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COLUMN: Since when was learning fun?

I’ve finally made it. I’m in my last semester of classes.

A mere 12 credit hours of mostly 100-level courses makes me a super-happy super senior.

These classes were purposely selected to allow me the opportunity to skip out and sleep in.

But then something happened — something totally unexpected.

I ended up enjoying them.

Of course, this conflicts with my plans. My plans of staying home, playing video games, reading, whatever.

Instead I’m learning about the relationship between the Earth and sun. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I’m learning about sub-solar points, solstices, equinoxes and how to calculate the exact degree of the sun’s height using a globe.

Before this semester I hadn’t looked at a globe in years.

I’m learning about the Earth’s atmosphere. About the reflection and convection of the sun’s energy. That UV exposure is affected by albedo, altitude, sun height and visibility. I also found out that you can calculate how long a sun-screen should protect you by multiplying its sun protection factor by the amount of minutes it typically takes you to develop a sunburn.

Even if it’s really not that accurate, it’s cool to know.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays I’m learning about archaeology. About the artifacts left behind by ancient cultures. I learned that the Vikings were the first Europeans to reach the Americas, some 400 years before Columbus. Vinland, the Viking site in Newfoundland as described in their sagas, may not have lasted that long, but it’s sure neat to know it existed.

I’m learning about archaeological methods and dating. About ethnographic analogy, a technique used to abstractly study past cultures by drawing a parallel between the cultures of non-Western societies and the people of long ago.

I’m also actively discussing and learning about oppression in another class. The struggles faced by individuals of various genders, races and religions. That race is not something genetically defined but instead socially constructed.

Some men in the class complained about having to buy women drinks at a bar. The women responded that they don’t feel safe walking alone at night — if they could trade buying drinks for safety, they would.

And now, with just a few short months ahead of me, I finally realize what I’ve taken for granted.

I’ve used most of my general education courses as an excuse to stay home.

There are people in other countries that would kill for the opportunities I’ve had and blown off.

But not this time. I’ve got stuff to learn.