Austin—What an Incredible Year!
Well folks, it is finished! My freshman year here at Southern Adventist University is almost completed. Just one more (Chemistry) final on Tuesday, and then I’m DONE!!!
That’s really hard to believe.
I can still recall that SmartStart Welcome Party with such vivid clarity, it’s challenging to convince myself that that was nine months ago. College has been such an awesome experience! I guess it’s kind of like a rollercoaster. There’s times when you’re up, and times when you’re down, but when you’re done you just remember the fun times and want to go again. And that’s how it is with me; even as I’m finishing Round One right now, I can hardly wait for Round Two (AKA my sophomore year) to begin!
Biology has been such a fun major. I will admit, the colorfully-decorated Origins Exhibit in the biology floor hallways did play more than a minor role in convincing me to major in biology! Haha, but yeah. I just saw all the complexity and coolness of that stuff, and thought to myself, “What about calling this home?” My self then answered back, “OH YEAH!”
I just took the GB (General Biology) final this morning (I’m writing this on April 28), and it’s still hard to believe that I’m finally finished with that class. General Biology has been the hardest class that I’ve ever taken, yet at the same time the most fun. It is just so fascinating to learn about how everything works, from axons to stomata to mitochondria and more! Some people have the opinion that GB is so hard, and it’s absolutely no fun. Well, I think differently! Yeah, it’s challenging. My friend has even said that she think’s I’ve been desensitized to what “hard” is. But the problem (IS it a problem? I don’t know!) is that GB is so FUN!!! I love how the Biology professors teach biology from a Christian, creation-focused standpoint. I love the spiritually that pervades the entire department, and the in-class devotionals that both Dr. Snyder and Dr. Thornton have given. These people don’t just teach you biology, folks; they give you a real solid spiritual foundation! And I think that’s awesome.
The biology professors raise a high bar—sometimes, I have felt a bar that is too high for me!—but they always help you and enable you to reach that bar. And besides, they are just so FUN to hang out with! I mean, it is just so cool because I love biology, and they love biology, and we get to spend every day studying biology together! I’ve really made some great friends and deep bonds with both classmates and professors, and absolutely can’t wait till next school year when the fun will start up again. (And I’m not using the word “fun” in a sarcastic way at all!).
So yeah, I’m sad that GB is over. But I’m equally as excited for the new biology classes I get to take, starting next semester.
Speaking of next semester! I’m really excited about it. I’ll be taking Organic Chemistry, Genetics, and Computer Concepts. I’m really excited about all of those, but what I’m super pumped about is Adventist Heritage. Yes, I will be forced FOR COLLEGE CREDIT to spend time and learn about Adventist history from the legendary Dr. Samaan…and then on Fall Break, be FORCED to go on a field trip up to New England IN ALL THAT FALL COLOR to visit many of the Adventist historical sites up there where the Advent movement first started! Oh yeah, that’ll be REAL torture….
Haha. ;) I seriously can’t wait. I mean, it will just be an incredible adventure. AND I’ll be sure to take my video camera along, and film ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING….so around November time, go check my YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/tnphotobug) for my footage of that trip!
I really think that making these videos will be a very unique witnessing opportunity for God. You see, I already have quite a few people who watch my videos because they enjoy the historical places I visit, the geocaches I find, or both. Well, yeah, I’ll still be filming historical locations and maybe even a little caching, but I’ll also be slipping in a bit of Adventist history/spiritually/religion for people who may not be Christians or Adventists. These videos could really open up some neat witnessing opportunities.
Anyway, that’s next semester. Back to my reflections of this semester, and the school year in general. As I reflect on it, I feel that I have grown in three distinct ways: academically, socially, and spiritually.
Academically: Seriously, I have learned so much over this past school year. I now know the difference between annelid and arthropod, anther and antler, hagfish and lungfish. Comp has helped me improve my writing skills tons (hopefully you’ve noticed! Or maybe not…), and Fitness for Life has convinced me of the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle. Southern Connections did a great job on helping me get connected to the Biology Department.
There’s a quote in the library that goes something like this: “A man’s mind, once stretched by new ideas, will never regain its original dimensions”. And I really feel that way. Now I just know all this information, and it has forever changed me, I will never be the same again (this is all good, of course).
