Saturday, November 21, 2009
Left behind on some random subway in Germany? No problem. Let’s take a picture!
In my opinion, one of the most fun things that my Cornerstone class ever did was an EPIC game of Assassins.
Assassins is a serious game. It is always going on, meaning that you can “die” at any point, and must remain on edge indefinitely. Everyone is assigned a target, and everyone has a “killer”. Check out these rules, and you’ll get a pretty good idea of how epic it was:
The Rules (may be amended)
-Everyone will receive one target.
-You kill your target by striking them with a rubber band and/or paper wad.
-After you kill you're target, you inherit THEIR target, and continue assassinating people.
-The last person left alive wins! (NOT the person with the most kills)
-You may be killed at any time! EXCEPT:
-30 minutes before and after any organized Cornerstone event, including Cornerstone classes.
-DURING class lecture. (you're NOT SAFE while waiting before class starts, or after lecture is over!)
-In the MSC
-In Evans Library
-In All Faiths Chapels
-If you are in a group of four Assassins players (or former players), attacks don't count. (Important: if you are in group of 3, your attacker can't kill you, because they form the fourth person)
-If you hit your killer with a rubber band or paper, they can't kill you for six hours.
-Assassins, please remember that any action against the law is against the rules, and please try to respect others, while you are killing them. (No bathrooms, dorm rooms only when ppl are NOT changing, you get the idea)
-Prepare to die!"
My freshman year I ended up dying (lame!) as I was going out to assassinate someone in a DIFFERENT Assassins game! (Lauren, I WILL get you back for that you know.)
Anyways, Cornerstone is fun! Be prepared for hard work, excellent conversations, good friends, and just a wonderful time.
P.S. You can check out latest Cornerstone Assassins game at: http://www.facebook.com/inbox/?search_terms=Assassins#/group.php?v=info&ref=ts&gid=86067011592
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Being a college freshman is one of the scariest experiences in the world. Sure, we were all excited to move out of Mom and Dad’s into our places with no curfews, no rules, and the ability to eat ice cream for dinner whenever we wanted. But out of the blue, you discover that you don’t know how to do your own laundry, your roommate is a lunatic, and on-campus dining fare is less than palatable. Then suddenly in a fit of panic, you realize that oh my goodness, I go to a school of 45,000 people and I maybe know 10 of them? Or 4? Or no one at all? Did I mention I only know people who are majoring in dairy science? What is the world is dairy science!? I’m a history major, I don’t know anything about dairy! Who are these people?
The College of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M is the largest college on campus. That’s right, larger than engineering, business, and the sciences, all of the areas of specialty that A&M is known for. In addition to hosting its own group of majors, the college plays host to every single student on campus who is required by the University Core Curriculum to take English, Communication, History, Social Sciences, Humanities, and Visual and Performing Arts classes, which are all part of the college of Liberal Arts. So if we’re the biggest and the best, why was it almost impossible to meet anyone in the College of Liberal Arts? I didn’t know a single liberal arts major until the day that I sat down for my first class of Cornerstone. And once I met my Cornerstone classmates, I was so glad that I was a liberal arts major if I could have these individuals as my peers.
The best thing about Cornerstone is the people. Some of the best friends that I’ve made at A&M are in Cornerstone. We are a like-minded group of people with a like-minded focus. That isn’t to say that we agree on everything all the time. In fact, when it comes to discussions, we rarely agree on anything at all. It is a group of academically driven students who push to reach the highest level of excellence at Texas A&M. We take classes together, study together, stress out over the same tests, papers, and presentations. We draw from one another’s experience to become better students. We’re the classic group of over-achievers but we have a blast doing it. Our class especially is good friends outside of the program. We study together at the library, we go to movies, eat lunch together. Another Cornerstone classmate and I are even going on a study abroad trip together next summer. For me, it is the people that make the program. Yes, the opportunities afforded by Cornerstone are beyond anything that I could have imagined. The international trip is a huge perk as well but it truly is the individuals and the friends you make that make it worthwhile. It is that commonality of liberal arts that provides a structure for creating relationships with both your classmates and the faculty and staff members that you will encounter. I wouldn’t trade a single second of it for the world.
