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  • Amber Shan

Alternative Life Plans

Primary school, middle school, high school, and college: our life now consists of steps that are linked with each other planned by our parents, grandparents, college counselors, and/or society’s standards. What shall we do after college then? Shall we pursue our passion and shine on the stage of Broadway or shall we force ourselves into computer science and code in Silicon Valley?

Theatre design from Brown-RISD program

Many of us hold passions in fields of art, as we grab the camera and capture the subtle moments in our life that make us smile, attend an art exhibition and become enchanted by the color and shapes of Kandinsky, catching a musical and shed tears over the tragic romance in Moulin Rouge... While some are determined to shine by their artistic perspective, many decide to “only keep it as a hobby.” “I am absolutely in love with musicals,” says Linda Liu, a highschool student who studies in England, “I have been doing a lot of research on musicals, the rehearsals, and how they put a show together. I actually interned in West End London this summer, and attended the workshop of Hamilton in London. I am mesmerized, absolutely mesmerized.”

A professional musical actor Qisheng Ye, mentioned in an interview on Bilibili, a Chinese social media platform, arguing how his addiction of watching video versions of musicals changed his life path: “One day, my teacher showed me a video of Notre Dame in French. For your information, I don’t speak French, but the stage, music, and performance makes me fall in love with it. I then started to watch more and more: Mozart, l'opéra rock, Les Miserable, Rent, Chicago, The Phantom of Opera… I was so into it that I am determined to shine on the stage.”

However, a passion in art can be restrained in the range of hobbies. As Dale Hinckley, who used to teach photography at Stevenson, mentioned: “I love photography, but when I started teaching it, I realized this could only be restricted as a hobby.”

However, there is a perfect middle ground that satisfies an artistic interest and pursuing a “realistic” career. Have you ever heard of the major fFashion eEngineer? “I have been in love with fashion since I was young. Although I grew up in a little town in Inner-Mongolia, which is a very underdeveloped region in China, my mother always made nice dresses for me. I think that’s why I want to pursue fashion later in my life,” said Gina Qiao, a fabric designer in Shanghai, “However, my family is very poor, so obviously I am not able to build an art portfolio. I found out about this major called material science in a booklet. This means I get to pursue textile design and different types of stitches that can make a piece of couture come true, which is closely related to fashion design. On top of that I need to master physics, chemistry and mathematics. This is a crazy major because it satisfies the passion for art and offers a degree that’s easy to find a job with.”

Many universities offer interdisciplinary programs that help student to satisfy their interest: Duke University offers an “Art History: Architecture,” course that build a bridge between the the practice of architecture and history; Carnegie Mellon University offers the ‘IDeATe program’ that merge technology and fine arts; and the infamous Brown-RISD program that only admits 18 out of 694 applicants. “I would love to have someone with an Art major in my company. Since the company is very Technology focused, it’s very helpful for us to have people who have artistic talent in marketing or product designers that have fine art background,. ” said the human resource department head Xuan Li in a technology company in Shanghai. However, despite how good these resumes look on your LinkedIn profile, the stress level behind the dual degree could be stressful. “I am double majoring in Fine Art and Economics, minor in Computer Science in TuftsxSMFA program. This is a crazy plan for me and I am so glad that I made it. I have to take so many summer classes and I am really stressing out during the school year. When I am learning three completely unrelated majors, I feel that I learned a little bit of everything, and I don’t think this is extremely helpful to my future,.” expressed by Carina Xue.

However, as you might be lost in my story and make your “future life plan” seem even crazier and messier; our beloved copy editor Cynthia Wang, who graduated with the class of 2021, says: “Highschool feels like the craziest fever dream. I was determined to study Sociology back in the days, and now I am an econ major, reaching out to random people on LinkedIn. You should explore, do crazy things, read, and try as many new things as possible. You will feel lost, but you will miss this feeling.”


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