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Lindy Hopping Around the World

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)

“So what kind of dancing do you do?” my grandmother asked me when I visited her for lunch one day this past summer. “Swing,” I tell her again and then try to explain a little better. “Like Lindy Hop, or the Charleston.”

“Oh,” she said. “I used to do those.” She’s surprised, of course, because a year ago if she’d talked to me about swing dancing, I would have said, “No way doll, you’re not getting me to flash my feet on the dance floor.” You know those kids in high school who just stand against the wall at prom, arms crossed, glaring at all their friends making fools of themselves with their crazy rave moves? Yeah, I was one of those kids. Wouldn’t even sway to music for a free iPod.

I tried to break out of that once I got to Grinnell. They had this club called the Grinnell Swing Society. Okay, cool. Went to one meeting, tried it out, felt like an idiot, and never went back.

Until the next year, when I promised myself I wouldn’t quit. I needed to challenge myself, and getting over my fear of public embarrassment seemed as big a mountain as any to start on. I went to every single class and still felt like a fool, but I had a whole lot of fun feeling like one.

Then it happened. I got addicted.

And gosh darn, it’s all Grinnell’s fault.

But let’s shim-sham this story back a bit. The leaders of the Swing Society were always urging members to attend swing exchanges. It’s a chance to visit someplace fun and dance with new people, they said. Each place has its own sense of dancing. Yeah right, I thought. Swing is swing is swing, and there’s only so many moves you can learn.

But then, with this new addiction running through my veins, I went to my first exchange. And boy, was I a million times wrong. It wasn’t completely different, of course, but the boys threw in quite a few moves I didn’t know. “Dude, show me that again,” I’d say, and they would, and I’d show my Grinnell friends, and we’d come back to campus with a sweet new move.

And that’s how you learn to swing dance. You visit places. You pick up their new moves.

The best part: you make a bazillion new friends.

I went home to Madison over the summer desperate to keep dancing. Now Madison’s not very far from Grinnell, but I still encountered some new moves I’d never seen before. By the end of the summer, my style had melded into a mixture of Grinnell and Madison. Grinadison Swing. And then, come August, I moved to London for the semester.

Woah.

When you visit various countries, the differences invariably stick in your head, be it foods, clothing styles, or even television commercials (British commercials make no sense!). When I flew into the old Swing Capital of the World, what I noticed, it seems, was their difference of dance. Behind the back? I’ve never done that before. And what’s with all these aerials? But hey, these are kinda fun. I guess I can figure them out.

Grinnell Swing Girl Becomes Grinnell-Madison-London Swing Girl … Grinadon Swing Girl.

While swing dancing started in the United States, over the century it has spread to the entire world. In each place I visit, I learn a new move and meet new friends. What I learned in a small town in Iowa opened up a whole new Aladdin-and-his-magic-carpet world for me, a whole new bit of culture I can search out and find wherever I go. Sweet.

Molly Rideout '10 is an English major and Gender and Women's studies concentrator from Madison, Wisconsin.

ABBA Fans Unite

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)

It’s a strange feeling, accomplishing a goal you didn’t know you had. It’s happened to me a few times at Grinnell, most markedly, when my former professor, Tim Arner, turned to me in the campus pub and said, “People who don’t like ABBA are bad people.” It happened again a few days later, when he wrote on his [plan], our Grinnell blog community, “If I could have a genie grant me just one wish, I would wish that everyone I know would sit down and watch Teen Wolf. Then I would wish that I had more wishes, but it would be too late because I already used up my one wish on the Teen Wolf thing.”

Who was this man? I wondered. He was my professor; he has a Ph.D. in the most painful period of British literature; and he had practically cried over the last lines of Beowulf, for God’s sake. Could he actually be cool?

I embarked on this road of professor-student friendship with my comrade-in-arms Jess Issacharoff ’09. Throughout my Grinnell career, I’ve often taken for granted the fact that I know my professors — until now. Because there’s no other way to say it: being friends with a professor is so cool. As undergraduates, I feel we’re often flailing for understanding. Knowing someone who knows so much more than I do — and plays video games — is both inspiring and comforting.

As you read this, I will have graduated from Grinnell, and it’s easy to wonder whether there’s a place for Grinnellians in the real world, a world of people who don’t think of “social construct” as a phrase to throw around at a dinner party. Professor Arner has shown me that life goes on after college; that I will have a house, a job, and a life, and I won’t constantly yearn to be back in college.

