Free Writes

Free Writes


One of my favorite classes in high school was called Science Fiction. It is probably easy to guess based on the name of the class why I enjoyed it so much, but it wasn’t just a blowoff class where we had fun talking about geeky things all the time. This class was a challenge, it is an AP level course in my school and asked a lot of its students. The teacher of this class was one of the main reasons why I enjoyed it. He was excellent at making the class interesting and enjoyable, while also pushing me to be a better writer and challenging me to do more than what was required. He mixed the assignments between group work and individual projects. Working with a larger group, a small group, and partners made it impossible to not become a better collaborator and communicator.

One of my least favorite classes throughout high school was Expository Writing. This again was an English class with a focus on writing, similar to Science Fiction. The problem I had with this class was the restrictions on my creativity and personal style. During the class writing became a pain and a chore for me. I did not look forward to any of the assignments or being in the class in general. Most of the writing assignments we had were structured and had to follow whichever format the teacher had chosen. It did introduce me to a good amount of new writing techniques and ideas, but the lack of creativity, group work/brainstorming, and personality made it much less enjoyable and ultimately more difficult.


The experience of UNE after about a week of living on campus has been full of surprises. Drastically changing where I am living in terms of my environment, the people I am around, and what I see and do every day, has altered my views of what life can be and is. I have seen, met, and become friends with more new people in this first week than I ever could have imagined. Going from living with my family in the house and town that I have grown up in to living in a small dorm room with another person in the matter of 24 hours was definitely a culture shock. It was not an unexpected shock, but still a shock nonetheless. Experiencing how other people live that are not from where I am or did not grow up how I grew up is and has been very interesting. I share a room with only one roommate, but I share a floor with a number of other people, and walking through the halls and living together is already starting to feel natural and “safe.” It is awesome that most people are welcoming and happy to talk to you and form a relationship with you. I have become more comfortable each day with my new way of life and the people around me here at UNE.


Writing is like talking without making a sound. Communicating is amazing because I can understand what you mean when you draw a series of shapes together on a piece of paper. I can also understand the same thing when you make noises that correspond to each of those shapes that you drew. If I don’t understand you, that must mean that you are drawing shapes I have never seen before, or ones that aren’t similar to the shapes that I can understand. Some people only draw certain shapes, while others can draw almost any. Some people can draw the shapes, but not make noises for them, while others can make the noises, but can’t draw the shapes. If I try to communicate with someone using my shapes, while they try to communicate using their own different shapes, we could mean the same thing but not understand each other. If I know how to make noises that correspond to the shapes that I draw, then I am fluent in those shapes. If I can only draw the shapes on paper, then I need to be instructed by someone who can make the noises. Communication is confusing, so simplifying the shapes and noises should be a priority for people. But people on one side of the world are attached to their shapes, and people on the other are attached to theirs. I think we should all use the same shapes and noises, so then we can all communicate. The problem is that some people think their shapes are better than others, and some people’s shapes are older and have more history. Groups of people become attached to their shapes and noises, so if they were forced to change, they would resist and would call it discrimination, rightfully so. No one should have to give up the shapes that they love to draw, or the noises that they love to make, but it is obvious that if we all shared a few common shapes and noises, then we could all communicate more. This writing was so free.


My social media use I believe is relatively standard among people my age. I am not on social media as much as some other people that I know and people I know about, but I still find myself on it more than I would like. I am more active on some social media platforms than others, for example I don’t really post on Instagram or Twitter all that often, but I frequently use Snapchat to communicate and share things with my friends. There are other platforms that I have avoided downloading and using altogether, the most relevant ones being Facebook and TikTok. Not using Facebook may have impacted my introduction to UNE slightly because I did not join the UNE Facebook page for incoming freshmen. I don’t regret not joining because it seems that it didn’t have a huge impact on my ability to connect with people and make friends on campus and more importantly in person. 

