Monday, December 7, 2009

Reflection 15: I once was a little Einstein

Blogging has been fun. Tedious and time consuming at times, but still fun. And it completely messes with my procrastination (as you can see from this late blog post). But it wasn't my biggest problem ever. It was more like the tip of the iceberg.

College has just exasperated the worst in me. ADD Katie is not good, studious Katie. I've really been devolving since childhood. I was originally very bright and very mature. I got all A's and never missed a homework assignment. I can't say the same about myself anymore. And the funny thing is, my younger self totally predicted this. I live right next to a college town, New Brunswick, aka Rutgers-land. I remember once in my youth when I was driving down a street in Rutgers. We were stopped at light and I saw a bunch of college kids running around like total idiots. I thought to little self, "What a bunch of idiots. These teenagers are retarded, but then again all are. I, being dubbed as quite mature by various adults, don't act like that. Maybe you devolve when you become a teenager. Like you're real smart as a kid, then become stupider and stupider as you become a teenager." Okay, I didn't think it in those exact words, but I legit had this theory that teenagers were got stupider as they went through puberty. And it looks like I was right. Boy, what a genius I was. Damn puberty.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Final Reflection

Damn, Explorations, I miss you already.

Throughout this semester, when I had to describe my classes to friends and family, Explorations was the hardest for me to define. When asked what we were reading, I shilled out a list of what must have been totally incongruous titles and authors. When asked about what I was writing, I attempted to connect relatively familiar topics like blog posts and new concepts like ethnographies. And when asked what I was learning, I often had to respond with a blank stare or resort to a rambling mumble before changing the subject.

But what did I learn? Actually, one of the most profound effects this class had for me was helping me to identify my personal values. While I've always had a vague idea about what I believe, the assignments and discussions in class have kind of worked like a lens to help me focus on and clarify exactly what these beliefs are (and I have had a wide range of material draw from- we have covered aspects ranging from human nature to the basic functions of tact, from a thorough look at spirituality to personality tests). I can actually define them now, put words to what before were just emotions and images.

I still don't know what my future holds, or what my role in life will entail. I am honestly not that worried about it. I have been blessed with opportunities that 99% of the world's population will never have; I think I, and all college students, should start from there and know just how fortunate we all are. What you have is not nearly as important as what you do with it; this applies to education perhaps more than anything else.

Finally, I just want to say that I really appreciate all the members of this UC. I know that I personally was one of the quietest members of the class, and when discussions began to wander my concentration was soon to follow. However, the majority of the discussions were insightful and clearly opined, if perhaps just a little circuitous. I am glad that our class had a diverse set of opinions, and that each member offered something of their own to the topic, whether it was a personal story to develop the conversation or a touch of humor to lighten tension. Oh no, I'm getting emotional. Seriously, if you could see me right now, I'm pretty close to tears. And its all because of you beautiful people.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


It's snowing. I can't help but think that in many ways I'm no closer to finding what I want out of life then I was at the begining of the year. What's more, it appears that people get places by floating along and getting lucky. After a semester of books and labs, I don't think any of us are any closer to answering the question of where we fit in as an indevidual in a community than we were when the year started. I for one spent the year learning what I don't know, which is a great deal. But that may have been the point.

This year was more about learning where I stand. I learned I was closer to the middle politically than I had thought (back home it was commonly assumed I was a god hating liberal). I discovered the sheer amount of crap on my desk could be hiding early life forms. I learned that washing machines do not work when you have to force the door closed with your butt. I learned that peoples' backgrounds greatly influence their views and that identity performances are universal, whether it's a professional trying to make an olympic struggle seem simple or a class trying to tack down the answer to an unanswerable question.

Some performances are better than others but, like an audition, everyone is trying to make the most of the same script.


I came into this class with the expectation of having a better idea of what I want to do with my life. After 15 weeks, I'm not so sure that I do...but I also don't think that that's a bad thing.

Upon entering American University, I had the intentions of getting my bachelors in Business Administration with a speciailzation in International Business. I had the goals of becoming a high ranking executive in some international company. Though this still may end up being my ultimate goal, I feel like I need to do a little exploring into other options before I settle on that because of some experiences I've had in this class.

One thing that struck me when President Kerwin came in was how strategic his behavior was. I don't want to have to stragecially plan what I'm going to say and put up a front all the time. Though I know with every profession people will always be putting up fronts, I think this would particularly important for a high ranking executive. Another realization I had was when I read Habits of the Heart. I have always wanted to move out of my small hometown to a big city where there's something always going on. As I read Habits of the Heart, I found myself put off by the people who soley focused on their careers (I think his name was Brian) and more drawn to the fourth character who was focused on his community and his small town. This amazed me because all through high school I just wanted to get out of my small town and move on.

