And there we have it. I’m…done. I didn’t ever think it would actually go this far, you know. I’m not saying that I didn’t see the end as a possibility, I just didn’t see it as an eminent reality. But is that really my fault?
I’ve lived for years under the assumption that school is what we’re supposed to do and that’s what we’re going to do until we’ve done it. Who ever saw the “done it” as a thing of the past? I wasn’t aware that they were serious when they said it. I thought we would just find some other way to keep going, so that although its usefulness has outlived its course, we could still stick with what’s comfortable.
And so as I finished my penultimate finals with the submission of a paper on Dante, I turn to Youtube for solace, and find that they have exactly what I’m looking for.
What is it to study abroad for a semester? My good friend Marcello summed it up as “fun with words.” I agree completely.
Let’s unpack this. Words are not considered fun by many people. They can be clumsy, large, difficult to remember, and ultimately unfit to express what one feels or thinks. This is the view of someone who has never truly experienced F.W.W. Language becomes burdensome, associated with school and grammar lessons with a stringent Ms. Wormwood (or some such curmudgeon).
Here’s how I’ll explain my experience: when I decided to take a semester off from my English major to study Italian my reasoning was that I would be taking a break from the routine. Which I did. What I didn’t expect was how it would circle back to my love of letters.
In learning a language I inevitably reflected on my own. The language to which I had become so habituated through (ironically) my studies in literature and writing came alive to me in a new light. Looking at my own abilities in the language, I note a few places lacking: primarily my vocabulary. To amend this, I will commence a study of GRE vocabulary (a two-birds-with-one-stone sort of deal) and also utilize freerice.com, a website with a good use and good cause.
The next time you are trying to express yourself, take a moment to appreciate the miracle of language and what it accomplishes for us. In this way, it may be a bit harder to misuse this tool. In the words of Edward Bulwer-Lytton, the pen is mightier than the sword.
I’ve been quite disturbed by one factor of Italian life: the public transportation. I have absolutely no problem with the system itself; it’s great for the environment, fantastic for a budget minded traveler, and is normally very efficient. I only have a problem with the people.
There could be ten people on our mini-metro for five minutes, and not a word would be spoken. It’s like all of the outgoing, happiness in their souls dies moments after stepping through the doors. I do my best to combat this with a number of jokes, but if I’m not getting cold stares from strangers, then I’m being politely asked by my friends to “shut my butt.”
So today, my dream came true when an Italian girl used one of my favorites in the public elevator. We entered and before pressing the only button for up (there are two levels), she asked, “Wait, where are we going?” I immediately responded, “UP!” and applauded her while expressing my relief at finding a fellow appreciator of public humor.
Thus, in honor of elevator jokes, I bring to you the masters of public comedy.
I mentioned in an earlier post that I had participated in the Butler Summer Institute, a chance for those particularly academic minded students to work closely with a professor on research for 9 weeks in the summer.
The program is fantastic because it is open not only to scientific research (about 20 students are involved in the sciences) but also to the humanities (10 spots total). This keeps the options nearly limitless–projects range from psychology to comparative literature analysis to the study of C. elegans (a worm, I think).
Some BSI students at the IMA! (too many acronyms...)
My project was peculiar: being a Creative Writing Major, I engaged in a creative project. For nine weeks I developed and wrote a science fiction novel. This may seem like a frivolous use of the program, but I was engaging in the literary discussion that exists through several works of science fiction, including the work of Mary Shelly, Phillip K. Dick, and H.G. Wells. I ended up with an 80 page draft of the first half of the novel. What this should tell you is that the program gives all sorts of students with ambitious ideas an avenue to pursue them.
It’s not every day that you get to take a simple, classic board game like Battleship and blow it up to life-size proportions. For those land-lubbers who doubt that this can be done, please review the short video below to banish the questions and instill an understanding that this is real life.
Standing on the edge of the pool, watching the crowds of excited students cheering on their friends as they attempted to sink each others canoes thrilled me. The energy was so positive, the game was so ridiculous, and the chance to jump in myself was taken swiftly.
This is what the university does every weekend. Events are put on for students who either lack the creativity to think of something to do on a Saturday night (which is ridiculous, since there’s so much to do around Butler) or for those who think floundering in a canoe in need of bailing out is a fun way to spend a weekend.
When you first enter into a room of any college student, you’ll see that very rarely is there variation between the normal items: beds, desks, dressers, futon, TV (if the roommates are lucky), etc.
As classy as it is useful.
My pride and joy of this semester has been my coffee table. I got it this summer for free (an instant winner in my book) but in poor condition. So I fixed it up. I learned how to strip the finish, then I sanded it down and re-stained it. I really learned how to Do It Best.
Now it sits in my room, a monument to my hard work and a great place to sit around while recounting the day with my friends or roommate. This is what any college student will experience: the need to differentiate. As a (semi) independent individual, the desire to separate oneself from the pack is strong. Competitions have even taken place on campus. Check it out.