This semester is ending, but I still have three more semesters before I graduate. That’s semesters less than I originally thought. What’s crazy to me is how… strange… this semester has been. Aside from being crazily busy, this course has been a fascinating experience. As a COPLAC course, “Making Strange” introduced me to students from across the US and Canada. It also introduced me to new concepts and made me realize some of my strengths and weaknesses. I have learned much more than I thought I would going into the semester.
For instance, I’ve learned that combining learning focuses leads to great things. I knew this as a concept before I took the class, but this experience has cemented the idea. Partnering with Brendan, a Mass Comm major was interesting. I mostly use Youtube for cat videos and the occasional TEDtalk. Brendan helped me see the vast potential Youtube allows people to tap. I tend to focus my research on topics with which I am already (at least somewhat) familiar. Brendan’s ideas took our research in a direction I would never have thought. This enriched the semester more than I could have thought.
I also learned that there is so much more out there to discover. I’ve mentioned my ‘chocolate analogy’ in class before. The world tells you there are three kinds of chocolate, and then college gives you a 100 piece Whitman’s Sampler. Even just within the discussion in class, I have discovered topics that piqued my interest. Things to explore in the world around me that never would have crossed my path, or if they had, probably not in a way that interested me. Philosophers, artists, authors, concepts, paths of thought that spark a flicker of a flame. And perhaps that flicker will someday become a wildfire.
As Dr. Franke stated in her presentation at MSU, the likelihood that one of us will be the next Goethe is extremely small, but that’s no reason to stop exploring. I began my exploration with a single math course several semesters ago. Since then, I have found a ‘useful’ career path that interests me: Technical Writing. But I have also discovered a passion for languages, I have learned that I need to become MUCH more tech savvy, and I have begun to appreciate the importance of learning. I had fallen into a rut before going back to school. This course took that learning curve and swung it around like a boomerang.
I have several goals on which to focus. One is becoming more technologically literate. Exploring the WordPress site was a start, but I need to know how to use additional technologies efficiently. There is so much out there that will only enhance the learning experience, so much I can learn to appreciate. I also need to refine my research techniques. I know how to research if I’m given a specific guideline. Give me a topic, a format, a deadline, and a specified number of sources, and I’m good to go. But let loose, I’m a little lost. But lost is just another word for learning. I intend to keep learning.
I have to admit, I was somewhat nervous about this course when I’d learned I was accepted into it. I had no idea what to expect, as I’d never participated in an online class, nor heard of anything along the lines of a “digital humanities” class. However, I can confidently say that this one of the most enriching courses I’ve ever taken.
Not only was I able to meet some incredible young minds and personalities, but I got to participate in deep, thought-provoking discussions with them, every week. From Donovan’s in-depth analysis of various gender and sexuality concepts, to Lisa’s philosophical ventures that always revealed a new perspective, I was fascinated with the range of material that we covered in this course.
When discussion of “the final project,” began to loom over our heads, I felt more excitement than concern. Dr. Franke and Dr. Wesselius encouraged us to explore that which interested US, as individuals, and I personally believe that is one of the many reasons this class succeeded in the ways that it did. For me, specifically, I enjoy psychology. I also enjoy internet personalities. This project was right up my alley, and I cherish the fact that I was not only able to explore it alongside my amazing partner, but create a video that captures our presentation forever.
As far as my goals are concerned, I’m excited to continue pursuing “strange” in all my endeavors. When we seek that which is unfamiliar, we open ourselves up to countless opportunities – to learn, to understand, and to become a better human being. We are as “strange” as we are “normal,” and that is a universal truth. Every culture has its norms, which, in turn, creates its standards for what qualifies as strange. But when we take the time to learn from everything we consider “strange,” we step toward understanding – toward enlightenment.
I’m going to pursue opportunity in all her “strange” forms.