My favorite part of social media is its ability to connect people through comedy, news, and entertainment from all across the globe. I can see what people are doing in Europe or Asia instantly if I have the desire by simply opening an app like Twitter, Youtube, or Instagram. I can also talk with my friends who I may not be able to see in person either because of distance, time, or any other factors. Sharing funny videos with my friends is one of the best parts of social media for me. We connect with each other and share a laugh, and almost always start quoting and referencing funny things we see online when we are in person hanging out together. 

I try to limit my use of social media on a daily basis mainly because I understand that there are many negatives and generally bad things that can happen on any of these online platforms. On a personal level, you could see your friend post a photo from a party that you are just now realizing you weren’t invited to. A fear of missing out is a very real thing, and I have found that social media, at least for me, emphasizes those fears and makes them seem all the more legitimate. This is why it is so important for everyone on social media to remember that most things you see people posting are either edited, not real at all, or only a small piece of who they really are and what they really are doing. Through a broader perspective, social media can also insight conflicts and mass disruption in the world and across the country. For whatever reason, politics and politicians have become a huge subject on Twitter over the past few years, making the site one of the most toxic and unwelcoming communities there is online. Bringing people together was the original idea and intent behind social media, but it is increasingly becoming a tool that is driving us apart on a personal and public level.

I will continue to use social media for likely much of my life, my hope is that I can limit myself and that I will know my personal boundaries. I also have hope that we as a large community of the world can change the way we interact with each other online, and make social media and the internet in general a place that everyone can enjoy. 


The process of drafting the friendship essay went well overall for me. I have a good amount of ideas and opinions on the topic of friendship relating to social media, so I did not have a hard time forming ideas for paragraphs and sections of the paper. The strategy that I found most effective when drafting was simply writing whatever came to mind regarding the main topic of my essay. I wanted to get as many of my thoughts onto the document as possible, helping me later when I am polishing the essay and forming it into a final draft. If I can come up with as many ideas as I can to start, it is easier to cut down those ideas in the end than say it is to have to add more information. In terms of my process for adding quotes and information from the texts, I referenced my annotations as well as notes that I had taken in previous classes while also re-reading portions of the texts for further reference. Once I found information that I believed should be included in my personal essay, I integrated them into my essay and analyzed what it meant and how it relates to my ideas.

I feel like I have heard teachers talk a lot about peer review over the years and all the positives that can come from it. The problem for me is, I feel like I have very little experience with it. For one reason or another, teachers say that we will be doing peer review or have peer review groups, but it either never happens or is not done as much as I had thought it would. The times that I have done legit peer review, it is not as beneficial as everyone claims it is. There are many reasons for this, one being that my peers might not take the time that is necessary to give honest and good feedback, another being that my peers and I don’t really know how to give great feedback on essays to each other. It has always been difficult for me to analyze someone else’s work and give criticisms and feedback, especially when I know I am writing the same piece and probably have the same issues, if not more, than the paper I am reading. 


An introduction is what you begin an essay, story, article, etc, with when writing. The main purpose of this is to familiarize the audience with the topic of the piece, possibly explaining what it is or using personal details to relate to the reader. My experience with writing introductions has varied. Sometimes it comes naturally to me, and I am able to write without hesitation, other times it has been very challenging to create something at the beginning of my writing that I am proud of. For me, what I am writing about usually dictates whether or not writing an introduction is easier or more difficult. If it is something that I am very knowledgeable about, or something that I have many opinions on, then the introduction comes to me relatively easy. However, subjects that I do not have any interest in prove to be very challenging, not only when writing the introduction but the rest of the paper as well. 

Writing conclusions in papers has always taken a bit more of my time than the introduction. My goal is to always have an ending to my paper that is powerful, and leaves an impact on the reader. I also want to bring together all the main points from earlier in the paper. I know what I want to accomplish, but many times the end result is not exactly what I had imagined. 


