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)

Taraxacum Officinale

It’s been ages since I’ve updated. Sorry about that. My life has been busy but good. This will be a short and sweet post containing three photos.

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Photo #1: Path from the Hurd Gymnasium
Spring is finally here. The days are warm and I had my first Founder’s Day. Lucy Madeira is the founder of my school, and Founder’s Day is a surprise celebration of her birthday. We had no classes, ate strawberries and ice-cream, and played outside.


Photo #2: Dandelions behind North Dorm
Dandelions are everywhere on campus. The binomial name for dandelions is taraxacum officinale. I really enjoy blowing on the fluffy, ripe ones. Two times a teacher stopped me while I was blowing on them and asked me if I was smoking.

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Photo #3: The Huffington Library before Study Hall
This is a photo of the Huffington Library that I took earlier in the year. It’s such a nice space to be in. I spend Study Hall and most of my Saturdays in there.

I hope you enjoyed the photos! Life is going really quite well for me right now, so I hope the peace lasts. Plus, I can’t believe there are only 47 more days until the last day of school. Sophomore year is going by fast.

Taraxacum Officinale

My Week, January 2nd-6th

It’s Friday night (midnight) in the dorm. It doesn’t feel like a Friday, though, because tomorrow is technically a school day for me. This Saturday is our mandatory college counselling day. At least there are no classes, right? Anyway, I am so tired from my first week of school. School can be so frustrating sometimes! I so wish that my teachers were a Youtube video or something:

In math class, I find myself wanting to pause, replay, or play in 0.5x speed my teacher’s lecture. Math is a challenging subject for me, and since the modular system squeezes an entire year’s worth of Algebra II into 15 weeks, we’re learning stuff at a crazy fast pace. It’s only the first week of school and I’ve met with my teacher outside of class three or four times. I mean, it’s wonderful that my math teacher never says no when I ask for extra help. Mr. Ifft is a great person and a great math teacher. But at the current moment, I’m so tired of math. :/

Okay, so going back to that Youtube video thing. For Latin class, I want to 2x, even 4x the speed of Dr. Bednarowski’s lectures. Confession time: I was too excited about taking Latin, so I kind of finished reading the entire textbook over Winter Break. I love self teaching. Although my teacher incorporates interesting aspects of Roman history and culture into the language class, not a whole lot is new because of my interest in classical civilisations and my detailed AP World History class. I guess I could work on other things when I get bored, but then I don’t want to make the teacher feel bad, you know? If I were a teacher, I’d be sad if my students didn’t even feign interest. Plus, there are only 7 of us in the class so I can’t exactly hide. Dr. Bednarowski is very reasonable, though. He told me that I could self study ahead as much as I want, and that he would help me if I have any questions. I’m planning on self studying Latin II over the summer and taking Latin III junior year. That way I could take AP Vergil as a senior! Every cloud has a silver lining! I think the best part about Madeira (my school) is the people. I’ve met the nicest teachers and made the best friends here.

Since I ended that on a positive note, I’ll go on about all the other nice things of this week (more like just today), because why not, right?

Starting with the simple things… A girl in my dorm, Maggie, showed me how to use the Keurig in the dorm. The four(?) months I’ve been at boarding school, I was so intimidated about using that machine, and I don’t even know why! It’s so nice that I know how to use it now. It’s so useful! I’m drinking my second cup of English Breakfast tea as I’m writing this.

Panem et Circenses was also a big highlight of my day today. “Panem et circenses” means “bread and circuses” in Latin, and that was the name of our movie night in Dr. Bednarowski’s classroom. We watched Monty Python’s Life of Brian and had really good Italian food! It was just for Classics Club, a group of high school Latin fanatics! It was a good time.

I could probably go on and on. I’m really enjoying Poetry II with Dr. Arizmendi. This is the one class that I don’t seriously want to adjust the speed of. We just finished reading the first three parts of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and I’m really enjoying that book. We’re also learning about the history of the English language, bits and pieces of European history, courtly love, etc. Everyone’s super engaged because these are some very cool topics! We have a lot of meaningful discussions in Poetry II.

