I love Claremont, I love CMC, and by far the biggest opportunity cost of my decision to study abroad this fall is missing a semester at my school. We live in a country club filled with, tall (I am 6 ft and am still “CMC Short”) closet nerds who I think the world of and will miss like hell. From a purely in-the-classroom educational perspective, I assume that my classes abroad will be a slight (though DIS is definitely no joke) downgrade from my Claremont courses. However, I also believe that integrating myself into a culture that is so thoroughly opposed to the dominate American mindset, is worth infinitely more than any advantage gained by my CMC classes.
In order to actually learn anything in school (or life if we want to go to that level), we need to be able to establish some sort of frame of reference. As Americans, we often grab on to a belief or belief system, and then use that to frame everything else. Whether it is politics, religion, or stupid dining hall arguments (we still have not settled the extremely important t-rex v war elephant debate), we oftentimes look at the world with an “us versus them” mentality. One of the advantages to studying philosophy, as well as debate (shout out Mustangs), is that you are challenged to look at things from all sides. Not only do I want to understand the world in terms of those I disagree with, but I want to be able to zoom out and look at things from a 360 degree view in every direction. I think being abroad is one of the few ways to truly learn this skill.
To give a more concrete example of what I am blabbering about, I will take something that makes most peoples blood boil; welfare. Being a Jewish Econ/Philosophy major, this debate is my version of Christmas morning. Any American will have an opinion about it, usually something along the spectrum ranging from , “Those assholes need to get jobs like I did when things were tough,” to “Welfare recipients are facing an impossible battle and need our full support.” We completely dismiss the idea that both answers could be completely correct. Heaven forbid it be the case that some people are undeserving and that some people have been placed in a screwy situation and need our help. I find this particular debate fascinating, and am interested to see how a country (Denmark) with a top income tax rate of 60% (gasp) manages to have some of the happiest and most wealthy citizens on the planet. Now before my Tea Party readers call me a socialist (like Obama am I right!?) and take me to the gallows, I do not think an American welfare state is a good, or even plausible idea (come at me Medicare). However, it will be awesome to compare the differences in cultural mindset, applicability and legislation in the US and Demark. There is unquestionably merit to both systems, and by understanding the differences from the point of view of a Dane, I hope to see the whole debate in a much clearer way.
The idea of frames of reference is huge in everything we do, and so I cannot wait to look at things with a Danish perspective. I have been lucky to travel frequently to African nations, and I consider the perspective those experiences provided me with to be worth as much as my college education (XOXO offended professors). A solid frame of reference is one of the few things I think our absurdly expensive private school tuition fails to provide us with, and so even though I will miss Camp Claremont (and getting ponded on my birthday) dearly, I would not miss the chance to study abroad for a whole semester. Oh and the parties, girls and included travel certainly did not make the decision any harder (Oktoberfest look out). That concludes my first post, I apologize for the horrendously serious nature of it, and I promise to sound less like a know-it-all prep school kid in the future!!
XOXO Gossip Girl
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