Keeping Up My Spanish After Graduation

It’s officially one week till graduation. Aside from all the other things this means, it hit me this week that graduating means losing a set time and place to practice my Spanish every week. While I would love to get a job where I can use Spanish, I don’t know that that will be an option. So here’s how I’m planning on keeping up my skills. 

  1. Listening: there are a lot of Spanish telenovelas on Netflix. But I’ve found I don’t like that type of show. I’m more into crime thrillers than the over-the-top family and relationship dramas frequently used in telenovelas. So while I’ll keep trying Spanish TV shows and movies, I downloaded the BBC Mundo app so I can watch a video or two a day. (And I can read the news and culture stories as well.) I have also been exploring the Latin channels on Spotify, so by slowly developing a taste for Latin music I can practice my Spanish that way as well. 
  2. Reading: I love reading anyway, so consciously trying to add Spanish books into my reading list shouldn’t be too difficult. I’m looking forward to working my way through some Spanish classics as well as reading translated works I’ve already read in English. 
  3. Writing: This will be harder to practice without an outside party to check over my grammar. But I may try to write some fiction or even just journal in Spanish. And I’ve done enough papers in Spanish that I know which mistakes I’m prone to make. Maybe there’s a Spanish-language fan fic site I can find. That’s something I’ll have to look more into. 
  4. Translating: I don’t know that I’ll find myself doing this very often, but it may help me keep from forgetting specific vocabulary. Plus, I have a very new, very nice Spanish-English dictionary, so I might as well use it. I could translate a news article, or a blog post, or even a book chapter if I’m feeling ambitious. This would be something good to do when I’m bored and want something to focus on. 
  5. Speaking: This is the one skill I’m not sure how I will be able to practice. This is the skill I have the lowest confidence in, and I’m not really an outgoing person. Those two things combined might make it a little difficult to find a practice partner. I feel like there may be a conversation group somewhere in the city I’m moving to, but the homebody in me doesn’t know about that. So this will be something to work on. Maybe I can find a little old Spanish-language lady that needs a companion a few days a week? Who knows. We shall see!

Among the many challenges that come with graduating from college, this is one I feel most confident I can keep up. Spanish and languages are a passion of mine, so I’ll definitely be more likely to practice. And if I can make it a habit, I’ll have that many less problems if I ever do find myself in a job where I get to use Spanish frequently. Here’s to hoping!

Finishing Well

It’s been somewhat of a pattern in my life to tire of projects before they’re finished.  This was first evidenced by the mountain of unfinished stories I have in notebooks under my childhood bed.  I would get a great idea, start writing, and then run out of ideas and peter off, until my next great idea.  This bell curve of interest bleeds over into other areas of my life, too.  When I’m at the beginning or middle of a project, I’m ready to do hard work.  I know what it will take to get to the end, and I’m prepared for that.  I am able to focus on work and get things done.  But when I get close to end, I start to get antsy.  I just want the thing to be over already.  I start rushing, or even half-assing work, sometimes at the expense of quality.  I get so close to being done that I lose interest.  I do this with papers, group projects, and even job interviews.

I attribute this tendency to my impatience.  I don’t know why I’m an impatient person.  I think part of it is that I like to be productive.  When I’m in the middle of a project, I can see things taking shape.  I can spend a few hours working and have something to show for it.  The bulk of the work is done in the middle of projects, and I like that.  I like seeing the results of my actions.  I even like editing — the big editing that comes after the word-vomit stage.  But when projects start to come to an end, a lot of the work to be done is just tweaking, perfecting.  And I know this is important, sometimes more important than the production of the project.  But to me, it feels less productive than sheer content creation because there is less to show when I’m done.  The words or results are already there; I’m just changing them to look or sound better.  It feels like busy work.

My mom noticed this about me early on.  At the end of a school year, or at the final level of a competition, I would lose interest in my work and start complaining about how I just wanted to be done.  And she would remind me to finish well.  “I know you’re tired of this,” she’d acknowledge, “but you need to finish well.  You’re almost done, and you need to keep doing your best until the end.”

