A senior's first (and last) J-Term

Patti Grod
Patti Grod
February 6, 2020

In my last year of undergrad, I had my first J-Term class experience. There’s a first time for everything, right? 

Although it would have been nice to have a six-week winter break, my commitment to a winter sport required me to be on campus and take a class. Luckily, I was able to find one that fit my interests and fulfilled a requirement for one of my majors. 

Here’s my take on J-Term from my personal experiences.

Over J-Term, I took a French class titled, “Plants and Animals”. We studied the relationships French people had with plants and animals, as well as what modern-day relationships look like. Our class examined medieval bestiaries, tasted teas, and completed original and creative projects. 

One of my favorite projects was our “NO WASTE” assignment. Everyone got a trash bag that we brought in to class every day. In the bag, we collected our own personal waste. The goal was to try to be as sustainable as possible, and be mindful of how much we throw away every day. 

The project made me more aware of my own habits, and inspired me to want to do a better job of creating less waste. This same theme of self-awareness and wanting to make changes was very applicable to me after all of the projects we completed. It was always fun to see my friends’ reactions to all the assignments and projects I completed.

Before J-Term started, I didn’t think time management would be a big issue for me. I would only be taking one course for three weeks. I thought that I would have plenty of time to do my homework and still have time to relax after practices. 

This was also the first time since middle school where I would have to go to the same class every single day of the week. But I didn’t think it would be that much of an obstacle. 

As a student athlete and student worker, this was the most challenging part about J-Term. 

I didn’t realize within the three weeks, one J-Term class was worth a full week of course material. It became difficult at points where I was struggling to balance my academic and athletic schedules. Unlike most students, I wasn’t able to start on the homework assignment until after my afternoon practice. And when I got home after that, I was already so tired. 

This made completing assignments really hard and a bit frustrating. There were times when I was working on an assignment, but the only thought in my head was how badly I wanted to go to bed. 

The beginning of J-Term was definitely harder than the last half, because I was coming home after practice still with 3-hours of homework to do. It took some time to get adjusted to a new routine. The second half of my J-Term class involved more creative projects and research. These assignments allowed me to incorporate themes and ideas from the first week (“foundational” readings) and apply them to other topics that interested me. I was able to create plans for my projects, and not everything was due the day after it was assigned. 

Reflecting on my first (and last) J-Term experience, I am thankful that I was able to take the class that I did. 

If it wasn’t for J-Term, I wouldn’t have been able to taste a new type of tea each class or make my own essential oil blend. I think it is a course that I am going to be talking about for a long time because of how amazing it was. 

Despite the challenges I faced with busy schedules, I was able to overcome them and I feel more prepared to take on my spring semester course load coming on soon. I think that J-Term at Augustana is unique and sets the college apart from other schools. 

There are so many different course options offered so students are granted these once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunities. Whether you want to take a class related to your major or try something completely new, there’s something for everyone. 

Patti Grod
Patti Grod

Patti graduated from Augustana in 2020; she was a double major in communication studies and French, with a minor in entertainment and media studies. She is originally from Northbrook, Ill., but her family relocated to Henderson, Nev. Outside of academics, Patti was a member of the Vikings varsity swim team, director of PR and marketing for HerCampus, and a member of Delta Chi Theta sorority.