Trying New Things, One of the Perks of a Liberal Arts School
Blogger: Emily Henderson
The semester is coming to a close here at Oxy; students cramming are for finals, finishing up final projects and looking forward to winter break. As things wind down, I can’t help be do a little reminiscing about what a crazy but fun semester it’s been. I tried a lot of new things this semester, some more trivial, like having In-N-Out for the first time, and some more significant. Although I definitely have some friends who would argue your first In-N-Out burger is a pretty important experience, but I digress.
I took two classes this semester that were totally new subjects for me, Painting and Journalism. One of the great things about Oxy (and a lot of liberal arts colleges for that matter) is that students are required to take classes in a lot of different areas so you get a chance to explore new things.
My first day of painting I didn’t even know what to mix my paints on. I tried doing it on a paper towel before I realized our supply kits included something called palette paper that’s made to mix paint on. But I improved quickly from there. A lot of introductory classes move pretty fast which makes them more challenging than you would expect at times but it also means you learn a lot. By the second assignment we’d learned about light, perspective, creating depth on a 2-D surface, and color theory. We applied that to a still-life exercise of painting fruit and I was pretty happy with how mine turned out.
Then we moved on to cover abstract, non-representational, and conceptualist styles. I learned so much in one semester and I enjoyed it; I’ll definitely be painting more in the future.
My journalism class was probably my hardest class this semester but it was probably my favorite too. Day one we had a pop quiz on recent news events, before our professor even introduced himself, and we all failed miserably. Thankfully, those scores didn’t go in the grade books but I learned my lesson; if you want to study journalism you have to keep up with the news. Now I’m reading the LA Times and listening to NPR all the time. That class didn’t get easier after the first day either. We were each assigned to write 3 news stories on off campus events that required original reporting (interviewing sources, fact checking, good quotes, the works). It was hard but I’ve also never been more proud of work I’ve done or more excited about a class. I think it helped that we got to hear from lots of people who were passionate about journalism so we could understand what important and rewarding work it is. We had guest speakers coming in all the time and our professor (after he was done scaring us on day one) turned out to be a successful journalist himself with a real love for reporting and writing. And did I mention we got to go on a field trip to the LA Times on our last day? Yeah, that was pretty awesome. I’m already signed up for the narrative journalism class in the spring and I can’t wait!
So it was a good semester, not an easy one, but a good one. I learned a lot in my classes and I learned that trying new things can be really worthwhile because you never know when you’re going to stumble across a subject you want to pursue more in the future. I also learned that In-N-Out is delicious, that was an important lesson too.