Those words came to mind this week as I was going from class to class.  At this point in my life, I’ve been in school for 17 years.  I enjoy learning, but I am so tired of sitting in class.  I cannot describe how pointless it feels at this stage.  I am now what most people would call an adult, and I’m ready to live the adult life.  I’m ready to officially have my own home that is not a college apartment.  I’m ready to spend my days working for pay (and learning on the job!) rather than paying to learn.  I’m ready to be financially independent; I’m ready to make decisions; I’m ready to contribute to society in a way I haven’t been able to yet.

But like it or not, I still have 5 weeks till graduation.  I know it’ll go by fast, but it’s felt slow.  I still have two group projects and a capstone paper to finish, not to mention finals in my other two classes.  I still have meetings to go to.  I still have events to work.  As ready as I am to just be done, it’s not going to go any faster because I’m sitting here wishing it will.

That’s why I’m going to try to take “finish well” as my motto for the rest of the semester.  If I can remember that, I’ll be able to enjoy these last 5 weeks instead of wishing them away.

Writing in a Foreign Language

 

I’ve always loved writing.  At my parents’ house, there are still boxes under my bed, full of notebooks I filled with half-written stories and ideas.  I have tons of files on my old computers and on my flash drive with more stories and essays.  I’ve changed my mind several times on what I like to write most, but I’ve never fallen out of love with writing.  I’ve done it my whole life, and I’m not planning on stopping anytime soon.

Since I’ve had so much practice with writing, especially for school, I like to think I’m fairly good at it.  Since I learned to write a five-paragraph essay, structured, written thought has come fairly easily for me.  When I first began writing serious papers, it took me awhile to get to the point I wanted to make.  I would have to go through several rounds of edits to shorten and clarify my thoughts.  But as I did it more and more often, it got easier.  Now, if an assignment requires an essay, I can crank out a pretty good paper within a few hours to a day.  While I might make a few changes afterward, I typically say all I need to say with relative ease.  (Of course, every piece of writing could use some editing.  But when I also have to block out time for other things, a few hours to a day for a fairly high-quality essay is pretty good.)

But that’s all for essays I write in English.  With Spanish, I’m finding it’s a different story.  Throughout my Spanish classes, I’ve had to write a ton of papers.  They started out short and simple, as ways to practice vocabulary, sentence structure, and specific grammar rules.  As I got farther along, they began to get more complex.  They became less about practicing the language and more about engaging with the culture.  I learned more vocabulary, and essays in Spanish started to get almost as easy as essays in English.

Almost is the key word here, though.  I got fooled into thinking I knew Spanish well enough to use the same one-day process I use for English papers.  So last weekend, that’s how I wrote two papers for my capstone — one Saturday, one Sunday, and done.  Then a few days later, I got them back from my faculty adviser, and while overall the papers were okay, my grammar was all over the place.  I figured out very quickly that I need to take a few steps back in my writing process for Spanish papers.  Ideally, here’s how it should go:

  1. I need to make a list of grammar mistakes I make often, using already-graded papers as a reference.
  2. Start the paper at least a week before the due date.  (This means I need to be diligent about finishing the books I’m supposed to be writing about on time, too.)
  3. Take one or two days to write it, and then let it sit for a day or two.
  4. Read back through the paper, fixing any glaring mistakes, and polishing it if need be.  Make sure I’ve put everything in the paper that is required.
  5. Go over it again, this time with my list of common mistakes, and fix those.
  6. Finally, either run through a grammar checker or have someone else look over it.  Or maybe even both.

It’s a much longer process than my one-and-done style.  But it will help me write better quality papers.  And I think that the more Spanish I read, the better my writing skills will get.  That’s a big part of how I learned to write well in English, after all.  It makes sense that it would work that way in Spanish.

Why Do Students Cheat?

When I was getting ready to start college in 2012 and 2013, warnings against cheating were everywhere.  College search sites, scholarship databases, and universities themselves were yelling about how not okay cheating is.  “There are consequences to cheating!” they said.  “Cheating will get you nowhere in life!”  I was warned that there would be cheating all around me, and given tips on how to avoid the peer pressure, and on how to study so I wouldn’t need to cheat in the first place.

