Beyond the textbooks

Story by Alex Zank, News Editor

It seems like every semester around finals week I get this strange, glowing feeling. I feel like there is nothing else left for me to know; it’s as if everything in the world makes sense and I understand all there is to know.

I feel comfortable with the world and myself, and everything seems perfect.

But I’m always surprised at the start of the next semester in September or January how wrong I was every December and May when I had this recurring feeling.

Upon recent reflection, I realize how important this constant process of learning is to me. Thinking back to the end of high school and how little I knew then compared to now, I’m almost ashamed. I don’t know what I could possibly be doing with myself.

I’m not saying I couldn’t function as a productive citizen out of high school, but just looking back at what I had not learned, it feels like I was a different person.

These feelings I think speak to why I am willing to borrow another $4,000 every semester to pay for college. My education means more than just an investment to get a better career. It is an investment in myself, to be a better person in ways I can’t really describe.

I apologize for being so abstract, so I will offer some examples. I have spent a lot of time walking home thinking how semi-proportional representation could make our electoral system better.

And I love spotting Machiavellian and Mill-esque dialogue in “The Walking Dead.” Shane is quite the Machiavelli disciple, in fact.

One more example: I love trying to measure how much utility I get from almost any action I take, like riding my bike to class (I gain many utils from this) and eating spaghetti with actual hamburger in the sauce (my utility gained goes through the roof then).

I don’t think my brain would be functioning at this heightened cognitive level if I were not getting an education. So I do not regret for a minute that I am here.

Something to keep in mind, though, is that I will eventually have to graduate. But that does not mean the learning process will stop there. With my solid background in being a critical thinker, developed by my wonderful professors at UW-Eau Claire, I know I will never stop
gathering knowledge.

And I think the utility I gain from being at this university and learning everything I could ever want to leads me to think this is the best decision I’ve ever made in my life, and not just because I’m going to get a good job with my bachelor’s degree.

I love this place so much that when I was recently awarded an opportunity to study politics and journalism next fall in Washington, D.C., my initial reaction was actually one of mild sadness. The fact I had to leave this place for four whole months was the first thought that went through my head.

My one request for all of you reading this is to think about what the education you are getting means to you, and to truly cherish the opportunity we have all received at Eau Claire. I hope that you are all getting the same thing out of this time here as I have. This place has transformed me into a person I never thought I could be, and I am forever glad to be a Blugold.

Plus, this college education makes watching “The Walking Dead” more fun for sure.