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Grace Zhou's picture

    The sunshine sneaks into this old room through wooden shutters, spilling on the chairs, the wooden floors, the old cabinet;and the clean blackboard, the sophisticated computer and the new projector. The students are wandering around the room, seeking for the clues to dig out the secret of this place. It is only a classroom, I thought. I felt confused and embarrassed when silently walking around this small and “normal” area. “There are scars on the pillars on each side of the fireplace. Only on each side, maybe because people moved the furniture before and grinded the pillars. The heating and the air conditioner are on at the same time. I don’t know why. It’s strange.” It was the first sentence I said in this class. It was interesting to find something I never would notice or expected and guess the reasons for it. I started to involve. And now, this course just takes me deeper and deeper; I even don’t know what I will find or think in next minutes. This course helps me to understand the city, but makes me more unfamiliar with myself- I thought I am a well-planned person; everything is under control and in my expectation. However, I was wrong, I keep digging out the potential and having new ideas in the trips. I was amazed that I even enjoyed getting out of the comfort zone and get to know a “different” me.  

    This class keeps changing me and challenging my habit. 

    I remember clearly when Mark suggested us to sit in a circle. I was shocked by the different feelings brought by this little changes. A small change in seat just smashes the barrier between professor and me, helping me to have a full view of my classmates. Yes, closer. I feel closer to everything and everyone. I never pay much attention to my surroundings. I never care about the stories happened around the corner of the street, about the local placid news and the essays by my classmates. However, I started to change, to get rid of carelessness and indifference. When I walk through the septa station, I started to guess whom and why write 4:20 on the ceilings. When I return to the dorm, I just notice there are some name cards showing the people who have lived in this dorm before. I even tried to imagine what were they doing in this room and where are they now. I used to ignore my surrounding. However now, I tend to feel and read every detail of the city- the asphalt on the ground, the exactly three Subways on the chestnut street, and the delicate art shops besides the road. Because of this course, I started to read the environment and how myself react and connect to it.

     Also, with this course, I found myself go out of the comfort zone and tried my best again and again. I was panic when I get to know we need to finish a mosaic. Creating a mosaic is not like traveling in a new city with curiosity, instead, it’s just like that I completely got off the train at wrong station with no clues and guides. I never expected that. However, after reading, I started to have the inspiration and even submersed in the booming various ideas! What is more, I am so proud of myself that I created a nice mosaic second times after visiting the magic garden. I face the challenge and even improve. Besides all the academic readings, I read myself, a different me. I find much sense of belonging and agreement with Georg Simmel and Flanagan. I started to wonder the serendipity and the broken beauty, which I never noticed before. However, nothing can surpass the “change” in illuminating me. I put myself out of comfort zone and enjoy the surprise I got. Although Chestnut Street is not as same as it in my expectation, although I was very disappointed when I failed to find a store located on the map, it is so hard to express the excitement when I find a new same store when wandering randomly on the street. The unexpected surprise is located in the city, in myself and in this course. I thought I would never visit the city except I need shopping; I thought the best restaurant is in Chinatown; I thought I would only become familiar with the city center and market east; however, the course changes me. I become interested in wandering in the city without purpose, I tried a nice restaurant when visiting the Magic Garden and I found I missed the delicious food there. All the things are out of my expectation. Living out of the plan does not piss me off, instead, I have learned more. Just like reading a book, which enables me “live through all ages”, going out of comfort zone helps me to understand a different and colorful world. I was chained by the familiar habit and stereotype, this course, to some extent, adds more flavors to my knowledge and life.

    What I expected in the course? I don’t want to expect. I just want to follow the instinct and find what this course will finally take me to. I enjoyed the uncertainty and don’t want to plan now. It is this course that I don’t want to have any expectation to, cause it’s far more fantastic than my expectation.