Kilachand First-Year Seminars

By Jan Bhatt (CAS’23) and Michelle Roos (CAS’23)

Hey y’all!!

My name is Jan, and I am an English major on the Pre-Law track! I’m going to talk about my experience with freshman KHC courses as a humanities major, and my friend+roommate Michelle is going to touch upon her experiences as a STEM major. Please please please feel free to reach out to either of us if you have any questions or want to chat!

During my first semester, I signed up for a KHC seminar course called Global Shakespeares: Text, Culture, Appropriation. This was designed like an English course, which as an English major I thoroughly enjoyed. However, for the second semester, my advisor (go Eric!) suggested that I sign up for a course that is different from my major, and I signed up for a chemistry seminar called The Material World. This is the course that I’m going to elaborate on because it was very helpful, not only because it helped with HUB requirements, but also because I was able to learn and retain very important information revolving around climate change and resource depletion. I still remember the few cases that we studied in that class, and I love bringing them up when talking about accountability of large corporations. It was taught by Professor Linda Doerrer, who is a very fun, easy going and interesting professor. I enjoyed speaking with her and learning from her, especially due to her ability to simplify advanced concepts of chemistry. I am very grateful for the two Studio courses as well, because it enabled us to converse about the ongoing global humanitarian issues like immigration, racism, etc. It gave me a platform to participate in regulated, academic conversations about issues that are relevant to the current socio-political climate. I took both studios with Dr. Amanda Fish, who is absolutely wonderful, and is willing to be helpful to the best of her ability. The work-load seemed like a lot to me in the beginning, but that is mostly because I am a massive procrastinator and left the assignments to the last minute.  I eventually got the hang of time management and not leaving most of my work to the last minute and it helped me a lot! So that would be a portion of my piece of advice: time management, and communication. Reach out to your professors if you are confused about the assignment, if you need an extension, or if you need extra help! Nine times out of ten, the professors are more than willing to accommodate and help you out! To summarize, my experience with first year KHC courses, minus some hiccups (mostly caused due to my personal shortcomings), was overall incredibly positive and rewarding!

Hi! I’m Michelle, a neuroscience major and chemistry minor in KHC. In the fall of my freshman year, I took the same Shakespeare seminar as Jan, where we were given the opportunity to read and analyze a wide range of adaptations of Shakespeare’s classic works. Last spring, I selected another first-year seminar entitled “Whose Schools: Power, Equality, and Public Education”. In this class, I found it insightful to learn not only of the inequalities in Boston Public Schools, but also how the education system ties into larger, systemic, socio-economic issues. In addition to these seminars, I also completed two semesters of Studio during my first year at KHC. I liked how most of the writing assignments for this class were relatively open-ended, with the opportunity to construct a research paper on any topic given in the second semester. I chose to write about the treatment of individuals with psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders under the U.S. healthcare and criminal justice systems; this paper is only one example of how a KHC class enabled me to consider the information relevant to courses in my major under a new light.

I am grateful to KHC and the academic advising I have received (shoutout to Amanda!) for encouraging me to take interesting classes that I would not have otherwise taken. These classes have allowed me to expand my interests and gain an interdisciplinary perspective of many of the world’s most challenging dilemmas. As a STEM major, I often find it more comfortable to stick to hardcore science courses than to grapple with the tough questions that are presented in KHC classes. Nevertheless, there is something especially rewarding about completing a difficult paper or engaging in a class discussion that I do not experience in my STEM classes. By forcing me out of my comfort zone, I believe that the courses that I have taken and will take in the future in KHC will allow me to emerge from college as a more well-rounded individual who is (hopefully) more prepared for graduate school.

Kilachand Hall. Credit Jan B.
Kilachand Hall. Credit Jan B.

How to Pick Your Classes

By Jackson Wallace (CAS’22)

One thing that I wish I had known to think about a little more before I came to Boston University and Kilachand in particular is how to pick my classes, especially the first-year seminar. There are a lot of little things that one might not consider at first, so it can be important to sit down, think things over, and not just take the first cool looking class that comes to mind.

An aspect of particular importance is the Hub! Every class at BU comes with some Hub credits and you need to obtain a variety of these credits in order to graduate. So, before you pick a class, you should take a look at what credits you can get through the classes you’ll have to take in your major, as well as the required KHC classes. This way, you can start to get some trickier credits (looking at you, Individual in the Community) out of the way. Your seminar is an especially potent opportunity because a wide variety of classes with a range of credits are offered, many of which are much more interesting than Generic Class 100 you might take otherwise. That said, don’t be afraid to pick a seminar that you think will be cool even if it does not help your Hub (that’s what I and many others inadvertently do and we turned out fine), but it is good to keep in mind.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you should prepare some backup classes. Sometimes, the class that you want to take will be all filled up by the time you register. Sometimes, the really interesting sounding class is not being offered this year. Or, most frustrating, you realize that the class is happening at the same time as a class you need to take for your major. So, it is a good idea to be prepared and have a list of classes you’d be interested in. Otherwise, you may get to registration day and find yourself scrambling to fill in a spot.

