Archives for posts with tag: College transfer

Roughly a year ago I started this blog to catalogue my summer of the unknown. At the time I was just finishing my first year from a college, fresh back from Massachusetts and a glorious three day trip to New York (where I fell in love). I was planning to transfer schools, though I was scared (and a little ashamed) of the prospect. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I knew I needed a job for the summer, but didn’t have one. The number of friends I had around was… few. I applied to be a Roadie for Invisible Children- an internship that I wasn’t ready for and didn’t really want but thought would give me direction.  I didn’t get it.

If you followed my journey you know that I got a summer job at Gap and transferred to the University of Nevada, Reno (with no intention of staying).

One year later and things are completely different and exactly the same (isn’t that always the way?)

I’ve been accepted to the University of Southern California for Critical Studies under the School of Cinematic Arts. I’ve been waiting and hoping for this for almost a year, and here I am deciding between a dream school and a university I never wanted to go to— UNR has grown on me. Or rather, Reno people have grown on me. I got very committed to the idea of playing house this next year, moving in with my friends Hillari and Hannah and having movie nights and family dinner and cooking all their favorite things. It’s turning out to be a hard idea to let go of.

I have returned home to Vegas once again. I haven’t been hired anywhere yet and so have been doing work for my father. I have high hopes for my prospects at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf opening by my house. Even if I’m not hired I suspect I will be spending a lot of time there anyway.

I’m co-writing a short film for a friend who will be making said film this summer. My writing drive was low in May, but I feel it slowly returning to me.
I have a new show idea, and I may just start writing me a pilot. It’s important to keep in practice.

 

I started re-watching Fringe Season 3, and I’ve been thinking about alternate selves. When I was in New York, sitting outside NYU feeling sorry for myself, I thought about the alternate Chelsee who went to NYU and who was probably already on her way home, or packing, or roaming the city one last time. If you buy into the idea of alternate universes (and usually I do), then for every choice you make there’s an alternate who made a different choice. So now I ask myself, if there are infinite Chelsee’s heading off in their infinite directions, which Chelsee do I want to be and what do I leave to my alt-selves?

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Pitzer College

Founded in 1963, Pitzer College was built upon four core values that reimagine the purpose of a college education in a progressively changing world. These values are social responsibility, intercultural understanding, interdisciplinary learning and student autonomy. Almost 50 years later, our students feel that our founding values help prepare them to address the issues of their time. How do you feel these values will help you find solutions to the evolving challenges of your generation?

More than even before, we live in a time of constant change. Sometimes slow, building changes which are often unrealized until they finally take hold, but also change which comes quickly— two years, a year, a few months. In the relatively brief period that I have been alive to witness these changes, the world is dramatically different. Yet even with changes in technology, law, and many other areas of life, many cultural narratives and societal ideals are virtually the same as fifty years ago and beyond. Some of these narratives serve us in a positive way, but to accept all of them on the basis of their familiarity or the fact that they have survived the ‘test of time’ is detrimental. More than anything it is important that my generation realize blindly accepting change as a sign of improvement or letting little change be enough change, regardless of circumstance, not only fails to advance us, it allows backslide. A commitment to social responsibility, one of Pitzer’s basic tenants, is key to such realizations and understanding.

Accepting social responsibilities means also accepting difference, accepting that different peoples hold different ideals and goals. Intercultural understanding is necessary make things better for all, rather than better for some— and subsequently worse for others. The necessity of intercultural understanding exists not just when dealing across countries and continents, but in daily and personal life. The United States is full of cultural and ethnic diversity and complexity, which should be embraced and celebrated.

Interdisciplinary learning and student autonomy are values that I find to be especially complementary because they encourage exploration and innovation. The problems faced by my generation, be they social or otherwise, require a willingness to step outside the box of preconceived notions. Not everyone wants to be a doctor, or an engineer, or a politician— people should not be forced into pursuits that others believe to be ‘necessary’ or ‘productive,’ instead they should be encouraged to what inspires them. Furthermore, what it means to be a doctor, or an engineer, or a politician is rapidly changing— they requiring people thrilled to undertake the challenge, not drones pushed into the field. The best that can be done is to encourage people to explore what they are passionate about, something which Pitzer does through emphasis on student autonomy. Only by investigating the full extent of our interests and the diverse directions they may lead will lasting improvements be made.

and wrote a scene instead of an essay for part of my Pitzer application. The prompt was to explain my dream job. The screenplay format went to hell posting it here, but you’ll get the idea:

 

INT. LOUNG – SAN DIEGO COMIC CON – day

MICHAEL AUSIELLO, a television journalist, sits in a plush arm chair. Across from him sits CHELSEE BERGEN on a couch, examining throw pillows with the faces of actors on them.