But until I actually saw it, I had no idea how much cheating goes on in universities.  I was like, yeah, I’m sure people cheat.  But not any of the people I know.  Most people are too smart to think that’s a good idea.  I would never hang out with anyone who cheats.

But you know what?  I do.  I could name at least a dozen people off the top of my head that I know for a fact have blatantly cheated on exams.  And I’m not just talking about using the textbooks for a take-at-home, online test.  I’m talking about people having test banks and emailing them to each other and actually pulling them up on their phones during class and looking at them while they take the test.  This is the kind of cheating that gets people expelled, and it happens literally every day.

Honestly, it boggles my mind.  But I can understand why people do it.  Here are my theories:

  1. University students are so focused on “success” that their priorities change.  College educations make us more marketable, and raise our societal value so that we can get jobs.  Jobs are important.  But the way we become valuable is by having a true education.  So really, the underlying, basic point of college is to learn.  Makes sense, right?  But learning doesn’t necessarily mean good grades, and grades are the thing that most students focus on.  We get so obsessed with getting good grades that we forget that we are supposed to be learning in the process.  (I know multiple people that freak out if they get anything less than an A, even on assignments that are worth 1% or less of their final grade.)  College becomes something to get through, rather than something to shape us.
  2. Many students are simply not prepared for college work.  One of my friends pointed this out to me when we discussed this issue: both she and I went through college prep programs in high school.  We both had been writing papers, including long research papers, since middle school.  We were both encouraged to challenge ourselves, and so we learned good study habits as well as the subjects we studied.  We were both well-prepared for college, and we were both still challenged enough by our college classes that we had to take a step back and re-learn how to study, or adjust our habits in order to adapt.  So if it was hard for us, how much harder must it be for students who were in a bad school district, or who had teachers who didn’t challenge them, or whose classes in high school were easy enough that they didn’t have to study?
  3. Students, just maybe, really are lazy.  In one of my senior capstone classes this year (I’m in three total — gross, right?), I was baffled to hear people complaining that the work was too hard just two weeks into the semester.  At that point, we hadn’t even started our project, and were turning in practice assignments meant to prepare us for the real one.  The assignments weren’t complicated or long, and the professor (unlike others in that major) was good at explaining how to do each one.  People were just pissed that they had to turn in one a week.  It was like they didn’t take into account that the course was a senior capstone course, designed to give as much real-world experience as possible without actually throwing us into it.  Honestly, I still can’t understand this one.  I want things to be easy as much as the next person, but that’s not how the world works.

Before I started college, I thought everyone who cheats must be dumb.  But I know plenty of incredibly bright people who cheat on a regular basis.  Some of them, I think, are bored by college, or are frustrated by professors, or just don’t think they have time to learn between classes and jobs and family.  I can’t speak for everyone.  But I can speak for me.  I’ll be honest — I’ve been offered test banks, and I’ve been very tempted to say yes.  But in the end I couldn’t do it (not because I’m better than anyone else, because Lord knows I have my share of flaws).  I don’t have a 4.0 GPA, and I’ve been in some classes I was elated to get a C in.  But because I didn’t take those test banks, when I walk across that stage in May, I’ll be able to say truthfully that I earned every single grade I’ve gotten, all on my own.  That’ll feel a lot better than looking at a list of As.

 

What I’ve Learned From Working in IT

As a freshman, I received a university scholarship that requires me to volunteer 75 hours each semester to the university.  A lot of students get similar scholarships, and thus it seems like half the university is staffed by students.  At the beginning of every year, we all have to go pick up our volunteer assignments and report for duty.  Most of us monitor computer labs or do basic clerical work.  Many “jobs” involve sitting at a desk and doing homework.  But not mine.  I got stuck in an IT office.

When I started working for Bill (name changed), I was declared as a basic business student.  To this day, I have no idea how they decided to put me in Bill’s office.  Bill is the head of all technology in his building, which happens to house one entire college of our university.  This means he buys, installs, maintains, and tracks every single piece of hardware and software for every single teacher and classroom in the entire college.  He’s the one teachers call when they can’t get their email to work, and he’s the one who implements new systems with heads of technology for other colleges.  He does a ton, and when I started, all of it was over my head.

