Category Archives: School

My 2016 Fall Semester Reflection

December 28, 2016

Creativity / School

As I announced HERE back in August, I uprooted my whole life, moved into the woods, and enrolled in college.  Currently, I am enjoying my six-week-long winter break (Yay!), and I have been able to slow down enough to reflect on my experiences as a college student.

I gave myself two simple goals for the semester:

  1.  Do not pull any all-nighters.
  2. Get the best grades I possibly can.

On both counts, I was successful.  I managed my time pretty well overall, and I received very good grades in all my classes.  As part of my coursework, I read three full-length novels (in addition to numerous short stories that I took essay quizzes on every week) and wrote one seven-page research paper, one five-page book report, and a critical analysis.  I had at least one quiz or test to study for every single week, and I achieved perfect attendance in all my classes. In spite of all this, there were still no all-nighters for me! Yes! (Insert fist-pump here.)

I took pages upon pages of notes during the semester and became a big fan of using note cards to organize large amounts of information.

Of course, my time was not devoid of stress. Midterms, papers, those daunting essay exams, and comprehensive (!) final exams drove me a little crazy at times, but I got better at all of these with practice.  The work was as rigorous as I expected.

I took advantage of perks like working out every week at the enormous campus rec center, and I spent countless hours studying in the brand-new, state -of-the-art library (which has access to several expansive databases for research.  I totally geeked out.)  I also found a couple of quiet corners that were conducive to occasional Asian power-napping.  Good times.

I was most surprised by the frequent use of cell phones in many of my classes. It was ridiculous actually. Some students would not put their cell phones away at all. They kept texting, taking selfies, reading random crap, or tweeting even as the professor was teaching. I don’t get it. That’s not the kind of student I am, but it seems to be the way of the world right now. Oh well.

In all my classes, I acquired lots of knowledge and information over the last four months.  For posterity, I want to document here the top 10 most valuable concepts that I was able to explore and grapple with:

  1.  Patriotism and Nationalism are two different expressions.  Nationalism is no good under any circumstances whatsoever and is pretty much evil.`
  2. EVERYTHING is propaganda.
  3. The forced internment of 126,000 people of Japanese descent during World War II was one of the most egregious injustices in US history.  In the interest of national security, all three branches of US government, in spite of the systems of checks and balances intended to prevent government overreach, conspired to make it happen.  This incident is a modern precedent for the forced imprisonment of a group of people by the government and the army based solely on race and includes two supreme court cases that justify any such actions.  I am seriously concerned that this will happen again.
  4. Racial injustice is deeply rooted in American history. It is as American as apple pie.  From the slaughtering of Native Americans to slavery and the civil rights movement and to the violent conflicts of today, we have clearly not figured out how to work through this.  Our differences have only served to divide us.
  5. War can be an industry that only the rich and privileged actually benefit from.  The rest of us either die or suffer.
  6.  What I learned in elementary school about how Native Americans were treated as the United States expanded westward was a tame and watered-down version of a brutal and unconscionable truth. It was a slaughtering and a decimation, if you will.  A genocide in every sense of the word. Communal tribes were broken apart and hunted down.  They were looked upon as savages and many were forced to assimilate into what was considered a more civilized, Protestant way of life.  Thousands of families and children were killed and forced off of there land and homes.  The few who were left were forced to live on desolate, undesirable land we now refer to as reservations.  This is the history of the country I currently call home.  It is utterly shameful and infuriating.
  7.  Any and all movement can be a form of dance.
  8. “The Wizard of Oz” was originally written as propaganda with each element and character (like the wicked witch of the west and the yellow brick road, for example) representing geographical and political elements in the argument for and against the mining of silver versus gold in the late 1800’s.  This refers back to #2 on this list.
  9. In terms of sound recording, low frequencies can be adapted and molded more easily than high ones.  Higher frequencies come with fewer options.
  10. Read anything by W.E.B. Dubois.  Totally. Worth. It.

Overall, I enjoyed this fall semester. It got me to extend my thinking outside of my own little bubble.  My humanities and history classes helped me to see the world in different contexts.  All my classes taught me different ways to process important information and understand it all better.

I was not sure if I could do this whole college thing again, but now I know that I definitely can. The spring semester coming up offers some completely new challenges and a much more hectic schedule.  I am going to enjoy the time I have to rest before it starts all over again with some serious piano/cello/ukulele playing, napping, non-academic reading, and cat-cuddling.

My cat will be very happy about that.