Weird. I was trying to research something I thought about earlier while participating in a communications study, and somehow ended up reading this article about being gay. I’ll be honest, I didn’t read the whole thing. If you had been in class all day, doing research, AND participating in a study, you probably wouldn’t be up for much reading either. The article did spark something in mind that I hadn’t thought about for a while.
Tag Archives: Culture
I grew up in a foreign land (to most Americans). I spent most of my childhood traveling and it allowed me to see many beautiful places. When I say traveling, I don’t mean the vacation type, but rather a different kind. My grandparents traveled a lot for work and I tagged along sometimes. At times we stayed in hotels, but this was the exception rather than the rule. And when we did stay in hotels, they were very cheap ones. Either way, I got to do pretty cool things: I swam in rivers, climbed mountains, and explored exotic trails. I never went camping or fishing in the traditional sense, but I had my share of adventures outdoors.
I am usually fond of guest speakers for two reasons. First, because they provide a break from your usual professor- and it’s always good to have some variety. And second, because they tend to be very important people. Let’s face it, not many professors like to give their lecture time to others- after all, scholars love to hear themselves talk. So when they do, I assume there’s a very special reason behind it.
This time around, we had some smart scholar from Indonesia, who came to talk to us about Islam and Democracy. This scholar had a very serious demeanor and a thick accent. He also used the microphone way too close, which made understanding him the more problematic. After seeing the block paragraphs in his slides, my excitement plummeted. In fact, at a certain point I stopped taking notes, because I simply couldn’t follow.
During my college years (Ha! I sound old), I’ve come to appreciate good lecturers. I’m not necessarily asking for my professors to be standup comedians, but if we, the students, don’t understand what the lecturer is trying to convey, we ain’t going anywhere. Although I dislike admitting to it, sometimes learning can be extremely boring (there’s a reason why some people become jocks, right?).
The question is then: Is it too much to ask for professors to at least try to make their material more accesible? Perhaps universities should offer a workshop on public speaking? Now please don’t think I’m siding with the people who text their way through class because they deem such class to be boring. Rather I’m siding with those who try really hard to get the most out of such brilliant scholars, yet they are unable to because of the lecturer’s poor public speaking skills.
What do you guys think? Did you have a professor who made it very easy for you to fall asleep?
By the way, here’s a pretty cool article on one such professor who goes the extra mile for his students, yet I haven’t been able to take one of his classes:
–Mrs. This One
Can you believe there was a study released accusing the University of California schools from providing an “unbalanced education” (i.e. We’re too liberal) to the detriment of the students? The article came out a few days ago in the LA Times, and although I’d love to link to it, now you gotta pay to read the LA Times.
Maybe it’s the fact I’m graduating, but this study is very offensive to me (and to other students, I’m sure). As a political science major, I get to have the fun discussions about politics. Although most of my professors don’t say it, it is usually easy to tell that they lean to the left. However, this sentiment is never forced upon us. In fact, my professors have usually encouraged conservative students to speak up to counterbalance the view in the classroom.
However, even if this weren’t the case, this study missed an important thing. Part of UCLA’s greatness (in my opinion) is its left-leaning composition. The same way Chapman University students probably love its right-leaning composition. Isn’t that just part of college culture? There’s a reason why Berkeley or Harvard or MIT attract a certain type of students. Sure, balance is always needed, but you can only balance so much!
To be clear, I’ve been a strong critic of UCLA- but my criticism is mostly directed at the bureaucracy. UCLA really is a great institution with a lot of perks. For example, when in my Politics of Economic Development my professors asked how many students had spent more than a week in a developing country, I was so happy to see that at least 85% students raised there hands. You know how hard that is to find somewhere else?
In any case, there’s a certain feeling of relief knowing that this is my last quarter. Thankfully law school is on the semester system. I did very well last quarter, and I plan to rally through this quarter to graduate with latin honors. Because of this, I will be busy almost every minute of every day. Though in the mean time, I’m watching the Kansas-Kentucky game.