Socially: OK, I’ll admit it. I’m a huge social person! Going from seeing approximately 3 people on a regular basis (remember, I was homeschooled?) to a possible 3,000 people a day, well, that’s a whole different ball game! And a fun one. I have just had a blast getting to know different people, and God has sent me some incredibly awesome friends! At the start of the school year Dr. Snyder said something along the lines of “You won’t have time to socialize while in GB.” Well, if this year was the “no socialization” year, then I can hardly imagine what “socialization” actually looks like! And yes, I have been able to do quite a bit of socializing and still get A’s and B’s…the trick is, you just can’t socialize all the time. There has been many a time that there has been a fun social event planned on campus, or something else like that, and I’ve had to pass because of study. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t socialized…. ;)
As a side note, I am really looking forward to my social interactions of next year. Several of the Bio major upperclassman have been extremely nice and inclusive of me, giving me some great advice on which classes to take from whom, etc. And quite frankly, I honestly can’t wait to take my turn and kind of mentor some of the incoming freshman next year. To give them some advice, and be a friendly face who’s been around the block once before. Remember my very first post on this blog? How I want to be a mouth? Well, I still do!
Anyway. Back on topic! I also really feel that I have grown spiritually. I already had a strong faith when I came to Southern, but it has grown so much more in the past school year. There have been countless situations which I just could not totally control, and that I had no clue how I could humanly come out the victor. But yeah, did you notice that little word, “humanly”? Yeah, that word was correct. But with God, NOTHING is impossible. Nothing. He sees things as we humans can’t, and knows of ways through situations that we just can’t think up. There has just been time after time after time when I had absolutely NO CLUE how I was going to get through some tests, but in some miraculously way God always delivered. I’m not saying that I always got A’s, but He always helped me through. I keep a daily journal, and if I had the time could just tell you story after story of how God has performed miracles in my life. It’s just…amazing. Words don’t describe this stuff well. And now, I have come to not think about “how am I going to get through this”—because I can’t. Now, I think, “how is God going to show His mighty power and will in the situation?” Because I can’t begin to tell you of all the outright miracles that He has performed get me to Southern. And He certainly hasn’t left me once I got to Southern. He is always there, even when everything else has fallen away, and everything else is out of your control…HE is still there. Yeah, folks, God is awesome!
As celebration of my completing my freshman year, and in recognition of my birthday last week, this week our family is planning to take a trip up to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I had so much fun going there with my Biology class, I just had to go there again! Haha, I’m so glad that I convinced my family to take me. This time, I’ll be going to some different sites…AKA Clingman’s Dome, at 6,643’ feet the highest mountain in the park and indeed in the entire state of Tennessee. You drive most of the way to the top, and then there’s just a short half mile hike to the very tip top to the observation tower with an incredible view. Oh yeah, and Tennessee’s most popular geocache is located at the observation tower! I’m really excited about having the chance to find that one. We’ll be visiting some other locations too, and of course I’ll be bringing my video camera along. So be sure to check out my YouTube channel in a week or two for footage of me geocaching “On Top of Old Smoky”! ;D
I’ve been asked to in this last post give a few pearls of college wisdom for the incoming freshman crowd. And now, that time has arrived. So, without further ado, here is my list. It’s not perfect, nor complete, but is a collection of lessons I’ve learned.
Point #1: Self-Management. Self-Management really covers everything, but there are a few areas I’d like to cover. First of all, time management. Write out a schedule and stick to it. At the start of the week, write out on a piece of paper all the assignments due that week, and what tests you need to study. Then, print out a schedule and fill in what times you are going to accomplish what assignment. Some people may feel more comfortable doing this on some electronic gadget, and that’s fine. The point is, just do it (to quote my Mom’s favorite line)! I know that this method has worked real well for me. Once I’ve got my schedule all written out, I don’t have to worry about forgetting and remembering all my assignments. All I need to do is follow that schedule, and I’ll be fine. See my “Gopher Whacking” article for details.
Of course, academics isn’t the only part of college so be sure to schedule in some time for socialization, too. (Secret: I’ve found that Sabbaths are great times to have my “socialization quota” filled for the week!) Also, be sure to get enough sleep and exercise. One thing that I was really scared of was that I would have to pull all-nighters in college, but believe it or not, I am just a day and a half from being done with my first year and I still have slept a good seven hours every night! Even if you have to cut studying time out for getting sufficient rest, do it. God will bless you with understanding and remembrance on your tests, and your body will function better with proper sleep.
