E-newsletter Signup

Sign up for the Parents e-newsletter, In the Loop.

Email us: parents@spu.edu

A Taste of SPU

By Jeff Jordan, Dean of Student Life


SpicesEach year the SPU Student Life staff gathers for a Christmas party. Of course, there's always a lot of wonderful food. Last year, we asked folks to bring their favorite Christmas morning specialties centering on the theme "A Taste of Christmas." Wow! The result was a variety of dishes from many traditions. I can smell the cinnamon, nutmeg, and candied bacon now.

Life's Many Flavors

In reading about our taste buds (now there's a fun online search!), I found that there are five typical tastes that we distinguish when eating: bitter, sour, salty, sweet, and savory. These different sensations also can represent most of our life experiences.

Your student has experienced a taste of college life this past quarter. Perhaps there's been the bitter experience of a broken friendship or an unexpected grade, or the sour taste of confusion surrounding majors or after-graduation plans. As with salt — a common spice that can be under-utilized or overwhelming — your student has had to find how to keep balance in the everyday flow of college.

Then there are the sweet experiences from the quarter — the success of a good grade or the joy of a new friendship. And I can assure you that your student has had a full array of savory experiences that enrich life with complexity, fullness, and depth in learning, both in and out of the classroom.

Season With Understanding

As your student returns home this Christmastime, take the opportunity to hear about his or her experiences. Some of these experiences may be unpleasant or confusing. Other experiences will be delightful, rich, and complex.

How might you understand your student's taste of SPU this quarter? Some suggestions include:

  • Ask questions. Inquire about different experiences. And remember to listen well: Some flavors and experiences are more difficult to describe than others.
  • Moderation is important. Whether it's with food or family experiences, it's good to pace yourself. Your student may not want to dwell on any one flavor for an extended period. You may need to come back to a conversation.
  • Let the food settle. Often it takes some time to digest what's been taken in. Your student may still be digesting his or her experience in order to get a better understanding. You also may need to digest what you're hearing.
As you and your family gather this Christmas season, chew on the savory, complex experiences. Mix in the bitter and sour. Sprinkle with the salt of routine. And enjoy the sweetness.

Merry Christmas!

View Feature Story Archives