CHELSEE
What do I have to do to get my face on one of these? I guess people would have to recognize my face in order to want me on their throw pillows.

MICHAEL
Some people know your face.

CHELSEE
Yeah. Hardcore fans. But I mean, those guys know like the address of the childhood home of our secondary characters. But I think even they wouldn’t want my face on a pillow.

Chelsee holds up a pillow with the face of a handsome young actor next to her own. She laughs.

MICHAEL
Maybe they’ll start a line of executive producer pillows.

CHELSEE
Can I get some of those? Like, is it creepy if I’m hoping that J.J. Abrams style brilliance will rub off on me from a pillow? Executive producer pillows- that would be great.

MICHAEL
So, for those people who aren’t familiar with you- who don’t have a pillow with your face on it- can you give us an introduction to you and your show?

CHELSEE
God, I probably should have started with that instead of the pillows.
(laughs)
I’m Chelsee Bergen, I’m the show runner for a show called POINT PERDIEM, which is something of a sci-fi drama about this strange little town where time becomes… ambiguous. The show is in its fourth season on HBO, and I’m pleased to say that we’ve just been renewed for our fifth and final season.

MICHAEL
What has your experience been like working on the show? I mean a few years ago it didn’t seem like the show was even going to be picked up, now you’re headed towards a fifth season with a huge fan following- looking back on these past few years, what’s that like?

CHELSEE
I’ve got the best job in the world, I really do. Five years ago I could not have even conceived of the wonderful experience that this show has been. I get to show up to work everyday and talk with the most creative, some of the coolest and smartest people I’ve ever met, about stories and weird stuff and magic and science and whatever we want. The show had kind of a shaky start, so it really was trial by fire, trying to get our footing, but I’m surrounded by talented people- actors and writers and crew- that I want to work with for the rest of my life, really. Like, when the wonderful ride that is Point Perdiem finally ends I know I’ll take a deep breath, maybe a nap, and then I’ll start calling these people up and asking ‘What have you got for me? What do you want to do? What can we make happen?’ Cause that’s really what gets me exciting, getting to work with people and create new and interesting stuff. There’s nothing better than that.

I submitted my USC application. I feel… so much better now that I’ve finally done it. I had kind of a freak out this morning, first getting all weird about doing final edits on my writing sample, then not feeling ready when I finished those edits, then finally uploading the essay and freaking out about whether I should list a second choice major on my application. Even though my application is crafted around Critical Studies in Cinematic Arts, I decided to list Creative Writing as my second choice major– I decided that it can’t hurt, and that I was not going to let my self come up with ways that it could be bad.

I also called my advisor from Hampshire, Will Ryan, to see if he got my email about writing me a letter of recommendation. He agreed to do it, and we had a really nice chat– I miss having meetings with him and talking about my classes and life and all the crazy stuff I worry about. He said to keep him updated on what I’ve got going on, which I plan to do. Aside from a little nostalgic sadness about how I won’t ever TA a class for Will or do things like that, I’ve felt incredibly happy since getting off the phone with him.

My journalism professor from last semester is also writing me a rec letter, so I just need to find one more person to do it. I’m not the only person who feels like three letters is a little much, right? At any rate, I might ask Lipkin- my former English teacher- to write one in place of a professor, because I’m not in contact with any of my Hampshire professors, nor was I close with any of them like I was with Will, and I don’t really trust any of my other UNR professors.

I can feel things coming together, and it’s really nice.

 

Two more days left at home, then Spring semester starts on Monday. I’m ready.

Since I haven’t posted much lately and I don’t have the motivation to write up my cooking-recipe-food post at the moment, I thought I would give you an update on my USC application in the form of my personal statement. I have to give it a once over for grammar, but otherwise this is the final product. 

 

Like most children, though perhaps with a greater fervor, I wove stories from and about everything. From the epic struggle between Barbie’s and Beanie Babies, to a crayon masterpiece about talking cars — the first story I ever wrote— storytelling was a part of my life. As I grew, I developed a relationship with stories crafted by other people. I became that oft-depicted, but rarely sighted, child reading from the dim glow of a book-light until the sun rose.

