What can you expect from your first J-Term at Carthage? New friends, immersive study, and a month you won’t forget — whether you stay on campus, or get a head start touring the world.
All first-year students are required to take a J-Term course their freshman year. Most first-year students stay on campus for their first J-Term, but freshmen can participate in a J-Term study tour if spots are available.
European Music Tour
Azniv Khaligian ’22
For Azniv Khaligian ’22 traveling to Europe for the Music and Culture study tour gave her an opportunity to explore art, history, and music in the classical music center of the world. The freshman music and neuroscience major from Kenosha traveled to Vienna, Salzburg, and Munich with the Carthage Philharmonic and professors Kawakami, Baer, and Burling.
For Azniv, one of the highlights of the trip was performing in Vienna under the direction of a local maestro. She says traveling to the birthplace and modern hub of classical music is an unparalleled opportunity for any student of music.
“In ten days I grew tremendously in my understanding of music through the culture and arts I experienced.”
Azniv says she was astonished to learn what a prominent role music plays in the European society compared to the United States.
“In our country, classical music is appreciated mostly by musical people,” says Azniv, “while in Europe, classical music permeates every aspect of the culture and is cherished by all members of society.”
Before she graduates, Azniv hopes to travel to Honduras for J-Term to study the ecology of a Caribbean coral reef ecosystem and learn about the evolution of nervous systems and behavior, and study Honduran culture.
Senegal: from Colonisation to Globalisation
Emma McLaughlin ’22
During a 2019 study tour to Senegal, Emma McLaughlin ’22 was excited to interact with local school children and see what the educational system looks like in one of the most developed nations in West Africa.
The group toured several schools from public to private as well as bilingual. Emma said most of the children spoke French and English while being taught Arabic in school.
“I was immersed in a French-speaking culture that forced me to sharpen my French skills while engaging in respectful country customs,” she says.
In addition to the educational system, the study tour explored the Senegalese culture, language, and religion, as well as business and commerce, all while gaining an appreciation for the rich history of the area.
Emma says she was very surprised to learn that 60 percent of the population live in poverty and the people selling items at the markets heavily rely on tourism to make money.
“The Senegalese people are very thrifty in how they make money and make a business out of anything — selling fruit, washing cars, or guiding tourists around,” she says.
Emma says she is fortunate to have traveled for her first J-Term and hopes to visit Asia or South America in the future.
In Pursuit of Happiness
Purity Bundi ’22 was happy to be on campus for J-Term 2019. The freshman physics and math major from Nairobi joined Professor Ellen Hauser in the Pursuit of Happiness. The study tour focused on the idea that everyone wants to be happy, what it means, and how to achieve it.
Purity says her classmates all had different perceptions of happiness, but what she learned in the class is very relevant in our daily lives.
“I learned that happiness is more of a long-term fulfillment than a short-term pleasure.”
Purity says her biggest takeaway from the class is that the sound of laughter makes others happy, and “that means a lot to me.”
Carthage Philharmonic’s European Tour
William Dowell ’22
William Dowell ’22 says traveling to Europe with the Carthage Philarmonic as a freshman was an intensive experience that helped to build his musicality.
“We worked with clinicians and conductors who dissected and reworked our pieces to emphasize the historical stylistic techniques.”
William says traveling through Vienna, Salzburg, and Munich helped him realize classical music is very much alive and an active part of these cities’ cultures that compliments the art, history, and architecture of the area.
“What I experienced on this study tour helps give me the freedom to truly explore the music as a living work instead of interacting with it as if it belongs in a museum,” he says.
In addition to practicing their music, they learned about the culture that surrounds it. Visits to the Haydn House and Mozart House gave the students more insight into the lives of those composers.
William says his study tour gave him the travel bug and he wants to see the world!
Viewing campus from a new perspective
Maddie Gronset ’17
As a freshman, Maddie Gronset ’17 stayed on campus in January and faced the cold weather. But ask Maddie about her first J-Term, and she’ll answer that she had just as much fun as those who traveled elsewhere.
Maddie took the J-Term course “The Pursuit of Happiness” taught by sociology professor Ellen Hauser. The class focused on finding happiness in the now and within yourself, Maddie says. They read books on the Dalai Lama and spent days talking about The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. As a class they also participated in meditation and improvisation games.
One of the greatest assignments in the class, Maddie says, was to spend a full day without power: No computers. No televisions. No cell phones. Nothing.
Getting away from the screens was a form of meditation, Maddie explains. The exercise made her explore new things, and opened her eyes to how beautiful the campus is, even in the winter months. It also sparked her interest in the impact media has on society, causing her to change her major to communication.
“It’s crazy how much I learned from a class I thought was going to be about ways to be happy,” Maddie says. “I am glad I had the month to focus on this class because it was an eye-opening experience.”
“Hollywood Does Psychology”
Fred McCann ’17
Fred McCann ’17 also stayed on campus for J-Term his freshman year. A football player, he had daily workouts, so traveling wasn’t an option.
“I wanted to take a class that would interest me and help boost my GPA,” Fred says. “I came across the course Hollywood Does Psychology, and I knew right away that it was going to be my first J-Term class.”
“The first day of class, we spent a half hour learning about the psychological concept of aggression, and then we watched the movie ‘Goodfellas’ for the remainder of the class,” he says. “J-Term classes are structured to last three hours every day of the week, and this class was no exception. But man, it sure didn’t feel like three hours when you are watching some of the best movies every made.”
The students write a short paper every day about the movie they had watched and how it related to a specific psychological concept.
“My first J-Term was a great experience,” Fred says. “My work for the day was often done by lunch, leaving plenty of free time to hang with friends. I also met my future roommate, gained a broad understanding of subject outside my major, and earned a 4.0 GPA — all while watching phenomenal movies such as ‘Star Wars (Return of the Jedi)’ and ‘The Shining.’”