transport | urbanism | adventures | pontification
Things are starting to settle into a nice routine here. My classes are all going well. I especially enjoy the material we’re covering in Latin, elegies of Propertius. It’s definitely a shift from the epic poetry of the Aeneid I worked on last year, but Propertius is easier to handle in terms of syntax and grammar than Vergil. My sociology of law class has been quite amusing. We meet every Monday for three hours. The Sunday before each class everyone in the class (27 people) turns in a paper about the week’s readings. We then discuss these as a group. Last week we discussed at length social perceptions of canibalism. Today’s class spent the first half debating whether fines for speeding tickets should be a fixed price or fixed as a percentage of income. The second half was then a mock court trial in which we argued whether or not elephants should be allowed in Delaware County. That was quite entertaining, and reminiscent of our endless debates in Mrs. Altieri’s class about the number of elephants Hanibal took across the alps.
On the fun side of things (even more fun than all my classes), I’ve definitely been keeping busy. Aikido is going very well, though it’s a very different style than I’ve trained in for the past four years. We have a rotation of senseis, which is on one hand a bit disconcerting, but on the other hand beneficial because we can work in different areas of expertise. For example, every month we have a weapons training in which we do swordwork for an entire hour. My roomate Chris is on the soccer team, so I’ve been watching a lot of the matches. I’ve joined the debate team, and our first novice tournament is Saturday. We have a great debate program here, and I can decide to go to whichever weekend tournaments I choose (from Virginia Tech to Colgate in Maine) with no obligation and travel expenses paid. I’ve started to go rock climbing with the outdoors club (picture). They scheduled a skydiving excursion for next month. Unfortunately, two people were killed last week at the jump school we were planning to use, so our trip is postponed until we schedule with another academy. I’ve spent plenty of time exploring the woods and arboretum on campus. Everything is so green and beautiful, and there are plenty of paths (picture) to hike along. I have had a couple of close calls with some of the ferocious larger-than-squirrel wildlife in the Crum Woods though (picture). I made my debut with the Trinity Episcopal Church choir, and it’s definitely nice to have a bass section with a couple of other people (I was generally a bit lonely in the St. Mary’s choir back home).
One of the biggest reasons I decided to come to Swarthmore was the overall atmosphere. This has been so perfect for me over the last couple of weeks. Two Fridays ago I went to a Classics Department picnic. Attendees of the simultaneous Math Department barbecue ended up coming over and starting a lengthy debate about how the Romans and Greeks added and subtracted. By the end of it all, we were all drawing figures on the ground. Last Friday, I spent the afternoon watching students slingshot projectiles off of the top of the engineering building (picture). With only 1,400 people on campus, I recognize faces everywhere I go. Swarthmore is such a quaint small town. I’ve found evening runs to the Baskin Robbins on the typical small town main street to be quite enjoyable, for both the frozen dairy goodness and the novelty of being in such a cute small town atmosphere. Two days ago while walking to the library, I ran into a fellow bass in the church choir. He was hanging out with his son and walking their dog on campus, and it was very cool that he recognized me and we had a nice conversation after just one rehearsal. As nice as it is to be in an environment like this, I wanted to get away from the sheltered environment of Irvine, and I have. For the past two weekends I’ve gone into Philadelphia via a 25 minute train ride. I have ventured to Chinatown with James from UPenn (picture) and to the Ben Franklin Parkway with Elaine, who flew down for a visit from Tufts. On my way back from the Ben Franklin Parkway, a bunch of Swatties got on the train after transferring from an Amtrak train from New York. They had been in Central Park for the day for a rally about the genocide in Sudan. I’m planning to start tutoring in Chester, a rough neighborhood neighboring Swarthmore, in a couple of weeks. There are definitely plentiful opportunities to get out of the nice Swarthmore bubble.
The weather has started to turn a bit cool. I came across some yellow and red leaves in the Crum Woods yesterday. I’ve actually worn a sweatshirt the last couple of mornings (along with my shorts and sandals) and it will soon be time to buy some shoes and a jacket. It’s started to set in that I won’t be in California until a couple of days before Christmas, but I am only (admitting to) missing Rashi. This is especially difficult because of the cute black labs, Ali and Bear, that reside in the bookstore and run around campus (movie). I look forward to hearing from everyone!