Why An English Major Wasn’t For Me

I am taking this summer off for the first time since January 2012. I’ve been at school nonstop from the semester I started, studying through the summers in an effort to finish as fast as I can – 15 months at Seneca College for the Joint Program with the University of Toronto, part time at UofT since September 2012, finally becoming a full-time student there the summer of 2013. I was supposed to graduate next summer with a double major in Diaspora and Transnational Studies and English, but halfway through this semester I realized that an English major wasn’t for me. I was working on projects that dealt with immigrant identity, and how city standards affected the daily life and realities of its citizens for my DTS major, while in ENG I was working on Orpheus and Heurodis, the Olympians, and Odysseus and Aenead. I didn’t care very much for my ENG courses while I was working on my other one; I couldn’t see the point in analyzing La Morte D’Arthur or discussing why the Green Knight in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was wearing green when I was faced with statistics detailing how immigrants were languishing in entry-level jobs even if they had qualifications. My reaction to Gawain and Arthur was, at best, lukewarm interest.

In my other classes, however, where we were talking about the Immigrant Mother in popular literature (Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother) and how Canada’s then-treatment of Chinese and South Asian diasporas was abhorrent, I was actually invested. These were things that actively affected my life and my people – we discussed in class how much more difficult it was for people of colour with similar educational backgrounds to get callbacks, compared to white Canadians. Also particularly sad, for me, were the statistics in the 2000s and 2010s saying that Filipinos were the most highly-educated immigrants coming in, but the children of immigrants weren’t furthering their educations very much. I think it’s looking up these days though; a lot of my peers are going into colleges and universities instead of staying on at their part-time jobs. It’s going to take a while, but we’ll get there. Doing projects and writing essays for my DTS classes almost didn’t seem like work, I enjoyed them so much and was invested in the conclusions.

It was then that I decided to go see my sort-of adviser and asked if I can switch majors. She and I worked out a battle plan: I switched my ENG from a major to a minor, kept the DTS as it was, and am planning on doing Urban Studies as another major. I’m still waiting on whether the powers that be in the Urban Studies department will take my application this year, but there’s no rush. She showed me several alternate routes towards the major I want; I’ll take some of the required courses for that major so that if I get approved, I’ll have some work to show for it.

In the meantime, I’m taking the summer off to breathe (the Human Geography courses I needed to take weren’t available anyway), bake some cookies, continue my internship at the Consulate, and breathe in the free air.

And maybe finally finish the Spanish course on Duolingo that’s been languishing on my phone for a couple of weeks now.

Where I was and what song was playing: 10th floor of my building on my very comfy couch, and Roxy Music’s Mother of Pearl


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