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OPINION: Why I’m always open to learn and why you should be too

Abigail Nichols immersing herself in literature while writing this article. ORACLE PHOTO / JEISLIAN QUILES-SIERRA

“ هل أنت جاد ,” my co-worker says to my boss. 

The bagel shop just finished its rush hour, and my co-workers fill the empty building with their Arabic conversation. 

All I understand is their body language: mouths curving into smiles and bodies leaning back to release a laugh.

My white girl, Florida-raised self, has no idea what they’re saying. But that doesn’t stop me from trying to learn.

For me, being open to learning forces me to grow as a person and think critically. And students should also be for these same reasons. 

My early homeschooling days made me fall in love with learning. I spent less time in the hustle of an eight to three school classroom and more time in a book or outside exploring. 

Related: OPINION: I judged a book by its cover and you should too

This independence encouraged me to be curious about the world around me, especially at a bagel shop where different worlds come together.

My Arabic, Russian and Spanish-speaking co-workers open up new cultures and languages for me to learn about.

Each language has their own unique slang and phrases based upon a cultural region.

How would I ever learn that “هل أنت جاد” means “are you serious” in Arabic if I didn’t learn by asking them? And that different pronunciations are based upon different regions in the middle east?

This might sound boring to some, but it’s this small difference that makes each culture what it is, and helps us all understand each other more.

But learning isn’t just about new cultures – it’s also about challenging yourself as an individual.

It’s easy to be comfortable with what you already know. But without pushing yourself into the uncomfortable, you never get to experience growth. 

Opening yourself up to new things also helps you think critically. 

Learning things outside of your major helps you get a bigger perspective on the material you’re learning. 

As an English major and Christian, my outside interest in Christian, ancient Greek, ancient Roman and modern political literature help me understand the cultural connections with ancient and modern culture. 

My interest in behavioral analysis also helps with my literary analysis as I write my finals.

All of these different interests have helped me expand my perspective. The world is full of so many things to learn and it is so fulfilling to see how they all connect. 

Yet, as a college student, it can be hard for me to fit in time to learn things outside of my major. So, while I’m driving or going on a run, I listen to podcasts.

Related: OPINION: Why I run and why you should too.

My go-to podcaster is Jordan Peterson, who interviews scholars in politics, religion, psychology and philosophy. 

When I have five minutes to spare, I indulge in Robin Waldun’s substack words on philosophy and life. 

These learning outlets also help me learn more about communicating and writing – perfect to write this article for you.

Editor’s note: This is the fifth article in a “Here’s why” series on things opinion editor Abigail Nichols has done that she believes readers should do too.

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