My everyday life at college is pretty slow, all things considered. I hardly ever feel rushed this semester (compared to last year), and my work load is manageable, if a little heavy from my Virginia Woolf class.
Right now, I’m taking Japanese 205, Adolescence in American Society, Psychology 105, and Select Authors: Virginia Woolf. Japanese is by far my favorite class (日本語のクラスほうが大好きです), but that’s probably because I find it the most useful to me right now. I’m going abroad next year, and while I’m nervous to meet my host family and dive into a culture and language I’m moderately familiar with (at best), I’m also excited for those same reasons. One of my high school teachers told me that if you come face to face with a lion, you can’t run away; you have to face it. So that’s what I’m doing by going to Japan. Of course I’m terrified, but at the same time, I find myself daydreaming more and more about the streets of Kyoto. Virginia Woolf writes in one of her diary entries that a motor car would open up her map of the world; she can just imagine what it will be like. That’s how I feel about my future travels to Kyoto; my map will expand too.
Speaking of Virginia Woolf, all the Virginia Woolf I’ve been reading this semester has woven with the rest of my life. While my experience in the class varies, my experience of Woolf’s work remains consistently positive. Her insights in A Room of One’s Own flavor my own thoughts about women as writers and members of society. I especially appreciated her take on the scarcity of well developed female characters in the novels of her time. While an argument can be made that the characters of women in novels has improved, there’s still a lot of work to be done in TV shows and popular media. But rather than lament endlessly about the slight against women this lack of representation commits, Woolf writes that the condition of the novels themselves suffer the most. The potential for the novel as an art form (and any other work) is inhibited. I like this take on the situation because it gives a reason for improving the work. No one wants their art to fall short of its true potential.
That’s something I’ve been dwelling on a lot lately: representation of women in TV shows. My favorite example of lasting sexism in television is the new and spectacularly popular Stranger Things. Yes, the show is fun, and I had fun watching it. But there are only six women in the entire main cast, possibly the entire cast in general. Next time you watch, take a look at the extras in the background. Everyone is a man. I felt like I stepped into an all male Twilight Zone, not the Upside-down. (There is one episode where this is an exception; Eleven goes to a supermarket to get waffles, and all the extras there are women, apparently out to do their domestic duties.)
Which brings me to my psychology class. We recently had a reading about biases in thinking. The textbook mentions that categorical thinking can lead us to form conclusions based on prescribed social roles, such as gender stereotypes. It says that these conclusions are meant to make navigating basic interactions an autopilot type experience, but it also says that these are harmful assumptions to make. Psychology is one of my favorite classes this semester, and I hope that in lecture, our professor will dive into this concept in greater detail. He’s an entertaining man to watch speak; he has a bald head wears plaid dress shirts everyday. After the first day of class, I went to his office hours to recommend the Talos Principle to him, and he said he’d check it out. My first quiz wasn’t spectacular, but that’s OK because the class itself is interesting, and even though I couldn’t prove it, I’ve retained a lot of the material.
So, to complete this basic rundown of my classes, I’ll write a little bit about Adolescent in American Society too. I’m in the class with my SO, which makes it bearable. We’ve both found that there isn’t a lot of critical thought in class discussions, and our professor’s teaching style doesn’t click with me. We make the most of it, though, and we’ve done work with students at a local middle school. This gave me my most rewarding moment of the entire semester: I helped a girl with her math problem, and when she said she didn’t understand why certain fractions are equivocal, I drew it out for her. She had an insight (another psychology term), and I saw “the lightbulb.” So even though I’m not on the education cert. tract anymore, I did get to remember that becoming an English (or Japanese) teacher wouldn’t be so bad.
This Monday, my DnD group meets for the second time ever. I’ll do a post about how it goes. The campaign will officially start, and I’m ecstatic.