What Does A Liberal Education Mean?

The other day, one of my teachers had us write about what we think a liberal education is and how it has translated to our school academics... 
So to help you understand what a liberal education means, I wanted to share my response with you. 

           When I think of a liberal education… I think of having to take a little bit of everything, even when you don’t want to. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sure I’m not thrilled about taking a math or science class, but I know they will only help me build upon my knowledge. Yet they do something better than just adding to my understanding of the topic itself. The classes build on my knowledge in general – they build on the connections I make, how I view things, and the general manner in which I consider my classes to interact with each other. It all comes down to connections.
            Sure at a non-liberal school, you can sign up for the fundamental classes, such as art, science, math, literature, and so on. But you can… meaning – it’s an option. Talking with my friend over the weekend about his school experience at Chapel Hill is completely different than my experiences here. But in a good way. While he has already been focused on courses that add to his major, even as a freshman; I have been building from the ground up with the basics. These basics have allowed me to explore what I want my major to be since I had not the slightest clue when I started school. I have been able to take art and mass communications to test those out… But these classes are not the ones that drew me in. Rather it was the unexpected literature and language classes. Unexpected. That is the key word.
            They say that a good fashion designer knows what the client wants before the client even knows it themselves. That’s how I think of a liberal education… having a sense of what the student wants, and needs, before they even know they want or need it.
            Next semester I am taking my dreaded math and science courses… But throughout the classes I will be trying to make connections. Math and science have obvious links due to the need for equations in physics. But what is less apparent is the relation between physics and art. Yet there is one. That is what drew my attention to a physics class rather than taking yet another biology class. Physics is able to relate to a topic that I love, photography. In physics, the course description explained that we will be relating our knowledge to topics such as light, color, and cameras – all very art relatable ideas.
            This is what a liberal education is. Putting yourself out there and not only hoping, but striving to gain knowledge while making connections. Because I can have all the knowledge in the world, but it won’t mean anything until I implement it somehow. This is what UNC Asheville has pushed me to do – implement ideas from one field to another… making constant connections. 

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Back At School. Back To Reality.

Easy come. 
Easy go. 

This is how breaks feel to me. They sound long... but in reality are short.
Between catching up on sleep, hanging out with family and friends, and homework - there is no time leftover.
Next thing you know you are packing up your bags and are headed back to school.

These were the thoughts running through my head as I packed my stuff yesterday morning before the car ride back to school.

It's tough.
I love breaks - but they are a lot of work with everything involved.
And I love school - but it gets tiring after awhile.

I guess the point I am trying to make here for college students and parents is to appreciate these breaks, if you don't already.

But students need to find time to make personal breaks when they are still physically at school.
With exams looming around the corner as a reality check that we are back at school - it is easy to fall victim to stress.
But with some proper planning - it can be a near stress free exam period.

Here are some pointers...

- If you take a nap, make it 15 minutes so you don't enter your sleep cycle and wake up feeling worse than you did before
(naps can improve memory) - yet I suggest just going to bed early.

- Study for an hour and break for 15 minutes.
15 minutes. That is all. Your brain needs a break, but don't let it get side-tracked.

- Write down all your exams and prioritize the dates so you know which ones you need to study for first and also which ones will take more time to prepare for.

- Exercise. I'm not talking about preparing to run a marathon or anything... Just 30 minutes. There are countless classes to get your adrenaline (and your brain) pumping. (When you work out, more oxygen circulates in your body, making your brain function more clearly.)
After studying for a long period of time, it's good to step back and make sure you are actually absorbing the material.
*UNC Asheville workout classes: http://recreation.unca.edu/fall-2012-group-fitness-classes

- Move around. You don't have to hit the gym all the time. Take a walk, just get moving. Studies show that sitting down all day is just as detrimental to your health as smoking.

So whatever study habit you hold, keep these pointers in mind besides the basics of eating right, drinking water, and so on.
Exams may be tough, but if you prepare - you will make it out alive and with a good grade.

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Anagama Firing

It's not some weird made up word...
It's a type of kiln the ceramics department at UNC Asheville has.
But it isn't a normal everyday kiln, such as the electric ones, where you just switch it on.
The anagama is a big deal.

It only is used a few times a year because it requires so much work.
Here is a shot of what it looks like from the front.

The anagama sits outside in the yard area next to ceramics due to its massive size of about 14 feet,  in addition to the fact that it does not run off of electricity, but rather a fire produced by burning wood.

But the wood does not just burn for a day...
It burns for about five days.

Because it is outside, large, needs a fire going constantly, and goes on for a few days - people need to help with it.