Also be sure to exercise. At the start of this semester I was dead set against exercise—didn’t like it, didn’t have time for it. Then I took Fitness for Life, in which we had to exercise around five times a week, half hour a day. I learned that I actually did a surprising amount of exercising without even realizing it—for example, walking from Brock to Hickman takes exactly seven minutes. I’m headquartered in Hickman, and this semester I had Comp in Mabel Wood Hall (which is right next to Brock). That meant twice a week I got seven minutes down, and seven minutes back. So right there I had 14 minutes of exercise without even thinking about it. I also discovered that it takes 2.5 minutes to walk from Hickman to McKee Library, and five minutes even to transport myself from Hickman to the Hulsey Wellness Center. Point being, students do a lot more walking and exercising than they think they do. I found that to reach my half-hour-a-day quota, I only had to spend on average 10-15 minutes “extra” on exercise.
In summary, do things in balance.
Point #2: Make good friends. College is all about new experiences, and a big part of that is meeting tons of people that you otherwise wouldn’t meet. It’s an exciting yet at times daunting adventure. So much of college is social, and done with friends, I highly encourage you to get to know some good, spiritual, and mature people to be your friends. Right at the start you can’t quite tell what people are like, since everyone is new. But after a few weeks, maybe a month or two, of seeing them day after day, week after week, you get to see people’s real personalities come out, not just the person they are on Sabbath morning. So keep your eyes peeled, make observations, and put effort into your friendships with people who will bring you closer to God and who will encourage you in your academic pursuits.
Point #3: You’re not alone, and you will survive (even if you don’t think you will). That’s right, you may feel like you are the only one going through this, but believe it or not just about the whole rest of the freshman class is feeling the same way right now! I know first week or two of college was just absolutely crazy and hectic, as I tried to figure out what I was supposed to do, etc. etc. etc. But know that after the first few weeks, things get a lot more fun and you get a hang for what college is like. Also, keep in mind all the people who can help and advise you through this at times difficult transition. Your academic advisor and Southern Connections professor are great people to talk to, as well as all the Student Success Center people over in Lynn Wood Hall. You will survive, whether you think so or not!
Point #4: Make sure to keep that spiritual connection secure. As I’ve eluded to earlier in this article, college often presents crises which challenge our faith. It’s always a good idea to keep that conversation with God open and often, because He is ALWAYS there for you and He knows what you are going through (see 1 Corinthians 10:13 for details). Also be sure to attend some of Southern’s special weeks of prayer, weekend retreats, and other spiritual highlights. They really are a great way to strengthen your faith, and get to know other like-minded individuals. Find a good quiettime program that works for you. Check out all the awesome resources that Campus Ministries has available, like LifeGroups—which are on-campus Bible study groups that meet for weekly Bible study and prayer/praise time. There’s scads of different groups, so there’s bound to be a group that fits your tastes and that will meet at a time that works for you. Try Sabbath afternoon outreach. But these are just examples. Find something that works for you and do it!
So just relax, and have fun. At times you may feel like you have no clue how you will get through, but at the end of the year, like me, you will remember how much fun it is and want to do it all over again.
Well I hope that you all have enjoyed reading my posts to some degree or another, as you have hopefully learned a little bit what it’s like to be a student at Southern. It’s really hard to believe that this job is over, because I have enjoyed it so much. I do have a personal blog; it’s www.biomajoratsouthern.blogspot.com . I have entertained serious thoughts about continuing on writing weekly posts about life at Southern, so if you want to know what I’m up to then be sure to go check out my personal blog. Also, if you have any questions or comments, complainants (hopefully not!) or just want to compliment me on the fine writing that I’ve delivered to you each and every week for the past school year ;) , feel free to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org :)
Southern Adventist University truly is a special and unique place, folks. It really is incredible. The academics are top-notch, the professors caring, and the students friendly. It’s no false advertising, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. It truly is a spiritual, God-blessed institution. Please, please, please everyone come to Southern!
Come to Collegedale, Tennessee, and
Be. A. Part.