Back in the Fray

After seven months away from Ithaca, I’m finally back! Classes started this week, and I’m still adjusting to the fray. Is it reasonable to feel lost on a campus where you’ve been living for almost four years?

On my first day back, there was a notable absence of people on the streets. However, the following day, when classes officially began, a profound shift occurred and suddenly all my usual hot spots on campus were flooded by returning students. I remember most how Trillium filled up around mid-day. It was difficult to grab a seat and for a while I had to eat on the stairs. Luckily, I was able to grab a quick picture from that spot to help illustrate this blog post, making the situation worthwhile.

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This semester, I will be taking three classes for a total of 12 credits. This more relaxed schedule is a direct reward for managing heavier course loads during previous semesters, and I’m looking forward to taking my time synthesizing the materials from these classes and investing more free time into writing and other non-academic passions of mine. For my first day of class, I attend two of my three courses: (1) ILRIC 3342: Workplace Health and Safety as a Human Right and (2) ILRLR 3060: Recent History of American Workers.

Professor Gross, who teaches ILRIC 3342, spent his first lecture combing through the details of his syllabus and explaining the requirements for our final research project. From what he described, it seems like his class will be heavily dependent on peer discussions during lecture sessions and on team efficiency outside of class. The only non-reading assignment throughout the course will be the research paper I must complete with a team of two other classmates. In the meantime, we will be focusing on international and domestic policies for regulating workplace health and safety in different precarious industries. Wish me luck!

ILRLR 3060 was similar in that its professor, Professor Cowie, spent a large portion of the lecture reviewing the syllabus and clarifying deadlines and requirements for future assignments. However, one important difference in the two introductory lessons was that Professor Cowie followed up his orientation with an exercise in which he asked students to volunteer suggestions of events–political, economic, social, or otherwise–to fill a timeline from 1940 to 1960 of moments which changed the life of American workers. While I didn’t contribute much to the discussion (I’m terrible with recalling dates), it was a great refresher and his side comments on the events listed gave me some insight into what he believes were important changes and trends in politics, economics, and other areas affecting American workers.

The Timeline

The Timeline from ILRLR 3060

At the end of the day, I still felt a little out of place. It’s strange to get back to the habit of attending classes, particularly when I’m not immersing myself completely in the task with a heavy course load. However, it’s not a challenge I expect to experience for very long. The subjects of my courses are engaging, and the campus is coming to life with that good ole’ student hustle. The vibe is infectious. I’m sure it will hit me soon, too.

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