Holiday breaks in college are imperative. Upon returning home to spend time with our families and friends from our hometowns we allow ourselves a necessary break from the stresses college ensues in our lives. We need times such as winter and spring break to allow us to regain a grip on reality. Lord knows that if these strategic breaks in the school year didn’t exist, I would’ve willingly admitted myself to live out my remaining days in a rubber room.
If you’re anything like myself you use breaks to put your feet up on your parents’ coffee table, kick-start a brief committed relationship to one pair of pajama pants and catch up on all your favorite shows your mom DVRs for you while your time away. Breaks are a time for mental vacations that don’t necessarily evoke much intellectual thought.
However, this past spring break was a little different from others. This spring break sparked thoughtful reflection.
Obviously, this break, I spent a lot of time with my parents. And although our sense of humor mirrors certain similarities and we never run out of things to talk about, there is something missing from conversations with my parents — open-mindedness.
Before this, I never really paid much mind to the conversations that ensued within the confines of my four walls. But for the first time since embarking on my college journey I realized college is more than a degree; college is an opportunity to develop an open mind. That being said, this can mean having conversations with those who did not attend college can sometimes be hard.
Don’t get me wrong, both of my parents are very intelligent people. I still have to use my fingers to count, while my dad is very math savvy. My mom has an undeniable niche for words, which I like to believe molded my writing style. However, whenever hot topics come up around the dinner table I have begun to see that my parents just don’t share the same aversion as I do for the lack of acceptive viewpoints.
I never really noticed this particular way college molds us until my trip, which got me thinking. I thought about all the conversations I had in the J-school about ethics. Then I thought about the open discussion forum held in my political science classes sharing the diverse viewpoints from all different races, religions and political affiliations. I began to reflect on all the diverse people I met in college. I thought about my dorm friends that work on crab boats in Alaska during the summer months, something I’d never experience. I thought about some of my closest friends fighting for gender- neutral bathrooms, a topic I might not have paid much mind to if I didn’t see first hand the vigorous passion on the subject that my friends so passionately fought for. I never would’ve been taught about war opposition during Vietnam if I never took my CH 203 class. I would still most likely have zero knowledge on the Muslim religion if I didn’t step outside of the confines of my comfort zone and strike up a heated discussion with a man who sat next to me in one of my communication classes.
My point is simple: college is great for the obvious reasons. More doors of opportunity rush open and the experience is something to be cherished forever. But my newfound affinity for college lies in how it shaped me to be an open minded person. I am not set in my ways and have a mindset that welcomes a safe environment for open discussion despite possible differences in culture, beliefs, skin color, political affiliation, etc.
So although it may be difficult for conversations with your parents to be just as open to diversity as the ones shared within your friend circles, it is important to appreciate that college has expanded your mental horizons. Instead of getting frustrated that your parents or any close relatives who are so stuck in their ways regarding mentality, try to use a more understandable approach. Try to sympathize and try and open the door to a more free-ranged conversation.
It is vital to be open-minded in life. Fortunately for college attendees, we are presented with new endeavors every day to keep expanding our mindset. The second we stop being accepting of diverse viewpoints and stop having conversations that are foreign to our mindset is the second we actively choose to cease our intellectual growth.
Ali Schultz studies journalism. She can be reached at Alexandraschultz@unr.edu and on Twitter @AliSchultzzz.