The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Although I can’t accept what I’m typing, in just a short six weeks, my junior year at the University of Washington will be behind me—75% of the way through, three years down, one to go. Being honest, I remember my 12th grade English teacher consoling me about my doubts on this future journey on the last day of high school. I was mostly, if not totally, sure that I wouldn’t make it past the first year or even first quarter here, this school’s competitive environment and my timid personality not aligning at all, but to my total surprise, I’ve now made it through 28 classes and counting.
As the now-imaginable prospect of graduating next June and then being propelled out into the job market becomes a nearing reality, it’s been fun to mentally banter about which classes I’ve taken so far that have been the most life-changing, the most boring, maybe easy, difficult, action-packed, frustrating. I then decided, for my own benefit and of course yours, whoever you are, that I’d sum up the most important point I learned in each of my classes to date, if I fail to remember any other part of my college experience in the future. Here are the most long-lasting, perhaps inspirational lessons I’ve learned in all my UW classes, from art history to biostatistics.
Freshman year (2019-2020)
ENVIR 239 (Sustainability: Personal Choices, Broad Impacts): Wait…personal sustainability is actually cool.
C LIT 200 (Introduction to Literature): White men get all the credit for everything, including in the field of literature. (Honorable mention sentence: No, I will never not laugh at that class code.)
GEN ST 199 (The University Community): Everyone is just as confused as I am about college.
ENGL 131 (Composition: Exposition): Unlike what I learned in high school, writing is a fun pastime once you’re allowed to add a creative component.
ENVIR 100 (Introduction to Environmental Studies): Despite the looming fear of climate change, there are actions we can all take, with meaning, to reverse it.
POL S 203 (Introduction to International Relations): The northwestern part of the world calls the shots on pretty much everything.
EDPSY 302 (Child Development): Your childhood has a profound impact on who you are, how you learn, and how you get along with others for the rest of your life.
PSYCH 210 (The Diversity of Human Sexuality): Honestly, everything we learned about sex in middle and high school was blatantly wrong and unnecessarily stigmatizing.
SCAND 232 (Hans Christian Andersen and the Fairy Tale Tradition): Everything in life has its own hidden messages.
ENVIR 240 (The Urban Farm): Sustainable agriculture is the future of feeding the planet, and getting involved in any way you can is empowering. (Side note: Thank you to a lovely friend of mine for coming up with this sentence.)
PSYCH 101 (Introduction to Psychology): Try not to be offended by the way someone treats you; it’s most likely a reflection of how they see themselves due to various psychological factors.
DANCE 103 (Introduction to Ballet): Picking up an old hobby may be challenging at the most, but rewarding at the least.
Sophomore year (2020-2021)
BIOL 118 (Survey of Physiology): Although I will never come close to understanding them, the millions of necessary functions of the human body are absolutely fascinating.
PSYCH 202 (Biopsychology): Drugs are fascinating to learn about, but maybe not so fantastic to experience. (Honorable mention sentence: 8:30 lectures and quiz sections should be outlawed.)
ART H 220 (Survey of American Art): We can’t ever fully understand the thought processes of anyone but ourselves…and maybe not even then.
ECFS 200 (Introduction to Early Childhood and Family Studies): Putting a little more (or significantly more) funding into childhood education would significantly improve pretty much every systemic barrier in this country.
LING 200 (Introduction to Linguistics): There are no right or wrongs when it comes to language—it’s all complex and beautiful.
EDUC 251 (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity): While you’ve probably been taught to ignore or hide your identities during your upbringing—gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status, race, and (dis)ability—we should’ve been encouraged to embrace them.
EDPSY 404 (Adolescent Development): Nobody has ever said that teenagers are easy to get along with, but maybe all they really want is just to be listened to.
LSJ 321 (Human Rights Law in Culture and Practice): The idea of human rights is supposedly universal, yet our different perceptions and misconceptions of culture divide the world on what that definition is.
G H 101 (Introduction to Global Health): The United States is guilty of stunting the medical progress of the rest of the world, and we’re a little too good at denying it.
EDPSY 406 (Learning and Teaching in Our Changing World): Strict textbook learning, for all ages, is largely ineffective and outdated.
Junior year…so far (2021-2022)
BIOST 310 (Biostatistics for the Health Sciences): In the worlds of medicine and public health, never believe what you see the first time around—you’ll just have to do more math. (Honorable mention sentence: Never underestimate the power of studying.)
SOC 372 (Crime, Politics, and Justice): The American policing system has never been designed to protect people equally.
SPH 380 (History and Public Health): Where there’s a will to benefit population health, there is most certainly a way.
SPH 489 (Structural Racism and Public Health): Truly effective public health work cannot be attained without a community engagement component.
NUTR 446 (Food Safety and Health): If you’re at a restaurant and the bathroom is dirty, you’d be best to leave—their kitchen is guaranteed to look a lot worse (a direct quote from the knowledgeable professor herself).
PHIL 114 (Philosophical Issues in the Law): A lot of American law we know it, historically and today, has been designed to benefit elite economic interests.
SPH 381 (Science and Public Health): The interaction between human health and the environment is an often overlooked, but essential relationship.
EPI 320 (Introduction to Epidemiology): There’s no truly perfectly way to study humans, but we can try.
As each class I’m taken has given me a multitude of lessons to ponder, I can only wonder what’s next, what will be completely new to me and what will be a reminder, in my last four quarters of my undergraduate career.