One of my closest friends here made me a mug for my birthday that had a peace sign, a heart, and a skeletal formula of some organic molecule on it which I assumed was serotonin. Peace, love, and happiness is the usual triad, right? Wrong. It was peace, love, and caffeine. What does that tell you? It tells you that what you’re about to read might not be the least disjointed thing you’ve read recently, though I’m happy and I caffeinate myself much less than I did last year. But anyway, I self-identify as the following things (maybe I'll talk about some more personal identities next week--mid-term break!).
Pounder-outer of Educational Studies papers: I love how the class opens my eyes to the forces that enabled me to be here today and just how much needs to change to enable less fortunate others to achieve the same and more. But I still don’t seem to have gotten the hang of time management, or my workload just grows every term, so I had to sacrifice the quality of that paper to let myself focus on my Organic Chem exam. I swear it doesn’t mean I don’t care.
Potential Chem major observing current Chem majors: Late at night, conspiratorial whispers of “do you think if we delete this peak it’ll fit our data better?” and knowing, sympathetic queries of “oh, do you have a kinetics lab report due tomorrow?” and “we can’t go down to the Geo lab and use their new computers, they hate us” create an air of controlled stress, intense focus, and in-group support in the Mudd Hall (chem dept building) computer lab. Some of these majors live and work in a different Carleton than the average student, with 20 hour/week research loads in addition to their classes and jobs and other commitments. I’m intensely attracted to their drive, resilience, intelligence, and (usual) self-assuredness, and I want to come to understand NMR spectra and all about the secret lives of atoms and molecules as well as they do.
An appreciator of aesthetics: The sheer beauty, colors, and sound of the fall leaves (coupled with local orchard apples and pumpkin ice cream cake in the dining halls) almost make the near-freezing nights worth it. But near-freezing nights in addition to turkey poop-laced wind from local farms? No thank you.
Learner: I learned from my cross-cultural psychology textbook that there’s a phrase for describing how I’m always reluctant to express my opinions about anything because I feel like there’s always more to the story: naive dialecticism (the belief that the truth is always somewhere in the middle). On another note, there are quite a few initiatives on campus for the revamping of curriculums to help students learn better, and my psych prof is a proponent of what academics call Team-Based Learning. The class is entirely activity-based (analyzing TV shows in the context of the class, group quizzes, discussions, and projects)--which is all the more wonderful because the class is from 3:10-4:55 on Tuesday/Thursday afternoons, also known as prime naptime. The concepts stick much better than they would through traditional lecture, too, at least for me.
Dining hall manager: I love my manager team because we’re all self-driven, uncomplaining (well, at least not too often) hard workers--not to mention the cooks. Just excuse them when the Asian food tastes like too much spice and not much else, since more often than not they’re cooking in bathtub-size vats. Hauling 40+ pound bags of milk up stairs (note: I’m pretty small and I don’t exercise regularly), trying not to slip in the slick of dishwater/flour/oil/mistakes, hating the students with vacuums for mouths who self-righteously walk out of the dining hall with plates, cups, utensils, and all kinds of food hidden inside disposable drink cups--it’s hard work, and it’s not for everyone. The ones who stick with it get good experience out of it. Making them see that, though, is easier said than done, since they’re newborn freshmen, many of them learning how not to have to survive on averages of three hours of sleep/night.
Lost sheep/future-conscious sophomore: Why haven’t I emailed Carleton alums in my hometown to see if I can shadow them during winter break? Why haven’t I looked into that fellowship for the coming summer yet? Why haven’t I taken a Sociology/English/Physics course yet? Should I be more involved on campus? Why do people keep telling me that my major doesn’t have to dictate what I do with my life? What off-campus studies program do I want to go on? What am I doing with my life? Whathappenedit’salready5thweek ahhhh. (repeat ad infinitum)