I'm conflicted. Small towns have reputation for being "behind the times." What am I going to a well-respected university and getting my degree in International Business for if living in a small town is what makes me happy? I think this is just really a more nostalgic feeling. In all reality, small towns really aren't as quaint as they're idealized to be...especially in movies (like "Hannah Montana: the Movie" which I'm doing my final assignment on!) In all reality, I really don't think I'll end up living in a small town, but the big city vs. small town community is a value that I question when thinking about my future.

I won't end up being a person like the fourth character of Habits of the Heart. Its a good ideal, but because of what our society is focused on, I don't think I'd feel successful. In all likelihood, I'll still probably end up majoring in International Business. I'll probably become involved in my career just like Brian in Habits of the Heart. I just hope that I don't get so caught up with my caeer that I let it negatively impact other equally, if not more, important aspects of my life.

Friday, December 4, 2009


Soooo, last blog reflection ever! I attempted writing this blog last night, and I drew a blank. I thought I would try to reflect on the semester as a whole, but then I realized that I had already sort of done that in my last two reflections. So I was drawing a complete blank last night and still would be today as to what to reflect on until my mom sent me a text message this morning.

One of my dad's closest friends found out five weeks ago that he had esophageal and pancreatic cancer. Unfortunately, I found out this morning from my mom that he passed away this past Tuesday. Now I had only met him like three times because him and his family lived so far away, but it really made me think about my life. The past few deaths of people close to my family or me have all been pretty old, so it was weird to have someone my parents’ age in their fifties die.

It made me think if one of my parents’ died. What would I do if I wasn’t able to talk to/go to my rational thinking mom or goofy carefree dad? I honestly have no clue. I could honestly never imagine being where I am in my life now and all of a sudden not having one of my parents anymore. When I go home in a week(!!!!!!!!), I think it may be one of the times when I am most appreciative of my parents. Not that I like take advantage of my parents at all- I just feel like they are one of the things in my life that I think will always be there, or at least until I am much older, and so it is not the biggest moment in my life to see them. Although I’ve probably said this about five hundred times in this blog already, I really don’t know what would happen if they all of a sudden weren’t there, and I guess you truly “don’t know what you got till it’s gone.”

Thursday, December 3, 2009

blog question 13

Although I believed that this question would be easy- it doesn't require me to examine a work of literature or attempt to draw information from society- I personally think it is the hardest one yet. Of course, like many of my classmates, Joe and Julie for example, I aspire to travel and to immerse myself in foreign languages; I think you would be hard-pressed to find AU student who didn't have this goal.

However, I think that foreign travel is simply one of the greatest components of my ideal community. Even though I have not been a particularly devout Christian; I am probably what both atheists and fundamentalists would call an "accommodator," or what I like to call "progressive." What this means to me is that I find the social gospel as compelling and important as the spiritual component. I therefore want, most of all, to join the community of community builders and human developers who work overseas. I don't believe that it is my duty to bring the message of Jesus to foreign heathens. I do believe that people in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East are hungry, poor and hurting- and I have a calling to try and make a difference. I don't know if I will immediately set off on this goal, because I'm going to have a chunk of debt to pay off after college. I just know that I don't want to fall into a trap of easy living.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Shifting Idealistic Desires to my Realistic Future...

So it appears Joe's blog is the hot topic this week. I might not have read it except when I signed on to our blog Annie had linked Joe's blog to hers so I was interested and I read. Besides the Peace Corps, I have similar dreams as Joe. I would love to spend the next few years traveling the world. Initially I'd like to backpack from country to country and then I'd like to stay for 6 months to a year in a few countries and work. So if there was a vagabond community I could be a part of until I became old and decrepit that would be just lovely.

But I imagine that even after being a vagabond for say 10 years, this carefree exploring lifestyle would even get a little dull. Exploring the world wouldn't be as exciting and I would be ready to settle down with a solid job and begin the stereotypical family life. I would work as long as I physically could because without a job I think I would feel like I lacked purpose and would be bored. But when it came time to retire, I want to retire in a golfing community and golf every day. But if I never had kids or they all died in some tragic accident I would definately retire somewhere like Italy or Greece though.

So I think this response turned into a rambling answer and might not have exactly answered the question. But honestly I wouldn't care what community I belonged to or if I was rich or poor as long as I was traveling the world and had enough money for my morning coffee. But this vagabond lifestyle is idealistic. Paying this much to go to this school and then just blowing all my money traveling the world for ten years doesn't really make sense. So I just have to put my head back on straight. Realistically, I'll become a graduate of American University, work for a couple of years, probably get my MBA somewhere and become a member of that community, then move somewhere and be a part of a neighborhood community, be a member of a church community, and be a member of a work community. Sounds so standard, so boring. I think at one point in my life I'll have some experience that has me become involved in some unique community. I hope this does happen, but at this point I can't even imagine what that community will be.

So in the process of writing this blog I shifted my thoughts from an idealistic community to a realistic one...I'm not sure if I like it.