Clara Canales

Email: c.canales@berlin.bard.edu

Where are you from and which program are you enrolled in at Bard College Berlin?

I was born in Chile and grew up primarily in the Netherlands. Within the Economics, Politics and Social Thought degree I chose to concentrate on Politics. 

What drew you to Bard College Berlin and why did you ultimately decide to enroll as a student?

The funky poster of a pile of books on the grass. I thought it looked cool; it represented both an easy going atmosphere and an intellectually stimulating curriculum. In the end I chose BCB for the unique experience of a small liberal arts college in a major European city.

What do you like about campus life at Bard College Berlin?

Campus is a little bubble of comfort within an initially alienating city. It was the perfect starting point to begin exploring Berlin.

What do you enjoy about living in Berlin?

I enjoy the space it offers. Because of its history, Berlin has room for the new and unestablished. The city decided to keep a lot of open space, to let its past and present cohabit. Its parks, lakes and other public spaces are wonderful and there are always projects you can get involved in. It is a creative, inclusive and inspiring city. 

Write briefly about a text you've read for one of your courses that's left a lasting impression on you.

I find it hard to answer this question. Many texts have stuck with me over the course of the two years. However, the reading I would like to mention was not part of my own course load.

My friend was taking a course on Plato's short dialogues and over coffee we started discussing the concept of moderation. She showed me an excerpt of the dialogue at hand, and together we attempted to tease out what moderation consisted of. To explain it to ourselves, we took the example of a person who is always dieting. The continuous desire to be skinnier, to postpone one's self-realization to a later point of fulfillment. The mentality of: “If I lose 5 kilos I will be happier.” The person on a diet does not take the time to examine their current state, to moderately evaluate its pro's and con's. Instead they postpone their fulfillment to the future. When these goals are met, people are often not fulfilled and the happiness is further postponed; a new goal is set. This behavior is inherently immoderate.

I realized our thinking is ridden with immoderation. We rarely take time to observe our current state. Be it wellbeing, skinniness or intelligence. We often just focus on what could be rather than what is. Instead of focussing on what we will be when we grow up, would it be an idea to consider what we are now? 

How do you think the education you receive at Bard College Berlin will help you in the future? What does a liberal arts education mean to you?

To me, education's goal is to help develop your character. A liberal arts education provides input through which you can explore your beliefs. This education does not sculpt me towards a specific career. However, it has and will continue helping me realize who I am and what I want out of life. As I untangle these questions, I am able to apply myself more meaningfully. I believe the hard work is not in learning a skill set, rather it is in knowing why and how to use it.