This first project was challenging for me. This was the first academic essay I have written in quite some time due to the pandemic and the transition back to in-person learning following the shutdown. It wasn’t super hard for me to come up with ideas and points that I wanted to make during this piece. The most difficult part for me was creating a polished essay that flowed and made sense paragraph by paragraph. Incorporating quotes and references to the writings that we had read and discussed beforehand was also difficult. When I first began writing I had so many ideas that I wanted to address that I forgot to bring in ideas from the two pieces we were supposed to reference and quote. Once I realized this, incorporating and rewriting my work to make everything fit was quite a challenge. It required me to analyze my piece thoroughly and decide what was and wasn’t important from what I had already written.

If I were to change my writing processes to improve for next time, I would start with my time management, and the amount of time I allocate to myself for writing. I would also think a lot about how I manage writing my piece, whether I should spend more time working on an outline and more general ideas before jumping into writing the final product. I often get ahead of myself when writing and I think slowing down my process, and giving myself time to think and analyze all the information that should be included will be very beneficial.

I am still proud of what my finished product is for this assignment, but I realize and acknowledge that I have the ability to do better. I know that I have the potential to improve my writing skills greatly. This being the first big assignment of the class, I now know what my baseline is and how I can improve for the second assignment. 


The first month of college has been very eventful with many highs and lows. There has been much that I expected beforehand, but even more unexpected things have happened. It has been really great to get to know so many new people and make friends in such a short amount of time. Some of the best times I have had so far have been with the people in my dorm, and I think that I am very lucky to have so many friendly people living on the same floor as me. We all have gotten along wonderfully to start the year and have made the most of our time together.

As far as the school and classes aspect of my time here, there has been some difficulties and stress so far. There hasn’t been anything crazy difficult or challenging, but I think there has been a healthy amount of work so far that has proven to be hard to make my way through. Some of it has knocked me off course a little, but I think everything has been a good learning experience so far. I am being prepared for the rest of my school career with these early challenges.


Empathy to me is an important skill to have. Being able to empathize with someone else allows you to connect with them on a deeper level than if you can’t. Empathy is the ability to connect with someone by understanding and feeling their emotions with them. Feeling sorry for someone is sympathy, feeling what they are feeling and putting yourself in their position is empathy. Being empathetic is a skill that you have to learn, develop, and practice. It is not something that everyone knows how to do, you have to improve over time and eventually learn how to be empathetic towards anyone. When someone is sad, they really appreciate someone who can empathize with them, it makes them feel better and feel understood. Feeling sympathy towards someone can only get you so far, and if you wish to be close to someone, sympathy will not cut it.

I have always enjoyed listening to TED Talks and speeches by great thinkers and charismatic people. Out of all the great speeches and talks that I have listened to, I think “This is Water,” by David Foster Wallace, might be my favorite. Listening to him speak was a great experience for me. He made me pause and think about many different things throughout his speech, while also introducing me to new ideas and concepts. His ideas about people and how we live stood out to me. I have always believed that I am skilled at stepping out of the present moment and looking at the big picture, placing myself into another person’s shoes and realizing their perspective. David Foster Wallace emphasizes this in his speech and makes it known that it is one of the most important things someone can do. To live your life to the fullest, you can’t be only thinking about yourself. He also wants us to know what to think about. Not only how to think, but how to make the choice to think for yourself. 


The types of conversations I’ve engaged in have changed throughout my life significantly. When I was younger conversations were simple, with usually a question and answer format, with lots of the word “why.” Now that I’m older, conversations have evolved into something more meaningful and impactful. They allow you to know and understand another person. I can be vulnerable in conversation with people that I am close to. The best conversations that I have had are natural ones, not forced in any way, where the people involved are all engaged and are happy to be a part of it. It doesn’t matter what the conversation is about, when you have people who are accepting of your ideas, you feel more comfortable sharing and listening to them and having a thoughtful conversation.

From a larger perspective, conversations are important for the healthy operations of the country and world. If people are willing to talk to and listen to each other, we will have a much healthier relationship across political parties and opposing viewpoints. Conversation helps you to understand where another person is coming from, where and how they are getting their ideas. As we have learned, this is crucial to being a good citizen.


