Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Dispatches from the History Major: "I'm Done (Sort Of)"

I hope you've enjoyed "Dispatches from the History Major this semester.  I know I have.  Here is the last installment of the semester from Messiah College sophomore history major James Mueller.  We are currently in contract negotiations for next year.  Stay tuned.  --JF

I’ve officially completed my sophomore year at MessiahCollege, and it feels so good! After finals, it’s tempting to stumble home, curl up in the fetal position, and vegetate; however, I can’t quite do this yet. One reason I can’t rest yet is because I’ve made it a point to look back and reflect on this past year instead of letting everything I learned slip away over the summer. There’s a lot of material to sift through in my head (five history course, four language courses, and one Bible course) and unfortunately not nearly enough room in this blog to talk about it all. So if you actually want to know about what I learned, come find me and I’ll gladly tell ya all about ancient Rome, Tudor-Stuart England, American urbanism, historical and archaeological methodology, New Testament scholarship, and the difference between the French and Latin subjunctive moods.

One of the things I love most about my Messiah education is just how easy my professors have made it to go back and do this type of recap. Four out of my five history examinations required a full scale synthesis of all the material we had covered during the course. When you have four primary texts and a handful of outside electronic readings this is difficult work. Yet doing this type of synthesis actually leaves you feeling like you took something away from the course when it’s all said and done. It’s nice knowing I’m going to get a degree AND an education when I finish up here at Messiah – none of this “C’s get degrees” stuff.

Another thing that’s preventing me from vegetating after an intense finals week is my May-Term course. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to go on a three-week archaeological expedition to the island of Cyprus with Dr. David Pettegrew and a handful of other Messiah students. I’ve never traveled internationally before so doing all that laundry I ignored this past semester, packing, channeling my inner Indian Jones, and saying farewells to family and friends has been a mini- adventure all on its own. By this time next week I’ll be on my way to the Mediterranean!

To top off all of this craziness, I have to prep this week for a four-month stint in France. I’ve been accepted to study at the Sorbonne in Paris this fall, which I couldn’t be more excited about, however, I still have to buy a plane ticket and get the majority of my paper work done before I leave for Cyprus. Should I travel with Icelandair or Aeroflot (a Russian airline)? I think I’m going to go with Icelandair just so I can pretend I’m a Viking during my hour and a half layover.

And with that nerdy history reference I shall end my final dispatch of the semester. Perhaps in the future I’ll be able to let you all know how the skills I acquired during this year helped me out on my international adventures, but until then I want to thank everyone who read these posts, shared their thoughts in a comment, or encouraged me during my journey. I’m very grateful also to Dr. Fea for providing me with a space where I could wrestle with some of the things I’m learning about history and about myself. Finally, I would like to thank all the members of the Messiah History Department for all that they do – they’re awesome dudes!  

Have a wonderful summer everybody,