It’s a strange and sobering lesson, I suppose. But at this point, knowing intelligent, interesting, socially capable (for the most part) 30-somethings is exactly what I need. Plus, let’s be honest, there are too few ABBA-lovers in the world. We have to stick together.

Rachel Fields '09 is an English major from Lemont, Illinois.

 

The Sea Urchins and Me

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)

 

The purple spines bristled as I lifted the sea urchin from its container. Water dripped down the curve of its body as I turned it over to examine the whitish underside. Nestled in the center was a tiny mouth that also functioned as an anus (sea urchins are much less complex than mammals). Remembering that the rest of the class was watching, I raised the syringe and pierced the sea urchin in the region surrounding its mouth, pumping it with hydrochloride. I turned it over. As Professor Sullivan had predicted, sea urchin eggs were bubbling up around the spines and dripping down its sides. I placed it upside down over a beaker of seawater, and thus we began collecting sea urchin eggs.

The exact same process is used to collect sea urchin sperm.

I haven’t explained very much, have I? My apologies. This is the Biology 150 lab: Introduction to Biological Inquiry. For those of you are considering biology as a major, you will begin with this course. There are four or five sections of the class offered every semester, each with a distinct theme, and not all of them involve sea urchins. Our section focused on cell differentiation, while other sections studied climate change or bacteria or neurons. Though each section has a distinct theme, all of them aim to prepare us for more advanced work in biology by letting us prepare our own research projects in an area within our theme.

I am not a biology major, but when reading the course descriptions for that semester, the opportunity seemed too good to miss. Nor was I disappointed. It was less than three weeks before we were introduced to our sea urchin friends, which we used to study how cells differentiate. It’s a fascinating question: how does a cell in an embryo know it’s to become a neuron or a cardiac muscle cell? How do the eyes form in the head, and how do some cells know they have to become eyes while others know they will become the head itself? These were the questions we tried to answer as we progressed through the semester.

The second half of the course was devoted largely to a research project. We were free to decide the topic, find the relevant research articles, and combine the methods and results from those articles to create and carry out our own experiments.

If there was one thing Biology 150 was, it was a hands-on. The entire class ran on students’ curiosity and the questions we asked. In fact, Professor Sullivan structured his lectures specifically around questions we wrote down and handed in before class.

I must admit there were times when I felt frustrated. Focusing a microscope, using a micropipette, and making a footed coverslip were things I had trouble learning. But those difficulties seem petty when you see in front of you with your own two eyes the sperm and egg of two sea urchins meet and an embryo emerge, an embryo that will, in its own time, become a sea urchin. When you see life unfolding in front of you, it becomes difficult to complain about technicalities.

As I said, I am not a biology major. I am a mathematics major. But now I am a math major who can type out a laboratory report and conduct my own research. Most important, I am a math major who has seen, with his own eyes, the point at which life begins.

Amar Sarkar '12 is a Mathematics and Statistics major and Neuroscience concentrator from Gurgaon, India.

Well Rounded, Like a Soccer Ball

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)

Author: Alex Exarhos '10

I didn’t pick Grinnell for its strong academic reputation. I didn’t pick it for its strength in the sciences, illustrious alumni, or the brand new modern buildings. It wasn’t even the touted small-town community feel that sucked me in. Believe it or not, what ultimately cemented Grinnell as my choice for college was the soccer field — an absolutely pristine thing of beauty, so flat and consistent it could almost be mistaken for a living room carpet. The first time I set foot on it, I knew I was coming here.

OK, it wasn’t only the soccer field that sold me. But when I arrived on campus a week early in mid-August for my first practice, that’s definitely all I was thinking about. In case you haven’t figured it out, I really love playing soccer. Really. And when I picked Grinnell, it was the only extracurricular activity I knew for sure I would be doing. I had a great first year, playing all I possibly could and meeting people who loved soccer (almost) as much as I did. What I didn’t realize is, I was missing out on a huge chunk of the Grinnell experience.

It wasn’t until my second year that, as my non-soccer-playing friends might put it, “I came into existence.” Having focused all my energy on academics and soccer, I didn’t know about all the great ways to get involved at Grinnell. But as soon as I found out how cool, active, and involved all the student groups were, I started looking at them with the same passion with which I look at soccer. And so began my extracurricular explosion.

