTE he is! AAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaa

Environmental Science: Environmental Science is a field that combines all sorts of knowledge together, which makes it interesting and important. Soon, I will learn all about ecology, climate change, alternative energy sources, and more! This course includes a lot of field studies, which is great, because I like having class outside.

Trigonometry: Yay! Triangles! I enjoyed Geometry freshman year, and learning about the Unit Circle at the end of Algebra II was pretty neat too. Through learning trigonometry, I hope I’ll get to think about and understand the world in different ways.

Precalculus: “Conic Functions” and “Definition of the Derivative” and other terms from the course description are totally new to me and I want to find out what they mean. Plus, I hope this course helps me achieve a not too terrible score on the math section of the SAT/ACT next year. :/

Latin II: Latin I was a good class last year, and I learned a lot. I hope Latin II is like that too. I’m eager to learn more Latin in general because there are so many original texts I’d like to read in Latin. Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy is on my to-read list this year (in English, of course)—imagine how cool it’d be to read it in Latin. Meditationes de Prima philosophia sounds fancy af.

And those are all my courses for junior year!

Two other things that I am looking forward to junior year are Cross Country and dorm life. Cross country, to quote my friend who did it last year, is “the best version of hell.” Sounds great, right? Dorm life—I’ll be living in West Dorm, which is a renovated dorm. I am very thankful for that. Plus, I am really happy about sharing a room with Amy! Amy was my neighbour in Main Dorm last year and we are good friends. 🙂 People usually say that junior year is the worst year in high school, but things aren’t looking bad at all.

Thank you for reading! I challenge you to make a list like this one, of anything and everything you’re looking forward to in all your courses, and share it with your friends!

Courses I’m Looking Forward To (11th Grade)

Flash Philosophy

At my summer camp, there were a bunch of optional activities that the RAs (Resident Assistants) organised. One activity was called Flash Philosophy, and I attended every single session of it. I enjoyed Flash Philosophy so much that I am compelled to share it with you today. So this is how it went:

The RA in charge prepared ahead of time 5 short passages (10-20 lines) written by various philosophers, and numbered them from 1 to 5. At the beginning of the session, he asked a camper to choose a number from a hat. “Three,” the camper would read out, or whatever number was on the slip of paper. The RA passed a copy of Passage Number 3 to everyone in the room.

We’d get time to read the passage. Or, this one time I suggested that we went around the room and have everyone read one sentence each. That was fun. Anyway, we read the passage without knowing who wrote it or in what context it was written. All we had were the words.

Once everyone was done reading, the RA would ask a question regarding the text. We pondered the question. The discussion began with someone either challenging the question, or attempting to answer it.

And the discussion would go on. Sometimes we fell into silence, but that was okay because most of us were comfortable with silences. Silences would provide us with time to think, and soon enough someone would get the talk going again. The discussion went in all sorts of directions, because this was not school. At school there’s a curriculum and learning objectives and outcomes and whatnot, but not in Flash Philosophy. The text was our guide and our starting point, and from there we asked all sorts of questions. We explored all sorts of topics. We entertained all sorts of possibilities. We were philosophers.

There were rules, and they were good. We all addressed each other as Mr. or Mrs. (insert last name). I was Ms. Jang. This was the tradition at the camp, and it put distance between the speaker and what the speaker was saying. No one took things too personally. Also, we were discouraged from bringing in outside sources. Or, revealing the text’s author if we knew who that was. We all genuinely wanted to understand the text. We weren’t there to show off the great extent our philosophical knowledge or whatever.

Flash Philosophy lasted an hour each time. The RA would somehow find a way to wrap the discussion up. He was good at that, but the discussion was never truly over. We’d talk about Nietzche’s ideas or Pascal’s assertions in many other settings. The dinner table, for instance.

At the very end, the RA would give all of us a chance to guess the author of the passage. Whoever got it got chocolate. I guessed correctly once, on a passage about friendship from Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. I started reading the book recently, and it’s a very interesting read. Maybe I’ll write a blog post about it once I’ve finished it and gathered some thoughts together.

Flash Philosophy was something that made my time at camp meaningful. I was missing it already on the plane back to Shanghai. So, something I’ve been thinking about recently: What if I start a Flash Philosophy club at my high school?

I don’t know if anyone would join because I don’t know if any of my friends would like doing stuff like that, but hey, who knows? It’s not like I go up to people and talk about my love for philosophy, “I’m (insert name here) and I like to philosophise in my free time” isn’t a common way to introduce oneself.

A Flash Philosophy Club at Madeira. I’m going to try and make that happen. I’ll first have to read the procedures on forming a club, though. Honestly, it’d be so cool. I can’t wait to start living deep and sucking the marrow out of life again (Thoreau reference :p). Because life cannot be lived to the fullest without thinking, deliberating, and philosophising! 😉

To my fabulous readers: Feel free to make Flash Philosophy happen at your high school (or another community)! The idea isn’t mine and I’m pretty sure those RAs didn’t get a copyright for it or anything… :p

Have a great week, everyone!

Flash Philosophy