Sigma Xi luncheons |
Word Reference (English, Spanish, French, Italian) |
Since I came to Smith in 1994, I sat in several classes (mostly auditing, but sometimes I even did
Why? I feel I need a steady humanistic intake to balance my intellectual life.
Going to an Art History class or talk, sometimes right after teaching my own programming class,
transports me into a beautiful, different, complementary world.
But mostly, I do learn for my own enjoyment.
- Art History, in Smith College Art Department. In the past I took
the following courses:
This Fall 2003 semester I sat in for the first half of The Golden Age of Dutch Painting, but helas!,
my teaching duties and travels interfered eventually. Too bad I could not attend
regularly, since Hendrik Van Os, the
former director of Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, gave an eye-opening, fun, lively and very
interesting course, from which I also learned more on Dutch history (and the propagandistic
role of art in recording history, too).
- Art History 100, the superb year-long world art history survey.
- Rennaissance Art
- Gothic Art
- Romanesque Art
- Islamic Art and Architecture
- Foreign Languages. All my life I was fascinated with foreign languages.
Maybe that's why my first speciality in Computer Science was in programming languages!
I learned a bit of many languages, and can find my way with the help of a dictionary even
in those which I never had time to perfect.
Romanian, French and English, in this order, were the first three I learned. Then I did a bit
of: Italian, Latin, German and a smattering of Russian. More recent additions:
- Right before my 1998 sabbatical in Spain, I learned Spanish
by attending the year-long introductory course at Smith College. It was REALLY fun, we were watching a telenovela
every week and I did most of the oral exercises in the car, during the 4 hour weekend drive to and from New Jersey.
Moreover, Spanish (I should say, el Castellano) is so close to my own native language, Romanian, that I picked it
up pretty fast, which made my fellow students think I am a genius and increased my popularity at that
time :-) Now I pick up occasionally a book in Spanish, listen to Spanish chanels and LOVE traveling to
Spain whenever the opportunity arises.
I'd like to learn, eventually, the pronunciation
rules in Catalan (I just found a grammar book and a CD to teach myself). I hope to be able,
eventually, to make a small impression on my many Catalan friends. Reading Catalan is
by-and-large OK -
it is reminiscent of old French.
- I am proud that, before a visit to Hungary, I managed to learn the pronunciation rules.
At least when asking for directions in Budapest, I can say Vaci Utca
in a way people would understand. And then, I had a lot of Hungarian professors when I was
at Rutgers, so it was important to pronounce their names properly. I still haven't
learned the proper way of placing the accents on Hungarian names or words,
but I may. It is all a matter of motivation and interest (so probably it depends on whether
I'll travel to Hungary often or not).
- I never attempted Chinese. In Beijing and Hong Kong, I learned the art of pointing to
a Chinese sign on a map or a phrase in the turist phrase book. It was quite painful for me. All I was
able to learn was "Ni Hao" (or roughly this). Properly pronounced, should mean Hello.
There is also "Xixi", thank you, that people there understood better, probably
because of the context, not my pronunciation.
- I would like to learn at least the basics of Arabic script (caligraphy would be nicer).
I even bought a textbook, and learned that there is a class in the Five Colleges
that I could take (there even was one at Smith at some point, I think - but I didn't have
time to take it). I wish I had more
time. I am fascinated by the Arabic caligraphy (a consequence of the Islamic art course, and
of seeing beautifully painted manuscripts).
- Other classes I'd like to do in the future:
- More art history.
- Eventually, a studio art class.
- English (classical) literature. I am seriously tempted by a poetry course, and
I think I should drop everything if there is a course on Samuel Johnson (can't imagine reading Boswell without
- Some French literature. My last sabbatical in France brought back my interest in French culture. I
have a long list of French classics readings waiting for their turn. My current favorite readings
are from Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
I passionately read Les Confessions last summer, after a visit to
Les Charmettes in
Chambery and while
spending time in Haute Savoie, France
(this made it infinitely more interesting).
Le Contract Social is next on my list, but that is not bedside reading.
- Italian. Maybe right before my next sabbatical? I am listening to opera often enough to keep
the Italian language alive in my mind, but a class where one could chat in this melodious,
beautiful language, would be wonderful. The only problem is that my Spanish would then
get all mixed up. Oh well!
- History. Too many choices. Art History furnished a reasonable background, but I wish I had more time
for some systematic investigations.
- History of Mathematics.
- Believe it or not, I am tempted by the Introduction to Political Thinking or something in Government.
Reading Jean-Jacques Rousseau must have had an impact.
- And many more... Browsing the Smith College
during advising or in the beginning of each semester, is an activity
filled with temptations.
English-Romanian dictionary of proverbs