Friday, November 28, 2014

Reflections On My Studies & Graduating University

Dear friends,

It has come to my attention that although I mention them often, I have never actually given a full description of my studies or scholarly work.

As many of you know I am a full time university student (as well as artist, psychic, and weekend administrative assistant).  I am graduating in the spring with my BA in History and will likely be pursuing graduate studies in the next couple of years.

In my final year of high school I was torn between staying home, or leaving and attending one of the most prestigious schools in the country; the University of Toronto.

I had been accepted to the Celtic Studies program in Toronto, a field that is truly perfect for me.  Through it all, however, I felt an undying need to stay home.  Be with my family.  Enjoy my personal space.  Nurture this life in the North.

Truthfully I can't imagine who I would be or what my life would have become if I'd left home to go to the big city.  I wouldn't have this blog, my shop, my beautiful friends, my absolutely-perfect-for-me partner.

It just reminds me that life is about choices, and there are no wrong or right ones.  Just choices that lead us down different, and equally advantageous rabbit holes.

Throughout my 4 years of university I have had the opportunity to work with some amazing scholars and take some absolutely fascinating courses.

My history studies have influenced my life more than I ever thought possible.  It is difficult not to assume now that everyone knows the history behind their country, their government, their culture, their religion, even though this is absolutely not the case.

I truly encourage people to study the history of the things that feature most prominently in their lives.  I believe it is very important to understand where you come from, and how you can avoid repeating history in the future.

This term I have been studying the history of the occult in the West.  While I have been able to use my background in European ceremonial magic, Spiritualism, and witchcraft to my advantage; most importantly I have been able to learn the history behind much of what I practice or study.  

I have also been able to work in-depth with an incredible scholar who specializes in Fascist Italy, and totalitarian regimes in the early 20th century.  I have been able to learn so much about history, politics, scholarly writing; and overall life from this one incredible professor who I have been lucky to take 7 courses with.

I am currently writing a thesis on the Catholic Women's League at my local church for my 4th year Canadian Social History class.  I will soon be interviewing women who have been involved in the Church for decades, and hopefully - if my grandparents have enough sway - will be able to look through church records to get information on the league membership since the 1940's when the church was built.

While many young people are disinterested in Canadian history, I find it to be a truly fascinating subject and I am thrilled to have been able to work with so many wonderful leading Canadian historians in my time at university.  I am a Canadian history buff, and absolutely love this country and learning about its past.  

Canadian Social History continues to be a growing field and there is always a fascinating story to uncover or write about.  It's bounds are limitless and that is one reason I have come to enjoy writing in the field.

Two of my favourite sub-fields in social history are women's history and First Nations' history.  I am incredibly passionate about both of those subjects and I feel that both fields of scholarly work have aeons to go before than will have even slightly the same amount of material written about them as the grand narrative of Canadian history does.

For the majority of my first year I was not sure if I wanted to pursue religion, or history.
In all of the confusion I ended up taking many courses from each discipline.

Two religion courses that I remember fondly are a course on Apocryphal Gospels, and a course on the Paranormal.

The course on the secret gospels was utterly fascinating to me.  I don't believe very many people know all that much about the history of many religions, including Christianity.  It was very interesting to see which gospels were included in the final version of the Bible, and which ones were left out.  Not to mention how different Christianity would be if they had been included!

I loved the course I took on the paranormal a couple of years back.  It discussed ghosts, psychic phenomena, paranormal religious movements, and aliens.  All in a very scientific way of course ;)

Surprisingly, one of the courses that has had the most impact on me has been Astronomy.  I took astronomy as a science requirement; and while I didn't do amazingly in the course (a 'B') I have not been impacted by many professors the way I was by my astronomy professor.  A white haired man in his 80's, sharp as a tack, one of the most passionate physicists on earth; and one of the most knowledgeable people in his field.

Taking astronomy in a real planetarium, and having the opportunity to see shows where we looked up and the room went dark and stars filled the sky was an incredible experience.  Not to mention all of the information I learned that helped to make the world make a little bit more sense to a very unscientifically minded girl.

This year has been one of my most incredible years at university.  I have felt just like Hermione Granger.  I am on the ball, I know my stuff through and through.  I am loving my courses, my books, my writings, my professors, my peers.  It is bittersweet to graduate so soon, just when I finally feel like I have it all together.

These four years have been a time of learning and growth unlike anything I've ever experienced.  I feel I have become an adult since September 2011, when I walked through those doors with severe anxiety and panicking that I couldn't find a parking spot (still an unresolved issue lol).  Coincidentally you have all been along with me the entire time.  I started this blog October 2011.

What is next for me is somewhat unknown.  The ultimate goal is to be a librarian at the university.  Of course I wouldn't mind becoming a school or local librarian either.  I feel this career path fits me like a glove.  I may potentially have to pursue a Master's in Library Sciences, but who knows what opportunities will come my way in the spring when I graduate.

