Work station with laptops and coffee

A Community of Study

Written by Caroline Welton

“This is the third time someone in The Iliad has stolen horses!”

My friend pointed out the passage to me, and I laid aside my own copy of the great Greek epic to see the part she indicated. I hadn’t noticed that at all, instead being engrossed in the concept of fate, but indeed, the spies sent to Troy, as well as various gods, were all thieving each others’ equine possessions. We proceeded to have a rousing conversation about how to annotate books for English classes, how to know what’s important, and how much your professor impacts your interpretation of the book.

College creates many opportunities for community, and we hear a lot about that at Hillsdale. One of my favorite ways to see people interacting in interesting and meaningful ways is when studying with friends. This isn’t something I did during high school, but it’s helped strengthen my study habits, helped me build friendships, and familiarized me with beautiful places around campus.

Discussing ideas learned in class with friends who are taking a core class with another professor helps elucidate different angles on the material, too. Earlier in the semester, a group of friends and I met to read The Iliad together, despite the fact that we were all taking different professors. Not only did each person pay attention to different aspects of the text due to varying interests and personalities, they knew different facts their respective professors had focused on.

Studying material with friends also helps me remember the material. I’ve done this with friends from my Latin class, creating stories and funny ways to remember vocabulary. We never did find a way to remember why the gender of the Latin word for “flower” is masculine, but talking about it so much helped me remember anyway.

Studying with friends brings fun and not just serious discussions. Taking a break to share music or a snack builds good memories and makes the time enjoyable. Even the most scintillating of classes can be deadened by locking yourself away in a study room alone, without anyone to make offhand comments to or to appreciate your amusement at Dante’s descriptions.

It’s inspiring to see the different places around campus that different people like to study. I tend to default to the library or my dorm lobby. But in meeting up with friends to study, I’ve discovered their favorite places, like the outdoor amphitheater, Slayton Arboretum, Rough Draft, the picnic tables outside the Grewcock Student Union, or classrooms in Lane with lots of room on the blackboards to draw the animal phylogeny for that core biology class.

During freshman orientation, Dr. Arnn talked about how if we’re studying beautiful things, we ought to have beautiful things to look at while doing so. I like to think about that when I’m studying in a brick building or outside among gigantic trees and green grass. Finding with friends those places that I might not have found on my own is just another aspect of the beauty of studying with friends.

Caroline Welton, ‘22, plans to study Politics and Latin, and thinks one can always choose to have a good day. This is primarily done by laughing at oneself a lot, but is of course aided by pleasantries such as rainstorms, Beethoven, Russian literature, and long conversations with friends.

Published in December 2019