Stepping Outside the Box: Taking Classes Outside My Major

Authored by:
Shyamala G.

Shyamala G.

I was really excited to study abroad because it meant that I got a semester to take a break from Computer Science. I'm a CS major back in the US and although I enjoy my classes and the content of those courses, doing anything for too long can become exhausting. Even when people have jobs they take vacations to get away from things, and it's not even that I was feeling necessarily burnt out because I love my field, but I also wanted to expand my horizons. I am also an American Studies concentrator so very rarely do I get to study worldy perspectives that are embedded into the course material. When I was choosing my classes for the semester I made sure to get a wide range of courses from different fields that covered topics that I was interested in that I probably wouldn't get an opportunity to study in the classroom throughout the rest of my college career. The classes I chose covered Anthropology, Sociology, Language, and even a Cinema class which included a social outlook.

To tell the truth, I feel as though I've learned more about myself through these courses than I ever have before. Taking these classes reminded me the beauty of humanities and social sciences classes and how crucial they are to any field. Humanities and Social Sciences courses must interect with the STEM field in order for there to be important impact. I also loved that these courses gave me the freedom to explore internally as well. I was learning about Indian culture and society in ways that were new to me and in a classroom setting rather than just talking with my mother about it. This helped me approach certain questions with an objective perspective as opposed ot others I could allow myself to be subjective with. This is an important skill for anyone to develop, especially when learning about content that feels so personal to all of us. Creating boundaries and spaces in which we can reflect on our personal experiences and growth while maintaining distance and remembering we are not at the center of the narrative whatever it may be.

I think I definitely lucked out when it came to my professors also. They were mostly young and bright with a fresh perspective on life and the systems in which we operate. They were able to teach within the Indian context but relate the content to the bigger picture and how to apply lessons to any country or culture because ultimately, we all aren't as different as we make ourselves out to be. The university itself was also not much different from my school back home. Of course, the campus is much bigger than at mine in the US and the students and resources are mostly different, but they're both really just schools. Vehicles in which young people from all over the country (or even world) come to expand their horizons and listen to professors who are passionate about what they are teaching. 

I'm really glad I took this semester to step away from my usual classes. It's given me a whole new perspective on education and has taught me that ultimately, learning really can be fun.

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