A Life Changing Experience
Lately, I’ve learnt how to appreciate everything I have and to approach every single situation with a positive attitude and an open mind. I think that traveling has made me this way. What I’m doing right now isn’t exactly traveling, I am in college trying to get a degree, but I’m actually quite far away from my family and friends, way away of my comfort zone.
I’m from a tiny town in the east of Spain called Guardamar del Segura. Being away from home isn’t always easy, there are days where you miss it more than usual, and by it I mean family, friends and the mere feeling of being home. But fortunately, you learn how to deal with it and become more and more independent. Actually, I have met so many people from different parts of the world who are in the exact same situation as I am that sometimes I even forget to miss home. Even though I’m far away, I’m still really happy, probably the happiest I’ve ever been. And I think it’s basically because I’m doing what I really like, what really makes me happy, which in this case is exploring the world. There are moments when I ask myself “how am I in America right now?”. Then I laugh and say to myself that I’m just enjoying life. But I wouldn’t be this happy, or I wouldn’t have enjoyed my time here in the U.S. as much as I have, if I hadn’t been so open-minded about this country in general.
Before coming here, I had no idea what I was going to find, how people were going to be and treat me, how life in general would be here. I have actually been in America before, but what I experienced has nothing to do with college life, so it it was basically starting from zero. Throughout my months here, I have learned how to be curious and not waste any opportunity that I have. I’ve learned how to say ‘yes’ to any plan someone invites me to, because at the end, we only regret the things we didn’t do.
The three articles I’ve chosen say basically the same thing, but focusing on different aspects. But even though they might be different, the three of them share the same goal, which is to encourage people to step out of their comfort zone and travel the world. While Saskia Kerkvliet’s article talks about the importance pf having an open mind and being curios, Jaimee Ratliff focuses on the incredible benefits of traveling solo. Finally, Brook Silva-Braga gives us an insight on a topic that most of the population get confused, which happens to be the difference between a vacation and traveling. I’ve chosen these articles because I think they perfectly summarize how fantastic traveling can be. The three authors do a very good job of encouraging people who want to do it but aren’t completely sure or might be a little bit afraid to actually step out of their comfort zone and go travel the world.
There are so many things we don’t know, so many different people we still haven’t met and that have so many things to tell us, and the only way of discovering them is by leaving our narrow-minds behind and being sociable. Traveling, meeting hundreds of new and completely different people, experiencing new cultures, religions, will only make you appreciate even more your home, family and friends.
I haven’t traveled yet on my own with the only purpose of traveling, but I have been in a different continent on my own. Right now I am living in the United States, trying to get my college degree. It is incredible how independent I have become since I’m here by myself. I would have never imagined that I would meet all the people I’ve met, from all over the world. If I had left my comfort zone, I would have never experience the things I have. I can proudly say that travel does change your life, I don’t regret a day spent here.
Kerkvliet, Saskia. “Traveling With An Open Mind.” Holstee. Web. 08 Apr. 2016.
Saskia Kerkvliet’s article, “Traveling With An Open Mind”, talks about the importance of having an open mind, especially if you’re planning on traveling by yourself. It is extremely important to be open to whatever you come across your journey, even if you’re not very comfortable with it, the chances of learning something new are really high. Kerkvliet also talks about curiosity, which is what gets us out of our houses everyday, and which happens to be a requirement if you want to travel to a place you’ve never been before. And with these two things comes one of the most important values the author has learnt from her mother, which is the ability striking up a conversation with anyone you encounter.
Ratliff, Jaimee. “Why You Should Travel Solo At Least Once”. The Huffington Post. 24 Dec. 2014, Web. 08 Apr. 2016.
“Why You Should Travel Solo At Least Once” gives you an insight on how amazing traveling is, and in particular, why it is so great to travel solo at last once in your life. There is nothing like being alone (which is completely different from being lonely) and enjoying your own presence. Jaimee says that at first she was terrified not only about the idea of traveling solo, but even just about the mere thought of traveling. But as she states later in the article, leaving your comfort zone is necessary in order to become a stronger person. Being in a foreign country without anyone to communicate with and having to figure out everything on your own is the best way of becoming independent, and the only way of getting to know this experience is by traveling somewhere far away from home.
Silva-Barga, Brook. “Traveling the World to reach a New State of Mind”. Budget Travel. Apr. 2007, Web. 8 Apr. 2016.
