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Taking a Course Outside My Field of Study

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Quad 01B - Building 200 History Corner


Coming into my first year at Stanford, I wanted to focus solely on engineering requirements and mandatory freshman year classes. For some reason, I thought that if I loaded my plate with math, science and engineering classes, I would be able to  decide on which exact major I was most interested in more quickly. Despite these intentions, I had a little bit of space in my schedule winter quarter. I decided to look around on ExploreCourses to see if any classes really interested me.  

After some searching, I found a fascinating class, History 1B, which covered early modernity. The class was taught by Professor David Como, a brilliant lecturer with numerous teaching awards, and I decided on a whim to take it. From the first lecture, Professor Como weaved an intricate story of the importance of climate on past civilizations and particularly focused on Africa and Asia, areas which I had studied very little in the past. Professor Como chose intriguing readings that creatively interspersed historical facts with speculation.  Such a style of writing made it much easier to consume the weekly books. For the final paper of the class, Professor Como gave us free rein to choose any topic touched upon in the class and research it. Venice and its rise to power during the early modern era truly fascinated me, so I thoroughly researched it and found enough fascinating information for five essays. Professor Como and the teaching staff presented a wealth of captivating material and made each class fly by.

History was one of my favorite subjects during my time in high school, but I did not believe that I would be able to carve out any time for it at Stanford. This assumption proved to be very wrong; after taking History 1B, I have vowed to myself to take at least 2 history classes per year.  In addition, I hope to minor in history with a focus on early modern Europe. This newfound interest directly stemmed from my incredible experience in History 1B and research project on Venice. Although I originally had no intention of taking history classes at Stanford, I had space in my schedule and decided to give it a shot. Without a doubt, History 1B was easily my favorite class winter quarter and piqued my interest in a field that I had moved away from.  Taking a class outside of my comfort zone seemed daunting at first, but the new experiences and perspective capped off my freshman year.

Patrick Crowley

Class of 2018

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