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Winter 2015 (1B): Term Summary

Hey Guys!
January 20, 2016 (originally created May 2015)

So I've always wanted to start a new series of articles that I write at the end of every term to outline my experiences for that term. I feel like it would by a excellent way to describe the classes I took to a greater extent and include my opinion and thoughts on these classes. I'll also include a bit about what I've been doing in my life, and also give you guys a idea of what I'm planning to do in the future. Guess I'll start right now with my Winter 2015 term at the University of Waterloo. I originally wrote a few things back in May, but I hadn't created this website yet. This article is pretty much a consolidated version of my original thoughts and is told from the perspective of myself back in May. 

Without further ado, let's talk about Winter 2015. I can honestly say that this term was the life-changing term for me. This was my first ever term in the Faculty of Arts after transferring from the Computer Science program. I started off super stressed and nervous about my future. I mean, I had just almost failed a term, so I felt that I had to redeem myself! It was literally do-or-die; I had no way of backing out and going back to CS. If I did poorly this term, then I would have probably decided that I was not fit to be a University student. However, by the end of the term I did a full 180 flip. For the first time ever, I started becoming confident of my future and began to really enjoy University life.


In total, I took 5 classes this term. 2 of these were PSCI classes, and were required for me to declare my major at the end of the term. The other three classes were electives that I chose from the Faculty of Arts. I'll be giving you guys a quick summary of the content in these classes, as well as my general opinion of them. 

ECON 101 - Introduction to Microeconomics 

This course is probably one of the most popular electives taken at Waterloo. Legit everyone takes this introductory microeconomics course either out of their own interest or just because it's so popular and they want to see what the hype is about. The content was just general broad topics in microeconomics including types of businesses, elasticity, supply and demand, types of economic inputs, and also a bit on game theory. The content itself in my opinion was rather dry, and exams were all multiple choice. I had Dr. Cory Van De Waal as my professor, who I felt was an excellent guy. He showed random funny videos every lecture and really tried to make the material interesting. I managed to get a 95% in this course mainly just cramming and memorizing everything from my course notes. The study guide that came with this textbook helped a lot in terms of preparing for the midterms and exam, as many of the questions on the tests were highly similar to those in the guide.

LS 102 (Now LS 202) - Introduction to Criminal Law

So I took this course out of pure interest as I wanted to examine the finer aspects of Criminal Law. Grade 11 and 12 Law covered some areas, but this course brought it to a whole new level. We studied types of offences, elements of a crime, defenses to crimes, the defense of mental illness, and also a bit on regulatory and quasi-criminal offences. I had Dr. Ryan Broll as my professor. Really great guy. Cracked a lot of jokes in class, and generally had funny stories to tell us. Material was quite interesting, but be prepared to remember a LOT of stuff.  Evaluations consisted of all multiple choice tests with one assignment. The multiple choice midterms and exams were tricky in the sense that the questions were highly specific, but I managed to pull off a 92% after doing quite well on the exam (pretty sure the marks were curved up). 

PSCI 150 - Introduction to Global Politics

My first ever Political Science course! It's probably not a surprise to you guys that this was the course I was looking forward to the most! This course was divided into 2 separate sections. The first section talked about the rise of inequality, while the second one talked about power and international relations. This was an excellent introductory course to Global Politics and quite a popular elective. Tutorial sessions were jam-packed with great discussions and I certainly loved the content. This course was taught by 2 separate professors: Dr. Eric Helleiner and Dr. Veronica Kitchen. Both were great professors. Helleiner was super enthusiastic about the material that he taught, and Kitchen always loved to bring up class discussions. In terms of grading, I felt that this course required more effort than most others. I put a lot of work into my essays as I required a high mark (75%+) in order to declare PSCI as my major. The multiple choice questions on the exam were pretty brutal (highly specific, all the answers looked correct), but luckily they were not weighted much in comparison to the other portions of the exam. I actually happened to get a pretty bad nosebleed while writing this exam (the air was pretty dry in the PAC), and I legit sprinted for the washroom mid-exam, but it all turned out okay in the end. Ended off with an 88% as my final mark. 

PSCI 231 - Government and Business

Another PSCI course! I mainly took this course because I required another PSCI course and many of the other ones required prerequisites that I did not have. This course taught me a good amount about the intersection between business and politics. Topics covered included economic theories, neoliberalism, keynesianism, normative and positive reasons for government intervention, environmental intervention and also had a bit on the 2007 financial crisis. I had Dr. Brent Needham as my professor. This man is probably one of the nicest guys I've ever seen. He loved to start friendly discussions in class and was super approachable. He handed out an extra credit assignment mid-way through as he felt the test averages were too low. Great guy overall! I mainly studied the content from the assigned readings, as the lectures were rather dry and there were no slides/course notes. Evaluations consisted of tutorial and in-class participation, 2 in-class exams consisting of essays, and also a paper. I felt that I could have done better in this course, but I slacked off a lot for the exams and didn't do as well as I hoped to do. Ended off with an 83%.

ENGL 109 - Introduction to Academic Writing

I took this course out of pure interest. I had a great time in Grade 12 English and I wanted to see what an English course was like in University. Instead of taking the section with 200+ students, I opted to take the 30 student section as I felt it would be a better experience. The course actually didn't have much in terms of substantive content. Classes were mostly discussions, as well as a few workshops on grammar, structure, punctuation, and forming arguments. I had Professor Keely Cronin (a 
Ph. D student), who was a truly amazing professor. She was super friendly to her students, got to know everyone, had fun in-class activities and also laughed at my bad jokes! Evaluations consisted of 4 essays (anecdotal, analytical, argumentative, reflective), participation, and some easy assignments marked for completion. Really interesting class, and certainly the class with the lightest workload this term. Ended off with a 91%, but could have gotten higher had I not skipped a few classes due to meetings/interviews. 

The Future & Concluding Remarks

For me, this term as indeed a life-changer. After struggling a LOT during my first term, I finally started to get used to University life. Since I became more interested in my courses, I started to actually excel academically. My marks were high enough for me to finally obtain a good academic standing and also to declare my Political Science major. I became confident in my skills and became more outgoing due to this confidence. Looking back, I felt that I was reborn at the end of the term, and had a future that held endless opportunities. My plan in the future is to apply for the Co-op Political Science program in my 2A term and hopefully gain some nice relevant work experience. I certainly look forward to my 2A term, but that's still 4 months away! For this summer, I'll be working at an amusement park to earn money to pay off my tuition and living fees and also gain some experience to put on my resume. I'm probably also going to get a head start on studying for the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test) as I have to take it in third or fourth year.