That's what the art students get to do.
And that is exactly what my friend and I had to do when we signed up for a shift time...
Our options ranged from Wednesday night to Sunday evening, either 12am-4am, 4am-8am, 8am-12pm, and so on - a continuous clock.
Wednesday would be just a limited fire while Sunday would have massive flames in order to encompass the entire anagama to fire the pieces in the back.
This meant that Wednesday until Friday night shifts would get to maintain a small fire... less work.

So my friend and I signed up for Thursday morning... 4am-8am.

To say I got little sleep Wednesday night is an understatement.
I would wake up in intervals - fearing that I would miss my shift.

But I didn't and neither did my friend, as we met outside at 3:45am to trek across campus.

The job was not bad at all.
We sat on the couch outside, surrounded by a tarp, listening to Pandora radio while singing since no one else was awake, and maintaining the fire which resembled a campfire.

It was fun and exciting for a few hours, then as the sun began to peek out of the trees... exhaustion started to hit and we began to count down the time left.

I wish I could say I crashed when I got back to my room... but I was somehow still on an adrenaline rush and went to the rest of my classes like a normal day - but was in bed by 8pm.

The life of an art student.

During the whole experience I was sending my mom (who is an art teacher) picture updates, since I could see my piece inside the kiln.

It was an experience for the books, and I highly suggest anyone who wants something different to try it - you do not need to be an art student to volunteer.
Extra hands are always appreciated in the art department.

Times like these is when I am so glad to be going to UNC Asheville, where I can get as much out of my art program as possible.

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It's that time of year... 
2nd semester registration. 

Of course seniors, juniors, and sophomores have registered already.
It's a hierarchy.
Seniors register one week, then juniors another, sophomores next, and then freshmen.

Surprisingly I don't mind this that much as a freshman because before I even double checked the schedule Saturday, I knew my classes were not going to be taken.
I seem to be the only person I know willing enough to drag myself out of bed for 8am classes, just so I can have the rest of the day to myself.

In my opinion, that's the way to go.

Of course, for all you interested, there are way more than just morning or afternoon classes.
You can take evening classes if you want.

Some classes just have the option, such as you can take Health from 6pm-8:30pm.
But others are required at night, such as Astronomy.

It's all about preference and how badly you want to take that class.

So as I sit at my computer, I am trying to get all my homework knocked out, so I can go to bed early, because I will be waking up early tomorrow.
Registration starts at 7am.

Meaning you better be at your computer, logged on, ready to click those buttons at 7am.

Let's hope no one decides to take all the morning classes.

We will see how it all pans out... 

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First Game

It was only 6:45pm... the game didn't start till 7pm and the fans in the stadium were already roaring.
They were starting to get pumped for what was not only the first official game of the basketball season, but also a huge rival game against Western North Carolina University.

As I entered the stadium, I was handed a "Beat Western" button and followed the flood of students to the Bulldog Nation cheering section and took my seat with my group of friends.
Everyone was sporting some sort of Asheville gear or colors.
There were also a handful of students rocking the body paint - everything from faces to stomachs to arms were painted, and some girls even added glitter to their ponytails for an extra touch.

Although the players were only warming up, the tension was already high as the student section - divided into baseball players, tennis players, runners, frat boys, and students - began eyeing the Western   fans to sum up our cheering competition.

We would not be out cheered. 

As the clock signaled the start of the game, our warm-up cheers progressed into full on scream cheers.

The bleachers shook as we stomped defense... Your own thoughts were drowned out when we screamed for every basket... You could hear a pin drop in the student section as our arms went up in the air and we froze for free throws... Then made the simultaneous "whoosh" as the ball went in...

All of theses cheers encompassed the night.
But we needed them to carry us through the game because Western put up a fight.
Their defense was spotless and their 3 point shots seemed like they would never go anywhere but the net.

By the end of the first half, we were barely maintaining our neck-in-neck battle with them.
But as they hit the bench, something must have happened between my friend and I stating that "Asheville needed to get their act together" and the buzzer signifying the end of halftime, because we came back onto the court ready to play.

Although it was still a battle during the second half, we were able to maintain more of a lead.
Regardless, we did not let up on our cheering.

With about five minutes left, we were leading 69 to 61.
But as the clock dwindled down to about one minute, we had two free throw shots.
And it was all over.

As one of the players, Trent, made the last two baskets - Asheville fans instantly starting cheering because we knew it was over.

We not only won our first game of the season... 
But also our first home game...
AND beat Western 71-61! 

Every Asheville fan left the stadium with their head held high and new bragging rights. 

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A Thank You

A thank you to all you UNC Asheville students... 
for your repeated kindness. 