Speaking of discussions, I had a really deep discussion with Mr. Sudnik and my friend Casey after Model UN today. We started out talking about climate change, Paris 2015, and environmental problems around the world. And somehow the conversation took a political turn, so we talked about democracy, Trump, the political divide in the United States, capitalism, Bush, the education system, and more. I find it fascinating when teachers talk about their political views. And Mr. Sudnik had a lot of cool experiences to share with us too. By the time I had to leave, I had no idea that we’d been talking for 2 hours. Every minute of it was so valuable and intriguing.

One more thing, and I should probably go to sleep. This week I made some more progress on Beethoven’s “Rondo a Capriccio” (Rage over the lost penny). It’s a really fun piece! I sight-read and practised it over Winter Break on the electronic keyboard that my piano teacher Mrs. Morris lent me. I was really happy that I had the keyboard over Winter Break, and I’m even happier now with the Steinway grands at school. I love how on a real piano, I can play softly then loudly, sweetly then furiously. Beethoven is one of my favourite composers because of all sorts of emotions you feel from his music. It is rumoured that Beethoven wrote this particular piece after he saw a man running downhill in pursuit of a lost penny or something (don’t quote me on this)… and although frustration and perhaps even anger is clearly shown in the tempo, I’m still unsure about exactly what Beethoven wanted to say. Certain parts of the piece make me wonder if Beethoven is saying that losing a penny is not such a big deal, although it may seem so at the moment. Trying to figure out how to feel when you’re playing music is always confusing and fun at the same time! Listen to the piece here! What do you think Beethoven is trying to tell us? It’ll probably take me a very long time until I can do the piece justice (it’s 14 pages!), haha, but I’m definitely up for the challenge!

So yeah! That was my week. Despite the insaneness of getting back into the flow of school and all that, I enjoyed my week quite a lot. I honestly have so much to be thankful for. I hope your week was as good as mine, and even better! Here’s to a great weekend. Thank you always for reading and following my blog. 😀

Oh, and that New Year’s Resolutions post I was talking about before… It’s definitely coming soon, I promise! Good night for now, though! Sleep tight.

My Week, January 2nd-6th

School, Goals, Christmas, and Sherlock

Hello! Winter Break is now over and I am back at my boarding school. Although I can never have enough breaks, it’s pretty awesome to be with my friends again.

Today was a very busy day. I got everything organised for the start of Module 4. In Module 4, I take Algebra II, Poetry II, and Latin I, in that order. I am especially excited for Latin because I have a strong interest for classical languages. I also found out that two of my Latin textbooks were actually written by a former Madeira teacher, which is just so cool. I started reading Latin Everywhere, Everyday: A Latin Phrase Workbook over break, and I was astonished at how many of the phrases I throw around every day are Latin. I’m excited for my other classes, too, of course. I will be continuing with Model UN, Orchestra, and Glee, too.

I will share my New Year’s Resolutions on my blog soon—I just have to come up with a few more. My goals for sophomore year are kind of put aside for now. Hopefully my new year’s resolutions are better than those. Anyway, something that’s definitely going to be on there is: Add the 1st movement of “Waldstein” to my repertoire! I often listen to Beethoven’s “Waldstein” because it’s so good and emotionally complicated. I turn on the music, close my eyes, and lose myself (I’m so sorry that I’m being so cliché, but words cannot describe the amazing depth of this piece). So today I’ve started playing “Waldstein”, and I really look forward to learning the entire piece and playing it for my friends and family this year! Here is a video of Pletnev’s interpretation of the piece. It’s so beautiful.

Before I go, I want to talk about the best Christmas present I received. My friend got me a very cute pair of gloves in which the fingertips can be covered or not covered. She told me that I need to keep my hands warm to play the piano well. My friend is an amazing pianist, and I want to be able to play like her. We’ve spent a lot of time listening to each other play! I love the gloves because it was such a thoughtful gift. Plus, she put a little tag that reads “For Elsie, My Favourite Ravenclaw.” We both love Harry Potter to death. From this present I was reminded once again that the best gifts come from the heart. I hope the gifts I gave to people in 2016 show that I care and think about them.

