Open. My good friend dictionary.com defines it as “accessible, as to appeals, ideas, or offers” but also as “undecided; unsettled.” And in a nutshell, that pretty much summed freshman-me up. Open/Undecided – that was my major. Fresh out of high school, I had no idea what career path I wanted to pursue, let alone what field I wanted to study in college. Though this began as extremely daunting, I ultimately embraced it.
At orientation, I stayed up late poring over the course guide with excitement. However, as I kept reading and reading, I became overwhelmed with all the options; my enthusiasm had turned into anxiety. The next day, I signed up for random classes that seemed to form a nice-looking schedule. If nothing else, I was registered – I would be taking something. However, over the next few weeks, as my high school classes dipped into a lull, I found myself looking back at that course guide with more frequency, highlighting interesting classes and researching new majors. I realized that, though Oceanography seemed like a great class, Learning and Memory (an interdisciplinary psychology and linguistics course) and Russian Thought & Civilization were calling my name. I switched my schedule, and though I still wish I had taken Oceanography (maybe next semester?!), it was the best decision of my life.
As we talked about phonetics and language acquisition in Learning and Memory, I was entranced. Linguistics was cool! I loved learning the International Phonetic Alphabet: open/undecided? More like oʊpən/ʌndɪsaɪdɪd! I couldn’t wait to talk about language: how we interpret it, how we form sentences, how we communicate. As registration for the next semester rolled around, I was less overwhelmed than I had been the first time. Though I was still undecided, I was more guided – taking another linguistics class was an absolute must!
Over the course of the next semester, as I learned more and more in my Introduction to Linguistics class, I switched from Undecided to Linguistics major. But I still remain open – open to new ideas, open to learning about different subjects. I love the interdisciplinary nature of USC and the classes it offers. I love being able to apply my Linguistic Phonetics and Phonology knowledge to my Classical and Contemporary Fairy Tales class, or what I learned in Social Issues in Gender to the concepts in Social Psychology.
In just two semesters, I went from undecided to double majoring and minoring – yet I still have the opportunity to explore and learn about various fields of study. I’m still undecided as to what career path I want to choose, but I’m not worried. Just as USC guided me to finding a major, it’ll help me direct my life. Open, undecided – whatever you want to call it – really isn’t a bad thing at all!