There are many things I enjoy about attending Weber State University. I think it's a nice, big campus, with relatively easy access to all the essential classes. I like some of the new buildings they've built in the last few years to compensate for the old nasties that had been there since the fifties. I especially like the fact that every single one of my classes in my major has been taught by a professor with an accredited PhD, giving me opportunities to associate with people who have studied in graduate school the very things I want to study.
Notwithstanding, I've always felt like something was a little off between myself and the Weeb.
I've never really been able to put my finger on it, but there was always something about the ambience of the school that has been a little off-putting to me. There was an attitude of . . . something . . . that I had difficulties with. However, today as I was speaking with a professor who in many ways I hope to emulate and whom I hold in high regard, he mentioned exactly what has always seemed to be the difference between myself and the majority of the other students I fraternize with on a daily basis in the Uni.
We were discussing how budget cuts from the Utah State Thieve's Den (a.k.a. the Cesspit of Immorality and Dishonesty we call the Legislature) were going to affect the Spanish department. He explained that the first things to be cut were going to be literature courses - because they're always the poorest attended. A culture class will usually fill up with around 20 people, and a class like 'Business Spanish' will fill to capacity within a few days of opening to registration. Nevertheless, a good literature class will have 12 to 13 people, tops. Most of the lit classes I've taken have had single-digit amounts of students.
As a Spanish major with a literature emphasis, I decried this development, lamenting the loss of the literature classes as a huge detriment to the department. However, Dr. Bergeson explained exactly why it is this way at Weber State -
It's a school of pragmatists, not intellectuals.
It's a university that the majority of the students are attending not for studying's sake, but simply as a means to an end. (Thus the absolutely bloated joke that is the College of Business - what exactly do you do with a degree in 'business', anyway?) They come and take whatever bare minimum classes they need to take, go off to their jobs, and graduate as soon as possible to go on to their careers as middle management in X company for the rest of their lives.
Now, there's nothing wrong with that. If that's their goal, more power to them for looking for ways to complete it. When it comes to my studies in the Uni, however, I have different goals.
I don't only go to school as a means to an end. The Weeb is that means, to a certain extent, but why do I attend school? To learn, to expand my horizons, stretch my intellect, grow in ways I can't in nearly any other setting. To voraciously devour new knowledge, incorporating it into my worldview and the way I live my life.
That's not most students at Weber, nor most people in the community that surrounds me. (You should see people's faces when I tell them I'm graduating with a degree in Spanish Literature.) We here in Utah are a pragmatic people, and we come from pragmatic stock - myself included.
Both my parents graduated with Bachelor's degrees. My father earned his in accounting, and has spent his professional life working in banks (until becoming the El Presidente we all know and love). My mother earned hers as a registered nurse, and worked as a pediatric nurse for years when I was younger. These are both important and pragmatic degrees and careers.
My father's father was a carpenter. He worked with his hands his whole life - even losing a finger to carpentry. My mother's father delivered foodstuffs for Lynn Wilson, and her mother was a secretary at a high school. I know some of my grandparents may have attended some University, but I don't believe any of them received their Bachelor's degree.
This is the legacy I've been given - a legacy of hard work, pragmatism, and real, tangible careers. Why, then, am I so drawn to the intangible - the theoretical, the philisophical, the intellectual? I'll probably never actually do anything that seems substantive to the pragmatic with my life, as a professor of Spanish literature. My genius brother, while too smart for his own good, has used it for something tangible - he's a Urologist, working to help with actual, physical things, rather than analyzing and dissecting words that were written decades or centuries ago, searching for hidden meanings.
I'm not questioning what I want to do with my life. I know I'm on the path I should be on, doing what I need to do so someday I can do what I want to do. But I'm in a different place than so many of those around me - not a better place, in no way superior, just very, very different.
And sometimes I get tired of feeling so different.