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). 😁
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!