Friday, October 23, 2009

Learning... oh what a joy.

Those that have heard me complain about school for the last few months probably assume that I say learning is a joy sarcastically... but I'm not. I'm actually really enjoying all that I am learning in my life right now (about the world and about myself). I think it is more the sudden switch to the sedentary life style that I'm not enjoying (stimulating lectures= fun, sitting on my couch alone studying= not so fun).

I realized after my trip to Ghana that I want to leave this world a better place than it was when I entered it. I love dance, and I firmly believe that the arts make the world a MUCH better place - no one can deny this. BUT, you have to be a really good artist to make a difference in the world. I'm a really good dancer, but am I a really good artist? Not so much. You can't be a good artist without having some knowledge of the world - and how much can one really learn about the world from inside the dance studio? You see where I am going with this... There are a few things that I have been doing lately (that all oddly seem to correlate) that are giving me a greater understanding of the world.

1 - I am going to class. (Good college student- actually making it to lecture! That is me) The classes that I am going to now, while boring at times, have all had at least a little something this year that has me completely intrigued. In my last blog I mentioned how interesting it has been to learn about identity in my Growth and Development class... next week we learn about the adjustments of young adulthood... I'm sure I will have many thoughts on that... Nutrition has also kept me much more intrigued than I had expected. Rather than simply learning about how many carbs/proteins/fats you should get, my teacher has done a great job of integrating into the class why nutrition is so important. The most interesting segments have been learning about Vitamin and Mineral deficiencies in developing countries and how those contribute to the growth of poverty. Physiology, although incredibly hard, has been sooooo intriguing! I love calling up both my younger sister and my dad and having physiology discussions with them. I always knew those two were smart, but I have been increasingly blown away by all that they know, and all the time they are willing to devote to our discussions to help me succeed (unlike them, science is not my forte). The most interesting lectures thus far have been those on the brain. My mother had brain surgery last year- and there are still some lasting problems with her processing center that no one can really put their finger on. Thinking about her symptoms and my attempts to diagnose her have been quite entertaining for me... probably not so much for her, but she puts up with my phone calls anyway.

2. I have been reading. A LOT. Much more than I ever have in my life- and I am learning so much. Right now I'm about 50 pages into Mountains Beyond Mountains a story about how one doctor has been able to change the world by treating people in Haiti for free. I'm completely captivated. It is so good to learn about the health conditions in Haiti- I already learned about its environmental conditions after reading Collapse. It is also interesting to think about how the lack of healthcare is mostly because of the extreme poverty level, but also CONTRIBUTES to the poverty level since people can't work when they are sick. This was a point that was highly emphasized in the book The End of Poverty. That book (along with my stay with my mom in the hospital) has really gotten me excited about this new path I have chosen in my life. The End of Poverty also captivated me because it discusses the economic situation of Ghana- a place I have been and love dearly because my short trip managed to change me so much. I have also been reading books about the brain, which of course relate back to my mother's health, my father's research, and my physiology class. The knowledge I have been gaining in this subject lets me feel like I am much more involved and supportive in their lives- which is only fair since they have been so supportive of mine.

3. I'm listening to the podcast, Stuff You Should Know (thanks to Emily for the recommendation). I would say it is my guilty pleasure, but really how guilty can you feel when you are learning stuff at the same time? It's pretty darn awesome. This is a recent addiction, so I haven't listened to that many, but those I have listened to continue to relate to my life. I listened intently for a good half hour as Josh and Chuck explained how a hangover works. I giggled throughout and was actually able to follow every single bit of what they shared - thank you, physiology class!!! I also sat for just as long with my face slightly twisted as they explained parasites. My sister LOVES parasites (she said she doesn't want to ever go to Africa because she knows too much about them... sad day). I'll have to get her opinion on their accuracy. Also, for a brief while, my own mother was being tested for parasites!!! Did you know that one can be living inside you for 30 years or more and you might never have a symptom!?!? (My mother spent her early twenties doing field work in Mexico... parasite? quite possibly.) Parasites have also been know to cause brain cysts... and since my mother had a cyst the size of a baseball in her frontal lobe, one does start to wonder. They also talked about a parasite that only exists in one country now days... Ghana. Glad I didn't know that, and that my sister didn't tell me, before I went. But this podcast isn't just science stuff - they also have several podcasts devoted to healthcare reform- a topic also highly relevant in my life. Plans for the weekend? Listening to podcasts and reading - no lie.

To close, there is some post college advice that I got that keeps me motivated it goes,
"Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded, but trust me, in 20 years you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked." Trying my best the enjoy the power and beauty I have now! Off to the library to read up on some Pub-Med. Learning... oh what a joy.

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