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Austin: Enjoying the Liberal Arts

Some friends and I at Silver Falls State Park on a hike!

Some friends and I at Silver Falls State Park on a hike!

Fall is finally here! The leaves are changing, the weather is turning, and suddenly pumpkin spice everything sounds good. This fall semester I am taking some really interesting courses, some of which include Principles of Ecology, Chemistry, and an upper-level English course, Diverse Voices in literature: Women Writers. As part of my Ecology class, my lab section (9 total students) travels to various places all around Western Oregon to experiment by doing field work. We have experimented with soil respiration rates, explored stomata density on leaves in accordance to sunlight exposure, set up a beetle competition experiment, and even investigated the nutrient composition, bacterial load, and organism diversity of a nearby stream.  I have really enjoyed getting out into the field and running experiments because it is exciting to utilize the surrounding area of McMinnville; the biodiversity and habitat diversity offer some really interesting experiments!

One of my favorite experiments thus far has been visiting local cemeteries, and collecting birth, death, and Sex information. It sounds really odd, and trust me, it felt a little odd, but after collecting nearly 4,000 data points, setting up a life table in excel and analyzing the data based on year grouping, age at death, and males vs. females was fascinating! Part of our lab was to formulate hypotheses to predict why the changes in the data appeared as they did. I found this a really interesting assignment because from the scientific data, we had to consider historical events happening during the time periods we were considering, as well as cultural and regional changes, as well as gender roles. Connecting the gaps between the disciplines is the core focus of the curriculum here at Linfield, and it is definitely something I have come to love. Being taught from an interdisciplinary perspective in general, and especially in the sciences, is a huge privilege. Skills that I learned from my Inter Cultural Communication class last semester are coming in handy this semester, as I am living with a student from Japan, and historical knowledge and cultural perspectives I am learning in my English course right now are helping in my Ecology class as well.

Year two: first semester is here. I am living it, and loving it, every single day. Students and parents often ask me if I were to go back and change my college search process, what I would change. My answer: nothing. I am so happy here, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Until next time,

-Austin

*A few weeks ago, a few friends and I took a hike at Silver Falls State Park; see the picture attached. Over 10 waterfalls! It was beautiful.