The coolest thing I’ve learned in college (so far)

Let me start by saying that we all have this knowledge that I am going to be talking about. We all know that everybody has different interests and that people believe different things and that no two people really see the world exactly the same. I mean it seems very obvious, but I did not fully grasp this (actually, I still have not fully grasped this) concept until I got to UCLA. Here is what I learned and how I learned it, or rather how I came to understand what I already knew.

I am undeclared. I am thinking about doing Anthropology, but I can’t say for sure. I am still not positive I have found my passion. So, last year,  I took a whole bunch of classes that covered a wide variety of topics in hopes of discovering my major. I took an Astronomy course and found it really interesting. But right now I am not talking about the material we covered. What I found so interesting was how enamored the professor was with the subject. He lectured as if he had a relationship with the stars. His description of the possibility of extraterrestrial life brought him to tears. The most fantastic thing was that this class was only beginning Astronomy, yet he treated it as if it was a course about the most fascinating science anyone had every studied. And for him, it was.

And this did not apply just to my Astro professor. My Linguistics professor, a rather sour man, was transformed during lecture to a giggling teenager as he discussed the beauty of language acquisition in infants. Every professor, teacher’s assistant, faculty member, and student I met had a spot saved in their heart for the field of study they found most interesting. Seeing that there were people devoting their lives to researching one very specific subject completely made me reevaluate my previous notion that “everyone has different interests.” For example, my French TA was a grad student researching Francophone comics from Africa. Not only is that something I am not very interested in, but I will most likely never even read an African comic, but this woman’s whole existence was centered on finding out more about them.

So by reevaluation, I mean that not only do people have different interests (I like my toast buttered side up, Frank likes his buttered side down) but people have vastly different personal philosophies and passions with which they direct their lives (I am interested in sexual selection in humans, Frank is interested in quantum physics). These differences cause each individual’s perception of the world to be quite different of that of their peers, even their best friend.

And then add all of the above to the fact that you meet so many different kinds of people when you get to college. And you talk to them. For example, in high school, I avoided talking to people about their religion because I didn’t want to offend them, but in college I have had numerous discussions with friends of various religions about almost every aspect of their faith. And they questioned me about my atheism. And what I mean to say is that it too made me realize that my existence is very different than theirs. My one friend sees the sun rise and sees God while I see something bright and my astronomy professor from fall quarter sees hydrogen fusion reactions.

In a nutshell, being at UCLA will help you understand just how different your roommate sees the world as compared to you. And it’s a consciousness expanding experience. Get excited!


  1. Roy Arguello says:

    This was amazing, Charley. I’m not going to lie I got the chills for a minute.. I’m an incoming freshman and I’m also undeclared (like clueless, no idea what my passion is) and this makes me really excited for all of the diversity at UCLA. Thank you, Charley.

    1. Thank you, Roy! I’m very happy that this post reached you. UCLA is an awesome place to be undeclared because there are so many interesting classes and seminars and conversations with friends.
      It also warms my heart to see anyone cherish diversity. So, thank you, Roy. 🙂

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