And one more thing! Sherlock! I watched the first episode of Season 4 last night! It was a lot more serious than the usual humorous episodes, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I learnt so much more about the characters, and the more human side of Sherlock. And this is where I stop because I mustn’t spoil anything. I can’t wait for the other two episodes!

Good night, everyone! Thank you so much for the continued support. ❤

School, Goals, Christmas, and Sherlock

Thoughts on College

College has been on my mind for the past few days. There was a college counselling session for sophomores, in which we pictured our ideal college and wrote a mock recommendation letter for ourselves. I was surprised at how difficult it was to write about myself positively. And Madeira being a college preparatory school, some dinnertime conversations I’ve been in were about college. Some of my friends seem to know exactly what they want to do, exactly where they want to go, and exactly how to get there. Me, I have things I like and places I’m considering (St. John’s College wink wink)… but I don’t have a plan, or a resume, or anything. I’m keeping my grades up and participating in this and that, but college still feels so far away. What am I supposed to be doing right now to prepare?

So yesterday I spoke with my college counsellor about my concerns. She said that high school sophomores should spend their year being fabulous high school sophomores, not college applicants. That gave me some peace of mind. And I suppose that also makes sense. Maybe it’s okay not to have everything figured out right now. I’ll spend this year being a fabulous sophomore—fulfilling my duties as a student, saying “yes” to new activities and opportunities, and digging deeper into the things I really, really like. And hopefully everything will work out in the end. After all, college is not the end goal of my life—it’s something that will help me get to another great place.

By the way, “stressed” spelt backwards is “desserts.” So whenever you’re feeling stressed, go have some dessert and you’ll be all okay again. 🙂

Thoughts on College

Co-Curriculum, Soirée, and NaNoWriMo

Sorry everyone, I have not updated in ages. I am not abandoning this blog because I love everything about it.

Life has been hectic but nice. This post will be very personal and all about me. I want to talk about 3 things that have been/will be going on in my life.

1. Co-Curriculum: This is my third week of co-curriculum. Co-curriculum is a program unique to my school, where sophomore, junior, and senior students go off campus and intern somewhere for 5 weeks. The sophomore internship theme is service, so I am doing a service internship at a Title I public elementary school called Garfield. I’m finishing my third week this week and now I have two weeks left. I have grown so attached to the students there. Many of Garfield’s students live in poverty, but they’re all so happy and eager to learn. Although technically I’m a teacher there, I’m learning much more than I’m teaching.

2. Tonight’s Soirée: I performed in a soirée at my school tonight, and it was great. I played Kuhlau’s Allegro Burlesco and I’m very happy about how it turned out. I practised for 8 hours last weekend, and more than 10 hours this week. Hard work pays off–I played the last song of the soirée and it went pretty smoothly. Before, I was very nervous. All I thought about this entire week before the soirée was me playing my song without making any mistakes. But once the soirée began, it wasn’t all about me anymore. It was just about enjoying the music–Monica’s music, Priya’s music, Fay’s music, Angela’s music, my music–everyone’s music. I never got to appreciate music like this before. Before, music was torture–it was a mechanical thing, where you had to get everything right, blah blah blah. It used to be so painful and boring. I don’t want to think about it. Learning music at Madeira is a transformative experience. My private music instructor here, Mrs. Morris, is amazing. She makes playing the piano joyful. I’ve really learnt to feel emotion in music, in each and every note, without the fear of failure or being worse in comparison to other people. My roomie took some really nice photos!

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3. NaNoWriMo: NaNoWriMo is the official abbreviation for National Novel Writing Month! I’ve done it off and on since six years ago and last year I also did Camp NaNoWriMo (I was so happy that I was finally 13 years old). So basically, you create a word count goal for yourself every day (ex. 1500 words) and you stick to it for a month and by the end of that month, you have a novel! Probably a crappy novel, but still! A novel! It’s really cool. November is the the national novel writing month so a lot of novelists all over the world participate in this program. I’m going to write a personal novel titled Distractions this year and I’m very hyped up about it. I’m also helping my sixth grade class at Garfield Elementary (my co-curriculum internship) participate in it and Ms. Higgison is very excited about it. You guys should try it too!


