Hello! Monica here.


My name is Monica Gates, and I’m a first-year here at Wellesley College.  I was selected to write this blog (in recognition of my whole class—now that’s daunting!) and I can’t wait to get started!

First for some background on me, before we go crazy with all the activities that consume one from the first day of school…

I hail from Edina, Minnesota, which is a suburb of Minneapolis (so that you don’t have to look it up :).  This makes me a minority, since I’m from the Midwest, except that Minnesotans tend to proliferate here so I’m not sure the rating is fair! I am thinking of a major in the sciences, though since I’m not sure which one I’m planning on taking all of them while I’m here. I love swimming and was a three-sport athlete at home, which included cross-country skiing and track. I also love reading, learning, and teaching, and I think they are all very interrelated. One of my goals here is to read a book for fun… the library even has a section of “Recreational Reading,” which amuses me because it illustrates just how separate recreational reading is from our daily schedules!

On the topic of daily schedules, I love mine here. It’s so easy to get busy, right from day one, that I’ve had to be careful not to overload myself! On the first week of classes, I came in knowing that I wanted to take math, physics, chemistry and biology. So I talked to people, as instructed in the very-supportive Wellesley community, and then knew for sure that I’d drop physics, but take it next semester. Three academic advisors and conferences with the dean later, math was also dropped. Then more talking and bio was dropped. Then math was back in, and I wanted a fifth class (which is not allowed for a first-semester first-year!) Luckily, there’s a lot of people here, all with different opinions and with your best interests in mind, so eventually I did get a schedule hammered out… even if it took more than two weeks!

My final course load looks like this:

Chemistry 120 (which is an accelerated introductory course, so it meets 4 times a week plus lab—pictures at the end!),

Math 116 (Calculus II! Woot woot! Otherwise known as AP Calc BC where I come from),

History 272 (The Political Economy of South Asia. There’s also “Post-Colonial Development” thrown in there for the long title, but it’s enough of a mouthful in its short version),

Writing 125-25: Writ 125 courses are required here for the first year. I’m taking a course called “Music and the Ineffable,” which is about the difficulty of writing about music, and is pretty interesting if you want to look up the description in the course catalogue),

And Education  216, “Education, Society, and Social Policy,” which is turning out to be my favorite class. I had no idea I liked the topic of education so much until I decided to take this! Though there’s lots of reading in all my classes (that’s been the biggest change since high school) I am really enjoying the articles and book we’re reading by Diane Ravitch, called “The Death and Life of the Great American School System.” I’m not going to start down the dangerous and never-ending path of recommending books (oh, the infinite possibilities), but this a great history of the 20th century education movement if you’re interested. Oh, and ps: I’m not actually allowed to take five classes, so I’m auditing this one… which basically means I do all the work though I don’t get credit for it. And if my schedule gets too crazy, I can stop doing the work whenever!

But since I’m a first-year, I feel like I need to address some of the changes that are associated with entering college! And there are quite a few. That’s what I was most interested in when I was in high school (yes, that would be four months ago) and so I’ll mention three:

  1. Reading. There’s a TON of it. I thought there was a lot of reading in high school: wrong! Though it’s a lot less of reading a textbook and a lot more reading of articles and specific selections of books. Still, it’s manageable, and my recommendation is to add a math or science course so the reading gets balanced out.
  2. Being away from home. A lot of people are coping with this by phone, email and Skyping… which I recommend, and I call about once a week though I know many who call home every day. I’ve spent long stretches away from home before, so homesickness is not new to me, but what is new to me is that we’re staying here for the next four years, and this pretty much is home! Luckily, you’ll be busy enough with everything that’s going on that you’ll barely have time to think about it—that’s been my experience, and seems to be similar to those in my dorm.
  3. The schedule. The schedule is AWESOME. You can pick where you want your classes, when you want your class, where and when you want to work, if you want to work, what activities you want to do, whether you want to go to Boston every night, how much of a social life you want to have… everything is open to you! I’m swimming, working at the library, writing this blog, attending classes, possibly doing Wellesley-in-Translation (which is an organization where students translate for nonprofits—I speak French and Spanish and I touch of Chinese, so I’m interested!) and possibly doing other things that come up along the way… plus making friends and eating and doing the ever plebian sleeping. Which is a problem, really, and I highly recommend sleeping because it’s definitely hard to fit in so one should get in the habit early J.

Though of course there’s more, this blog is getting a little long (especially for the first one!) so I think I’ll end it with some pictures and finish up J. By the way, if anyone who reads this wants to hear about something specific about my experience (which is just getting started! And because I didn’t specifically mention this, Wellesley is an awesome college, and the girls are super nice (especially the swimming girls ;) and the teachers are great and… well, I am blogging for the entire year :) just post and I’ll talk about it the next week! Otherwise, thanks for reading and you’ll hear more from me next week!


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