I just had to check my folder to find what this second project was actually about so that should say enough about how far along I am in this project. Now that I know and remember what it is, I feel that I can put together a quality project. I connected with the David Foster Wallace speech a lot and I know that I have a lot to say about his ideas and how I relate to them. The topic of empathy is not that difficult to write about or at least have ideas about. I think that outlining this essay will be important because it will be easy to get lost in some of my ideas and forget to relate them to a text. 


People’s individual identities and orientations have been a growing topic of discussion in recent years. There has been an acceptance in much of our society that there are numerous identities that a person may have, whether it be gender, sexual preference, or just who they are and what they represent in general. It can be difficult at times to understand the different identities that someone may represent when you are on the outside of it. For me, I have never had any questions or doubts about my identity and who I am, so it is challenging to be able to relate with those who do have those identity crises. I support and try to empathize with all people, no matter how they orient themself or what their individual situation is. 

I think it is awesome that people with identities that are not “normal” have felt safer and more respected within our society in recent years. We have seen an influx of people coming out and revealing their true identities, or if they don’t exactly know what their identity is, telling people that they are comfortable with. 


The idea of identity is not explicitly explored in Chabon’s piece about Abe and his father, but it is clear that Abe’s personal identity and how he views himself are at the center of Chabon’s ideas. Abe is still very young and clearly still figuring out who he is and what he identifies with and as. We see him expressing himself in school, trying to find others who may identify with him. Abe’s identity is unique to a person of his age and gender, Chabon makes it clear that Abe is different because we learn about how Abe enjoys standing out, and how other kids his age tease him for what he wears and enjoys. 


The idea of self-representation as a way of showing/forming an identity is something that I can connect with. I have tried to represent myself in the past so as to show others my identity in the hopes of connecting with those who identify with me. Whether it be obvious or subtle, I have tried to represent myself in many different ways. For example, the way I choose to dress and have chosen to dress are ways of expressing myself and my identity. This goes for everyone as well, I can notice in other people what their “identity” is based on the way they are dressed and the clothes they choose to wear. If you are an athlete, artist, musician, goth, academic, or anything else, it can be apparent based on the clothes you wear and how you represent yourself when you wear them. It is important to keep in mind some stereotypes that are often associated with these different groups of people, and the dangers that could come with believing them or assuming what people are like based on their attire. A personal example of expressing myself through clothing I have is when I wore, and still wear, a sweatshirt with the logo of my favorite music group. The group is not the most popular nowadays and it is harder to find people my age who know about them and enjoy their music because of how long ago it was popular. What is great about expressing myself through wearing the sweatshirt is that I have met people who like their music as well because they noticed what I was wearing. It has also helped me to form an identity with those who do not relate to the music because they can now relate to me as someone who has a different music taste than they do.


Reflecting on the second project, I think it went well, and I was proud of what I was able to accomplish by the end of the project. The topic of empathy was something that I was able to form many opinions and thoughts on. Connecting the thoughts of three different authors regarding empathy and human interactions and connectedness was very challenging. I think I did a good job trying to synthesize their work and come to some conclusions about how their works connect to each other, and what it ultimately means for empathy in society. 

One of the more challenging aspects of writing this paper was writing thematically. Instead of writing a separate paragraph for each text or reference, I was making, I tried writing thematically and weaving the ideas of all the references together. This proved to be difficult because it became hard at times to find connections to make between the texts. Ultimately, I think I was able to write thematically and construct a paper that flowed and didn’t feel like separate paragraphs forced together in the same essay.


Revisiting this class’s learning outcomes has helped me realize what I have accomplished so far and how my writing process has evolved. Being able to synthesize my ideas with the ideas of others is an aspect of writing that I have improved in throughout this class as well as my GUST first-year seminar which also includes a lot of writing and revisions. I think that by reading many pieces of writing in Emerging I have been able to pick up on some writing techniques that I did not previously have, as well as an ability to compare texts to my own personal experiences and connect one text to another.