Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Day one Reflections

I taught my first class today. General Physics 3114. To around 180 students. The class is taken by all first-year students in Chemistry, Food Science & Technology, and Biology. It was challenging. It was decided that I was going to do the big lecture only 24 hours before. It was a challenging class to teach. Many of the students---through no fault of their own---do not have good English skills. So a two-hour class in Physics in English is rough. And, I have a funny accent here; I do not speak Rwandan English. So I'm sure that made it doubly tough for the students. I hope the class was of some use to them. I don't think it was terrible, but it is really hard to know how it went.

KIST's academic calendar is in transition. Last year, the academic year started in January, as has been the custom in Rwanda for quite some time. Next year, the academic year will begin in September, as is customary in the rest of East Africa, with whom Rwanda is trying to integrate. So this year is a transition year. The classes start in December, and terms are only 10 weeks long instead of 13. But we are still supposed to cover as much material as we normally would. So this poses a challenge for everyone: students and faculty.

Tomorrow I teach my first Statistical Physics class to a small group of seniors. I believe there will be only 9 in the class. I'm looking forward to it. Nine students is so much better than 180. And as I was preparing tonight I was reminded just how much fun statistical and thermal physics is. I like the subject a lot, and the book I'm teaching from is fantastic so far.

I am also teaching computational physics. The class and lab for that course are both on Thursday. I expect almost 50 students.

I am now catching up on email (and writing this blog entry) on my balcony, enjoying a cool Kigali evening. I'm having a cold Primus beer and will go to sleep soon. My class tomorrow is early.


  1. Ah, Primus! I have enjoyed many outside in the lovely Rwandan evenings.

    I'm glad to hear about the start of your term. I hope the other classes go well!

  2. Foggy here in Maine. Glad you're settled in.

  3. It is foggy this morning in Kigali as well. 63 degrees.