Approaching my final semester at IU, I find myself looking back and reflecting a bit more on the wealth of experiences my college years have consisted of, shaping who I am today. One of my most cherished memories is of a drawing course I took my second semester (Spring 2017). But I’ll need to back up a bit to provide some context.
My first semester proved to be challenging in a number of ways. The first few weeks gave me insight into what compromises I would allow or not allow myself to make. The first that comes to mind is finite mathematics. It was pretty rough. M118: infamously the most failed class at IU. 200 seat lecture hall. Instructor who flew through the material – except on one occasion in which a student bravely requested that she slow down. This was followed by a sigh of relief from the other students that didn’t have the guts to ask, including myself. The homework was brutal. It ate up my time like nothing before. After the first test, I knew M118 wasn’t going to end well if I kept with it, so I withdrew and decided to pursue the two semester version of the class. Best decision I could’ve made. It was simply unsustainable.
A typical day consisted of three to four gen ed classes, a meal, hammock nap, homework, and sleep. It was hard to fit in things like music and exercise, but I did the best I could. Luckily, Bryan Park acts like a bridge between my house and campus, so I usually gave myself a little extra time each morning to give my body and mind proper maintenance. Of course biking to and from campus was a good inadvertent workout.
So I made it through the bleak, standardized terrain of finals week with solid grades. I learned a few lessons along the way, one being time-management, another being nap skills. Yet another lesson I learned is that general education doesn’t have to be boring. For example, I did well enough in my anthropology class “Interpersonal Communication” to be granted permission to conduct an ethnography that compared and contrasted a musical jam session with a casual hangout. My instructor, Jessica Cripps, actually went on to present my final project as an outstanding example for future classes. I was able to harness my enthusiasm and good behavior to be granted more creative freedom within the confines of a gen ed course. In this case, the “how” overcame the “what.” This is an approach I try to maintain, and it has proved to be very helpful!
(Links to view pieces of my ethnography project)
Winter break was well deserved. I had a sudden calling and found myself curled up on my parents’ couch with the first Harry Potter book and a mug of tea. My older brother, Silas, came to visit that winter. He exposed me to the Wim Hof method, an intensive breathing exercise that acts as a supercharge to the body and mind. I can say with confidence that this method has made a significant positive impact on my health and well-being, and I continue to practice it to this day. I can’t think of a better time in my life for this to have made an entrance. Since that winter, cold showers and Wim Hof have been an inseparable part of my daily routine.
My major remained undeclared. I had been on the waiting list for the Recording Arts Program at Jacobs School of Music, but after two weeks with no word back, I decided to focus on my general education and consider re-applying next semester.
Of the classes I picked out for the spring, I was the most hopeful for the Creative Core studio art class that fulfilled a requirement for my general ed. It could not have been further from my hopes. On the first day, I actually ended up sitting in on a drawing class next door to my Creative Core class. I loved it. Then the instructor found I was non-existent on the attendance sheet. I was directed to the “right” class. From the introduction, I knew that it wasn’t going to be my idea of a relaxing art class. It would consist of lots and lots of cutting and gluing colored paper. Oh yeah, and it was also an 8 am class. I hurried to the online course search engine as soon as I could. I wanted to see if there was just a plain old drawing class that would fulfill the same requirements. There was. One open class. One last open seat. Without hesitation, I clicked “enroll.”
I could not have foreseen the friendships and journeys that would follow this last minute decision.