My Throwaway Freshman Seminar Changed My Perspective (And My Major)
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My Throwaway Freshman Seminar Changed My Perspective (And My Major)

This is what I learned.

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My Throwaway Freshman Seminar Changed My Perspective  (And My Major)
Maine College of Art

Orientation: that thing, as a future commuter, I managed to almost be late to (if you're driving yourself, don't leave 15 minutes before the last check-in) and the start of a summer of anxiety. While orientation itself was fun, the part I dreaded the most was saved for the absolute last session on the last day: a meeting with my adviser to make my schedule for the first semester. As someone who had literally no idea what she wanted to do with her life, the entire prospect of nailing down an entire semester of courses was gut wrenching. When I saw what classes I was placed into, however, I was excited. French, two history classes, a literature class and a political science class; in other words, literally everything I liked in high school.

And then my adviser changed it. He pointed out some freshman requirement I hadn't known existed; we all had to take some sort of seminar that didn't even have to have anything to do with our majors. And, since I had foolishly switched my major to undecided two days before orientation, all of the seminars I had any sort of interest in were filled. The only one left? A communications class about mythology in the media. My political science class was dropped, and I was placed into quite possibly the most ridiculous-sounding class conceivable.

Well, I made a rash judgment. The class I had laughed at turned out to be my favorite class of the semester; it was an analysis of how mythologies developed (really, the psychological needs that necessitated their development) and how the modern media employs those mythologies to affect its viewers. In simpler terms, it explored how the media is shaping your perspective by hijacking symbols that resonate with you. It was fascinating, and I learned a lot.

While the material was interesting, I also learned a lesson that would change my major and my perspective on life. One day in class, my professor told us to take out a sheet of paper. He told us to write down the things we liked to do as children, before the world had any sort of real influence on us. He told us to disregard it for the rest of the lesson, only to reveal at the end of class that those things were activities we were naturally drawn to. They were activities that resonated with us and made us happy. "If you want to find a job that you are going to like, if you want to be, not just happy, but fulfilled in life, you need to find a way to incorporate those things that you wrote down."

He stressed the point that those activities didn't necessarily need to be tied to our careers, but that we needed to find a way to pursue them in our lives. The foundation of the idea, however, struck a chord with me. The things one was interested in as a child were, in a sense, the purest interests, untainted by any real exterior influence. If a child picks up a crayon and starts drawing, he did it because he wanted to, not because anyone told him to. If a child picks up a book and starts reading of her own accord, she did it because she was drawn to reading. A child left to explore the ideas and things he or she is naturally drawn to allows them to gravitate toward the activities that bring them the most happiness. But how could this lesson be applied to my issue of picking a major?

I took a step back and thought about what I always wanted to be when I was kid. From the earliest time I could remember, I wanted to be a teacher. Going back to a lesson when my professor told us to write down the characteristics of the people we admired the most, my mind immediately went to the teachers who had impacted my life. My goal had always been to be a teacher, only changing when I needed to actually admit that fact (because, as the mistaken phrase goes, "Those who can't do, teach"). I admitted to myself, finally, what I guess I'd known all along; I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, but I knew what I wanted to do next.

So, as I spend my break getting all of my clearances taken care of and saving for the insanely expensive education textbooks that need to be purchased in my near future, I offer you some advice: don't scoff at something just because it doesn't initially pique your interest. The class I initially regarded as a joke literally changed my life. Lesson learned? You can learn from anything, anywhere.

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