Academic love affairs



I am not at college by default.

I used to be, on account of being a middle-class USian, but then I took my leave and thought long and hard about returning to this college, returning to any college, before deciding that yes, I would finish a degree. At that point, it was a pragmatic decision: I didn't want to be held back in the future by a lack of B.A. and I knew there would not be an easier time than now to get it.

Sometimes I wonder whether I'm not still in college just to improve my occupational outlook. But not that often. Because in between leaving and returning to this college, I found my major and collided with some disciplines that at times feel physically necessary to my being. (Wrapped in women's studies, I sleep deeply; anthropology feeds me when I am hungry...)

Pieces come together—gorgeous connections happen between political philosophy and culture theory, or introductory theology and history of astronomy. I read articles from academic journals when I want to know more about something, and I understand them and enjoy them, sometimes unnaturally so. I am learning the words and ways of thinking that allow me to understand and articulate and engage what is urgent to me. I get to read and listen and synthesize until I think I can't anymore, and I get to talk seriously to people my age about what we agree must be talked about.

I get tired, of course. But then there are nights like tonight where an idea gets whirling in my head, and I know how to explain it and I'm thinking of this quotation in that essay and how I just saw the perfect illustration and how it ties in with so-and-so's dialectic etc. etc. and my skull is boiling with excitement that wouldn't make sense to most people, but people care here, they care that much about what we are all doing and I understand and there's so much more to understand if only there will be enough time awake. And then I just knowknowknow that I am in the right place, and I am so lucky.

11 comments:

Q 1/25/2011 10:33 PM  

I love connections.

pinkapplecore 1/26/2011 7:18 AM  

agreed. I'm in the process of my academic break. I'm trying to realize my dreams and the best way to achieve them. You only get one life, do what makes you happy.

Heidi 1/26/2011 9:21 AM  

Thanks for reminding me why I love university. It's been hard to remember this week.

Je Reve 1/26/2011 10:43 AM  

I'm on the semester system, so I've not started back yet, and I feel that hunger, the slow death of boredom and lack of what can only be seedily defined as my education. Thanks for the post.

Holly 1/26/2011 4:38 PM  

Q - Speaking of, how many credits of gen eds does your school require?

pinkapplecore - And it's so smart to be deliberate like that and not just get swept around doing what it seems like you should.

Heidi - Stressful? Mine too. Hang in there.

Rêveur - I'm on semesters too, but for some reason we get three weeks for Christmas...it doesn't make sense; we'd all be THRILLED to miss the January weather. I think more would be too long for me, though, that said. When do you return?

Jenica 1/26/2011 7:07 PM  

That's a lovely feeling to have.
And discussions with peers about actual, significant things--I prize those. A lot.

Michael D. Lockhart 1/26/2011 7:11 PM  

I remember being that excited about school. I get excited about other things now, and my excited conversations happen mostly online instead of over coffee because I'm not blessed to be in a geographically condensed space with other excited folk in the way college can provide, but the excitement to learn and discuss remains. It CAN remain.

Wonderful post. It's so cool to see that kind of passion. Thank for sharing.

Q 1/27/2011 8:30 AM  

So, I wrote out a LONG comment explaining our Core and then accidentally clicked a link and it was GONE. I'll explain later when class isn't starting. :P

Holly 1/27/2011 8:47 AM  

Jenica - The late-night ones remain my absolute favorite thing about dorm living.

Michael - I know just what you mean about friends online, though I do also have that concentrated community around me right now. I intend to keep that excitement too; thank you for the assurance. And thanks for dropping by!

Q - Oh, oops. Hah.

Shelley 1/27/2011 10:16 AM  

The purpose of the academy is to protect feelings like those.

Holly 1/28/2011 9:42 PM  

Shelley - It is definitely a sort of home. How grateful we are for it, then.

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