Every time I started a new activity, I would think, “Why on earth haven’t I done this sooner?” I joined the TC (technology consultants) corps and felt perfectly at home helping people with computer problems, working with all the incredibly cool equipment in the AV Center, and messing around with all the fun software installed in the Creative Computing Lab. These were places I had barely known existed before, having basically lived on the soccer field.

The experience with the TC corps gave me the courage to start testing my comfort zone, and soon after I found myself attending, of all things, a swing dancing lesson. Here again, I found an activity I loved because I approached it with the same open-minded enthusiasm I had reserved for soccer in the past. I have since gotten completely carried away with swing (in a good way!). I have gone dancing in the far corners of the country, and now my enthusiasm has made me an instructor/organizer for the Grinnell Swing Society.

This year, I have filled what little free time I have left with responsibilities to the computer science department as a member of the SEPC (Student Educational Policy Committee), as well as writing programs for the psychology department, volunteering at the local retirement home, arranging music, playing the guitar, playing the piano, and singing in an a cappella group (which doesn’t have a definite name yet — we have gone through Acappelloctopus, Acapellicopters, Rocktopus, Twenty Minutes of Solid Instrumentals …). My life is so much more full, satisfying, and rewarding than it was during my first year, thanks to all the great opportunities Grinnell has to get involved.

I realize my story is probably different from most people’s. Who picks a Division III school for a sport, even if they do have the nicest facility I’ve ever seen? I guess the main point of my story is that regardless of your mindset coming to Grinnell, the culture is so engaging you can’t help but get sucked into a million awesome activities.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an AltBreak meeting to attend.

Alex Exarhos '10 is a Computer Science major from Richland, Washington.

 

Tutorial: A Laughing Matter

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)

Author: Ross Preston '10

Thinking back to the summer before I came to Grinnell, I recall an inordinate amount of anticipation for everything Grinnell-related that came my way. I would check my Grinnell e-mail account, only to find no new messages. I was constantly thinking of new things to bring to school. And I probably spent too much time on Facebook, discussing my excitement with future classmates.

One of the more interesting things we talked about was which section of the First- Year Tutorial we wanted to get. Tutorial is required for all first-year students — it teaches college-level research, writing, and presentation while examining some fascinating topic in depth.

Incoming first-year students receive information about all of the tutorials sometime over the summer; they send back their top five choices, rank-ordered, by a certain date to get a spot in one of those five. For my number one choice, I went with the simple title “Comedy,” mainly because I’ve always had an interest in the stand-up variety of comedy and because the course description said we would be watching Pulp Fiction, easily one of my favorite films. I actually had no idea what I was getting into, let alone that it would be perhaps the best class I ever took.

Taught by Erik Simpson, an English professor, the course had four units: theories of comedy/humor, fairy tales, Pride and Prejudice, and lastly, modern films. Each student would write a paper on something from each unit, and once during the semester, every person would receive a workshop-style critique of his/ her writing. Despite the wildly varying subject areas, the course was united by a constant attention to comedy, mostly as a literary genre.

Neither Erik nor anyone else could have anticipated the way the class turned out, which was as funny as the things we were supposed to be studying. Many different people said hilarious things throughout the semester, and the class managed to find ways to inject humor into serious and often thought-provoking discussions. We also worked hard at improving our individual reading and writing skills, which is the intent of any tutorial offered at Grinnell. But I have a hard time believing any other tutorial has had so much fun and so many laughs in doing so.

One of the ways Erik created this enjoyable experience was through the informal but serious atmosphere he established with the class. Early on, he divided the class into two groups: “talkers” and “non-talkers.” Placing the two groups in separate classrooms, he also distributed separate handouts for us to discuss with our group before we were to reconvene. The questions were about class participation, literally “talking” in class, which can be a big thing for new students and is something tutorial aims to help first-years work at as well. Sitting with a group of people who talked about as much as I did helped me discover that college isn’t any more intimidating than any class back in high school.

A great example of one of our open class sessions was the day when everyone had to bring a joke to class. Advised to avoid the “dirty” variety, someone would tell the joke and then the class would analyze how the joke did its work. There is always the danger of taking away all of the fun when performing this kind of exercise, but that never seemed to happen. We laughed at the jokes, and the analysis was never excessive or too basic. It was very instructive to realize how the set-up of a joke was structured.

