Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Second Semester At Queen's - Initial Thoughts

After spending each day of Christmas break blogging, it's a bit of a change not having the time to blog regularly since school started. But, alas, work calls. And as the second week of classes for our second semester draws to a close, I've formed an early opinion of what this semester will look like.

I decided late last week which classes I would keep (shopping around for classes is serious business), and as I attended these classes for the second time today, I came to the conclusion that I made the right choices.

Yet despite my confidence that I've chosen courses that fit my interests best, I'll admit, I'm already drowning in work. In piles and piles and piles and piles of work. I wince at the thought of a research essay worth 70% of my mark. But, here's an admission I never thought I'd make.

(Sorry. I'm about to enthusiastically rave about school again).

I really don't mind this massive workload. In fact, to tell you all the truth, I'm excited about it. Mind you, I'm not thrilled to the depths of my soul about the thought of reading 500 pages a week on top of tutorial preparation, marking, essay research, MRP research, etcetera, etcetera. But I don't mind the workload because I know I'll enjoy what I'll be reading, what I'll be teaching, and most importantly, what I'll be researching.

And isn't doing what we like to do a blessing in itself?

And so, I'll make this second admission. I'll admit, my excitement about second semester is inextricably linked to my research topics this term. Don't laugh. I really, really like what I'm researching. So much that I've decided to share these topics with all of you. Hah.

It boggles my mind how how interesting, how absolutely fascinating these topics are. Research isn't just a tedious, tiring process about a topic you had to pick. When you find something you want to study, it becomes exciting. So fascinating. And exciting. And so, here I am, on the verge of beginning the research process. But I'm having a bit of trouble trying to figure out where to start (moreso for the first topic than the second). If anyone has any ideas, please let me know!

TOPIC 1: Cocaine
Okay, so. We've all had classes in undergrad that we notoriously labelled as that other course. The course we're taking for the sake of a credit, for the sake of a good mark, for the sake of taking just because of limited choices. Luckily, limited choices weren't an issue with me. And while two of my courses this semester focus largely on Canadian politics, my "third course" has proven to be surprisingly interesting and... different.

Forget the traditional research paper. Forget that argumentative, research-based formula you're so used to. Instead, get this. For this particular course, we have the pleasure of picking any product in Kingston and studying its production and consumption. Anything! Anything you can buy in Kingston!

Which product should I choose? I've been torn about my choice all week. I couldn't decide between tracking the production and consumption process of Canada Goose jackets (especially black market ones), illicit drugs (ex. marijuana and/or cocaine), or babies (specifically the adoption process and the costs incurred when becoming an adoptive parent).

I'm leaning towards cocaine. Studying it, I mean. Hah. From its growth and production in South America, to the organized crime groups that disperse it, to its arrival in different countries. To its consumption. Everywhere. Interesting, right? Delving deep into the implications of gender and class differences in the production and distribution of cocaine globally should be exciting. Exciting, I tell you!

TOPIC 2: Women, Politics, the Philippines
The Philippines and the United States both have presidential systems. Yet while the Philippines has already elected two female presidents, the United States hasn't. Why?

Since I was younger, I always wondered about this curious phenomenon. In a Southeast Asian country built on patriarchal, small c conservative norms, why has there been a prevalence of female political engagement and representation? I may have an inkling as to a possible answer. But I'm excited to find out other possible reasons. Interesting, right?

Okay, I'm done rambling about research topics now. But really, can you see why I'm so excited about second semester? Quite honestly, I couldn't have asked for better classes that give me the foundation to study these topics. Topping that off with fascinating studies in Canadian Politics, I'm drooling in love for academia. I know I was a bit harsh the other day in my critique of academics. But aside from that, this is what we love doing. And I'm so happy that we're all on the verge of finding topics that we're excited about. Here's to an awesome semester!

"It’s a funny thing coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realize what’s changed, is you."
- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

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