"I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment... and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance than I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn." -Thoreau

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Spring Quest

Hello again dear Reader,

Spring has come to Carleton!
I intend to take a nice walk around campus and capture its loveliness on camera, but haven't quite gotten around to that yet. For those of you not fortunate enough to be here, I assure you there is much in the way of happy greenery and pretty flowers to delight the soul. I am especially happy that my tree friend by the concert hall has started to blossom. I have already been taken aback by her loveliness, and I am excited for the moment when she is fully bedecked with beautiful flowers. But really, there are many pretty things sprouting around campus. Spring is wonderful!

Spring also means the beginning of a new term, and the term is already on its way. First week has met its end, and week two is all ready to rush in. This term is going to be a crazy one for me... but currently I am very much in the idealistic phase of my voyage. For some reason winter term seemed to skip the idealistic phase altogether. Winter term started off in the midst of a whirlwind, I think, and I didn't even have time to formulate grandiose schemes.
But now! Ah, this time I have set sail with all sorts of wild hopes and dreams for grand achievement, and it doesn't help that I am already surrounded by a paradise of lush greenery to make my dreams seem all the more realistic!

As I said, the term is going to be a little crazy. Or a lot crazy. I am venturing into the upper levels of math and chemistry for the first time. Math-wise I am taking a seminar in set theory, which should be very cool but also seems a bit intimidating. We're basically building up Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory and shall be working on constructing the natural numbers, integers, and real numbers. There are a lot of very quick-thinking, intelligent math people who are fortunately very good-natured and fun, but I know I'll be working hard to stay on top of things. I'm a little scared, but mostly very excited.
As for chemistry, I am taking an introduction to computational chemistry, which is almost guaranteed to kill me (in a good way?). My professor (with whom I'll be doing computational chemistry research with this summer, coincidentally) is awesome... and (or but) she expects a great deal out of her students. She promises us that we will learn tons, and she also promises that we will be working HARD to get there. This class again finds me feeling a bit intimidated, as it's a class composed almost entirely of hardy, senior chemistry majors... but they also seem like a good batch of people. It should be a very rewarding class, but, again, it's going to be a ton of work. My last few days have been spent trying to make good enough sense of quantum chemistry, and we'll be reading a ton of literature... oh, so much learning to be done! Trying to piece together quantum has certainly made me want to learn quantum in a nice and thorough manner, as well as like... all of math. I need to do differential equations and more linear algebra and statistics and apparently abstract algebra is also used to describe quantum stuff... Oh goodness, there are so many cool things to learn!
My last class is intro psych, which is nothing compared to the other two, but should provide interesting things to muse on.
Finally, I am lab assisting for a chemistry course and grading for a physics course. This also translates to a lot of work.
So essentially, I have a lot to do in the next ten weeks. A lot.

Even with this realization- or partial realization- I am filled with ambition. My roommate and I decided it would be an excellent idea to put together goal charts to keep us motivated. Here is mine!
What could be more exciting than rewarding oneself with cute stickers for a job well done?
Realizing that you have made your dreams come true! 

While I do have these specific goals that I'm working toward, I think I have two main ambitions.
The first is to stay involved in dance stuff. Ballroom/social dancing is awesome! The people are great, the dancing is fun, and it gives me an opportunity to develop a somewhat unusual skill. Part of my plan is to start to learn how to lead (My respect for leads has increased considerably. It's so stressful to have to plan out and keep track of directionality, timing, posture, technique, floor craft... Oh goodness!), and the other part is to try to work on solidifying technique. I want to make sure that, on a regular basis, I go into Cowling and seek refuge from life-hecticness on the dance floor. It'll be a good mix of challenge, socialization, and relaxation.

Second, I am intent on maintaining a positive attitude. There are a lot of challenges ahead of me, academic as well as social and emotional in nature. I expect the term to be a difficult one, but, more importantly, I expect it to be an opportunity for wonderful growth. There are a lot of cool people in my classes (and on the dance team!) to get to know better, there is a lot of interesting material to be learned, and there is so much beauty around me to walk around and appreciate!

I think a challenging spring term is a good way to kick off this whole blooming adulthood thing.
What with best friends at different schools, people (including myself!) working over the summer, a boyfriend exploring the streets of Moscow, and my own hopes to study abroad, the next... eight to nine months have me largely estranged from those happy individuals who more or less make up "home."

So... I'm on my own little adventure now.
It's time to learn new things, to step away from sluggishness and step into my swan (or sparrow!) skin, to face challenges and defeat them, and to dance and go on pleasant strolls every now and again.

Happily, I now have the chance to gather stories to be exchanged with loved ones at a future time when our paths may converge, and thus bring me back home- if only for a time.

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