Thursday, June 30, 2011

Some R & R

Today was rather uneventful, but that in itself is, in a way, a blessing; after a week of frenzied activity, its nice to breath easy again, curled up with a good book on a warm day with your homework done and tomorrow looking bright.

That right there is essentially my one and only major critique of this program. Yes, that whirlwind of college visits was incredibly informative and I'm grateful for the opportunity to expand my college list as well as rule out places unfit for me and my personality; and yes, the class I am taking here at Columbia is both rigorous and engaging, and again, I'm very grateful for the chance to further my academic interests. Neither of those things do I dispute, and I truly do appreciate them. But this past week has been undeniably very stressful, and the effects are long reaching: I found myself eating and sleeping less merely because I am worried and because it is what my body has adjusted to, and I've observed that I am now quicker to snap at others without really meaning too, more so than is anything I would consider a usual amount. The long hours at the beginning of this trip, added to the stress of being in a completely unfamiliar environment far away from family and friends, made it that much harder to fully grasp, utilize, and appreciate the myriad of opportunities that were being graciously presented to us, and I would say that, personally, its actually hampered my ability to perform here at Columbia. Just a side note: I'd like to point out that my aim here is not to whine or complain or unduly criticize, merely to inform and discuss so future ILC forays can perhaps have an easier time.

There is definitely something to be said for the “thrown in the deep end” approach to learning, one that I think works just fine... so long as there's someone at the edge shouting encouragement and advice. That's not to say that I feel that, if I had a real problem, I could not come to the ILC for help; but at least from my point of view, there seems to be a very small involvement from those not “on the ground” as it were. And perhaps there shouldn't be. Perhaps this is more of a social experiment, giving students a taste of real college life and watching, almost impassively, as they overcome obstacles in the hopes that the result of this close observation can help future college-bound students deal with the incredible shock that leaving home really is. But, if that is the case, I can help but wonder if that is the right approach. In all of the feedback I have gotten from current university students, many of whom have the trails of their freshman year, only a few months gone, firmly imprinted in their minds, they all stress the importance of time management. That has been duly noted by myself and I believe the rest of my cohort; but its one thing to say and another to do. Whatever good time management is depends incredibly on the person managing their own time, and I would make the argument that it takes a year (if not more) for every student, no, person, to fully know themselves enough from living on their own to really develop a system that works. I bring up this example because it seems as if the ILC is throwing this information at us and expecting us (or perhaps I should say “me” because I cannot speak for my cohort), expecting me to achieve in less than a week what takes most people a year or more by simply having the forewarning of that it is necessary. It appears, to me, to be an impossibility; but perhaps it is only my unique personality that makes me feel that way, and there are others so in tune with themselves that a forewarning can be immediately turned into a system that works for that individual. Again, none of this is meant as a criticism, merely an explanation of how I personally am coping (or not coping as the case may be) with the pressures that are part-and-parcel of the Ivy League Connection.

Class today was a lot of fun, as usual, but I found no new information engaging enough to fill a whole blog within those four hours. We went over our reading in our morning lecture, learning about how Congress has used an enumerated power, the regulation of interstate commerce, to influence everything from monopolies to civil rights to even (and I found the justification for this incredibly weak) the growth of marijuana plants for personal (i.e. not commercial) use. Over lunch I met with Eric and our study partner Min from Sol, Korea to review the things we would need to know for the quiz in our afternoon session, which I believe I did remarkably well on, in no small part due to the help I got during that brief but useful half-hour of review. After the quiz our small class played Constitutional jeopardy where, according to our instructors, anything we'd learn so far was “fair game” and the subjects ranged from the Federalist papers to the Clinton cases to the system of checks and balances. After a meeting with Mrs L and dinner, I relaxed and recuperated for the rest of the evening and afternoon, getting to know a little bit more about my suite-mates as we all lounged about, a slow process of familiarization that I'm looking forward to progressing down as he days tick by.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting comments about time management. I realize from your comments that time management is definitely a skill that can be taught as well as a skill that can be learned on one's own through experience. I would add that it is also something that some people pick up on their own, as it is part of their personality. I think it is very interesting that from your perspective it may as long as a year to learn and I think it would be valuable to students coming after you if you noted as you learned the skills, exactly what those skills were. In contrast, I know a student who used to set his phone to go off at 7 pm every Sunday through Thursday evening as a "homework alarm." It would remind him to stop playing video games, or wake up from a nap, or whatever, and make sure he had taken care of his homework. It was his own idea. After a while he didn't need it anymore--it became a
    natural part of his daily routine. I know that I was never like that in my youth!!