When I started as a brand-new freshman, I was the first girl and the first business major that had been assigned to his office in years.  All his other student workers were guys majoring in computer science, computer engineering, business information technology, or mechanical or electrical engineering.  They all had an interest in how things work and a propensity for fixing.  And then there was me.

I had no idea what I was doing.  As student workers, we were responsible for documenting complaints and problems and then going out to fix them.  We also had to update and deliver “mobile labs” — huge carts full of 40 laptops each that professors could request for classes.  They weigh more than I do, I’m pretty sure.  I managed to push them around when I needed to, though, and I was good at documenting.  Often I would document calls that other students went out on — they could do the work, but didn’t want to document it, so I made myself useful that way.  But I spent the majority of freshman year following Bill around as he went to fix stuff that we students couldn’t handle.  I met a lot of professors that way, which was really helpful when I started having them for classes.

Gradually, I learned.  I kind of figured out how networks function.  I learned several ways to wipe a hard drive.  I figured out how to explain things I didn’t fully grasp to professors (who often didn’t fully grasp them, either).  I learned to be polite and sympathize when I couldn’t fix something, because I knew how frustrating it was when technology didn’t work.  I learned to work with people I didn’t particularly like.  Mostly, I learned to listen, because I learned that people don’t always communicate the way I want them to.

Disagreeing respectfully with a superior was a big thing to learn.  Bill is very conservative, and though he says he dislikes discussing politics, what he really dislikes is when people disagree.  He has a habit of taking a break and coming into the student side of the office to discuss current events or politics.  Usually, I just nod my head and listen, because (as I discussed some in my last post) I don’t like discussing controversial issues, especially with someone whose views are so different from mine.  But occasionally I do speak up.  Take this morning, for instance.  Bill was reading something about a Title VI document, and got hung up on the words “English is not the official or native language” (or something along those lines).  He started making comments about how English is the official language here in the U.S., and it irks him when concessions have to be made for non-English speakers.  He said he doesn’t think it’s fair for taxpayers to have to pay for everything to be written in more than one language.

Being a Spanish major, I couldn’t let that one go by.  I mentioned that we have a lot of taxpayers in this country whose first language isn’t English.  This was one of those times I wish I knew exact stats, but I don’t.  I tried to talk about how many Spanish-speaking citizens we have here (stressing the legal part, because I know how Bill feels about undocumented immigrants).  Bill did listen to me.  I didn’t expect him to agree or change his mind.  But by speaking up I at least attempted to stand up for my beliefs and worldview.  And though I know Bill doesn’t agree, I think demonstrating a different viewpoint does gain me some respect in his eyes.  He likes people who can think for themselves.  (And it reminds him not to put his foot in his mouth.)

Now, in my last semester here, Bill has gotten a lot more student workers and had to expand his office.  Having more of us means that there are fewer calls to go out on.  Not to mention the fact that the university really amped up its overall help desk, which reduced our workload a ton.  This was nice, because now professors and students can call the help desk for mundane tasks like resetting email passwords, and we can focus on bigger issues like smart boards that don’t work.  The problem for me, though, is that I was good at the mundane tasks.  I have enough computer knowledge that I can figure out which settings to change and which problems I can rule out.  But while I can fix relatively simple problems (and gain good rapport with professors in the process), I can’t fix the big ones.  When a projector malfunctions in the middle of a class and I’m the only one in the office, I leave professors feeling frustrated rather than thankful.  It doesn’t reflect well on me or the university.

But I’m going to leave this job on my resume, because it shows a lot of things.  For one, this job has taught me to work effectively with a team.  It’s heightened my communication skills.  And it’s allowed me to better understand what the crap people are talking about when they tell me to map to a certain drive or boot a machine to the BIOS menu.  It shows that while I may not have a natural affinity for technology, I can learn.  I’ve been very frustrated these past four years, because it takes up a lot of time and is difficult.  But ultimately, I’m thankful I got stuck here, because it has helped shaped me into who I am today.  It’ll be a sweet goodbye when I leave.  But there will be a tiny bit of bitter in there, too.

archivo_000
Our super-official password generator (not — it’s actually to scare new students)

 

Spring Goals Update: February 2017

So, we’re about a month into the year.  How have I done so far on my goals for this semester?