Brook Silva-Braga’s article talks about the way traveling changes your life. There is a huge difference between traveling for a long period of time and a vacation, and according to the author, it is the people. When you go on a vacation, you usually go with your own family or friends to an amazing place, therefore your main goal isn’t to meet new people. Traveling by yourself and for a long period of time allows you to meet people that are in the same position as you are, which makes you develop a bond that can never be broken. After a year of living all over the world, with new people every couple of days, it is really difficult to go back to your past life, to living in the same place, surrounded by the same faces, and having the same routine every single day. As Brook says, “travel became almost like a dangerous drug. At first it made us feel high in a new and fabulous way, and eventually we came to need it just to feel normal. So for all of us coming home was like coming down”.
Garrison Keillor’s “College Days”
In Garrison Keillor’s article, College Days, he talks about his college experience, the reasons why he decided to attend college and who he felt motivated by. The first thing he mentions is that he wasn’t really wealthy, but that wasn’t an impediment for him to finally attend college for four years, “Dad had made it clear that he couldn’t contribute to pay for my education, which I hadn’t asked him to and I was relieved not to have to consider an offer. A nice clean break.”. The fact that his family didn’t posses a great amount of money just made him work even harder in order to achieve his goals, which were to attend to college, University of Minnesota in particular, and finally become a successful writer. We can use “I got a job working the 6 to 10 a.m. shift in the big parking lot on the river flats for $1.48 an hour.” as an example of hard work, which will later prove that famous saying “hard work will soon pay off”.
I found this article really interesting and very easily relatable since we are all college students and sometimes struggle to decide what we want to do with our lives. Having people that support you and motivate you are two things I consider necessary in order to be successful in life.
College Days, Garrison Keillor.
“Shitty First Drafts”, not a bad idea
In Anne Lamott’s Shitty First Drafts, the author talks about how important and useful writing a first draft is. Anne admits that even the most professional and well-known writers struggle every time they have to sit down and write; every one experiences fear. Writing a good piece never comes easy, that is why the author of this text talks about writing first drafts, which will most likely be that of a “child’s draft”, but that is the way it should be. What Anne means by a “child’s draft” is that this is the space where writers let all their thoughts and ideas flow, not caring about if what they are writing down makes sense or not. The reason why writers do this is, among many others, because no one is going to read it. After finishing this first, “incoherent, hideous” draft, you can then start perfecting it, adding or deleting as many things as you want, in order to make a much better second draft and finally the perfect third draft. But it is not until you have written this “shitty” first draft that you can write the perfect piece.
Because I’m a college student right now and am constantly writing papers, I found Anne’s text really interesting. The fact that even the most talented writers also fear the moment they have to sit down and create a piece of work makes me feel much more relaxed. Writing a draft can sometimes be a little bit tiring, specially for lazy people who want to get done with their papers as soon as possible, but there is no doubt that it is extremely helpful, and if a successful writer such as Anne Lamott follows this procedure every time she has to write something, then I guess we should all start writing “shitty first drafts”.
In “Hidden Intellectualism”, Gerald Graff talks about how underestimated being “street smart” is, but actually it’s this type of knowledge that is the one that you will need in real-life situations, at least half of the time. He states that intellect can be found in many more areas rather than just in the scholarly one. And in order to prove this, he uses his personal experience; he talks about his childhood, when he was growing up, and the fact that he hated all books except those ones about sports. But even though the only books he read and the only conversations he had with his friends were about sports, without even trying, he developed an incredible ability to make an argument, weigh different kinds of evidence, summarize and enter any type of conversation. Besides this, he also claims that any topic can be visualized in an academic/scholarly way, and that this is the way we should be taught in schools. Because it is true that “book smarts” people will be interested in academic topics, but also in sports, meanwhile “street smarts” people will only be interested in the sports area rather than in both.
When you’re writing about a topic of your interest, it is certain that the final piece will be much better written than that of something you dislike, as the author states in his essay:
“For students who get excited about the chance to write about their passion for cars will often write as poorly and unreflectively on that topic as on Shakespeare or Plato” (249)
I found this really interesting because I can associate with it. From my personal experience, I can say that the little opportunities I have been given to write about something that I really like, one of my passions or someone who I really admire, I’ve put a great amount of time and effort on it. When you’re writing about something that really interests you, you want to do it really good, you want the final piece to be amazing, and you want everyone to like it. Whereas when you have to write a 1000 words paper about a topic that you’ve never heard about, you start writing things that don’t make any sense, just filling the pages with words that you don’t even understand.
