This past weekend I was thrifting with a couple of friends. Both of which happened to be non-stem majors. One is in Marshall and the other is majoring in NGOs and social change (non-governmental organizations). We were talking and catching up and of course our classes came up. I’m currently in a mix of EE, dance, and GEs, and I have to admit I was complaining about all the reading and discussion in my GEs. While I was denouncing the idea of required discussion, both of them kept laughing at me because I realized that is how all of their classes work. The difference between learning about Gauss’ Law in physics lecture and sitting in a intellectual development class is pretty staggering and I was struggling with seeing why both are important. I’m not saying that the rigor of a STEM class far surpasses that of a liberal arts class; in fact for me it’s quite the contrary. I have a hard time sitting through the in-depth analysis of writings and ideas, something my friends love to talk about sifting through racks of used denim.
It’s always funny to me, how different our college experience is just because of our majors. At times I often just want to spend all my time with my engineering friends because they understand why spending an hour on one physics problem is both the best and worst thing ever. Whenever I mention something like that to my non-STEM friends (like I did when we were out thrifting) they react with horror and something along the lines of “I could never do that!”
Sometimes it seems hard to bridge that divide, that it’s better to be friends with people who are going through the same thing you are. I think a lot of people are more comfortable with that, I see it all around me in Viterbi where some of my peers are pretty much only friends with other engineers. I don’t think there is a right or wrong, definitely not when it comes to friends. However I am happy that I have that choice. USC is big enough that I can spend all my time with engineers or none of my time with them. There are incredibly diverse students who care about a lot of different things. So when I am thrifting, not only do I score a killer pair of overalls but I also learn about systematic oppression of women in the judicial system, or how signing with a music label works. My GE classes might be hard for me, but they aren’t hard for a lot people in those classes. Getting (or kinda being forced) to sit next to people who are passionate about something radically different than me has really opened up my worldview. I love talking to my non-STEM friends about anything and everything because they know a lot more than me when it comes to social reform, economics, psychology and so much more. Plus I get to talk about how awesome physics is to people who don’t know that much about it. So yes, I have friends who aren’t engineers and they love thrifting just as much as I do.