I’d love to write more but I really have to go take a shower before lights out. Good night everyone, and thank you for reading and following my blog. I promise I’ll update more often in the future! 🙂 Oh, and sorry if there are any typos or weird sentences. I wrote this in a hurry. :/

Co-Curriculum, Soirée, and NaNoWriMo

My Goals For Sophomore Year

**I didn’t get to the point fast enough. To skip straight to my goals for sophomore year, please scroll down until you see the line of really noticeable bright pink words.**

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted on this blog! In my defence, a few days ago I’ve caught a horrible cold and I’ve been feeling like utter crap. It’s not any better now, but I thought I’d write this to regain my writing momentum.

Before I get to the point, lately I have been rereading a lot of my favourite books since I won’t be able to take all of them to the States. Today I finished rereading Looking for Alaska by John Green and The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton. I would like to recommend both books to all of you. I love these two books because they tell the teenage story so candidly and compellingly. Especially The Outsiders, because the author was 16 when she wrote the book. So, check those out when you’ve got the time! It’s good stuff. Really good stuff.

“Y’all smoke to enjoy it. I smoke to die.” —Alaska Young, from Looking for Alaska
“Things are rough all over.” —Cherry Valance, from The Outsiders
By the way, you need context to fully appreciate these quotes.You really can’t get the right context without actually reading the books. I tried but I ended up deleting my explanation.

Again, before I get to the point, I know how I am going to die, kind of. I will end my own life when I get bored of it. Or, when it makes me too angry or too sad. Either that or I piss off somebody real bad and they kill me. I won’t mind. Living to a ripe old age doesn’t interest me. 

The other day my dad said something really interesting, about how we’re all going to die one day.
“Your time’s gonna run out, and whether or not you enjoy the time you have till then is up to you.” —Elsie’s Dad
I didn’t put my dad’s name up there for the sake of privacy, but yeah. I thought I’d share that. I’m gonna enjoy my time here before I go. I’m gonna try my best to enjoy my time here before I go.

The Line of Less Noticeable Bright Pink Words

Okay, finally getting to the point: My Goals for Sophomore Year.

I’ve set way too many goals over the almost-fifteen years that I have been alive. Most of those goals weren’t good for me. This time I’m not making the same mistakes again. I’m not going to set goals for things I’ll do anyway, because that defeats the point of having goals. I’m also not going to include goals that I obviously won’t keep, because I know I’ll beat myself up over it afterwards. Plus, I’m not setting a whole bunch of goals. Feeling overwhelmed isn’t a nice feeling. No more stupidity, Elsie. Never again.

The Line of Really Noticeable Bright Pink Words


One. I will try out ten new activities. An example of a new activity would be participating in the play, although I don’t think I will be doing that this academic year. Even if I end up disliking and quitting these activities, they will keep me involved and distracted.

Two. I will earn 5’s on the AP World, AP Psych, and AP Chinese exams. This will be challenging. AP Psych and AP Chinese will be completely self-studied (with prior knowledge, of course). I will achieve this goal by working on the material every weekend. 

Three. I will become a better person with an enriched life by practising my sight reading, by swearing less, and by strategically forcing myself to be social at times even when it’s not completely necessary. Because being social is healthy.

Four. I will write ten pieces of writing (poems, short stories, etc.) that I can be proud of. I will get at least one of them up on a public platform for others to read, enjoy, and critique. Not including any of my blog posts, by the way, although I do really like a few of them, haha.

Yep. Four goals. That’s it. Please don’t be like, these goals are not SMART, so they’re useless. For me, they are good goals, and you can keep your opinions to yourself. And yes, I’m in a stroppy mood, which is most definitely not your fault. Sorry.

Good night (or morning, or afternoon, or evening, whatever, time differences, blech). Thank you for reading, despite everything.

My Goals For Sophomore Year