This semester I’m taking a Religion class, and we have ten mandatory essays. When it comes to writing a paper, I find it extremely difficult, and usually spend from three to four days trying to write it, and by the time it’s finished, I don’t even know what I’m writing about. And it is not that I am not a religious person, which I am, it is just that I don’t find interesting the things we talk about, even though I enjoy talking about religion and listening to other peoples point of view and beliefs. But this particular class I don’t find interesting at all, and the fact that I have to write ten papers, 600 words each in order to pass the class, makes me write without even knowing what I’m putting on the paper. On the other hand, I have a friend who is taking “Creative writing”, and their assignments consist on writing twelve papers, of whatever they want to; they get to choose the form in which they want to write it and the topic. They choose the topic, which means they can write about their passions, the things they really like, but in an academic way.
I really enjoy writing. Actually, I have a diary of my own, and very often I spend maybe an hour writing about how I feel, the things I have been doing lately, the things I want to do, or just whatever comes to my mind in that specific moment. I think it’s an awesome way of expressing your feelings without needing someone by your side, because not everyone has the privilege of having a fantastic friend who they can talk to (fortunately, I have the best person by my side). I am really into traveling, exploring not just the world but also myself, how I want my life to be and how I am going to achieve my goals, and of course I love telling people about it, but here’s the problem, you never know how a person is going to feel about what you say, which means that you have to be cautious about what you say so that you don’t hurt anyone’s feelings. When you write, you can be completely free to express yourself as much as you want. If only we could write about things like this, topics with which we get excited about, college would be way much easier, our papers would be much better, and in consequence, grades would go higher.
I think this is the way we should be writing in college. Of course we should also write papers about Shakespeare, Descartes or Socrates, but we should also be allowed, and even encouraged, to write about the things we love, without boundaries or limitations, to put our whole heart in the paper, as well as our brain. Obviously, in an academic and respectful way, looking at it with “scholarly eyes”, but putting all your effort on writing it.
Declining by Degrees
For the past two classes we have been watching Declining by Degrees, a documentary about higher education filmed in four totally different places. The aim of this documentary is to show firsthand the opinion of students and professors when it comes to challenges and problems they might face.
Some of the universities featured in this documentary are University of Arizona, Community College of Denver, Western Kentucky University and Amherst College. Each one of them belong to a different classification, such as college, university and community college, so each on of them differ in many things, such as size, students enrolled or facilities. But independently on where you attend to, statistics show that 1 of every 4 students don’t make it to sophomore year. This can be due to a variety of things, but it is mainly due to the students being too stressed to continue. During the past years, the price of education has risen while the amount of money given by the state to each student has decreased. This forces students to work and study at the same time in order to be able to pay their education. As we have seen in this documentary, there are many cases similar to Adriana’s or Ceylon Hollis, where they have to work full-time while being full-time students. This obviously has a negative impact in terms of grades and quality of life.
Another important topic to talk about is size. In this documentary we have seen colleges from 2,000 students to 37,000. Being in a huge college can have its perks and its disadvantage, usually related to what you want to do in college. If you’re a student that doesn’t like going to class or being controlled, then a big school would be your place. On the other hand, if you need constant assistance or struggle with paying attention, then attending a big school would be a great mistake.
But what I found the most interesting was the fact coaches can be paid more than the actual president in the university, which is the case of Lute Olson, basketball coach in University of Arizona. Since I am an athlete and from a different country where the way universities work is totally different for the way they work in the US, It really shocks me that athletes can even get advantages just because of the fact that they play a certain sport. But as everything, this has its perks. In my home country, Spain, it would have been impossible for me to continue playing my sport, tennis, while attending university. By offering some type of advantages to athletes, they are making sure that they complete their higher education, which I find it really clever.
Billy Collins poem “Snow Day” evokes images of the first of a series of snowy days. A “revolution”(1) of snow covers everything that you find on the outside of the house. As usual, libraries, schools and many other buildings shut their doors, making every child happy and excited.
As the snow covers violently whatever it is that steps ahead of her, the author of the poem sits inside his house, about to make a pot of tea, waiting to hear the news about how every schools is closing because of the weather conditions. This is the perfect moment for children to run outside and play with the snow, maybe a snowball battle, maybe a snowman; but there’s always an exception, and for the author, the exception are the three girls whispering, probably conspiring against another little girl, who may or may not be innocent.
During the poem, we see a couple of images, which are used to draw readers into a sensory experience. In my opinion, one of the most obvious ones is “and I will shake a laden branch sending a cold shower down on us both” (14, 15). The moment you read this, you project the image snow falling all over you, covering the last bit of your body, leaving you soaking in water. The author may have used this image because it is really easy for the reader to imagine the situation, it is very clear, you can even feel it.
Marta Escanero Funes