As we come to the end of the first semester, the kind actions of fellow students still does not cease to amaze me. 
Time and time again... 

It's understandable for you to hold the door open for a person directly behind you, it's another when they are at least 6 feet behind! 
But they still hold the door open. 

This week though was a new level of kindness. 
Tuesday and Thursday as I walked back to my room while jumbling my keys, a noodle bowl, spring rolls, and sauce with it... opening doors was an adventure.

But both days when I got to the Founders residence hall, people held both doors open for me. 
Thursday was the best case because another student was leaving the residence hall, but on his way out saw me attempting to hold everything, and he actually walked back and opened the doors for me!

Thank you so much! 

I'm curious to see how the manners of people are on other campuses... 
I like to assume the best in people. 
For instance though, people in my high school would hold the door open for you - but would not go out of their way to. 
I think this is the case in most places and Asheville is just an exception in the sense that there are those people here that will go out of their way to hold the door open for you, no matter how far away you are. 

My point here is that even the smallest actions of kindness can make a person's day. 
I know I may not always be aware of my surroundings, but I try to be - so that I can be that person holding the door open. 

So go out and be aware of who needs a helping hand.
That good karma will come back around one day. 

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Got Meditation?

Root yourself in your life. 
Root yourself in this moment. 
Controlling your breathing is controlling your emotions. 

These yoga mantras from the instructor fill the room during "Deep Stretch" yoga class.
So many people overlook yoga as just something where you sit on a mat and think...
That is not the case.

Yoga not only engages your body, but also your mind - most likely in a way you would not have thought to if it were not for the class.

"Deep Stretch" yoga class on Monday and Wednesday nights is by far the most popular yoga class I have attended.
No less than 20 people show up to be enlightened in the ways of relaxing their mind and body for an hour.

We never realize how much tension we lock away in our bodies and minds, until we are forced to focus on them in yoga.
By addressing the problems, you are able to release them, and therefore feel infinitely better than when you first walked into the classroom.

I am not trying to "sell" yoga or anything like that.
I am simply encouraging you, as a reader, to try it.

Here at UNC Asheville there are countless yoga classes available, all with varying times, and all very different in their formatting.
For instance, you can attend something as calming as "Deep Stretch" or something as sweat-enducing as "Rock Your Asana."
I have tried most of the classes and can say that they are all very good, you just need to find what works best for you.

So there it is... my small challenge to you - go try yoga and appreciate UNC Asheville's love for it.

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It's Starting...

The exhibition game. 
The start of the season. 

You do not even have to like the sport to get pumped for UNC Asheville's basketball season.
You just have to have some school spirit... go to the games with friends, and if you are a student, you need to sit in the bulldog nation section for the full experience - the cheers, face paint... the whole atmosphere is fan crazy.
But all a good, enthusiastic fan crazy.

The emotions that ran through Kimmel Arena last night went off of this fan energy, even though it was only an exhibition game.
But all the cheering and hoping paid off as we beat the Brevard tornadoes 91 to 60.

At first I felt kind of bad as we continued to cheer for the bulldogs as we maintained our lead.
Then I realized this was it.

The moments where we cheered for every basket made, every dribble, every save...
Screaming "WE ARE ASHEVILLE!" or "GO BULLDOGS!" is what makes sitting in the student section that much more of an adrenaline rush.

This was the preparation we needed - especially as flashbacks of last year's Syracuse game ran through my mind...

Did Syracuse have pity?
Probably not...

So it was a good thing that we won the game, in order to build our team even more.
At the end of the game the announcers even played "Who Let The Dogs Out."
I bet Rocky was dancing in his mind...
The person in the Rocky mascot costume certainly was busting some moves.

Bulldog spirit! 

Hopefully all of this enthusiasm carries on... not only to the big game versus Western North Carolina on Friday, but also throughout the season!

Go Bulldogs!

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Get Dirty

8am the music started to play from my iHome. 
I rolled out of bed, showered, ate, and headed off across campus this Sunday morning to Owen Hall, the art building, to ceramics. 

For all of you art aficionados, Owen Hall stays open every single day from 6am-2am. 
Meaning the only time it is closed is that 2am-6am period. 

So as I made my way across campus, I was not shocked by the emptiness of the main quad due to it being a Sunday morning. 
But as I reached the art side of campus, I was pleased to see some active artists in the ceramics room, working away as if the time of day did not mean anything. 
Which it really doesn't... 
That's why I like dedicating an entire day to ceramics... or any art that I love. 

You cannot just start and stop a piece - you need to get into it...
In the case of clay, you need to get dirty. 

And I have gotten my jeans plenty dirty over the past few days. 