Life Goals

  1. Be intentional about communicating with others, especially roommates.  Well, so far my roommates and I have had zero problems — mainly because none of us are ever around.  We pass each other like ships in the night and when we happen to be home at the same time we do our own thing.  Honestly, that’s how I like it.  In my experience being friends with your roommates just creates more problems than it’s worth.
  2. Get physically stronger.  I worked out a few times the very first week of school, but I underestimated how packed my weeks would  be.  I don’t have Friday classes, so all my classes are squeezed into Monday-Thursday, and Friday I have meetings and also try to knock out as much homework as possible.  So this is not going great.  However, a couple friends and I went to a beginner ballet class on Monday night, and we might try to continue, because it was fun and a great workout.
  3. Find ways to support causes I believe in.  Well, due to time constraints, I haven’t looked at this at all.  However, my capstone project for my Spanish degree has to do with immigration, and that’s something I care about, so that kind of counts.
  4. Read more non-white authors.  Because of the nature of my capstone project, I’ll be reading a lot of Latino authors.  Check out my Goodreads shelf to see what exactly I’ll be reading.  I may not be able to get to all of these for my project, but I do hope to read all of them eventually whether or not I use them.
  5. Food: continue cooking at least once a week; stick to ~$15 a month on coffee.  The boyfriend and I have cooked a ton, it feels like.  There have only been a couple nights so far where I’ve grabbed a single-serve microwave meal from the freezer.  Otherwise, we’ve made a couple simple ready-to-cook Asian meals, and I’ve home-cooked chicken fettucine Alfredo, Costa Rican-esque rice and beans, banana bread, Red Lobster bread (like the rolls, but in bread form), and simple spaghetti and meat sauce.  (See very professional iPhone photos below!)  It’s all simple food, but it’s always a victory to cook instead of warming something up, and then I have leftovers to eat for lunch.  As for coffee, I only spent $11.17 this month (not including creamer and coffee I keep at home, of course — those are grocery purchases).  Go me!

Education/Career Goals

  1. COB Ambassadors: Try to help project manage an event.  I think this is definitely going to be possible this semester.  We have a new organization president this semester, and during our first meeting she had us all fill out an anonymous survey about what is and isn’t working in the program.  From that, she specifically wants project managers who have never project managed before, which I haven’t.  Last semester, everyone who had done it before would immediately volunteer for the positions, but now more preference will be given to those who haven’t done it yet, so I should get a chance to.  Yay!
  2. Apply to ~5 jobs a month.  Well, I applied to several all at once last weekend, but I’m not really expecting any responses.  I decided to see what Career Services had to say about my resume before I apply to any more, so I’ll be giving that an overhaul.  I love and hate resumes, y’all.  They’re so beautiful and neat and organized, but it’s so hard to get them to where they really show off your relevant skills and interests.  I know I would be a good candidate for many jobs, but a lot of the things that make me a good worker are soft skills.  I really have to work to show how my class projects and previous work experience will translate into me being an asset for a company.

I have these goals written on my desk calendar, and I didn’t think I was doing quite as well as I am on them.  So this has been a bit of a mood boost and motivator all at once.  And that’s exactly what goal setting is supposed to do in the first place.  Here’s to February.

History: Best Learned in a Classroom?

If you’ve read my about page, you know that I’m currently majoring in Marketing and Spanish.  I didn’t add my Spanish degree until second semester of sophomore year, though (before it had been a minor), so this year, I got stuck doing some required gen eds I normally would’ve taken as a freshman.  I had to take a second literature class last semester, and also European Civilization 1.

The lit class was a breeze.  The professor was finishing up her doctoral thesis, so we had hardly any homework.  (Also, the level of analysis she gave was really more suited to a high school class, in my opinion, but I wasn’t complaining.)  But the history class was another story.  A lot of majors have to take Euro Civ 1 and 2, so it was a big lecture.  And the professor was one of those who likes to scare freshman.  She was personable, but she didn’t put up with people not taking notes or having their phones out.  And she wasn’t one to give students material, either.  She walked in every day and started talking, and we were expected to figure out what was important and what wasn’t.  There was no outline or study guide, or even a PowerPoint.  She showed photos of artifacts she’d seen and trips she had taken, and that was all.  She was your typical freshman professor — like hey kids, it’s time to get serious.

