I went to a bio class as a non-science major

Programmed cell death is a good thing? Biology is kind of dark

They always say take advantage of as many opportunities as you can, so when I was presented with the opportunity to sit into a biology class at THE University of Notre Dame, of course I accepted.

A few small caveats: I am an American Studies Major, with no intention whatsoever to go into the medical field. I know two things for sure about myself: I am not a math person, and I am definitely not a blood/science person. I like my major, where I am never exposed to difficult practice sets or difficult exams that require 40 point curves. I have not taken a science-y class since AP bio in high school (I don’t count Common Human Diseases). Nevertheless, who can say no to increased knowledge?

So I ventured off to DeBart with my freshman year roommate to see how the other half (actually only almost 14% of undergrads) lives. As a testament to my arts and letters type brain, I triple checked this calculation about six times, just to be sure it was correct.

Here’s how it went:

9:15 – I left my dorm, excited for the future, feeling like a freshman again. I was full of hope – maybe I would have a change of heart and feel a calling to the medical field. The world (more specifically, this biology class) was my oyster.

9:23 – I found a spot and sat down nervously amidst about 100 future doctors. The screens displayed what we would be learning about: Cell Cycle and Cell Division. That didn’t sound too complicated -I could get through this! (note: I was really wrong. It was really, really complicated).

9:25 – To begin, the professor dropped some major truths about the election last night…“It is important to remember that winning is one thing and governing is another.” She could have dropped the mic right then and there.

9:29 – Some biological words are coming back to me -prokaryotic, eukaryotic. It’s bringing me back to middle school, where we recreated cell division with Play-Doh and yarn, except in this case the words thrown around seem about 15 letters longer.

9:30 – Note to self: binary fission would be a good band name.

9:33 – The professor mentioned a cartoon and I looked up expecting a Peanuts comic or something, but instead this was on the page:cartoon

Definitely not the cartoon I was expecting

9:34 – I realize that it’s been 11 minutes and I’m already thinking of anything but biology, which for me was the election results.

9:35 – The professor stressed the importance of understanding the meaning of sister chromatids, said that we will all have to take genetics and I got nervous. I reminded myself that I don’t actually have to take either Biology or Genetics.

9:37 – Meiosis, that’s a fun word to say really slowly… mi O sis.

9:38 – There are SO many phases. Also a lot less of sharing opinions and thoughts and feelings in this giant lecture hall than I’m used to.

9:41 – True or false: does DNA replications occur during interphase? Apparently this would be a good exam question. True or false: I am confused. (Hint: both are true)

9:46 – G1 and G2 phase – isn’t there a song about that? Feelin’ fly like a G2?

9:49 – What the heck is a kinase? Also apparently you can use phosphorylation on proteins, who knew?

9:53 – Ah yes, the retinal blastoma protein. Clearly the regulation of cdk is gonna be vital in the regulation of cell division, duh. Common knowledge amiright?

9:56 – The professor gave us a chart to help memorization (of stuff everyone is going to forget as soon as the end of the course…or for me, at 10:15 this very day)

9:59 – Talking about all of the problems that can happen in each of the phases… that’s some scary stuff. Also, programmed cell death is a good thing, the more ya know. Biology is kind of dark.

10:00 – If you ever need more fun words: interleukin (any relation to Nastia Liukin, the Olympic gymnast?) and erythropoietin are killer.


Just to prove I got the spelling right

10:05 – I never noticed how condensed chromosomes look like a cross between a teddy bear and the way really moldy food looks. In the professor’s word “that fat, fuzzy thing contains DNA” – wow, what a world.

10:09 – There are a lot of long words used in biology, on another note Prof just said that “eukaryotic gene regulation is complicated.” Well, so is everything else in this subject

10:12 – I realize I’m really missing my long readings and intense class discussions right about now.

10:15 – I made it! I am brain dead, but alive


My smart science pals, the future doctors

Now I’m going to go into a resting phase (not do much except perform basic life functions, or so I learned today) and forever be grateful for my arts and letters classes. I won’t complain about my next 134-page reading about the inner workings of the constitution, or maybe I’ll at least think twice about it. So, moral of the story, science is hard and the college of arts and crafts (letters) is definitely where I belong.

Notre Dame University