Recently I have made a connection with some of the ideas in the book Reflective Writing to my own experiences, specifically with running.

As a runner, I try to reflect on my races, so I write race reflections after each of my races. I didn’t really think about that this could connect to a class until I was reminded of it while reading Reflective Writing. Specifically starting with page 22; “Reflecting on yourself and your experiences.” This section discusses reflecting on, as the name says, your own experiences. It discusses reflecting on your writing, and your own feelings of a situation, how your feelings and opinions of a situation change, as well as your process of revision and growth. When I write race reflections I try to do a similar process of reflection. I try to write down what went wrong, what went right, how I felt and what to improve on for next time.

An example of the similarity is on page 23, which shares example of how students thinking should be guided, stating that “rather than trying not to think about the experience, students have had concentrate on it and analyze their reactions.” When someone gets criticism they often don’t want to face it, they often want to only focus on what they are good at. However, we need to analyze and reflect on our pieces to become better writers. This is like runner’s experiences with bad races. When I have a race that I am unhappy with, the first thing I want to do is forget about it.  However, the more productive thing to do is to analyze the race and learn from it to improve upon for next time. I might analyze my split times for each mile and realize that I started off way too fast, so I didn’t have energy at the end, so next time I’ll try going out slower. Even if I have a good race, I need to look at what I did right. I also write do outside factors, such as what I ate before, how long before I ate it, if I felt low on energy, if I was very nervous or relaxed, etc. By writing these factors down I can figure out if it’s something that I should mimic or avoid for the next race.

Another similarity between running reflection and writing reflection is looking to other people for advice. As the premise of our class is Academic Partnership, when writing we can work together to generate ideas and review each other’s work. other people can find grammatical errors, biases and incoherent ideas that we ourselves may not notice, as well as provide us with experiences and beliefs different than our own. When I reflect on a race I also look to other people; specifically teammates and coaches, for advice on what I can improve upon. Looking to other people can give us insight on things that we otherwise may not notice and enable us to become the best versions of ourselves in any situation we encounter.

Why Blog?

After reading the syllabus for INTD 105 Risks and Rewards of an Academic Partnership and finding out there was 10 blog posts required, I was anxious. Writing blogs is completely new to many of us in the class, especially me.  There are many different types of blogs such as fashion blogs, food blogs… I have never been very interested in blogs or blogging, but I am very excited to learn as I go.  I have been putting off writing my first post for the exact reason that I mentioned above. I’ve never done it, but here I go! Who knows? Maybe I will want to start my own blog after.

As I’ve read some of my classmate’s blogs and other blogs, I believe a blog can be used as a form of expression.  As a blogger, one can write whatever, keeping a specific audience in mind before. In the class Syllabus, Dr. McCoy didn’t assign a length of how long a post should be. The only requirement was that we completed 10 blog post by the end of the semester. This allows us to write freely  and not worry about a set number of pages or words, but the quality of our work.

Connecting to the class title, a blog post has its own risk and rewards. A blog, being a very public form of media can be seen, as expressed by Dr. McCoy, by many people. Knowing our blogs can be seen by anyone and everyone is alarming for the future. Our future employers, colleagues, and anyone browsing the internet can view our blogs.  A risk of blogging would be exposing ourselves to criticism by outsiders.  But this risk can also be considered a reward because it allows us to learn from our writing and improve our blog posts.

This is the first step of my blogging journey throughout INTD 105 as I continue to grow as a beginning blogger.


The Positives of Being Undeclared

When asked what my college major is, I often respond with an uneasy “I am not sure yet”. During my first semester of college, I felt shame in not knowing what job I wanted for the rest of my life and jealousy towards those who did. Although, as my time in college has progressed, I have accepted the fact that I am not completely sure of my future just yet.

Prior to attending Geneseo, I was met with a feeling of nervousness when thinking about the next four years of my life. I became uneasy over the thought of spending a significant amount of money on college when I did not know what I wanted my end result to be. I wondered if Geneseo offered the major that I would eventually decide to declare. I also wondered if the general education courses I was enrolled in would help me to discover my future major. I was met with several doubts and questions, but I took a leap of faith and I am pleased with the results thus far.