A lot of kids need that.  College really is tougher than high school, and it pays to learn how to study early.  But I’m a senior.  I do feel young and unequipped at times (especially dealing with apartment stuff and other legal matters), but I’m disciplined, and I know how to succeed at school.  Going from intense, focused group projects in Marketing and Spanish — things I’m interested in and may actually use — to a history class was not very fun at all.

I get that history is important.  But I’ve never really enjoyed it.  Which is a little weird — normally students who like English and writing also enjoy history.  It makes sense — history is essentially a collection of stories.  And it’s stuff that actually happened.  They say the truth is stranger than fiction, and I fully believe that.  Some of the stuff we’ve done as humans you just can’t make up.

But I just can’t get into history when it’s taught in a class.  For one, I have an awful memory.  I grasp conceptual stuff fairly easily, and I’m good at learning processes, but please don’t ask me who it was that signed this or that treaty, because I won’t be able to tell you.  I’m not good at remembering dates, and while I have a vague timeline of world events in my head, I usually have to look up the details.

The other thing is that in class, there’s too much to cover to be able to get into the interesting stuff.  Unless it’s a very specialized class, you can’t get into the personal lives of important people, or how the culture affected certain groups — there is just not enough time.  When I was younger, I read a lot of historical fiction, and that’s where any interest I have had in history comes from.  I liked learning about how ordinary people lived in certain time periods and how major world events affected their lives.  I care about history on the small scale.  I want to know how I might have felt if I had lived during colonial America, or during World War II.  I read stuff like Soldier in Blue (which I can’t find on Goodreads), Copper Sun, all the American Girl historical novels, and the Dear America and Royal Diaries series.  Books like those, more than anything, are where I learned the things I remember about history.  It has to be relate-able.

Sometimes I wonder if more of history should be taught like that.  It’s probably not very practical, because I know not everyone loves reading like I do.  Some people are interested in big picture history, and some people learn best when listening to someone else.  But there’s a lot to be said for looking at the details and making it interesting.  History is easier to remember when you can imagine it happening to you.

I spent a lot of my Christmas break studying for the Euro Civ II CLEP test, so I could test out of the second half of the class.  There were no other options than the same professor I had last semester, and I didn’t really want to waste 3 hours a week on a history class when I’ll also be doing senior projects.  History, for me, is one thing that’s best learned on my own.

What has your experience with learning history been like?

 

What I Realized About Christianity My Freshman Year of College

Over Christmas break, I met with one of the few friends from high school I still talk to.  It had been over a year since I’d seen her, we figured out, and it was nice to catch up.  While we sat drinking coffee, we started discussing how each of us had changed since high school.  As it turns out, neither of us are all that enamored with Christianity anymore.  As we talked, I put something into words that I didn’t quite realize had occurred until that moment.  I mentioned that one of the reasons I grew disenchanted with Christianity was honestly because college was the first time I realized that non-Christians can be good people.  Imagine that, right?  I know it sounds stupid (because it is), but that’s honestly what I thought.  It wasn’t a conscious thing; it was just a very black and white worldview. 

 If you’ve followed my blog for awhile, you might remember that I was homeschooled.  Homeschooling is becoming more prolific these days, but there are still stereotypes — homeschoolers are all prudish, strict Christians who don’t trust the government with their kids, and all their kids are naive and sheltered, and none of them know what birth control is — okay, so it’s not that bad (at all — I’ll give you the side-eye if you actually believe that about homeschoolers).  But I know it is easy to assume that we are more sheltered than kids who went to “real” school.

