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An Ode to Liberal Arts

In which Greta is grateful for learning across disciplines—and that she still can.

In which Greta is grateful for learning across disciplines—and that she still can.

Hi there! Last time I promised a part 2 of my virtual campus tour, and at some point, I will deliver. But for now, I’m in the mood to talk about how much I love learning.

This afternoon, I was doing my class readings. First two articles for Introduction to Anthropology, about family structures and marriage practices in India and Tibet. They made me think about my Sociology of the Family class from the fall, where we talked about marriage, but mostly from a U.S.-focused, structural position; these anthropological articles added an international and cultural perspective. They also reminded me of a discussion I had a few weeks ago in my Queer Literature (English) class about looking at kinship in Native American societies through a queer lens — which further called to mind my Indigenous Studies (American Studies) class from winter term — which both always remind me of themes from my fall Argument and Inquiry Seminar, Literary Revision.

Get the point?

This is what I love about a Liberal Arts education. Everything is connected to everything else, which is heaven for a brain like mine. I absolutely love immersing myself in theory—it’s like joining a conversation that spans time and discipline. (I’ve read the same article in anthropology and Indigenous studies plus seen it cited in English reading!)

A completely nerdy statement, I know, but that’s Carleton. My friends may roll their eyes when I say things like that, but it’s while obsessing about the biology of birds—or wondering which theater productions they want to see this weekend—or continuing a 500-something-day Duolingo streak in French and German. (All things my friends actually do.) Our interests span from astrophysics to music performance to European history, but somehow, they always overlap. And it makes for some very fun conversations.

I’m a plan-oriented person, so I spend a lot of time obsessing over what major I’ll choose. And I will have to make some decision in about a year, when I’m a spring term sophomore. But I also constantly remind myself simply to revel in my current indecision. I’ve taken classes in six different departments this year, plus music lessons, and they continuously generate such exciting academic combinations. Like that scene in Ratatouillle where Remy takes a bite of a strawberry and cheese and fireworks explode in his mind… that’s what Carleton feels like to me.

It’s tough, this term. I continuously miss the library and the dining hall and the walks between classes, those places where intellectual conversations just spontaneously occur. It’s hard to focus on my work while it’s all on my computer, alone in my room. It’s sad every time I log into a class and imagine the classroom I should be entering instead. Sometimes I want to give up until I can get back to Carleton proper.

But each day, something else encourages me to keep going instead: Zoom lunches with my friends, the out-of-context photos of our homework that we text each other, even my big green notebook where all my notes coexist and create the kind of connections I wrote about above. Learning is still happening. And that’s what gives me hope.

Greta is a proud Vermonter who nevertheless wishes she could be at Carleton instead of sheltering in place. She’s making it through the pandemic by writing constantly, playing piano, and spending time outdoors. Then eating lots of ice cream. She wants to learn everything, but is particularly interested in Sociology/Anthropology, American Studies and, of course, English. Meet the other bloggers!