Friday, November 6, 2009
The best thing about Cornerstone research is the way it breaks the ice and gets you ready for more reserach at Texas A&M. The opportunities for research involvement here are endless, and they're a wonderful way to learn about something you enjoy or have a passion for. Seriously, you could research almost anything here! Don't believe me? Take a look at my apartment the other night...
Katie: In addition to various projects for classes, I spent last Spring and Summer as a research assistant in the Doss Psychology lab for PSYC 485 credit. I helped with a study on couples' therapy for veterans, and a study on couples having their first child. I also completed a literature review on couples' therapy issues for elderly couples for PSYC 491 credit. Currently I'm researching the spinal cord's ability to learn independently of the brain as part of a course I am Honors contracting.
Would you recommend undergraduate research?
Kim: I would absolutely recommend undergrad research to other students because I feel it is a fantastic way to learn how to do research and really apply it in a form that can be shared with others. It gives you an opportunity to think far more deeply about a subject than you ever would have had you not been researching it, and it sheds light on new perspectives based on the reading you do.
Katie: I would definitely recommend undergrad research! Being involved in research has not only allowed me to learn about things I really care about, but it has also provided me with a clearer understanding of how research works, and how our society goes about increasing our knowledge of a subject. I would especially recommend doing research for class credit (485 and 491 classes)...485s and 491s are wonderful ways to obtain elective hours, and they aren't like any other class you'll take!
Monday, November 2, 2009
Sure, the overseas trip is great (and I plan on blogging more about mine soon!), but the one thing from Cornerstone that stuck with me the most is the exposure to undergraduate research that we received. In Cornerstone, the last few months of your freshman year are totally devoted to a research project. BUT, this isn't your typical,-high-school-five-page-requirement, teacher-picks-the-topic-and-you-hate-it research. To illustrate the Cornerstone research project, I'm going to share my experiences, along with those of a fellow Cornerstone student, Kim.
The Cornerstone project is your chance to pick a topic you're in love with and dive head first into the amazing wealth of resources at A&M, emerging a few months later as an expert on a subject with a great presentation and paper to prove it. Your only restriction is that your topic must be somehow related to the overseas trip (in our case, Munich & Vienna). Let's take a look at how we did it...
Katie: My Cornerstone project was about the German education system. I studied its advantages and disadvantages, as well as what the German government is doing to remedy some of the problems in the system.
Kim: My cornerstone research project was about the Grimm Brothers and their influence on the language and folklore of the Bavarian community.
Soo...how did we decide on those topics?
Katie: I’ve been interested in education policy for quite some time. I have a lot of teachers in my family, and it seems as though people are continually criticizing the American school system. I wanted to delve into a foreign system and find out what made their system different from ours.
Kim: I have always loved fairy tales, and I really wanted to trace their roots as far as I could. I was very surprised with what I found. Our idea of fairy tales has morphed from what they originally were.
And how did we feel about our research after it was over?
Katie: I was amazed at the wealth of resources available to me both in Germany and in the libraries here at Texas A&M. Many of Germany’s education policy issues are universal, and the reforms Germany is making were really interesting to compare to those of the United States. I had never been given the opportunity to spend so much time focused on one topic, and I ended up being really proud of my research.
Kim: It was my first college research project, and it was a lot of fun. I loved getting so deep into a topic that I already had a great interest in. It definitely made research enjoyable. I really loved the excuse to spend hours reading all the fairy tales as well!
So, now you have a little more information on what Cornerstone research entails! Stay tuned for "Research, it's Fun! - Part Two" to find out how we continued being involved in undergraduate research after our freshman years were over!
I'll leave you with a few pictures that I took at schools in Germany...