We can get into my thoughts on all that another time.  But for me, the accurate description is not that I was sheltered, but that I was ignorant and self-absorbed (more so than now, anyway).  Yes, the homeschooling community where I’m from is made up of a lot of Christians, but there were plenty of other religions and non-religious people in the mix as well, and there was never any hate against those who weren’t Christians.  The large Christian presence had more to do with the fact that I live in the Bible belt than that I associated with other homeschoolers.  Also, being a Christian does not mean adherence to one exact set of beliefs — some are more liberal and some are more conservative, like with any belief system.  But in high school, I was more worried about my appearance and fitting in than I was about finding nuance in my community.  It just wasn’t on my radar.

When I started college, I quickly met a core group of friends that I hung out with all the time, plus random acquaintances from classes.  Again, because I live in the South, a lot of people do claim Christianity as their religion, but I quickly realized that not all of them really practiced.  I joined the Baptist student ministry, where 90% of the students claim Christianity, and ended up not really liking a lot of them.  Then I would meet other people in different settings, decide I liked them, and then realize they did not claim Christianity in any way, shape, or form.  I also watched one of my friends from my core group kind of have her own falling out with religion, and didn’t appreciate her any less as a friend.  I didn’t realize what was happening at the time, but it was sort of a wake-up call.

I had a few issues with Christianity before college even started, too.  In high school, I kept an on-again, off-again pattern of reading my Bible every day and keeping a prayer journal.  It was more of a discipline than an enjoyment, but that was okay because everything good in life takes work.  My main problem was that I never felt good enough.  I know that by traditional Christian belief, Jesus died for me, and nothing that I could ever do or fail to do could change that.  But still, there are a set of moral principles that Christians are expected to live by, and I’m not perfect.  I knew what I was supposed to do and not do, and I kept doing the wrong thing for one reason or the other.  I was probably too hard on myself.  But then I didn’t think I was hard enough.  This led to feelings of guilt whenever I thought about my spiritual life, and that added on to insecurities about acne and my desirability to males and all those other things that characterize high school was not good.  So when I started college with an already-fading desire to continue with Christianity, and then realized that there are a lot of types of people in the world, I kind of dropped it.

That I thought Christianity was the only “right,” “good” religion wasn’t an attempt to turn me against others. I assume I would have been the same way if I had grown up Jewish or Muslim or anything else. And I don’t regret or resent being raised the way I was at all — on the contrary, I respect my parents for instilling in me the set of morals that they thought would turn me into the best person I can be. Really, my regret is that I was actually naive enough to think that to be Christian equals everything good in the world, and everything else must be bad or wrong. I know now there’s much more nuance. I feel silly not to have known that then. 

Alcohol, I Like You, But Let’s Just Be Friends

If you’ve been following my blog since at least August, you know I recently turned 21.  That means I’m at the age where I can legally drink.  While I’ve never been interested in going out and getting drunk, I do find alcohol fascinating.  Beer doesn’t sound good to me, but wine intrigues me.  I’ve tried about 5 different kinds since August, trying to find what I like.  (So far, moscato is my favorite, and I guess chardonnay would be second.)  Mixed drinks also fascinate me, but liquor is more expensive than wine, and I’m too intimidated to order one at a restaurant.  I will eventually.  Maybe when I look less like a fourteen-year-old.

But intimidation is not the only thing holding me back.  I know virtually nothing about drinking, because almost none of my family drinks.  My dad grew up in upstate New York, the first child of a pastor.  I’m pretty sure my grandparents have never drank — at least, I assume that’s part of the reason my dad has no interest in it.  The Bible say somewhere that getting drunk is a sin, so it’s just easiest to stay away from alcohol completely.  Plus, it is pricey, so I get that.  I do admire my dad for staying away from it, too, because he spent four years in the Marines, and if that’s not an alcohol-infused culture, I don’t know what is.

My mom’s side of the family is a little bit of a different story.  If my dad’s side is the white-picket-fence stereotype, my mom’s is the opposite.  I’ve had to piece together the details as I’ve gotten older, but I know alcohol was a big factor in my grandparents’ divorce.  I also know that the divorce and the events surrounding it deeply affected my mom and her three older sisters, and some of their life circumstances now are a direct result of turning to alcohol to cope.  My mom doesn’t drink because she’s seen the ugly effects of it.