As I further my education, I am happy that I have decided to begin my college career as undeclared. It has allowed me to explore possible career choices through general education classes. I originally had thoughts of becoming a biology major, but I ultimately decided against this after taking an introductory biology course. I realized that the biological aspects being taught were not what I wanted to focus on for years to come. Although, through other general education courses I have developed an interest in a possible Psychology or English major. Many of my strengths and weaknesses have become clear to me as I further my education. Even though I could have chosen a major that was somewhat interesting to me when I began my freshman year, I chose to take a variety of different courses in order to see what I truly felt passionate about.

I realize that I could take my general education classes at my local community college, but I am glad that I decided against doing this. Starting my freshman year at Geneseo has offered me so many wonderful opportunities. I have already met lifelong friends, taken fantastic courses, and gained the experience of living alone. Knowing that I will not have to become accustomed to a completely different college once my general education credits are complete is reassuring.

This experience has taught me the importance of patience and problem solving. Not all of life’s answers will always be readily available, sometimes hard work is necessary to find the answer. With the help of guidance and time, I know that I will eventually discover the major that is right for me. Even though I am not currently sure of my official plan, I am confident that all of the pieces will eventually fall into place.

Up In the Air

Truthfully, this was the first Code of Conduct that I was told to read for an assignment.  Typically, in high school when asked to read it, I would either not read it at all or on the rare occasion that we had to return a signed piece of paper, I would just sign the paper and not even look at the Code of Conduct itself.

I started reading with the assumption that it would just describe certain actions that everyone knows are actions that should not be done on a college campus, such as consuming drugs or sexually assaulting someone. Surprisingly, the text was very long and somewhat specific.  However, with the Code being in depth, it was also very vague.  As my classmate Laura stated, the text must be open to interpretation so that everything that someone could possibly do is covered in the text and could interpret it anyway that they desire.  However, that raises the question of which parties get to interpret it?  For example, the last sentence before the list of actions that should not be taken is a sentence that reads “This list is not all-inclusive”.  With the list not being all inclusive, how then does the student body at Geneseo as well as faculty and even the Geneseo community decipher what actions should and should not be taken.  Granted, some rules are common sense such as sexually assault someone, or damage of the colleges property.  But other misdemeanors such as recording people are not so clear.  So often now, people use their phones to take pictures of things or to record something that someone is doing.  Every time someone does this without the subject of the picture or video being notified, they are in violation of the Code of Conduct, even if the purpose was not to harm the subject of the video.  This concept for me is hard to wrap my head around because without even thinking, I bring out my phone to record something that I saw.  My intention is never to hurt anyone but subconsciously I think it’s okay because everyone else does it.  It’s just what you do, for lack of better words.   That certain example can be interpreted many ways.  For example, the Geneseo Code of Conduct states that “when such a recording is likely to cause injury or distress.” But what does that said injury or distress qualify as?  How do I know if the person will be distressed?  That definition of “distress or injury” is very open to interpretation.

Another one of my classmates, Roisin shared that she had an experience with Code of Conduct violations and she specified that as someone discusses their punishment and the severity of said punishment differs between which faculty member you talk to.  Personally, I don’t think that makes any sense because if two people perform the same violation and one person suffers a steeper consequence than another just doesn’t seem right.  I understand that one person could be more apologetic than the other, however, as faculty-especially administrators-there should be guidelines to how they judge things.  This personal story that Roisin shared is another example of how vague the Code of Conduct could be and an example of how many different things could be interpreted in so many ways.

The “Other” Theresa

It is common you walk into class on the first day of a new semester and see 20 faces, all unrecognizable. It is also quite common you walk out on the last day, still knowing none of the other students names. That is certainly not the case in Beth McCoy’s section of INTD 105.

