If you’re tired now of getting asked by family and friends what schools you’re considering, just wait: decide on college, and the next well-intentioned but oh-so-repetitive question begins. “What are you studying?” A year and a month into Dartmouth, I still don’t know. And neither do many of my close friends. I’m taking it one class at a time, following my interests and considering how they could possibly be combined. While my courses this term all scream “liberal arts college!” there is a method to my bibliophilic madness: ANTH 8 explores a new subject area, HIST 42 details a favorite one, and ENGL 87 incorporates old interests (reading! stories!) into a new craft (writing them!). They are zany and esoteric, and I love them. Check them out!

Anthropology 8, The Rise and Fall of Prehistoric Civilizations...

steps beyond my Eurocentric high school curriculum to explore the development of complex state societies. It’s riveting. After the origins of agriculture, we’re covering ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Indus Valley, Mesoamerica, China, and the Andes to learn about their social, religious, and political life. Topics include Ancient Egypt’s pyramids and Mesoamerica’s human sacrifice. After years of focusing on the modern age, I am thrilled to learn about time periods and places missing from my mental map. I am also loving the fun facts (did you know Dholavira, a city in the Indus Valley civilization, had flush toilets in 2000 BC?).  

girl reading "history of magic" book
Unleashing my inner Hermione: last fall, my first-ever college paper last fall literally involved a book on called "History of Magic." And people wonder why I love history???

  History 42, Gender and European Society from Antiquity to the Reformation...

examines in detail a period and subject that has long intrigued me. It investigates the evolution and codification of Western sex and gender attitudes, going from Greek philosophers and Christian church fathers to potential “first feminist” Christine de Pizan. The professor, who instructed my favorite class last year, argues that, as modern society continues — despite its denials — to exhibit these attitudes, we ought to understand where they came from. I couldn’t agree more.

girl with book on beach
What am I reading? Oh, just exactly the type of literary-medieval-historical-fiction-adventure book my coursework is preparing me to write one day...

  English 87.04, Imaginary Countries...

is a creative writing class on speculative fiction. Everything from science to historical fiction is fair game. The readings are crazy — mind-bending and thought-provoking — and the writing assignments push me to integrate information from my other classes. My first story is inspired by a lecture on early Christian interpretations of Genesis: one non-orthodox sect’s idea of Eve as hero, not victim or villain, of the Eden story caught my imagination and would not let it alone.

girl in crazy outfit leaping
Interpretive dance symbolizing my inner academic excitement (PC Rachel Rubin)
Perhaps that last idea pinpoints what I love most about my classes: they capture my curiosity. While I may not know my major officially, I do know that, whether expanding my knowledge or deepening it, my courses engage and intrigue and excite me. How can it get better than that?