Both my parents would rather me not drink at all.  Family history, plus religious beliefs, plus the fact that I’m pretty small makes them a little nervous.  And I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a tiny bit nervous at times, too.  There are just so many things that could go wrong.

But I’m responsible by nature.  I am (or try to be) all about balance.  So I’ve been careful.  I only buy a bottle of wine about once every 2.5 or 3 weeks, and I make my bottles last.  When I have a glass of wine, I just have one.  I make sure I’ve eaten something beforehand and that I won’t be driving till much later.  I even try to only drink when I’m already in a good mood, so I won’t be dependent on it as a pick-me-up.

I’m afraid that as a get more comfortable with alcohol, I will relax these standards.  I’m afraid I’ll be tempted to see how far I can go.  I have an irrational fear of throwing up, and this is the only time it comes in handy — I know I’ll never get drunk enough to vomit because I’m terrified of it.  But I hope that’s never all that stops me from having that second (or, God forbid, third or fourth) drink.  I’ve asked my boyfriend, who drinks even less than me, to keep me accountable.

And this is not all to say that I think you’re an idiot or irresponsible if you drink more than I do, or go out to get drunk.  That’s your decision.  All I know is that I need to be careful with alcohol, probably more than most people.  But I also know that even though I need o stay cautious, I’m really excited about exploring all the things humans do with alcohol.  It’s one of the only completely universal things, and every culture has its own special relationship with it.  I’m excited to learn.  But for now, I’ll just stick to researching the cheap grocery store wines that I pick up on a whim.

What I’m Reading: November 2016 – Learning Outside the Classroom

My whole family has a legacy of loving education.  We like to learn stuff, and we all like to read.  My dad is a huge history buff, and as an ex-Marine, you can often find him devouring a book about World War II and other conflicts.  My sister, and brother to an extent, inherited this love of history.  My brother has done school projects on famous generals and war machinery.  His main interest, though, is building things, and he prefers to learn by watching YouTube.  My sister, on the other hand, reads everything — history books, theology, care and keeping of farm animals — you name a topic, she’s probably read something about it.  My mom prefers to read biographies and novels — we joke that “based on a true story” is her favorite genre.  I’m more similar to her in reading taste than anyone else, but I read more popular stuff than anyone in my house.

The only similarity we all have is that we all read to learn.  Even my brother, who doesn’t love reading, has done it.  It’s part of being in my family.  It’s in our DNA.  Recently, I’ve been thinking about learning outside the classroom.  I hope to go into the marketing industry, and I know that learning doesn’t end when classes do.  So here’s what I’ve been reading to try to stay on the up-and-up.

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Source

Hubspot’s Marketing and Sales Blogs

I started following these as a result of my Marketing and Public Relations class.  I’m genuinely interested in the Marketing blog, and often read (or at least skim) an article every day or so.  The Sales blog is not my favorite, but since so many jobs are described as sales and marketing, I figured it couldn’t hurt.  I kind of have to force myself to read the sales articles, though.

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From webinknow.com

WebInkNow

This is the blog of David Meerman Scott, a self-made marketing expert.  He’s the author of our textbook for Marketing and PR, which I’ve enjoyed so far.  He’s been studying the marketing aspects of the presidential election, and it’s been very interesting to read his take on the candidates’ marketing techniques.

 

Magazines

Inc., Fortune, and Entrepreneur are a few that I read articles from on a semi-regular basis.  Honestly, a lot of times I’ll read articles because they touch on something I’ve had to research for a class.  In a couple of my classes we had to take the day’s topic and find a news article that related to it, and these magazines were invaluable.  I also follow all three of these on Twitter, which is easier than visiting each site every day since I’m not a legit subscriber to any of them.

Companies

Since I’m searching for full-time jobs, I spend a good chunk of time researching the companies that are posting on the job boards.  I don’t want to waste my time applying to a company I don’t actually want to work for.  While I don’t do extensive research on every single company I put in an application for, I make sure I at least visit the website and have a pretty good understanding of their mission, customer value, and company culture.  I consider this learning because I’m finding out what companies like to emphasize about themselves, and I can compare this to what I’m learning in my classes about how this should be done.