Last semester, I did not have a single professor that was this eager to learn my name. This never bothered me, the fact that maybe two of my professors could match my name to my face, until this semester. One of my professors, who wanted to learn everyone’s name, would call attendance everyday. There happened to be another “Theresa” in the class who came before me alphabetically. Each day when the professor reached me, she would address me as the “other Theresa”. This would not have upset me if I were not also in Beth’s class, where she puts so much emphasis on making sure everyone feels like their own individual, whose voice is important.

You may have read my fellow classmates, John or Hannah’s posts, where they talk about how they appreciate Beth’s name games. What seemed useless to us all in the beginning is now making a breakthrough. We are all seeing changes in our discussion and we are recognizing each other’s thoughts and opinions. It is so nice to see a professor that wants to create a welcoming environment where we can not only learn, but more importantly, grow as individuals. 

Geneseo’s Mission Statment and GLOBE Connections

Tuesday’s class discussion regarding a liberal arts education and connecting different majors and classes really got me thinking. In Geneseo’s GLOBE, its 7th learning outcome is “To work effectively in a pluralistic society, recognizing and respecting diverse identities, beliefs, backgrounds, and life choices; to practice effective communication and collaboration across diverse communities and organizations; to critically reflect on the reasoning and impact of one’s personal beliefs and actions.” Since Geneseo is a liberal arts college, we are all required to take several classes outside of our major. This specific learning outcome connects to our class discussion because as a liberal arts college we are required to take many classes outside of our majors, to gain a “broader” knowledge. Although many people dislike the fact that we all must take classes outside of our majors, myself previously included, I’ve come to see the value and necessity. As a Psych major I am required to take Human Biology, which I am taking this semester. At first, I was dreading taking it, I would not consider myself a science person and did not like biology in high school. However, I’ve found that it is a lot more interesting than I thought, while there are many parts I dislike there are also many that I enjoy and find interesting to connect to real life situations.
Geneseo’s mission statement and GLOBE also stress the importance of the ability to apply skills learned in class to the outside world. One way I see that at a liberal arts college is making connections between different classes. For example, last semester three of the classes I was taking were; Psych 100, Intro to Global Social Changes, and Comparative Politics. At one point in the semester I saw a connection between the classes that I found very interesting. In psych I was learning about different parenting styles and how the different styles affect a child’s development, personality and life outcomes. In sociology I was learning about how socioeconomic factors affect children. How things that are provided by the family one in born in to, for example; resources, environment, parental income, community, school etc. affect children. Kids who are born into wealthier families most likely attend better schools with more resources and therefore more likely to attend better colleges than student who come from poorer families who may not have money for notebooks, or even food. The former has safety nets to fall back on while if the latter has an unfortunate situation happen, like a house fire or a lay off. They might not have anywhere to turn and may resort to homelessness. I also found the connection to my comparative politics class because we often discussed the economy in several countries and how those developed differently in different countries and evolved overtimes. We learned about why some countries are more successful than other and what economics factors work, as well as which don’t. I may be pulling at strings, but I see a connection between how parenting styles affect children because of the socioeconomic resource they provide or fail to provide, and how those factors contribute to their later jobs contributing to the economy and how the economies differ in different countries. Different countries have different parenting styles that are the social “norm” and these parenting styles may contribute to a child’s academic path and job outcomes, contributing to the differences in the country’s general job occupations and economic efficiencies.
I also see a connection from Geneseo’s mission statement to the presentation that Dr. Harris gave that we were able to attend for extra credit. For anyone who didn’t see her presentation, she discussed her life as an illegal immigrant in the U.S., challenges she’s overcome and ways we can make our community for dreamers better, by being a supportive community that helps all different types of people. I see the connection to the mission statement because our mission statement shares the importance of a community, specifically a diverse community. A community enables people to work together, for example as Dr. McCoy often shares that we need to put the chairs back into our real classroom because it is our obligation to the custodial staff, and we would not have a functioning environment without them. A diversity community can open us up to ideas, experiences and beliefs that are different from our own, enriching our experiences in college. Taking different classes and connecting those classes allows for us to reap the benefits of a liberal arts college. While it may seem unnecessary at times to have to take classes outside our major, it helps us apply our skills to and prepares us for the “real world.”

