Sick for the what feels like the millionth time since September, I am currently plopped on my bed under four blankets, and surrounded by used tissues. College is tough. I used to pride myself on the strength of my immune system, boasting to my friends and family that I hardly fall sick. Jokes on me I guess – winter quarter I have probably been sick longer than I have been well. I choose to blame it on outside factors, like the added stress, sleep deprivation, and, of course, the tidal wave of germs that attacks every college student.
Things like this can really get a kid down. If I didn’t have coping mechanisms, college would be agonizing. Playing tennis has always been my way of destressing. In order to keep myself going, on Tuesday and Thursday nights I make sure to be in bed by 10:30 PM (I might not fall asleep at that time, but I lie down at the very least). To try and avoid illness, I take vitamin C every morning and wash my hands before every meal. All these things, while beneficial, are pretty common ways to promote personal well-being.
This CTW class gave me my own, unique way to make me better. Not just as a student trying to find a passion in college, but overall. CTW taught me to be a better consumer, showed me the evil truths behind the food industry, and pushed me to analyze the food I eat; I got to learn some of the most important life lessons of all (and yes, Professor Leither, “learn to cook” is one of them!), all while talking about what every college kid loves best: food.
I remember how disappointed I was over summer when I was told that every freshman at Santa Clara University is required to take Critical Thinking and Writing. That too, for two quarters. I figured a college-level, Critical English Class would involve reading sophisticated novels no-one fully understood (or enjoyed reading), trying to analyze them, and coming up with a well-worded essay that made no logical sense at the end. Luckily, it wasn’t the case.
I have to say, I am incredibly pleased with the way CTW is organized, and have never had an English class be more relevant to my life. Discussing food has been thought-provoking for me, and I have to say I have spent more time thinking about the lessons I learned through this class than I have any other in the past. I recently saw an advertisement for Nutrisystem on the TV, and my mind went straight to CTW 1 as I had written an essay on fad diets.
I wrote this essay based on the experiences of my friend who lost thirty pounds on a no-carb diet. Sounds great, right? Wrong. I deconstructed his success, by also talking about how after eating a Thanksgiving meal like normal (that is, one lunch), he had regained eight pounds. I also talked about how I had tried out protein shakes and actually ended up feeling more bloated than strong (after doing some research, I realized this was probably because of the high sugar content in the shakes I was drinking). Writing this essay taught me not to blindly follow any claim the food industry makes, it taught me to be a more conscious and aware consumer. Since writing it, whenever I buy something that tastes sweet, I check how much sugar it has. I never realized the importance of checking nutrition labels before, and it has become second nature to me now.
Thanks for that, CTW 1! I’ve actually cut out a lot of sugar because of that.
CTW 2 kept its focus on food, but added the issue of sustainability into the mix. We’ve all heard the term “sustainability” before, and I’m sure many of you reading this do what you’re told will help protect the environment. Recycling, composting, turning off lights when you leave a room, and carpooling are all things that do help in some way. Watching Cowspiracy in this class proved to me, though, that the biggest thing we can do to become more sustainable, is to go vegetarian.
While talking about sustainability was insightful and impactful, I think by this point I had gotten the gist of the idea. Meat is bad. Almost everything about it is bad. And I don’t just say that as a way of appealing to the course description; after taking this class I have slowly cut off certain meats one by one, and hope to vegetarian by the end of this school year. I am currently only eating fish and chicken, that too, when there are no other options.
What really helped me in CTW 2 was looking at different works of writing and talking about their impacts based solely on writing style. Reading different styles like Wendell Berry’s, “The Pleasures of Eating,” and Douglas Starr’s “The Interview” has helped me shape my own unique way of writing for my last essay in CTW as well as this blog post. I have tried to be more conversational in my writing for these last two pieces, in the hopes of becoming a more persuasive writer.
CTW taught me to be a better consumer. It taught me to read nutrition labels. It taught me that meat does not have to be on my plate to satisfy my hunger. But most importantly of all, it taught me to think critically, to push myself to see past the surface and dig deeper into statements the food industry makes. Seeing past what is told to you and actually finding the truth out for myself is something I can apply everywhere in my life going forward, and is something I plan to do.
Even though CTW was a class, and therefore, technically, schoolwork, it was my class away from class. It gave me the ability to learn something while also finding my own way to relax, take initiative, try something new, and push myself. It gave me a new perspective, and a unique perspective, on college classes and has definitely contributed to some ease I have felt at this university.
I guess posting this blog means that CTW is really over. And, in many ways, that makes me sad. In all honesty, this has been my favorite class that I have taken in college so far. I thoroughly enjoyed the course material, but also enjoyed the people. This class has created friendships at SCU that I truly cherish, ones I can’t be confident I would have made without it. Professor Leither, I truly appreciate the course you have put together, the knowledge you have shared with us, and the individual insight you gave me on every single essay that I wrote in this class. In return, when I do learn to cook (and I will), I’ll be sure to send over my favorite recipes.
Cespedes, Andrea. “Do Protein Shakes Make You Fat If You Aren’t Working Out?” LIVESTRONG.COM. Leaf Group, 28 Jan. 2015. Web. 04 Dec. 2016.
Eenfeldt, Andreas. “How Much Weight Do People Lose on Low Carb? – Diet Doctor.” Diet Doctor. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.
Main, Emily. “The Shocking Truth About How Much Sugar You’re Eating.” Rodale’s Organic Life. N.p., 18 June 2015. Web. 26 Nov. 2016.