Tag Archives: Philosophy

Updates: Winter Break Travels and New Semester Adventures

Written by Jiali Liu, Philosophy M.A. 2017

Hello fellow readers! Hope you had a great winter break with family and friends! Now that the new semester has already started, are you all geared up for some new knowledge and experiences?! Or you just want to stay in bed and wait for this winter season to pass?

I had a great winter break. As an international student, I spent my first Christmas in America at a friend’s house—some great Barbadian food and Latin American culture exposure were involved! I then went down to New Orleans to visit my boyfriend and his family right before New Year. Beignets at Café du Monde, gumbo at Mandina’s, crab cake at St. Roch market, jazz and booze in the French Quarter, post-Katrina reconstruction in Lower Ninth Ward, gentrification, monuments preservation, the Big Easy is a different experience. It’s so much defined and shaped by rich history, incredible food, strong community spirits, old wounds, and new challenges. I was fascinated by this city!! I also went up to a small town in Mississippi for a few days, taking excursions in the woods (and asking myself existential questions and failing to answer most of them). 😁

Jiali Liu 2-12-16 blog post pic 3

St. Roch Market

Jackson Square with my boyfriend!

Jackson Square with my boyfriend!

Jiali Liu 2-12-16 blog post pic 1

French Quarter Night Market

I came back to Boston for the Area of Strength Test required for graduation at Tufts’ Philosophy program. The test is also called Comprehensive Test. Students in the philosophy program are to choose one from ethics, epistemology, and metaphysics as their test topic and are given 48 hours ahead of time to prepare for 12 questions, 9 out of which will be on the test and only 3 out of which will require an answer. Each answer should be 1500 words where students examine the philosophical issue at stake and offer cogent arguments to support her position. The test is four hours, an hour for each question and the last hour for grammar correction and wording refinement. Once I finished the test, the semester began! In terms of academic work, I have great expectations for this semester: I’m taking metaphysics, philosophy of science, Plato and Aristotle’s Ethics, and German. The program also assigned me as a TA to an undergraduate logic class. This is my first time TAing and I’m already learning a lot from holding office hours and grading students’ work. It’s a great privilege to be an educator (in a minimum sense as an assistant in learning and teaching), to explain away conceptual confusions concerning usage of terms, to help construct a deeper understanding of philosophical problems couched in logic puzzles, to help form a habit of critical thinking and skills of problem solving. I absolutely enjoy doing my TA work and spending time with students who come to me with questions!

I’m hoping to have a substantial semester—there is just so much to learn and think about! I want to better my German and get ready for some summer language practice in Europe. I also have been thinking about plans after graduation. Philosophy is a shrinking and selective market, but I want to test my potentials and pursue philosophy further down the road. This past semester at Tufts has helped me greatly and I definitely look forward to more philosophical exposure here!

Why Jiali Chose Tufts

Written by Jiali Liu, Philosophy M.A. 2017

Coming to Tufts for philosophy was no minor deviation from what I was doing in college. I majored in English and International Relations as an undergraduate and my school offered no philosophy class (it was a petite institution affiliated with the Chinese Foreign Ministry and it was highly specialized in diplomacy studies). I came to formal contact with philosophy when I was a visiting student at Barnard College in New York. It was a short semester, but that one Intro to Philosophy class intrigued me enormously. In retrospect, I still could not pinpoint the exact reasons for how that happened—to be shaped by one single class and then make a two-year, or even longer, commitment to the subject matter. Graduate schools are different from college in significant ways. They are more expensive. They are more specialized. They bear more relevance to and influence on one’s future career path and prospects. To make a decision about what to do at when and where for a Master degree sometimes calls for a deep soul search. My own guess is that I was exposed to philosophy in a myriad ways much earlier than Barnard, only that I was not fully conscious of its presence and power of osmosis with time in my thinking and action. I probably felt dissatisfaction with only an answer to how things are and wanted to seek why they are such.

But Tufts? First of all, I knew the program because I had a professor who graduated from here back in 2003. The continuity of tradition and legacy presented itself beautifully and ignited my initial interest in knowing more about Tufts. On the other hand, I did not want to mass-produce a dozen of applications (interestingly graduate schools do not work the same way as colleges in this aspect either: to apply for more places barely increases one’s chance to get into any of them). So I had to concentrate on a few programs that are (1) academically top-notch; (2) not discriminating against non-philosophy majors; and (3) cost-efficient. According to the Philosophy Gourmet report, Tufts’ Master in Philosophy program is number one in the country. It has the highest faculty quality. It actually invites different majors who are interested and determined in making a career in philosophy and helps them to prepare for a PhD program. And it is generous in money and TA opportunities! I doubt that anyone who has received the Tufts’ offer would decline it unless she has a PhD letter of acceptance from somewhere else. There was another reason equally important to me. I like intimate communities and a close work-together spirit with my cohort. In total, Tufts’ program has around 20 people, including both first and second years. People have plenty of chance to invest in friendships and intellectual connection and graduate students are treated as peers by the faculty and staff. Choosing Tufts was not nearly as hard a decision as the one on philosophy. It felt almost natural for what has happened to unfold the way it did once I knew philosophy was what I wanted.