In case you’re wondering, my money is on Kansas.
-Mrs. This One
Another birthday went by. The realization that things are not exactly the way you’d like them to be hits harder and harder these days. This may or may not have been made worse by the fact that I had to spend my birthday writing a final paper. Whatever happened to birthdays being the one day out of the year where you got to do anything and everything you wanted to? You know the drill- mom cooks your favorite meal, you’re allowed to miss school, watch cartoons until noon, etc.
I guess I’m an adult now and things are not quite the same. Sure, I could have spent my day not writing my paper and risk failing a class. But the consequences outweigh the benefits by tons of tons. So I declined every invitation to go out in order to make sure I get a decent grade on that paper.
But this is just a symptom. My family is not doing well these days. By default, that carries over onto me. No matter how hard I try to not let it bother me, it simply does. You worry about those you care about, it’s hard-proven science (it might not be, so don’t quote me on this). The problem is not the worrying about the family, but rather worrying about the family when I’m going through one of the most stressful times in my life. These things get to you.
So today I did what the most rational person in my generation would do, I Googled “why don’t I feel happy with my life.” The majority of results were useless. Forums of people saying the kind of thing I’d say: “look at the bright side of things!” But what should we do if the bright side is not appealing anymore?
Luckily I did find an article about how humans are ironic beings because we want to be happy yet we rarely do things that make us happy (I forgot what article it was, so if you’re the author, tell me and you’ll get full credit). So I wrote a list of things that I could think of that I knew made me happy (besides my wife). Since I know you’re dying of curiosity, this is what the list looked like (there is no particular order):
What makes me happy (besides my wife)?
- Playing soccer.
- Reading for pleasure.
- Watching football games.
- Going to the movies.
- Writing [both blogging and creative (scripts and short stories)]
- Learning to play an instrument (at one point, this was drumming).
- Sitting outdoors (in a park setting…)
- Working out (when nothing hurts).
- TV, sometimes. (One Tree Hill, Friday Night Lights, Glee, Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, Saturday Night Live, Family Guy).
- Tennis (I know, I was surprised too).
- Plays (theater).
Two things struck me as odd when I ran out of things to list. First, blogging was in this list (which may explain why I’m here tonight). And second, I realized that I don’t really do most of the things on this list. It is true that I’ve been sick all quarter so my time has been more limited than usual- but in reality, I don’t engage in most of these things because of lack of time or money. Ironic, isn’t it?
I shared the list with my wife who insists I pick a bullet point per week and do it. There is a chance I will try this, but we all know how trying to put things in your schedule work versus those that just happen.
In any case, one class done, three more to go.
-Mrs. This One
Today in one of my seminars, this question came up. To my surprise (and my professor’s, I’m sure), there were people who sincerely (and stubbornly) believed that there’s no way technology could ever change a culture. One of them said that culture changes technology (Guy). Another said that it was a “dynamic relationship” (Girl). And the others didn’t even have arguments worth remembering.
The class turned into a mini-debate on the subject. Guy made the argument that we are the same people, we just use different tools. Girl somewhat supported his argument, but added a little example. “Think about back in the day when people ate berries. One of them finally figured out that they could use a stone as a weapon and kill that animal. And now they ate animals!” This was her way of showing that culture and technology interacted with each other, but had no effect on each other. About three classmates and myself sided with the idea that technology can DEFINITELY change a culture. So after Girl’s argument, I said: “you just proved our point.”
I then offered my counterargument. After listening to their flawed arguments, it was clear to me that they were throwing around the term “technology” without having a concise idea of what it meant. I explained to them that technology isn’t just something digital- but that the term included other things. A bottle, for example, is a technology- because it helps us carry and conserve water. Then, I tackled why Girl’s argument was actually evidence supporting my own argument. The people (from back in the day) were now meat eaters. This involved so many different changes including how they gathered, cooked, and ate their meals. AND how eating meat would affect their bodies. This technology, in this case the stone used as a weapon, definitely changed a culture (think of hunter-gatherers becoming farmers!).
