Required Gen-Eds can take you to infinity and beyond (your major)

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By Meghan Keator

Strategic petition plans, patience and feverous battles for registration spots: These are the common struggles that all Union students endure term after term.

Signing up for classes can be both exciting and stressful.

It’s common knowledge that every student at Union needs to fulfill the Common Curriculum requirements prior to graduating.

Yet, when it comes to fulfilling the literature (HUL) and the humanities (HUM) portions as graduation requirements, why do so many of us grumble about it?

Is it wiser just to take the right courses to get the requirements over with or to push them off until time ticks down to the final term?

Perhaps writing may not be your strong suit, but we all have to write a paper at some point or another, regardless of whether we’re science majors, English majors, engineering majors or even an art majors.

Surprisingly, the HUL and HUM requirements offer a multitude of courses that explore a variety of academic (as well as practical and entertaining) paths.

Overall, the HUL category offers courses that allow students to delve into topics about culture, morality and common conflicts, both in literature and in real life.

Most HUL fulfillments relate mainly to courses stemming from areas of English, modern languages and modern literature in translation (MLT).

You may be thinking, “Hey! Only a few areas to explore? I thought this article said that there would be a lot of options?”

Indeed, there are! English courses offer an array of options that defy the typical stereotype of mounds of mundane books to read along with a pile of papers 23 pages long.

Honestly, I’ve had lab reports that were quadruple in length to my English essays, which, for introductory courses, were around four pages, give or take.

Starting off under English, there are three main topics for introductory classes: Introduction to Poetry, Introduction to Drama and Introduction to Fiction.

All of these courses offer the opportunity to tap into your creative side and dust off those cobwebs.

Do you like rapping? Make up some of your own rhymes and beats through poetry, which is essentially the basis of most rap lyrics and riffs.

Do you enjoy watching “Breaking Bad” or rom-coms on Netflix?

Get your keyboard clicking away and explore the elements that it takes to create your own fascinating tale through fiction.

Still not entirely sold? Try out an MLT course where you can explore how art and politics mingle in Spain (MLT-272), how various countries express the value of culture through film (MLT-287), how the Russian mafia may parallel a future Russia (MLT-262) and even how the myths of vampires impacted European culture (MLT-260).

Exploring the HUM end of course requirements, various options include courses geared in music, art (visual and historical), English, philosophy, classics and anthropology, as well as courses under the Department of Modern Languages and Literature.

Courses such as these help students to uncover their creativity and to take pride in expressing it.

Likewise, HUM courses that explore other cultures and languages can be especially beneficial if you plan on going abroad or even if you one day have to travel for work.

You will be better able to appreciate another person’s culture and may even be able to experience and enjoy another culture with more background knowledge.

If you’re fantastic at raising arguments or questioning others, take on the challenge of a philosophy course and explore ethics, morality and political theories in depth.

Enjoy doodling in your notebook?

Try a course in art, and really advance the drawings within the margins of your notes.

Better yet, if you grow tired of everyone eavesdropping on your conversations, grab a friend and learn a new language with courses that teach Russian, French, Spanish and even Latin.

Oftentimes, some of these courses offer a bonus by fulfilling a WAC (writing) or LCC (language and culture) requirement (and sometimes both!).

After taking both an HUL and an HUM course, many walk away with a better grasp on understanding not only themselves, but also humanity as a whole.

The variety of areas covered by the HUL and HUM requirements embody how unique and beneficial a liberal arts education is to students.

Personally, I started off as a biology major, but after taking a few courses in the realms of humanities and literature, I discovered a true passion for writing, which led me to switch my major to English and even begin writing recreationally.

Perhaps the Common Curriculum requirements won’t persuade you to change your major, but hopefully they will still leave an impact on you.

It might be discovering a new hobby, uncovering a secret talent or just experiencing a self-realization that you may have missed if you didn’t explore a course outside your major.

Whether you’re a freshman or a senior entering your final term, there is never a bad time to explore a HUL or HUM course.

As long as you walk into the course with an optimistic and open-minded attitude, you’ll already be seated with the most essential tool needed to succeed.

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