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I registered for classes during my first two years in college as if I were never going to be able to take them as a junior or senior. My college doesn’t limit how many major classes you can take at once, but it was smart to include non-major classes to break up the schedule. I hated trying to find something to fill my time and would often pass over classes that sounded weird or like they would be too much work and project-heavy. Registration is usually very stressful and the classes I wanted were snatched up before I could enroll, so I would have to choose the weird classes that fit my schedule. Some of the most notable ones I’ve taken are History of Writing, Artisanship, Conspiracy Theories and, most recently, Supernatural Encounters. 

The first two courses were hands-on and provided me with a new perspective on material items in everyday life. With the History of Writing, I saw how writing developed over the centuries, from the tools to the words and phrases that have been used throughout the years. I actually did a whole project on wedding invitations and how just the simple design choices create the entire mood for the celebration. I worked closely with a quilting bee — a group of people that quilt together — for a semester for the Artisanship course. I had no clue about quilting prior to this class and ended up with a new (and expensive) hobby, as well as really close friendships with some very talented quilters. Everyone else in the class chose a different artisanship so we all got to learn about the really intense process behind several arts that we overlook most of the time. I would have never thought about the intentionality behind writing or the way that logic and creativity works together to make art that is aesthetically pleasing and functional if it weren’t for these classes. 

The latter two courses taught me a lot about life. The Conspiracy Theory course was all about conspiracy, but we didn’t just sit around and laugh at what people thought about lizard people or aliens. Instead, we took a different approach and looked at why people believed in conspiracy theories. Basically, theories are influenced by culture, so American conspiracy is different from Brazilian conspiracy, but both operate on the general distrust of authority. Supernatural Encounters builds off of the same concept of cultural conspiracy and discusses why we believe in the supernatural when conspiracy doesn’t make sense. I am currently in this course so I can’t make a lot of solid connections but the ones I can make are really interesting. Both of these courses (taught by the same professor) make me rethink why I believe in certain institutions and why folklore/folktales and myths were created if it’s all based on caution tales and discrimination, especially since certain aspects are based on racial stereotyping and the demonization of demographics.

To most people, these sound like classes that are either too easy or have no academic purpose to them. I would have never seen the perspectives these courses provided me that have since changed me for the better and have made me a better academic. So take a chance on that “weird” class that seems too easy and irrelevant to take. You’ll thank me later.

Paige Pennebaker

Chapel Hill '21

Paige Pennebaker is an aspiring writer who attends UNC-Chapel Hill as a Senior during the day. She enjoys writing fiction and has been published on shortfictionbreak.com. While fiction is where her heart is, Paige also has a lot to say about the real world and how to get by.
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