Three days into my study abroad program and this is my classroom. Well we haven’t actually left the country yet, in many ways Detroit faces more challenges than the other cities we will be visiting during the course of the semester. I am spending the semester in Detroit; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Cape Town, South Africa; and Hanoi, Vietnam with a group of 30 students on a comparative urban studies program focused on understanding the different forces that shape cities and the challenges that they face.
I can already tell that this semester is going to be very different from anything I have done at MIT not only because it is a humanities program, but also in the way we are learning. The IHP Cities in the 21st Century program is focused on experiential learning and learning from the community, so site visits, interviews and neighborhood days are just as important as the classroom sessions.
I anticipate one of the strangest things for me this semester being the type of work we are expected to do. Typical for an MIT student, I am used to not a day going by without a problem set or math problem to solve. While I usually take one humanities course every semester, the majority of what I do is solving problems. There is a definitive end, and a specific course of understanding. Here on IHP, our work is primarily reading. We have already received eight different packets with readings for the next few weeks, and I am finding that I have to relearn how to learn, in a lot of ways.
I am grateful that Course 1 allows me the opportunity to participate in a program such as this and I am excited to see how it intersects with my coursework at MIT, my internship experience this summer and my own interests. I am excited to interact with students from very different academic backgrounds, and have already learned a lot about liberal arts education, something I never even considered. I have to get back to my readings, but hello from Detroit, and expect another update soon, and lots of pictures of course (internet connection willing).