Monday, July 9, 2012

The First Day of Class

It's my first full day at VSA, and it's been a very long one. Immediately waking up this morning, I found that my stomach was telling me an urgent message; I was hungry. However, once I picked up my plate, I had this weird feeling that I was already full. So, I took just a few spoonfulls of some hot breakfast. When I started eating on the table with my proctor group, I ate a few bites, and I already felt very full. It must be this heat or what many people would say in the Bay Area, "bipolar weather". The people from the Bay Area have no clue what "bipolar weather" is until they get to Nashville, when it's pouring rain with lightning and thunder out of nowhere to bright sunny skies the next hour.
My proctor group
Right after breakfast around 9 AM, all of the students headed to their classes lead by their T.A. It took a few times back and forth through the different class lines to finally find my Lived Religion group. I was surprised that one student from my proctor group, Christien, is also in my religion class, which is nice, because I almost thought I was the only guy. It really didn't matter anyway if I was the only guy or not in my class, but still, it's always nice to add a little more testoserone to the estrogen in the classroom.

I found my Lived Religion: The Abrahamic Faiths course very insightful and interesting. It seems that everyday we'll be doing something new because we're the class that goes on a lot of field trips. We'll also probably go out of the classroom just so we don't concentrate on the facts of religion but actually embrace and engage what it is like today. This class is not a history class, which I'm indifferent about, because history is a great subject. Still, I really enjoy how this class can be applied to the real world, and honestly, I think this course out of all the other courses at VSA can be applied the most to the real world. This class is mainly about understanding how religious practices affect the way people view others and the world.

In this class, it seems we'll be having a lot of discussions. One main discussion out of the several ones we had today was whether or not the U.S. is a Christian nation. I said it wasn't, but many of the students in our class had some very interesting approaches to answer the question. We all agreed with the fact that the majority of the country is a Christian nation and it is the most well known, so it is used in the media/literature/etc. a lot. I thought to myself the U.S. has "freedom of religion", but do we really? If the majority is pressuring you and looking down upon you, how can you freely practice your religion like the majority? Yes, Chrisitianty may not be publicly defined to the world as a Christian nation, but there is no doubt that Christianity has a great effect on how we think in America. We tended to go on many tangents that were still pretty much on-topic, but I thought it was very interesting how insightful the girls (and Christien) were in this class. There are some truly intelligent people in this program.

Right now we're just setting the grounds and the origins of the three monotheistic faiths, so we're doing a couple of lectures. We (the students) are also giving presentations of one of the three religions to give a little crash course of the backgrounds and main ideas of Islam, Judaism, or Christianity. Soon, we'll be getting into deeper and more specific aspects of these three religions (diet, places to practice faith, dress, etc.).

However, today I did learn a lot of new facts, which are still very interesting to me. I learned that religion is changing greatly in this country, and soon the U.S. will become a minority Protestant country (51%). This goes to show that the media and the things that influence our daily lives need to be changed, because the country is changing and religion is having this effect on people. For example, 31% of Americans were raised Catholics, but now 24% do not describe them as Catholics. I just found everything very interesting.

My Arete class is also very fun, imrpov. I never was in a theater class or anything, so it was really great to get the opportunity to do something different. I love thinking on my feet and coming up with the most random things in an improv session. Overall, the class seems like it's meant to teach us to agree with others and still add on to what they were saying. It helps with listening, creativity, and quick thinking. I really liked it, and I hope everyone else did too; they don't need to be shy!

Well, it was a great day today, and hopefully it just gets better. It's very different out here. Keep reading!

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