Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"The College Experience"

Going into college, everyone says the same thing. Everyone says, “The next four years are going to be the best four years of your life.” It does not matter if this phrase is being repeated by your mom who interprets the phrase academically or from your crazy uncle who is most definitely talking about partying and alcohol. Regardless of the context in which it is said, they all have the same meaning. College is about growing up and experiencing new things, things I rarely experienced as a child who went to school with the same kids since the age of four. Never did it ever cross my mind that when registering for Dr. June Ellis’ Understanding Literature class, would I enroll in a class that truly embodies “the college experience.”

The hands on, discussion based environment of the classroom was something I was skeptical of at first. I am a very quiet person. I learn from watching. This means I carefully listen to every word the instructor says, and let my classmates take part in the trial and error that is participation all while I jot down my notes in my sacred notebook. Looking at the syllabus, this customary strategy would not go over well with my final grade. While it took time to adjust, I like to believe that I became comfortable sharing my opinion in class. Me opening up to this idea of change is something I like to think is apart of “the college experience.” With college brings change, and here I was learning that I have to adjust to stay alive (figuratively of course), a valuable life lesson.

Not only did EN101.17 surprise me by allowing me to become comfortable with change in the classroom, but as a person. As I discussed in my bus/museum paper, I feel like the environment and schooling I endured as a child sheltered me from the real world. For example, I was terrified for the bus/museum project. I was convincing myself every weekend to put it off, put it off! By the end of that day, I could only laugh about how stupid and ignorant I really was. I can truthfully say that that was my “turning point” if you will. The class again took me by surprise as it transformed me from a kid uneasy with the unknown to a kid at ease and comfortable with his surroundings. This means that it took a hands-on and innovative classroom experience to help me grow up. By forcing me to take part in activities I was almost scared of, my fears were conquered.

Week after week it surprised me more and more about how much learning I was doing. I’m not talking about being “textbook smart,” but “street smart.” What class teaches you that? There is a reason why I eagerly showed up for every class this semester. Poetry and hands-on discussions were never my forte. I was more of the quiet, here is what we are learning, so memorize it and repeat it on a test kind of student. Going deeper within my thoughts and myself was something that I did not fare too well in during my freshman philosophy class. I’ll blame that one on the teacher, as now looking back over this semester, I feel extremely confident in any situation I find myself in, no matter how deep we get. The class also surprised me of how capable I am of doing work like this.

Much to my surprise, Understanding Literature was my favorite class this semester. Now this is not just being said because you are going to read this later today, but I am saying this with all sincerity. It took a wakeup call in the form of a poor midterm grade to open up to what the class was trying to teach me. As I failed to initially realize, it was more than poems and short stories, but deep within them were lessons in which I had to learn, and I am proud to say I did.

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