It’s the last Saturday of break and tomorrow I’m headed back to college. Given that I’m from Boise, that trip back falls far short of an epic journey. But I’m in store for a long trip on Wednesday, when I leave for a few weeks to London and Paris. This Christmas break has been consumed with a lot of pre-travel activities like trips to the Verizon store (no Iphone use for me in London), a quest for smartwool socks and a down vest, suitcase packing trial runs, being on hold with my bank, and wading through two enormous art books, one on the Louvre and one on the Musee d’Orsay. There are also a few important things that I’ve yet to do, namely figuring out how to get from the train station in Paris to my hotel.
While much of these last three weeks have gone to trip planning, I’ve managed to do a few other important things. I decided to change my major from International Political Economy to Literature in English. This change was something I’d mulled over during the summer, but also one that I put on the backburner during fall semester. It would be easy to stay on the path I’d already planned out, especially since I’d already registered for spring classes. But after two of the people who know me best asked what had become of my intention to change majors, it made me reconsider why I hadn’t. What I told both of those people when they first asked was that it was too late for me to change majors and still graduate on time. But in truth, it wasn’t, and that wasn’t my only concern about making the switch.
A few days into break, I got onto Web Advisor and the four year tentative class schedules, and realized that I could get into lit classes for the spring semester, and according to the four year schedules, I could still change and graduate on time. With that discovery, one of my big arguments against changing majors was gone.
The other argument against making the change was a lot less concrete and a lot harder to reconcile. This included being able to justify the change and being able to adequately answer the question posed to everyone except business majors: What are you going to do with that?
My answer to these challenges is this: being a literature major will make me happy, because the work doesn’t feel like work, and Mark Smith. The first part is pretty self explanatory, but how is “…but Mark Smith” an answer?
Dr. Mark Smith is a history professor at C of I. I have never had a class or a conversation with Professor Smith. I think he’s said hello to me once or twice outside of Boone and once I saw him buying flowers at Albertsons and that’s about it. Where Mark Smith and I intersect is at Coyote Saturday. Professor Smith speaks to the latest crop of new Yoties at these events, and I’ve been through a few as an incoming student and as a student ambassador. I won't spoil it and tell you everything he says in case you’re a soon-to-be Yotie, but essentially Mark Smith is walking, talking proof that it’s best to go after the subjects you love even if you take a roundabout way to it and even if it’s not the usual money making answer. (FYI, His BA is in Religious Studies.)
So while I don’t know right now what I’ll do with a literature degree, my hope is that I’ve put myself in a position to do something that I’ll enjoy for the rest of my life. With any luck, my choice to go with a subject I find engaging and interesting and enjoyable—even if it’s not ultra practical and I can’t give a solid answer to the “what are you going to do” question—will pan out as well as Mark Smith’s did.