The liberal arts experience

I would just like to say that I adore going to a liberal arts college.  There is little more exciting [at least for me] than making endless connections among disciplines and having the pieces fall into place. For example: a world civ lecture on Greek philosophers the other day helped me figure out how to finish a paper on Rousseau for my Family Theory class.  A couple of days later, an American Government lecture on Calvinism helped put Rousseau in context even better for me.  I constantly find overlaps with psychology and every other subject.

I also love just learning.  In my Sensation & Perception class, we have been discussing the psychophysiology of the brain as it relates to vision.  I now walk around campus thinking about how the parts of my eyeballs, the optic nerves, and all of the various areas of my brain are constantly working together to make sense of the world.  Our homework assignments for this class are always quite fun as well: for example, last night I got to play with Play-Doh!

Our professors at Erskine are truly an exceptional source of information.  I frequently find myself, on my way to or from class or errands on campus, running into a professor and spending the next 20-60 minutes discussing life, classes, future plans, and almost any other topic you could imagine.  I found my professors in St. Andrews to be quite easily approachable, but not in the unique way that makes Erskine the strong, close-knit community that it is.  My favourite part of studying here (yes: studying can be fun!) is coming across quotes from professors as I review class notes.  My pen is always poised to copy funny comments during class.  I truly love being around sociable intellectuals: they are truly witty.  (I’d like to note that this also applies to so many students here as well.  Academia is wonderful.)

One of my favourite examples of this happened just a few days ago.  Dr. Christie, our acting president and probably the best English teacher I have ever had in my life, gave the address for the formal opening of the college and seminary.  (That’s a lot of words to say that school has officially begun.  Let the work commence!)  I had to laugh when, sitting with the Choraleers in the balcony of Due West ARP church before it started, I saw on the program that the title of his address was “Dude! Alas!”  Only Dr. Christie could tie the word “dude” into Scripture so effectively.  Curious as to how this could be?  Watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eqU7X85GGY&feature=youtu.be.  The Secret Sevens even make their way in to the ceremony.  I much prefer this one to the alarm clocks a few years ago…

I wish I had photos to add to this post, because that’s one of my favourite parts about blogging; alas, I have none.  I promise to make up for it in the next post though!  I should probably go catch up on homework though…being a senior is no easy task.  If you have any recommendations I would be happy to hear them.

An Erskine Student

Good afternoon!

My name is Holly and I am a student at Erskine College. More specifically, I am about to start my senior year at Erskine and I am VERY excited! I double major in mathematics and psychology, and this upcoming year I am about to have one of the best experiences of my life : I am going to study abroad! (You can go ahead and bet 20 bucks that many of my blog posts will relate to my travels and fun in Scotland!)

My most recent Erskine yearbook photo :)

My most recent Erskine yearbook photo 🙂

But before I tell you every detail about my plans to go abroad, would you like to know a little bit more about me? I am from Southern Pines, North Carolina and I went to Pinecrest High School. Unlike many students at Erskine, I did not choose to come to Erskine because I am a loyal member of the ARP church (I am a Baptist :P) or because my great-great-great-great grandfather went to Erskine. My average grandfather did not go to Erskine, either!

I actually heard about Erskine on the internet, from a website called commonapp.org. It is actually a really cool website! High school students go online and fill out a questionnaire about what they want their college experience to be like,  and then recommends what it thinks would be the perfect college for each of the students. I answered all of the questions, and it recommended Erskine College for me. So I applied, and visited, and now here I am!

Me and my six best friends at Erskine!

Me and my six best friends at Erskine!

I basically think that Erskine is the best college in the entire world! I love all of my professors and the close friends that I have made! Even more, I love the community. I love living in a dorm where I know everyone and where I can run up and down the dorm halls on Sunday nights in my jammies, begging everyone I see if I can borrow a movie (because I certainly do not want to study on a Sunday!)

But I suppose that anyone can tell you that they love their college without giving any concrete reasons why they do. So let me tell you a few reasons I love Erskine so much. I have thought for a long time about it, and I have decided that the best part about Erskine is the professors. Why the professors? After all, the students at Erskine are also pretty awesome 😉 But if it were not for the professors at Erskine, we would be a pile of really awesome, really uneducated students hanging out in lobbies watching movies and trying to microwave pop-tarts! But besides teaching us basic course material, our professors go way out of their way to teach us the important things in life: how to decide what we want to do with our lives, how to enjoy our learning, and how to do well in life outside of academics.

Some students at Erskine think that they are ninjas!

Some students at Erskine think that they are ninjas!

My professors have certainly done these things for me! My freshman year I had no idea how to write a paper that made any sense at all, so my seminar professor (Dr. Chaney) spent hours in her office with me that year teaching me the difference between an active and passive voice, and what my other professors meant when they talked about “to be” verbs. My sophomore and junior years I took two intense physics courses, and I was falling behind. My physics professor, Dr. Schelp, let me come to his office four days a week outside of class for extra tutoring and help on my homework. He never even once complained about how slow I was, or how much help I needed all of the time. He just brewed a cup of coffee and microwaved himself a burrito, and then kept answering my questions! I mention these two professors because they are the first two I thought of, but many of my other professors have given me extra help, spent time in their offices with me talking about life, and helped me to grow outside of the classroom.

At Erskine we also have academic advisers. Each student has a professor in their major who helps them sign up for classes, who helps them choose the best route for them to take in their major, and who helps them do other academic stuff (such as apply for summer research opportunities and maybe even grad school!) Because I am a double major, I have two advisers. Dr. Abalo is my math adviser, and has probably had more questions for me from any other student he has ever advised. Every semester I go into his office and draw a chart of my upcoming semester and make lists of all of the possible classes I could take. He kind of looks at me like I am crazy each time and then helps me choose what would be the best math classes for me to take. I think he wonders how I can possibly talk so much, and how I can have so many questions, but he answers them all and is one of my favorite professors at Erskine 🙂

The Erskine Society of Psychology (ESP)

The Erskine Society of Psychology (ESP)

My psychology adviser is Dr. Elsner. Of all of my professors, he is my favorite and also one the reasons why I came to Erskine. I attended one of his lectures during a scholarship competition weekend and he talked about how wonderful the psychology program is at Erskine. He told us all about the challenging courses we get to take (I am a nerd and get really excited about my classes, as you might can tell), and how successful the students are after they graduate. The whole thing was so well done, and offered the extra incentive of doing well in life after graduation, that I could not help but come to Erskine! 😛

Dr. Elsner has definitely been the best adviser a student can have. Besides patiently answering the hundreds of questions about what I should do with my life after graduation, he has helped me with hundreds of other problems I have stumbled across as a student at Erskine. Which leads me to how I came to study abroad: when I decided (way too late) that I wanted to study abroad, I was not eligible. This year is my senior year and I had too many courses I needed to take before graduation in order to leave for a semester. Dr. Elsner rearranged my entire last year and course requirements so that I could go, including teaching an independent study for me last semester because I would miss the required course while I was abroad.

You know you go to Erskine when this is what you see on the way to math class!

You know you go to Erskine when this is what you see on the way to math class!

Now there are only 44 days remaining until my flight leaves for St. Andrews, and I am about to die with excitement! Actually I hope not to die, because then I would miss out on this wonderful opportunity that Erskine is providing me!