I'd like to thank Rachel at Titania's Tea Party for requesting this post.  I think it ended up being a lot longer than I originally intended, but it was therapeutic in a way.

Many blessings,


Queenie Believe said...

Very exciting, your last year at university. It sounds like it has been an amazing and full filling time. Congratulations and keep up the brilliant work!
Have a great day.
Always, Queenie

Laura Morrigan said...

It was interesting to hear about your studies, you have so many interests and seem very scholarly! I think you and Hermione would get on well! I am glad your university experience was so great!

A Magical Whimsy said... have done yourself proud for your university schooling. Sounds like you have had quite an experience with the courses you have been able to take. I found a book, which was written in the later 1800, by Joseph R. Seiss, The Gospel in the Stars. It is not the normal 'Christian' theology book, as he gleaned a lot of his information from a psychic, and from ancient mythology, and he has found it fascinating that the same twelve signs in the stars are very similar in the characters. I think you would find it an excellent 'read'. It even takes it further into precious stones and how they have musical tones ascribed to them. There is so much mystery surrounding early mythical history, and religious history. And there is so much of the dimensions we cannot see with our human eyes, but we know they are there all of the time, watching the entire scope of the universe.
Anyway, it is a fascinating area of learning you have embraced. I too, had thought of becoming a librarian years ago, as I love to read and learn. A never ending journey into knowledge and what I like is it opens up my heart to all people. Also, the King James version of the Bible was basically written to support King James' throne and his era. My favorite passage is in the New Testament KJV Bible, St. John chapter 17 the entire chapter. I think the KJV is eloquent, but the main part is about God, those who love him, and what Jesus, at the time had to say about everything. It is beautiful!

Thank you for sharing, as I would never have left this long of a comment otherwise.

Stay as sweet as you are!
much love and peace
Miss Teresa in California

Debi said...

My buttons are popping! I am without words, I enjoyed this " share" and I am impressed ( always have ) at the vision and maturity ( envy) growing with grace!
Now my adventurous one, history will be guidelines,
out in this totally un- learned world.
Now Cat Stevens song is ringing in my head..." Baby Baby it's a Wild World"
I will me watching, take care xoxoxoxoxoDebi

Magaly Guerrero said...

After obtaining my first degree, Bachelors of Science in Social Psychology, I went to work with individuals who were severely injured in OIF and OEF. Then with individuals affected by HIV. I declined a position that would put me in Oxford.

I had always wanted to live in England for a while. Love kept in the United States. And I'm glad. For, like you, if I had left, I would not have my blog, my storytelling, another degree in English and Creative Writing, and more importantly, my Piano Man.

Our choices make our paths clear, after the fact. And every now and again, we get very lucky.

Magaly Guerrero said...

By the way, your thesis sounds fascinating. I focused on “How unpopular religious practices and beliefs have been precondemned by American justice.”

Butterfly 8)(8 Bungalow said...

Congratulations that your graduation is near. I hope you always feel like Hermione... that's wonderful. The astronomy class sounds fascinating. xoxo

Jen Ham said...

Jen, Jen, Jen....first, congratulations on your accomplishments in University. This post is beautifully written. Second, if I could go back to Uni, I would love to study history and religion. I agree, knowledge of history prevents drastic mistakes from being repeated. Hmmm...religion...I would love to study it, not because I am a religious person, but a deeply spiritual one and I would LOVE to know why certain religions have come up with their dogmatic practices. Paranormal? Awesome fascinating studies. I didn't know that was even offered. On a side note, I thought about you when I was in the snow up in Northern California. It looked like one of the pics you posted on IG. I have actually always wanted to move to Canada. I visited Vancouver several times in my early 20s. Canada is so beautiful. Like you dearie! xoxo Jen

Ms Misantropia said...

Sweetest Jennifer, thanks for sharing a bit more about your life and studies. What a treat to study Astronomy at such a location!

I think you might like my post for today - we do share alot of interior design preferences :)

Heather said...

Oh, I know JUST how you feel. And how exciting you are nearing the end of your degree before heading on to your Master's! I have many of the same loves that you do--- history and religion in a historical context-- I think both are fascinating. I think we can only become wiser and more compassionate human beings if we learn about our histories and our faiths, whether we share them or not.
I just wish I'd known my heart as well as you do when I was going through college! I sort of just wandered through, being told I'd have no future with art. Congratulations!!!

Rachel Gallagher said...

Finally I'm catching up on my blog reading. Thank you so much for posting this. I loved reading about your studies it all sounds so wonderful. You really have grown into an amazing women over the past 4 years and I'm really looking forward to seeing you grow even more. :-)