– The Beatles, ‘The Inner Light’
Well, not exactly… rather than travel over 12,000 miles round-trip in an afternoon, I journeyed to the North Lounge of Campion to attend a lecture called “The Land of Genghis Khan: Then and Now.” The lecture was sponsored by the Asian Studies program, the History Department, and the International Relations program.
I initially decided to go because it was an opportunity to receive extra credit for my history class, Forging the Modern World. This event in particular appealed to me because I might have some familial roots in Mongolia; I’m 100 percent Polish as far as I know, but my family has often wondered to where our lineage truly extends. I figured it’d be interesting to learn about a culture that my great-great grandparents may have partaken in (and plus, I heard there would be free food!)
The lecture consisted of an engaging presentation given by Dr. Saruul-Erdene Myagmar of the Foreign Service Institute at the US State Department. But the lecture wasn’t all talking: the audience was also treated to two operatic performances of songs about Mongolia and two traditional dances, by two very talented Mongolian women, respectively. We were treated to delicious Mongolian foods, including steamed dumplings, homemade cheeses, and doughy cookies.
After the lecture, I found myself wondering, “Why can’t I do things like this more often during free period?” Maybe you’ve thought the same thing.
Guess what? You totally can!
More often than not, professors, doctors, and guest speakers are all around campus giving intriguing presentations on a myriad of subjects. And not just during free period, either – there are occasionally lectures in the evenings as well!
My best advice is to keep your eyes open for posters, flyers, and event announcements around campus, and your ears open for mentions of these presentations by your professors during class. You can search the SJU website to find out which department or on-campus group is currently presenting a lecture series. Or, just ask around! You’d be surprised at the variety of lectures available that you can take advantage of during the week. You’re bound to find something that relates to your major or simply appeals to you.
These sessions are also a great way to potentially expand your interests. Free period lectures and discussions are typically only about an hour long, which is a short amount of time in the grand scheme of things. But one hour is all it takes to develop newfound fervor for a topic or field that you can then explore further. Who knows, that hour could change your life’s direction!
…Okay, so maybe I’m sounding a little too eager here. My point, though, remains the same: we should make use of the numerous sources of education on this campus while they’re accessible to us. Sure, college is about taking classes that pertain to your specific field of study, but I believe it’s also about learning sheerly for pleasure and expanding your mind. When else in your life are you going to have the opportunity to learn about whatever you want, whenever you want, with knowledgeable academic experts to teach it to you?
At worst, you spend an hour or so bored out of your mind, perhaps walking away with a few random facts you could use during a stint on Jeopardy. At best, that hourlong lecture gives you a new perspective on a topic you hadn’t thought much of in the past, or strengthens your love for that subject. Either way, it’s definitely not a waste of time.
You can immerse yourself in information, “travel” to a foreign location, or discover a new passion, all before lunchtime.