When Saint Mary’s promises you to find the universe and your place in it, she (SMC) is not lying. As a liberal arts school, Saint Mary’s forces us to have a wide range of knowledge in areas that we would’ve never imagined learning. Despite the tediousness of the Sophia program (let’s be real we all have a hate/love relationship with all those reqs) it is those obscure classes we take that truly helps open our eyes to ideas we would’ve never imagined possible before.
Going to a Catholic school during my early I never felt the need to defend my beliefs or explain to someone why I believed the things I did. Most of my friends agreed with me in the issues that mattered the most to me, so it was never an issue to be challenged in my beliefs.
Despite Saint Mary’s being a Catholic school, we are not an “exclusive” school, we pride ourselves on being accepting of people of all backgrounds, races, cultures, and religions. We are forced to take classes that make us step outside our comfort zone, and which oftentimes challenge what we have always believed and show us the other side of the spectrum. Although many of my classes did challenge me to think in a different way, I found a group of friends that shared similar, if not the same beliefs as me and because of that I never had put the skills I was learning in class to use…
This semester, however, I am studying abroad in Sevilla,Spain, far from all of my friends and from the comfort of the things I know. Here, I have met people from all over the US and even the world who have ideas that might not necessarily align with mine, yet we are all able to have conversations and share our beliefs without hating each other for what is said.
We have often gotten involved in “taboo” conversations, conversations that are often discouraged in the US about political and religious issues, but unlike my friends at Saint Mary’s (whom all share the same beliefs as me) many of my friends here have very different beliefs than me. Now, a millennial might see this and think of it impossible – what??? a pro-life person and a pro-choice person friends??!!!- amazing, I know… It’s crazy what tolerance and conversation can achieve.
Because of some of my Sophia classes, I was able to understand that there are many sides to a story, and just because I believe something is right, it might not be the only way to look at an issue. Classes that I would’ve never thought of taking taught me not only the importance of conversation but also how to engage- listening and speaking- in a conversation that might be hard to have.
So next time you’re picking classes, and still have to get those reqs out of the way, don’t see them as just another Sophia requirement, but instead look at them as a way to become an informed citizen of the world.