I’m terrible at this blogging thing. But I’m back. Again. For the third time. With more resolve. More purpose. More things to talk about.
Many things have happened since February 13, 2013, the date of my last blog entry. For instance, I did this little thing called “going to college.” Yes, that’s right. I am a second year student at the University of Southern California, where I am majoring in Health and Humanity and how to be a lean, mean South Central Los Angeleno.
But wait, you ask. Isn’t USC a large school? With large, echo-y auditoriums? With background noise? How do you hear? How can you do well in classes? How are you living on your own?
Let me be frank with you. USC is definitely not the easiest environment for a hearing impaired student like me to be attending, what with our bustling campus and our rambunctious football game days. However, I would venture to say that 98% of the time, I am able to participate in all of my classes and socialize with friends during school and after hours without any difficulty. I can say without a doubt that I attribute this to my Cochlear Nucleus 5 implant. There is no question in my mind that had I not received this implant, I could be thriving the way I currently am here at USC.
Granted, I still have to make sure I receive some of my usual accommodations, particularly ensuring a seat near the front of the classroom and communicating with the professor when I cannot hear. Despite that, my transition from my relatively small high school to college has been seamless, academically and socially. The most important factor in this transition has been my voice, and the attitude that influences my voice. Since attending college, I have become an even stronger, more confident self-representative. I continually — and fearlessly — vouch for myself and my needs. If I cannot hear my professor, I tell him or her. If I cannot hear my friends, I am not shy about asking for them to repeat something. The truth of the matter is that there is no use being shy about these things. The even bigger truth of the matter is that asking for these things is NO BIG DEAL. No one ostracizes me. No one freaks out. In fact, most people want to help. Actually, most people have no idea at all that I am hearing impaired. (Surprise!)
In case you were wondering what happened to the other 2%, this small gap is likely due to my natural impairment hindering my ability to exceed the maximum levels of assistance my devices are giving me (which believe me, are so much more than I ever thought possible). Even more likely, the 2% could be due to my sleep deprivation. Because college. Need. Sleep. (For me, hearing takes a little more effort than it does for a person who does not have an impairment, so when I am tired, I have that much less energy to devote to hearing).
Ironically, of all the 40,000 people that attend USC, I know only two other people who wear hearing aids, and no one that wears a cochlear implant. Although this seems strange to me, hearing impairments really are not that common in my academic and social sphere. The people that I have met (the aforementioned 2 people) are members of my favorite club at USC, Ending All Roads to Silence (EARS). EARS is a nonprofit organization that seeks to increase awareness of hearing impairments in “mainstream society.” The club also has an international component where we have raised funds to equip 30 children in India with hearing aids who have never before had them. This year, we are projected to equip 105 children with hearing devices, five of which include COCHLEAR IMPLANTS! I am so thrilled to be participating in a club that supports a cause so close to my heart. I’ll leave this link here if you are interested in learning more: http://www.endingsilenceears.org/
Well. This blog post has been excessively long and scattered This is what happens when I suck at blogging and try to compensate for my absence… I promise that the content will get more interesting and focused as I ease myself back into the flow of blogging. Stay tuned. I’ve got a year of insights that have been accumulating in my head and I’ve got to let them out, otherwise I will not have any brain power for those organic chemistry reactions I need to have memorized for the next week’s midterm…