New Semester, New Books

A stack of some of my college books for Fall Semester.

Fall Semester started yesterday.  I didn’t have much of a break, since I took courses over the Summer, but two and a half weeks off seemed long enough to me.  I spent most of that time rotting my brain with video games.  I haven’t sat around playing video games for hours on end in years and it was great!  Besides a game called Vindictus (by Nexon) that I’ve been playing casually since around March, I started using ‘Steam’ (My Profile) and played Team Fortress 2, Left For Dead 2, and Borderlands, among others.  Hopefully I’ll still have a little time to hack up zombies and make bandits’ heads explode with a shotgun, but considering how thick some of the books are, I’m glad I have one of those nifty book lights that clips on, because I foresee a lot of late night reading.

Some good news is, I finally decided what I want to do and declared my major as History.  I still have to figure out what particular area of history I want to focus on, though I’m leaning towards Islamic or Medieval History.  I’m also considering doing a double major since a history major only requires 11 courses (33 credit hours) out of the total of 120 credit hours required to get a BA. 

This semester I’m going to be taking two history courses that will count towards my major:  Middle East Under Islam and Traditional Civilizations of India.  The books in the picture above are for those two courses.

I’m also taking a 6 credit course involving English and Writing.  It’s called ‘Our City’ and focuses on literary perspectives on New York City.  I live here, so why not?  It might help me discover some of the history behind New York City.  Also, it fills a requirement.  I’d rather have taken a course that covers dystopian literature, but it wasn’t available and I want to get that requirement out of the way.

I also wanted to mention that Hurricane Irene is affecting the school systems here in NYC, obviously.  I got an SMS, an email and three phone calls from the CUNY alert system letting me know that CCNY will be closed today, tomorrow, and possibly Monday.  I don’t really care that the school is closed today or tomorrow.  In fact, it might not even be bad if it’s closed on Monday, since the first day of a class is usually a ‘get to know each other’ kind of thing.

Hurricane Irene has New Yorkers panicking.  By now, all mass transit will have shut down, including the airports and Amtrak.  There are mandatory evacuation zones and they may even cut power to prevent the power grid from being annihilated by salt water inundation.  I also looked at a map and discovered that the block my apartment building is on is just inside an evacuation zone.  The evacuation zone area cuts inland only for my block.  I don’t know how to feel about that, but if the block south of me and the one north of me aren’t in an evacuation zone, then WTF?  I can see them from the window and could hit them if I threw a stone.  They’re also on the same level as this building, altitude-wise.  I think I’ll stay put.

Officially a Full Time Student Again For The First Time in Almost 12 Years (And more snow pictures)

A picture of Townsend Hall at CCNY.

A picture of Townsend Hall at CCNY, prior to all the snowstorms New York City has suffered through over the last month.

Everything went off without a hitch today, other than a lack of sleep due to anxiety.  I woke up at 5 AM and couldn’t fall back asleep, after going to bed at 1 AM.  I’m starting to feel that now, now that the excitement of the day is winding down.

Getting up to CCNY was surprisingly fast this morning.  I had expected there to be delays, due to leftover snow from the snowstorm.  Instead, I got there more quickly than usual, even though I walked two blocks to the nearest subway station to get a MetroCard.  The commute was only an hour, compared to the hour and 15 to 20 minutes it had been taking me before.  I imagine that was partly because I was traveling during the morning rush hour, so there were more trains and buses running.  I’ll allot more time when I head up there for class, just to make sure I have the commute time right.

In my last post I said that the only thing I really had to worry about was busting my ass on the hill going up to the school, and maybe I jinxed myself.  I didn’t completely fall, but I looked like a flailing idiot more than once, scrambling to catch my balance.  Someone I know told me once that Dr. Marten’s are great shoes for jobs where you have to do a lot of standing, but they really don’t have any traction in the snow.  She was completely right.  I need to get some proper snow boots, but it’s probably too late in the season to worry about it now.  I’ll just keep that in mind for next year.  I really need to take a photo of that hill too.

I wound up getting to the school at about 8:20 AM.  I went over to the Veteran’s Affairs office first, to let them know I was there and to ask where I should be going.  Unfortunately, I beat the VA counselors to work, and I stood around in the courtyard for a while scoping out the snow.  It was knee deep in places.

The area these photos are taken in is called the “squad”, or so I was told by a girl that worked in the Gateway Advisory office, which I visited a short while later.  I asked her why, but she didn’t know.  I’m guessing it’s a combination of ‘square’ and ‘quad’ that someone thought was cute, and it just sort of stuck.

After talking to the VA counselor, I got sent over to the Gateway Advisory office.  I showed up there at 10 minutes to 9 and then stood around waiting for that office to open.  When it finally did open, at 9, I found out the advisors didn’t come in and start advising until 9:30.  Not a problem!  I had my Kindle with me.  I’m reading an interesting historical fiction book by GA Henty called The Cat of Bubastes (link to free download on Amazon).  It’s a story about ancient Egypt that’s turning out better than I’d expected.

By about 10 we had discussed the courses still available and I chose the ones that most suit my major and didn’t duplicate something I’ve already taken at another college.  I’ll be taking Introduction to Anthropology, American Government and Politics, Introduction to the Visual Arts of the World, and World Humanities 1, a course about literature from the Greeks up to the 1500s.

What took up so much of my time was getting the financial part of things taken care of:  standing in line to get my bill, then walking back to the VA office for the VA deferral form, then back to the admissions office to stand in line to get the VA form verified, and then standing in line to get the zero balance verified so I could get my student ID is what took up most of my time, not because the walk was long, but because the lines were long.  I was surprised by how many people were there trying to pay their bills.  I had a low priority for registering for classes, and was only allowed to register on the last available day, because I’m taking classes as a non-matriculated student this semester.  I figured most people would’ve finished this all up by now.

Getting my student ID was an interesting experience, and oddly, my first thought was, ‘I wonder if I can use this to get discounts on stuff?’  While I was there, I saw one guy that looked like he was in his 50s getting a student ID, but most of the people there looked too young to even be in college.  Still, it was comforting to know I wasn’t the only ‘older’ person going back to school to get more education.

Anyhow, I’ve got a pretty good schedule.  Except for a 9:30 class on Fridays, all of my classes start in the afternoon.  That means I can still sleep in!  I’m looking forward to kicking things off next week!

Children Selling Cigarettes in the Philippines

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I was sitting on that same second floor window where I saw the girl with the bag that said “Use Me” when I saw something else interesting.  Does this count as child exploitation?  Isn’t there a law against it?  Maybe there isn’t.  It seems like labor regulation is pretty loose in the Philippines, which can apparently have both its ups and downs.

This reminds me of something else I saw, where children were encouraged to buy tokens for the toy machines in a grocery store at the tobacco counter.

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