10 Things I Wish I Had Been Exposed To As An English Major

10 Things I Wish I Had Learned As An English Major

I love the English department and all the experiences and knowledge I gained, but I still missed a couple things.

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Whether it was through taking that class I was considering but opted out of or if it was something that I didn't see offered through the department, there were some subjects I wish I could've learned during my time in college.

English is an incredibly broad field. This is a blessing and a curse as the whole world was my oyster and, yet, I was terrified by the choices I had to make. Additionally, I was a transfer and had to choose that much more carefully. From the time of my first-year orientation, the choices I would make would be what locked me on for the next two years. I do not regret the courses I chose, but I just wish I could've learned even more than I already filled my brain with.

Sure there were professors I also missed out on taking, but more importantly to me, there were topics and techniques that I had hoped to master that I did not even become familiar with or develop further.

From the intricacies of grammar to the importance of marginalized peoples and their literature, there are definitely some classes and areas that I did not expose myself to. If you're also studying English in some form at your university, I highly recommend that you consider some of these missed opportunities as possibilities for you to follow through with.

1. Specific historical movements and groups of people.

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I do wish I had taken the opportunity to take some more courses about groups of people different from myself or courses about events that I would not be experiencing in my life. Although I did take a couple of courses deviating from the stereotypical English courses, I still could've broadened my horizons further.

2. Foreign literature.

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I took an interesting course about French-Algerian literature and finally read the infamous The Stranger by Albert Camus. I had a fascinating professor who was not only well-versed in the material but fluent in French to the point where I thought she was the coolest person ever that quarter. Because of this, I wish I studied more foreign literature during my time.

3. Mythology and classics.

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A slight regret (but not a heavy one since I try to live life without those pesky things) is not taking a classics course while having to one of best departments of any university in this country. If you are studying English or taking English courses, I highly recommend you study classics, at least a little. The biblical and the Greco-Roman influence on the literature today reflects the similarity of stories told back then with the same stories we re-tell today.

4. How to become a better reader.

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This seems a bit inherent in the whole process, but I do wish there was some more emphasis on how to be a better reader. Although we were obviously competent readers who enjoy literature, for the most apart, most of us English majors were not required to take courses on learning to break down literature unless we took specific theory courses or had a professor with an affinity for close-reading. Thankfully I did, but I can imagine how difficult it might be for those students in colleges where that skill isn't emphasized.

5. Rhetoric.

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Rhetoric is one of my personal subject fields within the umbrella category of language and communication. Studying rhetoric and communication would've been an interesting interdisciplinary study especially in dramatic literature. Studying rhetoric and diction in Shakespeare was one of my most eye-opening experiences so it would have been interesting to apply it to more subject matters.

6. Non euro-centric literature.

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Not only foreign literature, but English literature written in the context of or by an author from a non-European country would've been interested as the canon has remained stagnant for a couple hundred years. Although the canon is shifting towards including more authors of minority groups, the shift still hasn't completely occurred on the university level, as well. Offering more classes of authors from backgrounds far less privileged would open up possibilities for more dramatic changes to the canon.

7. Grammar and its techniques.

I had a couple of professors who emphasized the importance of the writing, itself, rather than the subject matter. The best professor concept that I still carry with me is how barely anyone in English is going to have a profound breakthrough of an already overly excavated field, for example, Shakespeare. It is much more important that one understands the significance and impact of their writing than the originality of their content for the sake of learning. I wish that this was further developed in other courses that I took and that it would be a common theme in all English courses.

8. Linguistics and etymology.

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The study of the language, itself, was limited to the French-Algerian literature course I took, Shakespeare, and an Old English literature course I took, which included learning the language. I learned in-depth about the history of the English language and about how closely-tied a majority if the world's languages are. I had a deeper appreciation for the English language in the process, and hope that this same kind of linguistical training be included in our courses around colleges, as well.

9. Contemporary literature.

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Although contemporary literature may be more difficult to study as it is a constantly changing genre, I still wish that I took more courses with books that has come out in the last 15 years.

10. Genre-specific literature.

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I also missed taking some courses about specific genres, such as detective fiction, science fiction, graphic novels, and comedy.

Overall, I am incredibly proud of my college experience and all that I opened myself to throughout the last four years. Although I could look back at this list wistfully, with regret as to what could've been, the reality is that I can still teach myself about all these subjects, through classes or my own personal development. Whatever the case may be, I am incredibly thankful for the UCLA English program and I am proud to have graduated from one of the best English departments in the country.

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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Writing Saved My Sanity

Write it all down when you can't talk to anyone.

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I love writing.

I have since elementary school, and I've dreamed of becoming a published author. I started off writing stupid plays in elementary school, then it grew it almost writing a full-blown novel in middle school. I have no idea where that thing went to. It was all notebook paper and bad writing. In high school, my writing was kinda pushed to the side so I could focus on school. When I entered college, I started writing small poems about my now ex-boyfriend.

I was scared to express myself to him sometimes, the intensity of my feelings for him scared me. So instead of telling him, I wrote them down. When I tried to share them with him, he hated it. He thought writing down feelings was weird and creepy. So I didn't share anything else with him. When we finally broke up for good, everything just poured out of me. What I couldn't express verbally, I wrote or typed out.

I always have ideas flowing through my head. They never cease and I wouldn't want them to. Writing gives me an escape, from stress, work, school, or fights. It gives me a place to vent and to be open with everything. This is a reason I love writing for Odyssey, not only has this place brought me amazing friends but revived my love for writing. I'm never without my notebook anymore, I'd get distracted in class by an idea and have to write I think then and there.

I love sharing my more personal writing with close friends, especially my poems as of late. I found that I have a voice for young women who find themselves in a toxic relationship much like mine was. I want to speak out and show them that you can grow from the bullshit. It may take some time, but you will be better.

Writing saved my sanity. It allows me to express myself without having to use my actual voice. Anyone who knows me, knows I hate public speaking. I tend to psych myself out leading up to it. My current projects include writing for Odyssey every week, I'm in the process of trying to continue my short stories, and I'm excited to announce that I'm currently working on my very first poetry book!

Writing has given me so much, and I'm so looking forward to making a career out of something I love so much.

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