Not every tutorial is as funny as ours — it’s hard to find comedy in plant genes or imperial regimes — but being able to learn and improve your writing skills while having fun is something I know you’ll experience no matter what tutorial you choose.

Ross Preston '10 is an English major from Ponte Vedra, Florida.

 

SEPC, Anyone?

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)

Author:  Amy Henning ’10

In my first English class at Grinnell, I was awed by some of the upperclassman. Not only did they know their lit theory, but they also seemed to be involved in some mysterious, nebulous thing called the English SEPC. Was it a clique? A cult? Whatever it was, the members all seemed enthusiastic and committed to this SEPC organization. Eventually I figured out two things: they threw study breaks for English majors from time to time, and ordered English department T-shirts at the end of the year. It was a start.

As I talked with more people about the SEPC, I learned that it was much more than a social group. The acronym “SEPC” stands for “Student Educational Policy Committee,” which suggested slightly more serious educational involvement than just making T-shirts. I speculated with friends about what the SEPC might do, but still did not have a complete idea until the spring of my second year. At that point, the SEPC was looking for new members and sent out a description of the organization to English majors who might want to run for a spot on the committee.

I was immediately convinced to apply for membership. The SEPC, they said, works closely with the English department not only to throw fun study breaks, but also to truly shape the education we receive at Grinnell.

Because I have always cared about my classes and teachers and about pushing my education to the next level, I wanted to join the group to help other students like myself get the best Grinnell English experience possible.

Now I am in my second year on the SEPC, and we’re as busy as ever. We review professors, discuss the English curriculum, and work with the faculty to address issues that arise within the major (for instance, should we push to integrate more theory into survey-level classes?). The SEPC also participates actively in the hiring of new professors for the English department, thus ensuring that students (who know more about what students want to see in a professor than anyone) evaluate those who would teach at Grinnell. English is not alone in this, either — each major has an SEPC, and many of the interdisciplinary concentrations have them, too.

The English SEPC is so much more than I expected it to be back when I first heard of it. In each department, the SEPC is a group of dedicated, intelligent students with a mutual interest in helping create a strong, challenging environment in which to learn. We give students in our major a voice and serve as a liaison between faculty and the student body. The English SEPC is allied with other SEPCs, all invested in the same issues of educational quality and student voice. We all do a good deal to keep the excellence and value of a Grinnell education high. And, you know, we throw some pretty cool study breaks, too.

Amy Henning ’10 is an English major and Linguistics concentrator from Mundelein, Illinois.

 

Suit Up

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)

Author:  Sunanda Vaidheesh '12

Grinnellians love to dress up. We embrace every chance to put away our homework and don the most ridiculous, fantastic costumes you’ve ever seen — and we do it at least three times a semester!

Part of the fun is designing and crafting the costumes — a ritual filled with frantic runs to Goodwill, the consignment stores downtown, and friends’ closets to borrow a hallmate’s couture: neon green tights and fedora? Halloween is, of course, the costume favorite, but there are several other big themed events that attract those who love to dress up: ’80s, Disco, Mary B. James (our annual cross-dressing party…“Mary, Be James!”…get it?), and the Spring and Winter Waltz evenings, to name just a few.

What amazes me isn’t so much the sometimes bizarre costumes, but the precision with which they’re done, and the vast range of ideas people come up with. Costume designs span the decades, from Danny in Grease to Lady Gaga, from Mary Poppins (umbrella with parrot’s head on the top, giant bag, hat, tape measure, and all) to the yellow-jumpsuited revengeful bride in Kill Bill. Last Halloween, some particularly notable partygoers wove academics into their costumes. Representing the world of the fine arts, roommates Heather Riggs and Mandy Fassett (both ’12) dressed up as Van Gogh’s Starry Night and a Jackson Pollack piece, respectively. A trio of Grinnellians currently studying Russian dressed up as characters from an old Soviet TV show they’d recently watched in class. They dropped by the Russian language house and their professor’s house for trick or treating. The sciences were represented by a student dressed as a very convincing Rubik’s cube (handmade, with rotating sides). My personal favorite costume for this year: H1N1. Not only did the wearers of this costume have the molecular structure of the virus quite accurately depicted between the two of them, but the pig ears, nose, and tail, and accompanying oinks helped make it very clear what they were for the night. Needless to say, the sign on their backs was unnecessary. I did love that it took two people to rock out the H1N1 look.