The “College Experience”

I walked from my morning class back to my dorm, the air was cold as it always is. I took off all my layers, plopped my backpack down and began homework. It wasn’t long till I was easily distracted by the TV playing in the common room, I watched for a few minutes and then went back to work. This description of my day to a reader sounds uneventful as if this presumably happened to hundreds of kids on campus today. Is this true? Some people have told me college is the best years of their lives, some have told me it was the hardest, and some even addressed it as life changing. Leading up to my freshman year I heard so many different takes on college. It intrigued me as to how different college can be depending on what you make out of it.

It is an interesting concept that whoever you talk to about their college years could have something completely different to say. This ties into the assignment to read Geneseo’s GLOBE.  The first section titled “A Framework for Building and Assessing a Holistic Student Experience at Geneseo”. We as students hear so much about this idea of the college experience. A mother emphasizing the learning part of a student experience, or a cousin whispering make sure you really get the college experience! Everyone who steps foot onto this campus comes in with a different mindset. Some are going to sit in their dorm all day, skipping classes, blinded the pleasure part of a college experience. Some are going to spend hours on end stressing, and studying ignoring the pleasure aspect. People leave college with the person they spend the rest of their lives with, people leave college with a degree in something they love, or something they hate. People leave college with the best memories of their lives, or with only the mental images of piled up textbooks. There isn’t just one collective experience assigned to us, we as individuals have our own, some may be smarter, and some more enjoyable but your GPA, your friends, or the number of parties you attended don’t define your college experience, you do.

A Whole New World of Writing

Writing without guidelines is a newly discovered struggle of mine. Assignments have always been structured around a proposed topic, argument, or question. I wrote to achieve the assigned word count, or to hit all of the rubric bullet points. I didn’t realize my reliance of doing so, until the stress I felt when Dr. McCoy didn’t assign a blog post word count. Without a word count I feared the unknown of what an “exceptional post” was supposed to look like.

I have improperly used templates my whole life. Templates were my safety blanket to avoid being “wrong” or “missing the lesson point.” It wasn’t until reading the Introduction of They Say I Say, that I viewed templates as a guide to expand on  my own ideas. I am in the process of learning the skills of freedom of expression and being a critical thinker.

Reflections, Relations, and Reality

After today’s class discussion, I thought back to my first month here at Geneseo. Over and over I’d been told to prepare for “the best four years of your life”, “meeting your lifelong best friends”, and the always unfortunate “hours of studying and stress”. And I can say, at least for the last statement, they weren’t joking around. In my first class of Calculus 2, after 20 minutes of introductions, there it appeared on the screen. Bold face. Font 48. “Chapter 1 Notes”. Within a period of 50 minutes, I managed to get more confused and overwhelmed than I’d ever been in my 18 years of life, wondering if there was a magical derivative algorithm to college life in general.

Flashing forward to the present, I can say that no one truly knows how to figure it out. Despite all the advice and warnings, there’s trial and error, phone calls to mom, and a few bad test grades along the way. But it has taught me one very important thing: college is much more than learning textbook knowledge, it’s about personal growth and acquisition of a purpose in life. I think this is what the statements in the GLOBE try to indirectly express. The learning outcomes, although explained vaguely, truly do mask the struggles AND joys in the journey I’ve endured so far. After rereading them, one particular outcome stuck with me: “Reflection: to reflect upon changes in learning and outlook over time; to make personal, professional, and civic plans based on that self-reflection.” It is impossible to put a more specific statement here, not only because every student’s time here will be different, but because it’s written to invite us to create an experience that we will actually enjoy reflecting upon. I hope others can find some beauty in this as well, rather than seeing yet another boring mission statement.

More Than Just a Student

John Madsen made a comment in his blog about not understanding the point of continuously going over our names in the first few classes. Like John, I felt this activity was redundant, and not the best use of time, but only at first.

During my academic career, I have been conditioned to think that teachers are more concerned with spending time focused on course curriculum than focusing time on learning about the student body. Continue reading “More Than Just a Student”