Sunday, March 10, 2013

Learning is Everywhere

Learning is everywhere.
That’s the campy idea behind going to a sort of prestigious university. While on their hour-long tours, which is often the make or break point for many high school Juniors or Seniors on whether or not they chose to attend the university, they promote this idea from the moment they leave the Visitor’s Lounge. Learning is everywhere you go.
Look at this student union. See them studying? Learning is everywhere.
Look at this building that’s over a hundred years old. Student’s classrooms are in there. Learning is everywhere.
Look at these state of the art housing options. See how they have multiple lounges which include television and study spaces? Learning is everywhere.
Look at this fountain. See the students surrounding it, enraptured in their intelligent conversations with their classmates as they sunbathe? Learning is everywhere.
Learning. Is. Everywhere.
Each day I sit by the fountain in front of the library at Chapman University. Each day I watch the guided tours, sometimes with five potentials and their parents, sometimes with forty-five potentials and their entire family. Each day they walk past the fountain, speaking about the library, the Argyros Business School (which is what many of the Asian’s only interest is), and the five pillars of education of Chapman (or whatever the symbolic statement actually is, as it is never mentioned again after the first day of orientation). They walk through the fountain on their tours everyday, examining the learning that is occurring everywhere.
Sometimes the students look bored out of their minds. Usually those are the ones who wind up at the local community college or perhaps a state school. Others look truly intrigued. Some continuously ask questions about Greek life so that they will be able to forget the fact that they’re in a somewhat prestigious university. Others ask about study abroad options, already looking for a way out. The younger siblings shout about wanting to go to Disneyland soon as soon as the tour guide reaches the part of the tour where the statue of Chapman himself is supposedly facing the general direction of the theme park only 6.2 miles away. Little do the parents realize that Disney is a social way of life here, and if they send their child to Chapman, they might as well buy them an annual pass because that’s where they’ll spend most of their time (even if they should be in class).
Learning is everywhere?
The fountain is almost as good as a place as Disneyland to sit and watch people. Not just the frustrated teenagers that walk by on tours, but those who actually made it past the tour and onto campus for the next four to seven years of their life.
How did any of us end up here?
I remembered my own tour of Chapman, already knowing that I wanted to go to school here, not only because of its Creative Writing program (something of which I balk at now) but also because of it’s close proximity to the Most Magical Place on Earth. Let’s be honest here. I remembered walking down the AF Walkway, towards the theatre and music school, and looking down the street, and seeing how absolutely quaint it was. I could imagine myself renting out one of the houses down the street, and studying under the large oak tree.
Learning is everywhere.
The more I look around the fountain in front of the library, the more I laugh about my final decision to come to Chapman in the first place. True, out of all the other schools that I applied to (and technically attended in many cases), Chapman felt the most like home. But I laugh at the reasons for which I came in the first place. Back when I thought California was where I was meant to be. Back when I thought I was going to be the most studious thing in the world and maintain my 4.0 average. Back before I learned how nearly impossible it is to live on your own in the state of California, when you have no support from your family, and spend more time working your slightly-above-minimum-wage job at Disneyland than you do hitting the books. Back before I learned that this might not be what I want to do with my life after all.
Learning is everywhere.
I look around the fountain at Chapman and see the other students and I question how any of us ended up here. Were any of them actually happy with their decision to come here (other than the students at Dodge whom, for some reason or other were always an exception)? I can look around the fountain and see so many students, wearing the Greek letters, talking about how drunk they got at the last fraternity party, or their plans for the upcoming weekend.
Is this what we’ve come to?
Learning is everywhere?
Around the fountain, there are students everywhere. Sometimes photographers come and take pictures of us, or of their models standing barefoot in the shallow side of the fountain. Sometimes they’re reading some smartly bound book, looking inquisitive. If they’re graduating, they’re overjoyed for the end of their learning.
Students sit with their laptops open to Facebook, Tumblr, Reddit, Twitter…anything where they can discover more about the world outside of themselves. Learning is everywhere. Even if learning is discovering that the guy they think is hot in their Friday afternoon class is Single. They spend hours on their laptops, complaining all the while that they have so much homework to do and there’s no way they can finish it in time, as they click “Attend” to that night’s rage.
They sit in circles on the stone walls that jut out awkwardly every ten or so feet surrounding the fountain, gossiping about their friends. Some catch friends from last semester up on their lives since they had last seen one another. At such a sort of prestigious university, connections are always being made, and it’s easy to forget or move on from the people that you shared such a connection with in last semester’s Introduction to Analytics course.
The tours traverse their way through campus, and across the fountain, dodging in and out of bikers and skateboarders, telling facts about the sort of prestigious university to only half interested high school students. I could tell them the real facts about life out here, I think. If they don’t have a mommy and daddy to anchor them down, I can give them all the best tips and tricks for surviving in the society of the upper middle class white kids of Chapman University. They might not learn about the school, but they’ll certainly receive an education. Which is what we’re here for, right? Education?
Learning is everywhere after all.

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