After Disco, glitter seems to turn up everywhere on campus. The following Sunday, I even found some in Burling Library! Nor can I forget just how many Grinnellians own spandex and seize any chance they can to rock out in their favorite fabric.

Costuming here isn’t about buying the snazziest outfit online, but rather how creative you can be with the resources you have. That includes awesome peers who will own a feathery pink boa, available for loan, or a sewing machine to make your sneezing-panda-from-YouTube outfit. It’s about being passionately creative, resourceful, and different.

To me, the love Grinnellians have for costuming says a lot about who we are: passionate, goofy, wildly inventive, socially conscious, bold — and very sparkly under the lights at Disco.

Sunanda Vaidheesh '12 is a Sociology Major and Global Development Studies concentrator from Mumbai, India.

 

Top 10 Coolest Places to Study at Grinnell

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)
Author:  Ross Preston '10

Ross Preston '10As a senior who for almost four years now has enjoyed stretching the possibilities of where homework can most enjoyably be completed, I hereby submit a top 10 list of places to casually get stuff done on Grinnell’s campus:

10. Fireplace Lounge: Hidden away in the Joe Rosenfield Center, this cozy, centrally located haven is the undisputed place to bring your reading. Read a little, and then wake up a few hours later wondering where you are and what day it is. Just make sure you actually get the reading done and make it to class on time with this option.

9. Residence Hall Lounges: If it’s your dorm lounge, it offers a nice halfway point between your room and the rest of campus. Unfortunately, dorm lounges can be reserved/ occupied, so you can’t always count on them being available. Main Lounge on South Campus is especially good, since it is quite spacious and does not have a TV.

8. Dining Hall: This option doesn’t appeal to all students, but entering the dining hall with some work can often be the perfect way to squeeze in a meal and be prepared for class, as long as you can avoid being distracted by your friends.

7. Your Room: Sometimes, it’s good to get some things done on the home front. Having friends over with similar intentions of doing some not-too-intense work and hanging out is a great choice as well.

6. Noyce Common Rooms: Throughout the Noyce Science Center, there are lots of spaces out in the open that still provide a sense of partial privacy. These “commons” are especially nice for group meetings and study sessions that require conversation, as opposed to the utter silence you sometimes experience in other parts of Noyce and the library.

5. Bob’s Underground Café: Located in the basement of Main Hall, Bob’s is a Grinnell staple, hosting Open Mic nights as well as some smaller concerts. This a great spot for an evening cup of coffee and hanging out with people with just a little bit of work to do.

4. Creative Computing Lab: Located in the Forum and hands-down the best place to do a little bit of work when you need a computer. All the computers are top of the line and are rarely all being used at once.

3. The Spencer Grill: Also in the Rosenfield Center, the grill is the premium spot on campus for socializing under the pretense of doing work. With lots of food options as well as decent coffee, this is often the answer for informal meetings with professors, group meetings, and generally “grilling” some time.

2. Saint’s Rest Coffeehouse: Though not on campus, this wins out over the grill for me because of the fantastic coffee and College-friendly atmosphere. Some people go to Saint’s Rest every day to do work. If you don’t mind the two- or three-block walk, it’s a great choice.

1. Outside: Weather permitting, there’s nothing like being outside on a gorgeous day. While it may feel a little bit tainted by that book you have to read, some of my best memories of studying at Grinnell are outside, whether on the wide-open Mac Field, the bench outside Younker, or the questionably named “Cleveland Beach” (sans beach). For some reason, work just seems to feel better outside.

Ross Preston is an English major from Ponte Verda Beach, Florida.

 

What a Prospective Student Host Fears Most

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)

Author:  Nik Jameson '11

I am sometimes called “Prospie Host Extraordinaire” because I match up prospective visitors with suitable hosts in my job for admission. But I’m also a prospective student host myself. In about two years, I have hosted 16 prospies. Each time it is the same basic routine:

  1. Finish homework;
  2. Know what activities are happening on campus;
  3. Remember what time to pick up the prospective student; and
  4. Remember her name.

I usually get numbers one though three done successfully, with the occasional late night homework session outside the door of my room after the prospie has gone to sleep. It is the last one that proves difficult for me — always.

