18 February 2014

College Outdoors and Research Papers

This is going to be a shorter entry, unfortunately. I am trying to get ahead in schoolwork over the next few days so that I can afford to take the time to go on my College Outdoors trip this weekend. I can’t say enough about College Outdoors. I’ve been on a backpacking trip and a hike (both of which I posted about last term) and just yesterday I went ice skating in Beaverton. College Outdoors provided transportation, and I rented ice skates and got to skate for just $5 in total. It was a lot of fun, and I only fell once! I also got to make some new friends. One of them – Piper – was quite a good skater. She had a lot of experience in figure skating and impressed us all with spins and tricks. I’ve found College Outdoors to be one of the best ways to meet people that I wouldn't have connected with otherwise, and I think it’s a wonderful program.

The trip that I’ve got lined up for this weekend is a yoga retreat on the Oregon Coast. We leave on Friday after dinner and we’ll drive about two hours to a lodge that is a part of an unused Girl Scout Camp called Camp Kiwanilong. While we’re there, we plan to do a lot of yoga, including some meditation and calming self-reflection, as well as hiking on the beach. We'll return to campus on Sunday (hopefully not too late, since I'll have a lot of work to do). But for two days, I won't have to think about my work. I can’t wait to just relax and have a little vacation, especially since the weather is supposed to be nice. Jamey, one of my friends from my backpacking trip in August, is leading the trip, which is going to make it even better. I’ll bring my camera so that I’ll have a few pictures to show you next week.

Well, I have to get back to work now. Right now, I am sifting through some books I ordered from the library. They were pretty rare, but Watzek library has this neat inter-library loan system that lets you get books from all over the Pacific Northwest and beyond if Watzek doesn't have the book you need on campus. Why the pursuit of hard-to-find books? Well, as I might have mentioned before, the second half of the required freshman class – Exploration and Discovery – is about learning to do research, and the class I’m in is called The Ancient City. The topic I proposed for my paper, which is a semester-long project, is the origins of astronomy in ancient Mesopotamia. I am really interested in how, by observing phenomena such as eclipses and the motions of the Moon and planets, astronomers tried to find meaning and order in the universe. I plan to relate it back to the course topic of the ancient city by showing how with celestial divination, the central temple of the city attempted to predict things like floods in order to economically regulate the collection and redistribution of grain. I am really, really stoked for this paper because it combines my fascination with astronomy and my love of ancient history, especially the rise of agriculture! I love that I can choose my research topic so freely and have support from my professor. So, that's why I had to hunt down all those obscure books on cuneiform writing and temples and astrology.

This entry turned out to be longer than I anticipated, but I just like writing so much that I can’t stop. Have a wonderful week, and if you have any questions, email me at jessicakostka@lclark.edu!

Jess