Sunday, September 21, 2008

The blink of an eye

While I was up in North Jersey on Friday to visit the hawkwatch site, I took a stroll around the campus of the college where I did my undergraduate degree.

When I was a student there it was still just a college and not a university like it is today. That change is mostly superficial, I guess, yet I went there fully expecting that I wouldn't recognize the place for all the new buildings that have been constructed since I graduated. I was happy to find that the core of the campus was unchanged and that the feel of the place was the same to me. It does feel much more grown-up somehow, though, with a cafe attached to the library, a diner right on campus and its very own train station.

I spent an hour or so sitting on the familiar benches outside Partridge Hall, which used to house the Department of Spanish and Italian, where I spent the majority of my days for those four years. It was only twenty years ago this month that I started there as a freshman, after all.

Cripes! Where did twenty years go?

In the blink of an eye...

I'd started college as a Political Science major, of all things, but mostly C's and a D or two (plus the riot act from my dad) convinced me that Poly Sci most probably wasn't where my talents were.

How exactly I ended up as a Spanish Translation major is less clear in my memory, but I suppose I might have been influenced by the mission-style architecture of the campus, or my Spanish-born uncle, or more probably that I mostly always got A's in Spanish without very much difficulty.

;-)

Anyway... Spanish was a good fit for me. Not as easy one, as Montclair State is blessed with a diverse population and an excellent faculty that hardly ever cut me any slack as the only non-native speaker in most of my classes. One of my professors often 'complimented' me on my 'creative' use of the language, in fact.

;-)

I never was able to make a living doing the type of translation work I love - literary translation - nor was the year spent doing legal and medical translations very lucrative, but I think I've been lucky since then to be able to make use of my undergraduate degree in most all of the jobs I've held over the years. That's probably more than can be said for my friends who stuck with Political Science.

Of course I'm denying the fact that I had to get a graduate degree to be able to make any real money (as if!) but that's another story, anyway.

It was nice to spend a couple hours there and see myself 18 again with the whole world for my imagining.

9 comments:

Rabbits' Guy said...

I suppose many of us have similar stories! What was gonna be versus what turned out!

Did you ever used to read the Sports Illustrated writer Peter King a few years ago when his girls played field hockey and softball for (I Think) Montclair High? Very interesting and touching .. they have gone off now to College, and may have even graduated ...

Jayne said...

Well, I was a criminal justice major Laura. I was going to save all the delinquent kids in the world. Yep, I was. Then, my dad had me talk to a woman who rented from him who had her degree and was working undercover in a Target store catching shoplifters as she could find no work. Hmmmm... maybe I'd better rethink my major? Didn't want to go into law or law enforcement... NURSING. I'll be a nurse! Whaaa?

Oh heck, who am I kidding. I was in school, in love, and needing to find a major. My mom was a nurse and so I figured I could always find a job. Twenty five years later, here I am. And, it's been a perfect fit for me.

Funny how we can look back now and laugh. Glad you had such a good visit back to school. I need to hit the road and revisit my alma mater.

cedrorum said...

Music major first, then switched to biology. I guess I was a glutton for punishment as music came very easy to me, but physics, organic chem, cell bio, and genetics were very hard. I guess it's good that I enjoyed them.

KGMom said...

Ahh-trips down memory lane can be lovely. Glad the old school hasn't changed too much. My alma mater has redone the whole campus--only one original building still stands!
As for college majors--I go on at great lengths with college students that it isn't what you major in that really counts in the long run; it's what you learn--learning HOW to learn. I also tell them if you think you will master a body of knowledge, forget it. Knowledge grows incrementally, and knowing something for today is only another way of saying you are programmed for obsolescence... You have to know how to learn life-long.

NCmountainwoman said...

There are few things in life that force an introspective more than visiting the college of your youth. It is a visit everyone should make. Just to sit there and recall those days and dreams and compare them with your present life makes you think.

dguzman said...

Whew! Where did twenty-five years go, for me!? I'd love to see my old school. I doubt it's changed too much.

robin andrea said...

If I had gone to college straight out of high school, I would be looking at a 40 year reunion in 2010! I waited until I was 30 to go to school and majored in Anthropology, minored in lit. A great combination for blogging!

behindthebins said...

I also have an undergraduate degree in Spanish which I have used in nearly every job. And I am using it still. Learning a language will always be an asset. Saludos, Bevson

LauraHinNJ said...

Rabbit's Guy: No... I don't know that story...

Jayne: Funny, I don't know you, but can't picture you as anything but a nurse!

;-)

It was a fun visit; fun to remember.

Cedrorum: Hmmm.. music, interesting!

I wish I'd had an interest in bio then. Would love to study it now.

(You can keep the physics, though.)

;-)

KGMom: Yes, absolutely! I have a similar lecture (g) about how one needn't be 'smart' for college, just dedicated to learning how to think.

NCMountainWoman: Yeah... made me feel kinda old tho.

;-)

Delia: Where'd you go?

Robin Andrea: A wise choice to wait, for some, I think. Sounds like a great combo of studies.

Bevson: De acuerdo.

;-)