All hosts receive their prospective students’ names well in advance of the first meeting. No matter how many times I look at the piece of paper, it seems impossible for me to remember the name when I am standing in front of her. Luckily, the student usually doesn’t expect me to know her name either, so we have a nice little mutual introduction in the Office of Admission lobby. Sadly, about 30 seconds later, I have forgotten it again. Was it Erin, Jessica, or Julie? I have to tactfully ask her to repeat it, or dig through my bag discreetly for the piece of paper with her name on it. Sometimes, though, I am slyer than that and manage to have her introduce herself to someone else and pick up the name when she says it again.

Yet by some weird bit of social magic, soon after arriving on campus, prospective students start to answer of their own accord to the name lovingly given to them by current students: Prospie. Each prospective student gets introduced to countless Grinnellians, and each of those Grinnellians approaches us yelling excitedly, “Is that a prospie?”

Grinnellians are really eager to meet prospies. One of my friends recently compared prospies to babies. Everyone gets excited to see a new one. No matter how many you meet, each one is always appealing and different. The problem is, when Grinnellians meet a prospie, they expect his or her host to know everything about the student. So instead of asking the prospective student direct questions, they tend to ask the host instead. Not very helpful, I know, and I’m sorry about that. It usually means the name “Prospie” will stick more than the student’s given name, which I take such pains to try and memorize. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but many prospective students come to Grinnell College with respectable names and leave with the name of Prospie + Respectable Name.

This means if my prospies return as first-years, they will often get the question, “Aren’t you Prospie Erin/Jessica/ Julie who stayed with Nik?” It is my fear as a host that I am creating an army of first-year Grinnellians who spend their first weeks as Prospie Erin/Jessica/Julie before donning their respectable titles of just plain Erin/Jessica/Julie.

Nik Jameson '11 is an independent major from Kewanee, Illinois.

Humanities Majors Can Like Science Too

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)

 

I arrived at Grinnell my first year as a wannabe physicist and a wannabe writer, and I had no idea which of these subjects I wanted to follow. If I had been stuck with such diverse interests at any other college, I might have been in trouble, but at Grinnell this dilemma was not as serious as it might have originally seemed. By pure luck, I got the perfect first-year adviser to help me work through my science-humanities schizophrenia: Professor Paula Smith, an English professor who teaches creative writing. Her husband, Professor Paul Tjossem, teaches physics.

Professor Smith did her best to cultivate both of my interests in my academic plan. I ended my first year in a good position to double major in English and physics, with at least two very excited professors to help guide me through any conflicts.

But then I had an epiphany, an epiphany that had absolutely nothing to do with challenges of double majoring or balancing schedules. The epiphany was very simple and concrete: for me, math sucked. Like really really boring sucked, and any career path that included me spending the rest of my life with equations was not a career path I wanted.

So heigh-ho, heigh-ho, off to English I go, never to set foot in a physics room again.

Not that my adviser didn’t try. She pushed and she pushed to get me to continue my studies in physics, but my interests had changed to gender and women’s studies. Plus, I had found an even better way to satisfy that inner geek in me. I made friends.

Science friends are awesome. Physics, biology, computer science — they all understood and appreciated the necklace I made out of circuit resistors. They get the dweeby jokes I make. Well, maybe not when they’re about Charlotte Brontë, but they do when they’re about indefinite integrals. By observing as my friends learned and synthesized knowledge and repeated it back to me, I in a way got exactly what I had been looking for in physics: the science community. And I didn’t have to do a single problem set to get there! I got to write my postcolonial, my poststructural, my postfeminist papers for all the lit classes I wanted — something I actually could see myself spending the rest of my life doing — without having to give up that attachment to science.

And yes, I was a bit of a phony, a science groupie, if you will. I made T-shirts and traveled everywhere with the science band during their semester tour without ever actually picking up an instrument myself. But that’s what I wanted, and had I wanted to double major I could have done that as well. By virtue of its close community, Grinnell allows students with such diverse majors to interact all the time. It doesn’t trap you within your area of study. I like being around science people even if I don’t want to be a science person myself.

When I officially declared English as my major and asked Professor Smith to stay on as my adviser, I received an e-mail consisting only of one line: “Do you promise to take Modern Physics your senior year?” I balked. I could promise I would hear from my friends all about the awesome experiments they were doing, so by osmosis, yes …

A few minutes later, I got a second e-mail:

“Just kidding. Of course I will.”

Molly Rideout '10 is an English major and Gender and Women's Studies concentrator from Madison, Wisconsin.