The Joy of Exploration at Swat

One of the best things about Swarthmore is the spirit of exploration that thrives here! When I was in high school, I was very dead set on what classes I needed to take and that didn’t allow for much academic freedom or creativity. When I came to Swat, I figured it would be the same thing. I knew I wanted to major in theater and I knew exactly what classes I needed to take to fulfill the requirements for the major. What I didn’t expect was to really be allowed to explore all kinds of different classes and really have freedom when creating my curriculum. I had certain requirements I had to fulfill, yes, but other than that, I could really do whatever my heart desired! Here are a few of the wonderful things that came out of this exploration! 

  1. I Fell in Love with Taiko!

One of the requirements I was dreading having to fulfill was the P.E. requirement. I got out of that in high school by doing a sport, but I didn’t have that at Swarthmore, so I was nervous about what to do. I was very excited at the idea of getting to take dance classes for P.E. credit, though, and I landed on Taiko, a class in the Dance Department. I had never done any kind of drumming before, but I figured now was the time to push myself out of my comfort zone and give it a try! At first, I felt very intimidated and not at all secure in my abilities. However, Joe Small, the Taiko instructor, was incredibly welcoming and helpful. He offered to help me after class or whenever was best for me and I really got a hold of the material. I began to love and look forward to doing Taiko every Friday! I did Taiko at least in the fall semester every year after that! I’m now a rising senior and I’m still going to take Taiko again! If it weren’t for the beautiful spirit of exploration at Swat, I may have never discovered this incredible dance form and fallen in love with it. 

Swarthmore students performing Taiko in a student dance concert.
  1. I’m a Double Major in English!

Creative writing was something that was never offered at my high school so when I saw that there was an intro to creative writing workshop, I was excited to take it! The class size was only eleven people so I really got to know and appreciate my other classmates. We also got to take field trips to see authors give readings. It was just an overall incredible experience. When I discovered that you can have a concentration in creative writing along with the English major, I was sold! I had already taken multiple English classes at that point because I just did them for fun, but now I could double major in two things I was really passionate about! I have continued to take creative writing classes and I feel really excited about all of the possibilities in front of me.

  1. I Learned to Not Be Scared of Math

The thing that frightened me most about the distribution requirements at Swarthmore was the Natural Sciences and Engineering (NSE) requirement. I’ve always had a rocky relationship with math and science. I feel much more comfortable with humanities and social science classes. I dragged my NSE requirements out as long as possible because I just dreaded taking them so much. But then I asked my fellow humanities-minded classmates what they took to fulfill the requirement, and I ended up taking Food Engineering, Intro to Statistical Thinking, and Intro to Mathematical Thinking. All of these classes were designed for people like me who were more scared of math and science and were very accessible! I definitely still struggled with these subjects, but through that, I learned! I can now approach math with more comfortability and my fear of it has rescinded almost completely. 

Overall, Swarthmore encourages its students to really explore and have fun with their academics. Through this exploration, I have been able to find new classes and passions that I love and been able to overcome my fear of all things STEM. I hope that you’re able to find new passions at Swat as well!