A final note to keep in mind is that you should try to make sure you have a good idea of why you want to take a class. There’s nothing worse than signing up for a class only to realize halfway through the semester that you actually detest architecture and want nothing to do with the class. To try and prevent this from happening to you, make sure you know what you’re in for, or at least have a system in place that can get you through tough classes. For instance, maybe you know the subject material is different from what you usually like to learn about, but you’re looking to balance out the other classes you’re taking. Or perhaps you have some friends who can help carry you through the class. No matter what, make sure you know what you’re getting into before you register for classes! And don’t worry, because you will have plenty of resources, from friends to faculty to Kilachand’s own advisors to help get you to that point.

Existential Crises and Cookies: My Experience in KHC UC 105

By Nicole Chiulli (CAS’23)

Liberty, Fanaticism (Religious and Secular), and Civic Unity (also known as UC105, a philosophy course); this was my Fall first-year seminar in KHC, and I’ll be honest - to this day, I still have no idea why I chose to take it.

I’ve always been a lover of STEM; I knew with absolute certainty coming into college that I was going to major in neuroscience. I appreciate the concreteness of science, the clear answers and tangible outcomes. It’s how I entered neuro in the first place - I studied psychology in high school, and found myself frustrated at the open-endedness of it all. It seemed to me that there were no actual answers; just contradicting theories, innumerable “what-if’s” and “possibly, maybe’s.” The subjectivity of it disheartened me. I was amazed by the human mind and all it entailed, but psychology was unfulfilling and general biology was unsatisfying. (Of course, once I discovered that I could major in neuroscience specifically, I was sold - going into painstaking detail about anything and everything neurobiological was exactly what I wanted.)

In other words, I thrive on working with the physical problems of the world. Which explains why, when I told my parents which course I chose for my first semester, they looked at me with a whole new level of incredulousness. My dad recovered first, concealing his confusion with a hesitant, “Well, I’m glad you’re leaving your comfort zone.” My mom asked me point blank: “Why on earth would you do that?”

I really didn’t have an answer. I remember scrolling through the first-year seminar options, meticulously reading each description. They all looked interesting, and a good number of them lined up with subjects I liked. And yet, for some reason, I got stuck on UC105. I kept going back to the description, couldn’t get it out of my head despite the many choices which fit me better. I had never taken a class before on the topics it listed, had never even mentioned them throughout high school. Philosophy was something completely unfamiliar to me, and everything I knew about myself suggested that I would hate it.

I took it anyway. I remember my first day of the class, walking through the doors of the School of Theology; it was held in a cozy little room on the fifth floor where there was a single long table and, three out of the four walls were entirely covered by bookshelves. There were twelve of us, and we sat around the table with Professor Griswold at the head. We went over the course structure - there were no exams, no final projects. We simply had to read different material for every class by various philosophers; then, every week we each had to write a one page paper which somehow connected to the class topics. Over the semester, we were all expected to read at least two of our papers out loud to the class and lead discussion, but other than that, there were no assignments.

I remember trying to write my very first paper and having no idea where to begin. These papers had no prompts, just a strict one-page limit and the vague direction to be thoughtful. This was bizarre to me, and it was two in the morning, and all of the philosophical jargon from the readings was making my brain hurt. So, I wrote a page about how entirely confused I was. I pointed out all of the things I didn’t understand, and why I didn’t understand them, and how I was approaching them in my head. Basically, it was an entire page of my inner monologue, stream-of-consciousness style. The next day I regretfully handed it in with the knowledge that I was going to fail my first paper. Imagine my surprise when it was marked as an A.

From there, things only went up. Class consisted of an hour and fifteen minutes of pure conversation. We would talk, ask questions, argue - sometimes about the readings and our papers, sometimes about things going on in the world around us. I won’t spoil the topics for those who are planning on taking it, but they were ridiculously engaging. We would debate and debate and debate and come up with no answers. My suitemate happened to be in the class with me, and she and I would press on for hours back in our dorm. Both in and out of class, we would agonize over philosophical questions, having minor existential crises every other day. At some point in the semester, Professor Griswold began bringing in cookies - “vitamins for the mind,” as he called them - to sustain us throughout our endeavors. Every class ended with more questions than we started with, and we never reached any conclusions. It was frustrating and painful and confusing, and surprisingly, I loved every minute of it.

Somewhere along the line, I realized that we never would find the answers, and that that was okay. I learned that thinking through the abstract, impossible questions isn’t pointless, even when there’s no solution in sight. I gained a better understanding of myself, my friends and my world in the process (and ate a whole lot of cookies). To this day, UC105 remains my favorite class I’ve ever taken. The professor was amazing, the topics were fascinating, and the class structure was awesome. I don’t know why I took it, but I’m incredibly glad that I did.