Listen to part of a conversation between a professor and a student.
Student: Well, thanks for asking me here, but I just don’t think I have what it takes, ma’am. I mean, sure, it’s always been in the back of my mind, but I just never thought I was grad school material.
Professor: Now, Jeremy, don’t sell yourself so short. I think you would make an excellent graduate school student. You have been my student for how many years now?
Student: Let’s see… at least three. Yes, I’ve taken one of your classes ever since my sophomore year.
Professor: And, if I remember correctly, you’ve always been at the top of the class, have you not?
Student: Sure, but, grad school? I mean, that is a whole other beast, isn’t it? I would have to take the GRE, right? I did terribly on the SAT. I really don’t want to have to go through that again.
Professor: Well, Jeremy. Let me ask you this. What are your plans after graduation?
Student: I was just going to keep working at the bookstore. My supervisor said she would make me a full-time manager once I finished school.
Professor: But, Jeremy, is that what you want to do forever? I mean, I don’t want to put your job down or anything, but they could hire anyone with a high school education for that.
Student: Oh, I realize that, ma’am. No, I wasn’t planning on working in the bookstore forever. I actually do have a plan, well, kind of. I want to save money for another year and then travel for a while. I’ve always wanted to travel, but I’ve never had the time or the money.
Professor: Yes, and I do think that is an excellent idea, but what about after the world tour? Back to the bookstore? What about a real profession, Jeremy? Something you would love to do for the rest of your life. A career, Jeremy.
Student: Well, to be honest, I’ve always wanted to work for a publishing company. As you know, I love to read and write. And, to do it for a living, as in editing manuscripts and such, well, it would definitely be my dream come true. I don’t need graduate school for that, do I?
Professor: Not at all. But the field is highly competitive. Especially in publishing, an advanced degree would definitely help in securing a good junior editor position. Usually, applicants with just undergraduate degrees do lots of paper pushing if they are lucky enough to land a job in a publishing house.
Student: I didn’t think of that, ma’am. You mean a Master’s could really help me out?
Professor: Sure, it could. And, it would only take you a year and a half or so to finish one. Personally, Jeremy, I believe you could even qualify for a scholarship. It would really be in your best interest to give it some thought. That’s all I’m saying. Please understand that I’m not trying to force you into doing something you don’t want to do. I just didn’t know if you realized it is a viable option for you.
Student: Well, ma’am, I do appreciate your concern, and I’m definitely going to give it some serious thought. I didn’t know you had so much faith in me!
Listen to part of a lecture in a history class.
Professor: Spanish Influence was really second to none during the early exploration of the Americas. The Portuguese were fast on their heels, but their goal was different from that of the Spanish. The Portuguese wanted to focus on building eastward trade routes to Southeast Asia for spices. They were not nearly as aggressive as the Spanish conquistadors. Portugal did end up gaining much of present-day Brazil while the Spanish occupied the remaining western areas of South America and Central America in the initial stages of exploration.
Student A: Um. I’m sorry lor interrupting, but what exactly was a conquistador?
Professor: Okay, well the root of the word Is obviously “conquest,” meaning to take over or conquer. So, we can gather that these early Spanish explorers were not benign navigators or explorers looking to make new friends across the ocean. On the contrary, they were often proven, decorated warriors given the task of finding fruitful lands and defeating any menacing or retaliatory groups defending or occupying them. Of course, one of the most notorious conquistadors was Cortez, who conquered the Aztec Empire in an unprovoked, atrocious act of aggression and slaughter, which ultimately secured the area now called Mexico for Spanish colonization. Now, of course, Spain’s motivation was not necessanly land. It was simply a byproduct of its initial rampage, of which wealth was at its root. But this isn’t all. Who can tell me where the Spanish first began their conquests?
Student B: Well, it wasn’t actually the mainland of the U.S. I believe It was the islands of the Caribbean. Right, Professor?
Professor: You are exactly correct. Most expeditions after Columbus began island hopping across the Caribbean, virtually exterminating the native peoples there either by sword or disease and doing the same once they reached the American continent. In the process, the Europeans introduced a number of new diseases, such as smallpox, bubonic plague, and influenza, to the native populations, which nearly annihilated them because they had no natural immunity against these foreign diseases.
Now. let’s get away from the negative effects the Europeans had on the New Worid for a moment. We know that Spain was money hungry and that the Spanish discovered large deposits of silver in the New Worid and immediately sent much of It back to the homeland. But, they contributed much to the New Wortd, too, with things such as wheat, rice, sugar, coffee, pigs, and horses. On the other side, the Americas contributed com, potatoes, tomatoes, beans, tobacco, and even turkeys to the agriculture ot Europe. In this way, each benefited greatly from one another because they were able to diversify their agriculture and livestock.
Also, the Europeans were not the only ones to Introduce disease to a vulnerable people. Hepatitis was an earty problem for the indigenous peoples of the Americas, and, in time, it found its way onto the ships and was eventually slowly introduced to the populations of Europe. Of course, it was not nearly as devastating as the European diseases. Now, let’s go back again to this silver influence. Picture it. Spain is mining and mining in the New World and sending shipload after shipload back to the European continent. Obviously, this large influx of silver had a major impact not only on the Spanish colony but on the European economy as a whole. Any ideas on its impact? Anyone?
Student A: Well… it probably helped fund further expeditions.
Professor: That’s correct. These expeditions were not cheap by any means, and In many ways they helped fund further ones if they were successful. Without the discovery and mining of precious metals, further exploration would have been hampered if not stalled for good. The influx of silver also promoted more long-distance trading in Asian silks and spices. As Europeans became wealthier, they became thirstier for exotic goods from the East, promoting and diversifying European trade. Further, the silver helped Europeans fund the agricultural development of sugar and coffee in the New World. Still, as silver began to pour Into Europe, there was one negative effect that clearly outweighed all the positives… Mainly, a price revolution occurred, making money’s value decrease and the general prices of goods increase, causing major inflation throughout the major countries of Europe at the time.
Student B: But what about England, Professor? How were the British able to enter the exploration or settlement race?
Professor: Excellent question. At this point, we are well into the sixteenth century, at Spain’s peak of power and influence, but eventually England was able to defeat the Spanish Armada, which opened the door for England. Population growth in Europe as well as a changing agricultural system also left England little choice but to look to new horizons. This, coupled with the surplus of unskilled labor, unemployment, and poverty and crime, soon led to England entering the race to the New World.