The other day I was asked by my high school counselor during a Zoom dinner catchup what some of my favorite classes have been during my time in undergrad at UC San Diego. As I was answering, I realized that I’ve bounced around more than I thought and have taken quite a few classes that stand out to me. Maybe they changed the way I think and see the world, or maybe they simply showed me an area of life I knew nothing about previously. From cryptography to stage management, here are some of the class highlights of my college career thus far.
Stage Management, TDDR101
During my first year, I took TDDR101, Stage Management, to fill a general education requirement. I never could have known upon clicking the “enroll” button on good old WebReg that this class would open me up to so much through both class content and attending shows at the La Jolla Playhouse for assignments and extra credit. Whereas most of my classes at the time were multi-hundred-student lectures and had a textbook teaching approach, this class was small — tucked away in York Hall — and encouraged hands-on learning, especially when it came to the final, which consisted of learning to call commands as a stage manager would for a given production — in my case, for the song “Circle of Life” from The Lion King. UCSD has one of the best theatre programs in the world, but somehow that fact tends to get swept under the rug among the non-theatre major part of our student population.
Field Methods: Cognition in the Wild, COGS13
While I was already interested in primate cognition, Professor Rossano is why this class stands out to me as one of my most memorable. Three times per week he would stand on the Price Center Theatre stage, drawing in the attention of the hall. His passion for his work bled into lectures, and every time I felt as though I walked out with more than I came in with. While group projects can be frustrating, these projects were some of the better ones I’ve experienced.
Human Nutrition, BILD22
Are you really a UCSD student if you aren’t scrambling on the first day of the quarter to rearrange your schedule because you couldn’t get into the classes you needed? The answer is no. As I added this class during an academic advising appointment, my advisor rushed me out so I could scramble to Peterson Hall for the first lecture, which had already begun 15 minutes before. I soon had an unassigned-assigned seat (OK, it’s not my fault that left-handed desks are rare) and crashed office hours an annoying amount. Professor Strause and this class were what made UCSD finally feel like home and I’d take it again in an instant if I could.
Latin Dance of the World, TDMV142
As mentioned before, our theatre and dance department slip under the radar too often. Whether you take this class to fulfill a GE, such as Eleanor Roosevelt College’s Regional Specialization requirement, or just tack it onto your schedule for fun, I can’t recommend it enough. Despite taking it remotely via Zoom during Fall Quarter 2020, which eliminates the partnering component, it ended up being an amazing exploration of something I wasn’t sure I’d ever do. The open environment that Tony created felt less like the stressful classroom setting that we’re used to and more like a creative playground of self-expression. The class covered several Latin social dances, including salsa, bachata, and cha-cha.
Making and Breaking Codes, LIGN17
This class reawakened the code-lover in me. There’s something so thrilling about code making/breaking — something that makes us giddy and excited to see what lies on the decoded end. Cryptography in undergrad seems to be uncommon enough that it’s difficult to find practice problems online because not many schools offer much like it. Concepts feel like puzzles that are actually fun to solve, and lectures are more engaging than average. Alice, Bob, and Eve now float around in my head rent-free. If you know, you know. If you don’t know, take this class.
Whether you’re a freshman testing the waters, or in your last year near the finish line, consider one of these classes to switch up your schedule! While we probably won’t be able to experience everything at our disposal, we might as well try to make the most out of what’s available. What are your most memorable classes?