The clay's dust... 
Clay itself. 

All of which turns my jeans to brown, but will wash right out. 

In addition, the dust and clay gets all over my hands and arms from me leaning over and working. 

All of this makes the cliché of "getting into your work" that much more funny. 

But the time flew past as my iPod music kept me company in addition to the surrounding people, and a dog. 
Yep, a dog. 

Artists and their dogs - what can I say? 
Turns out, on Sundays, one of the workers/artists loves to bring his dog. 
His dog, Scout, loves everybody. 
He didn't harass anybody's work, he just wandered around - checking up on everybody. 

Regardless, the hours passed as everybody, including me, worked... 
Art is a great program at UNC Asheville. 
Now that the first semester is coming to a close, I can say I finally feel like I know my way around the art building. 

But art is more than just the building, or the tools. 
It is also the people who surround you in your class... and the city around the school itself. 
I think that Asheville has that perfect balance of spunky, yet grounded artists. 

I could not imagine going to school anywhere else. 

Here are some quick shots of the ceramics room. 
There are other side rooms that include more kilns, etc. - if you want to see it all, you should come and check it out for yourself.

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More Than Batman

The event did not start until 7.
I may have gotten there unnecessarily early around 6:15, but hey - it was the executive producer of the "Batman" movies, Michael Uslan, and you could never be too sure.
As I stood in the lobby of Lipinsky, I scrolled through my Pinterest boards and looked for some "Batman" pins to get more excited.

Looking at me, you probably would not guess I had an inner geek side.
Most of my friends were surprised I wanted to go to the seminar in the first place.
But they surprised me when they said they would go too.
Turns out we all have that inner comic book nerd waiting to come out.

Long background story made short, my comic nerdiness comes from my dad.
I grew up in a house filled with comic books and their memorabilia.

So as I entered the auditorium to grab a good seat, I was prepared to absorb everything like a sponge to repeat to my dad.
Also, as a surprise to him, I was getting Michael Uslan's signature made out to him.

The lecture was great!
He talked about his life and how he got to where he is today.
As a freshman in college, I found his speech not only motivational and inspiring, but it really got me to think about everything... how he was able to just propel everything in his life by actions that he could have easily never taken.
But then we would not have the modern "Batman" movies.

After the lecture, I got my picture with him, and I got his signature.
I had him make the signature out to my dad, because I am such a great daughter...
It's a surprise that hopefully my dad will love.

The event was a hit in my opinion, and I thank Underdog Productions for putting it all together - they always have great events, from movie nights to guest speakers.

So I encourage everyone to go find that spark of motivation in their lives, whether it is a daily inspirational quote... or a speech made by the executive producer of the "Batman" movies, the bottom line is strive to do what you want in life!

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More Food

Just the other day my grandma came to visit me, and when she arrived she suggested we go grab a bite to eat.
She asked where we should go - and I was dumbstruck.
I had no clue.
I know there are tons of places close by: everything from Asian and Indian to breakfast all day... and that was the problem - so many options.

Therefore I did what any logical, problem-solving teenager would do...
I asked Siri on my iPhone where we should eat for lunch.

She pulled up about 20 options, all less than a few miles away.
I scrolled through the options and "Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company" caught my eye - there was somewhere I had not yet eaten.
Although it was just down the street, next to Bruegger's Bagels, and across the street from The Hop on Merrimon - I had not ventured there yet.

My grandma agreed that it sounded good, and we headed off.

I had only been to the restaurant once, for a school scavenger hunt where we had to ask what was a name of one of the beers they brewed there. (Yep, they brew their own beer.)

When you pull into the parking lot, you cannot help but gaze at the building... a metal silo type architecture feels appropriate for a pizza place in Asheville.
As you step inside, the Asheville laid-back vibe only continues as you see winding art decorations, such as a back-splash covered in album artwork, walls painted to make them look like bookshelves, and the list goes on and on.
Apparently there is also a movie theater in the back that you can see recent Hollywood releases for $3 on certain dates, such as "Ted" or "Bourne Legacy."
All of the movie times are posted online (http://www.ashevillebrewing.com).

My grandma and I ordered the Philly cheesesteak and the Greek pizza.
I loved them both.

I would order the items again in a heartbeat.
But of course I would also love to venture out on the menu - with so many options, it will take awhile to try everything I want.
Tater tots, onion rings, chicken alfredo, too many versions of pizza to count, and more.

The best part though is that UNC Asheville students get a discount on pizzas.

A discount, proximity to campus, cheap movies, and great food make it all worth while.
If you have not yet made it down to try the food there - you need to... there has to be something on the menu that catches your eye.

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