The most interesting thing of all is that Guy and Girl still would not agree with what I explained above. They were short of saying that it made no sense. But I think their ulterior motive was that admitting you were wrong about something is not easy for some to do. I do admit though, that we are all ENTITLED to have a different opinion. So if they really want to stand and say that technology does not inflict change, then be ready to look extremely uneducated. I mean, you’re UCLA students, be proud to show off your education.
Now I turn this back to you. What do you think? Can technology change a culture?
When we tell our older relatives that we are stressed out about an upcoming test, their reaction is overwhelmingly similar; they’d say something along the lines of: “Do the best you can.” I really don’t believe they quite understand how things have changed since they were in college. If the best we can do is a B, that will literally take us nowhere. The bar has been raised so high up, that it’s getting harder and harder to see.
Consequently, our generation is built on competition. The higher the number attached to your name, the better chances to succeed you have. I could be a decent student and have a 3.4 GPA*, but that’d just mean that anyone whose GPA is above 3.4 has better chances than me to get into a good graduate program, or a top-tier law school. In fact, some graduate schools will not even consider your application if you don’t have a 3.5 or above. Basically, every mistake we make can hurt us in a world in which to be the best, you have to be absolutely flawless. Thanks to this, college went from being the place where you tried different things to figure out who you were and who you wanted to be, to being the place where you played it safe and conformed to what would give you the best score you could get.
But what does this say about the generational gap? I’ll bet half of the people sitting in any admissions table in a top university never had more than a 3.2 GPA. But then, how did they get to raise the bar for us, who have yet to influence the way the world works now? I’d say some bad decisions were made and we’re stuck with less jobs, more problems, and cleaning up someone else’s mess. I’ve always heard the 80’s and 90’s were a lot fun- Well, I don’t doubt it.
*Not my actual GPA. Thankfully.
I don’t know how much you know about UCLA… other than the fact that our football team still sucks. Despite the fact that this isn’t our brightest hour (see: Education cuts in California), there are some things that still amaze me about this school.
UCLA is indeed a multicultural school. If you walk on campus on any given day, you will probably hear at least three different languages spoken- and after 10 steps in any direction, you may have probably crossed the paths of at least two students that come from a very different place than yours.
Sometimes, when my wife’s break from class and my lunch break from work coincide, and when I’m more than happy to give up my lunch readings to see her, I take the University Shuttle to campus and meet her at the cafeteria behind the law school. Since she only gets thirty minutes, we eat quickly, but I treasure every minute as if it were an hour. Once our meal is over I hurry back to the bus stop. And then I wait impatiently for the shuttle, as I alternate looking at my watch and the corner where the shuttle turns my way.
Once in the bus, a ride to different worlds begin. Last week’s in particular, there were three groups around me. I sat right next to the back exit, because unlike most of the people around me, my trip wasn’t as long. There were two girls sitting across from me. They were speaking Russian. I had heard my wife enough to know which language, but not enough to know what they were saying. They caught me staring, and I smiled shyly, wishing I could have asked where they came from and what classes they were taking.
The guys in front of me, three of them, were speaking French. They were talking about the beach, I knew that much- “Plage.” But their words were too quick for my slow brain, and I couldn’t ever catch more than a word or two- but never full sentences.
A couple behind me, speaking Japanese, seemed to be arguing about something. I didn’t catch anything they said because I have never had any contact with the language… Perhaps something I could correct in the future. Whatever it was, he talked more than she did. Before I knew it, my stop was sneaking upon me.
I stepped outside the bus and I thought of all these people I’ll never meet. I’ll never know their stories, or their classes- yet we were still sharing a ride, a space together, for about 15 minutes…