All Ready for the First Day of Class!
Block 4 is always an interesting block to be had at CC. It is right after Thanksgiving break, which for me, is a break that always flies by in an instant. The past two Thanksgivings, it seems as if right after I get off the plane in Maine, ready to spend some quality time at home, I get right back on to return to CC, getting thrown into block 4 at full force. Sure, there’s some time to spend with family over break, and of course there’s lots of delicious turkey and pumpkin pie. However, it seems like Thanksgiving break consists of more travel time than actual relaxation time. For this reason, I decided to stay on campus for break this year with two of my friends. It was very relaxing, and we managed to make our Thanksgiving just as special. Therefore, instead of returning to CC late on Sunday night, ready for sleep and nothing else, I found myself readier and more excited to begin block 4 this year than in the two years past.
This block, I am taking a course called “Women in Hinduism and Buddhism,” taught by Tracy Coleman. It is my eighth block straight in Armstrong, and I am beginning to think I will never leave the place, but I am surprisingly okay with it. Although the majority of CC students have a strong dislike for Armstrong, and I’ve even heard of a “Tear down Armstrong” campaign, I really love the building. Sure…it vaguely resembles a prison, there is little to no sunlight, and the temperature of the building is never quite right. However, there are so many other great aspects about it; it is close to both Worner and Wooglin’s, so you can grab a coffee on the way to class on those days when 9:00 (or 9:30) class seems impossible, I swear the water fountains are the coldest on campus, and it houses some of the best faculty at CC (not that I’m biased). So next time someone tells you about a plan to tear down Armstrong, remember these important details!
As I arrived at class, it appeared to be not a class on “Women in Hinduism and Buddhism,” rather, “Women at CC,” as there were no males to be seen. As it was not yet 9:00, the class wondered aloud whether or not any brave males would come, which is a very typical conversation that occurs at CC whenever a class is cross-listed as a Feminist and Gender Studies course. Needless to say, one brave male arrived to our class of seven girls, creating for a total of eight students in our class, definitely one of the smaller classes I have had at CC, but not atypical. The intimate class size is one of my favorite parts of CC. This year, I have had one class with five people, one with sixteen, one with ten, and now this one with eight. Because of the small size, it is easy to get to know everyone in class, including the professor. At CC, as clichéd as it sounds, you are much more than a number in the class and a final grade on paper. At CC, you are encouraged, and even expected, to talk to professors after class about the material, you go to their houses for meals (really, I’ve gone to three different professor’s houses for breakfast), and you call them by their first names, which, talking to friends from other schools, is not the norm. For these reasons, I am always excited to begin a new block, ready to meet some new people and learn some interesting material.
But, enough about how great CC is…Even from the first day and listening to Tracy discuss her plans for the course, I could tell this block was going to be fascinating; learning about women’s roles in religion is always eye-opening, and the texts we will be reading, even from their titles, are intriguing. For example, we are reading a book about what it is like to be a Buddhist nun, and we are also reading the Ramayana, an ancient Sanskrit epic about Rama and Sita that I read in “Hinduism” last year, but am excited to read from a different perspective, being really attuned to gender divisions and how the ideal woman is classified. We are also going to discuss at length the concept of dharma, or duty, and how everyone has a specific dharma, and how it greatly differs based on gender. We are also going to discuss the concept of bhakti, or devotion, which is essential to Hinduism, especially in the Ramayana (Sita’s devotion to Rama is incredible). This class is sure to be an eye-opening one, and I am looking forward to updating all of you about it!