First year, first semester of college: check!

First year, first semester of college: check!


Pomona College
Pomona College
Photo: April Xiaoyi Xu


April at Pomona College: first-semester, first-year
April at Pomona College: first-semester, first-year
Photo: April Xiaoyi Xu

From my time at college as a first semester first-year student, I have collected so many memorable moments and have learnt much, not only from my classes (Macroeconomics, Calculus, First Year Seminar, and Intermediate Spanish), but from many occasions beyond the classroom.

As one of America’s foremost liberal arts institutions, Pomona College provides its students with an abundance of resources and opportunities to closely interact with our professors. What pleasantly surprised me was how well Pomona maximises the joys of learning by taking advantage of its own student body.

Basically, the way that the system works is that the college is paying for students to get free academic tutoring from students who specialise in subjects including mathematics, the natural sciences, foreign languages, economics, and computer science. Not only do they help with homework assignments and papers and effectively help reduce the stress from the challenging nature of the work, they also share their personal experience in the subject and personalised study tips.

At the mentor sessions and study groups, students usually go through the class materials and homework assignments in advance and prepare questions that they find intriguing to share with the rest of the group. For instance, to prepare for our final (which our professor calls “Final Fun Activity” to make the exam sound more fun, and more like an active learning experience) in my Calculus study group, we met in a math classroom at night and covered the blackboards on all four walls with main concepts and questions for each other.

April and her fellow students hard at work during their study group
Photo: April Xiaoyi Xu

One of my favourite weekend pastimes has been Greek lessons, which I’m taking for zero credit and my friend (who is originally from Greece and is fluent in four languages and has been further challenging himself with Intermediate Japanese) is teaching for free. I wanted to start learning Greek because I’ve been interested in the cultural aspects of the country, and my friend enjoys teaching it because he “wants to spend time with such a beautiful language” every weekend.

We have a textbook and a workbook from which he assigns homework to facilitate the learning process, and work on all of the essential language learning skills, including listening, speaking, grammar, reading, and writing. These Greek lessons are not just a fun language learning experience, but also a weekend pastime from which I get inspired by my friend’s passion for language and learn from the skills that he personally used to succeed in learning foreign languages. 

This semester reflections could go on and on as I take all of those memorable moments with the amazing people home with me for the winter break. I cannot wait to get back on campus to keep exploring what college has to offer next spring.


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