My love for stories, and the act of sharing them, led me to experimentation in multiple mediums. I found my first love in works of prose, a relationship which would spill over into dalliances with poetry. I realized a deep appreciation for the performance of stories existed in me, and six years in a theatre ensemble allowed me to be both author, participant, and viewer—  often simultaneously. Each medium brought something new into my life, and I loved all of them, but I did not truly find my passion until I began writing screenplays. Though I set out to write works that my friends and I might produce over the summer, my final product was often well beyond our production capacity. For a long time I believe writing and directing to be the ideal path for me, but then began my love affair with television…

While I had always been the first to point out errors in a films continuity, or to offer up a critique of an actor’s performance, television inspired new areas of investigation. Perhaps it was the episodic nature, or my familiarity with characters and settings, but something in television sparked my anthropological and sociological interests in a way other mediums had not. I was no longer just asking what is this story saying? I was asking what does this story say about our culture? What does it say about the author and the audience? I began to ask three questions again and again— why do we tell the stories we tell? How do we tell those stories? And, what do those stories say about us? Even a medium as vast as television could not contain these new questions— every piece of work I had created or engaged with needed to be inspected with new eyes.

In many ways those questions became the center of my academic pursuits. They led me to a course in Australian and New Zealand Cinema under the instruction of film and cultural studies scholar, Eva Rueschmann. They also led me to courses in history and philosophy, journalism and creative writing— all in the interest of gaining perspective and new avenues of inquiry. Now my questions have led me to Critical Studies, and the School of Cinematic arts. As a Critical Studies major, I will have more resources than ever before to ask, answer, and complicate my questions. I will be surrounded by students who share my interests, but also have questions and insights of their own. Perhaps best of all, I will be working with faculty who are experts in their field, having devoted their life to the same kinds of inquiries that fill so much of my own life. Critical Studies will be key in helping me prepare for future critical and scholarly work, in sharing my questions and theories with the world. More over, it will create an excellent foundation from which to launch my career in writing and producing for television, so that I might come full circle by shaping and sharing stories of my own.

 

I sometimes feel like I am more or less in the same place mentally that I was over the summer. A lot of my time lately has been spent on worrying about the future and trying to figure out what I should do for school and what the Right answer is. Of course I’ve learned by now that there is no Right answer, but that’s irrelevant.

At Hampshire I had this sense of wonderment. I would leave classes and feel like the whole universe had rearranged in the course of two hours. I wanted to call up anyone I could get to talk to me to explain to them whatever amazing thing the class had gotten me thinking about. It didn’t happen after every class, but it happened at least once for all the courses I took. Everything seemed to come together in a way too. Like even different subject matter was really all about the same thing. It was an amazing and satisfying and invigorating feeling.

I haven’t had that here. I know it’s early, and I still haven’t really gotten in to upper level stuff, but I’m not particularly confident that I’m likely to find it at UNR– at least not across the board. The closest thing I’ve had this year was when Amber from the co-op talked in my English class, and after the Master Class with Adam Cates.

To be honest, I’m bored here. And the work that I’m producing isn’t any better for the plethora of time I have– it just means I procrastinate and brood more. Comparing stuff I wrote last year to essays from this year… what I’m writing now isn’t worse, it just has a different quality. At Hampshire everything had revisions and comments and a bigger picture. It was about the work, and the process. Why would I revise something eight times (which I’ve done), when I can do one (or none…) and get an A? I know that the answer to that question is ‘for my own benefit, for the process, for the spirit of learning, etcetera, etcetera’ but I’m just not that evolved yet. My English professor actually wrote ‘thanks’ on one of my reading responses (which I no doubt did right before class), like I was doing her a favor by actually reading the assignment.

I don’t want to make it sound like UNR is this terrible place where no one does anything or learns or whatever. For a lot of people I’m sure this place is perfect for them- exactly what they want, giving them what they need. But it’s not enough for me. I told Alex the other day I felt like people at Hampshire were there to learn (by and large- some of them were just there to party), and the people here are just here to get degrees (which I know is a huge generalization). There’s nothing wrong with just wanting to get your degree and get out– that was like 90% of high school. But that’s not what I want. A college degree might be a great thing, but nothing that I want to do requires that I have one. More than anything I want to learn about stuff. About the world, and me, and writing, and art, and how all those things go together.

Is that too much to ask? I mean that as a legitimate question. Am I expecting too much? Is there a place where I can feel the way I did about my classes at Hampshire, without living waist deep in snow and seasonal depression? Am I overlooking UNR’s own inherent greatness by expecting it to be some other way? Is the problem really me, and not the college I’m at? Could it be different, better, anywhere else?

USC transfer apps are due in one month.