…has ended. As predicted, the new schedule looks a lot different from the old one:

  • Calculus I (all about differentiation) has become Calculus II (all about integration). A former member of the Chicagoland All-Star Math Team, I'm coming back to math after a 10-year hiatus. Relearning the rules of differentiation and integration is especially challenging and time-consuming because I've also forgotten many of the preceding concepts. For example, I keep carelessly misapplying the Chain Rule and getting answers that are slightly wrong. For another, integrating using trig substitutions gives me trouble because trig was a lot of memorization, and it was 12 years ago. It's been taking me around 8 hours to complete each assignment correctly, thus far, which is a bit much. But this is entirely a function of this student and not of the course.
  • Fundamentals of Western Music has become Diatonic Harmony/Counterpoint. I liked the Fundamentals instructor a lot, and he also teaches a Diatonics section, but it was full. A new Diatonics section was created for us latecomers, and our instructor is also quite good. We've just finished our introduction to Species Counterpoint (Species I-III) and will start on something new tomorrow.
  • Ear Training III has been just fine, even a little fun, except that I'm the only one in the class who can't instantly apply “do-re-mi” (etc.) labels to arbitrary notes as I sight-sing them. This is called solfege and I need to learn it, pronto. The excitable French instructor is also attempting to teach us perfect pitch. Despite the incessant hum(s) of the building's cooling system and the horns and sirens of traffic on Broadway, I think I'm most of the way there. Every so often I think of an A and check it against my Medtner-A-minor-sonata ringtone.
  • Yiddish I is now being taught by a Jewish grandmother. The classroom atmosphere is very much like being in Hebrew school all over again. She tells colorful stories about life in Eastern Europe and her interactions with famous people (Colin Powell and Leonard Nimoy, among others). Sometimes she answers questions by quite obviously making something up. There's little homework, though we do have to watch (and review, in English) five Yiddish-language films by semester's end. As a bonus, thanks to a pathological interaction between the class schedule and this year's Jewish holidays, we have class only four times in October. Pound for pound, this must be the easiest four credits at Columbia. I wish it weren't, as I'm genuinely interested to learn the language, but I suppose it buys me time for math while I still really need it.

Mondays are intense. First class starts at 9:10, last class ends at 7:25, and there's always math homework due at midnight. Tuesdays and Thursdays make up for it: Yiddish in the morning, Czech in the evening, the end. Wednesday is somewhere in between. Fridays are clear sailing, too, except there's always math homework due at noon. Normally an open Friday afternoon would send me into weekend slack mode. The cool part about this schedule is, there's always so much to do for Monday that there's never a chance to enter slack mode.

My first exam in a long long time was last week. Czech, 97%. The first math exam is tomorrow. Lots to re-memorize, especially trig. As of a few days ago, I'm starting to pick up speed and facility with evaluating integrals. Not a moment too soon.