On Observation


This project has been a headache and a blessing…. all at the same time.  And quite honestly, I couldn’t have hoped for anything better.  Wrapping my life up here in Ann Arbor has been messy and exhausting and this project has returned some comfort to me in places of my life that I was rather unsure about.

Gentrification, an Infestation has helped to prepare me for my future in Brooklyn, NY.  What I learned from documenting my research is that being an observer/ being aware of current, past, and future conditions is of utmost importance in terms of moving forward as a society.  While you can’t necessarily tell people how to live or change, you can at least ask for them to be knowledgable about their impacts and hope that their moral-selves will edit their lifestyle when necessary.

While the project isn’t perfect and I had hoped for a larger answer or outcome, I think I have learned and reflected upon a valuable skill: of being observant.  Deep-read/ observation will be very important to the ways that I carry myself in Brooklyn so that I am continuously informed of my impositions on the existing context.  For now, that is all I can ask of myself.  For later…. who knows 😉

Last Call

WOW.  What a semester.  As I sit here to write what will be my last challenge journal of my semester and the last blog for the writing minor/ of my college career, I am in a manic state.  There is so much to be done but such little time left.  Motivation is also running short, as I have secured a position at a firm and have moving plans in place in the next 3 weeks.  WOW, again… if I didn’t sound freak-outish enough the first time.

Here are the two biggest challenges I’ve worked through over the last week and will continue to do so throughout the next two weeks.

  1.  TIME. I am working through two thesis classes at the current.  It is a constant push and pull between the two.  Thesis classes are a blessing and a curse, because they will take up every last hour of your day but they are informative and life changing, as long as you give it what it needs.  Working through two thesis’ at the same time…. that’s a different beast.  Especially in the last couple of weeks of them, as that is the time for production.  If you don’t pump the breaks on the research early enough, you’ll be stuck with unfinished products at the end of it all.  That is the WORST feeling of all.  SO in effort to give both of my thesis’ the time they deserve, I’ll be wrapping this project up a whole WEEK early, before the deadline of my second project, my capstone thesis for my Architecture studio course.  It WILL all get done.  I’ve selected this method of work because it is tried and tested.  I’ve used this artificial deadline approach almost every semester of my college career.  Architecture studios typically take 8-10 days of FULL work ONLY on that project in order to develop a solid set of drawings and models.  Ready to do what it takes for both!!
  2. MOTIVTION.  Quite honestly, it is getting hard to hang in there with the end of school right now.  I have plans set after graduation and I have people I want to spend time with before I leave.  Some who are moving half way across the world in the next few months.  YIKES.  I also want to finish really strong in my schoolwork.  I want to leave feeling like the chapter has been closed.  To sit comfortably with what I have created in the last few months of my time here.  The same situation held true at the end of my high school career, too.  That was a little different, however, because the work load then and now are widely different.  My strategy will be to block out the emotions, to be quite honest.  I think that is the scary reality of architecture school, or of college at whole.  Produce, produce, produce.  Rest comes after graduation!  In fact, my other thesis is related to drugs and production culture that we all participate in.  Why are we like that?

Well, adios for now, Blog.  Best regards ~

What’s Left


The stress is hitting. I have 4 weeks left and more to do than I thought possible.

Just today, my parents and I began the move out process.  They brought a load of my stuff back home to Chicago.  While it feels good to get things started, doing so triggered a bit of panic within me as I realized all of the things I have to wrap up before April 26.

I have jobs to apply to, moving plans to solidify, competitions to submit my work to, I have 3 classes to wrap up… two of which are thesis project classes, friends to say goodbye to, clothes and furniture to pack up and move out, and what seems like a zillion other little things to cross off of the list in just 4 weeks.  What have I done to myself!!

Ok, I’ll calm myself down a bit.

The problem I am beginning to need to work through is that, when I am stressed out and short for time, I have a horribly hard time writing.  I’ll build a sentence, delete it, write a new one, delete it again.  I can’t make decisions on narrative or linguistic style, I get mad at my fingers for not typing as fast as my head is thinking, and so forth.  What should be a peaceful and enjoyable process turns into one of frustration.  This sometimes goes on for hours.

This has happened so many times before and will certainly happen again.  Something good about being a senior is that, with four years of this under my belt, I finally have an idea of ways to relax myself out of it…

While I was trying to wrap up my final project in my gateway course my sophomore year, I was also trying to wrap up 18 credits worth of classes.  I remember being stressed and frustrated with my lack of efficiency while I was writing.  I could annoyingly work on my math and physics courses in this state just fine, but when it came to writing, it just burned me out.

What I’ve found to work is when I separate myself from the world around me a bit.  I get rid of my phone.  I go to a coffee station where I know none of my friends will come to.  And I give myself 5 to 7 hours of a day to be unbothered.  It is all about time, location, and interior energy.  My thoughts are less scrambled, my body and muscles relax, I have no one to answer to, and I can just breathe.

I need to give myself a day to do this for my project and I need to do it as soon as possible.  I achieved NONE of my writing goals for this past week so I will need to start this week off strong and focus some of my time on this project instead of some others for a second.  Hopefully, Tuesday will be a day that I can try to reach this state.

I need to rediscover my energy and excitement for my project again!  I’ve gotta get the wheels turning for this.  I can do it.  It WILL happen!


Sitting Easy With the Unknown

is always a weird, uneasy place to sit. Its the seat that you are sitting in right before sitting on the edge of your seat and that seat that you find right after you found your seat at all.

Sitting easy with the unknown is the challenge of the day.  In the project proposal, by nature, we’ve done a lot of foreshadowing… planning you might call it.  Definitely a VERY necessary phase in the process, planning gives structure and is the backbone of any good project.  It is breakable and binding all at the same time.  Most importantly, though, planning is something all creative thinkers need throughout their process to fall back on when direction or intention is lost.

HOWEVER, planning in projects like we do in the proposals is to assume tasks and plan to LATER find substantive information.  How do we know what we will find?  What if we were wrong?  What if we thought existed, doesn’t?

This is to sit easy with the unknown.  To plan to find something, to prove something, or to contribute to something… that’s what we all have done.  Think of it as unfulfilled promises to ourselves and to our audiences.  The goal is to fill those promises (or to find a way to provide with equal substance if you lead yourself to a new outcome).

All to say, that planning for a project as large as this sometimes feels a bit awkward.  I’ve said I’ll do something.  But I have yet to do it… or even know if I CAN do it in the way I thought I would!

We’ve planned before.  We can do it again!  Plans change, so do we and so does our interests.  What comes will come ~

Being My Rituals

I have a lot of subtle rituals.  Rituals that I didn’t know were rituals until Tharp helped me to identify them as such.  Rituals that I otherwise do quite mindlessly.  Rituals that indeed impact the quality and efficiency of the work or the experience that follows them.

To me, rituals are very much so atmospheric and environmental.  My whole life is about spaces; the good ones and fixing the bad.  Where I put my body, what I do there, and for how much time are all factors to the way I feel in the given place.  Some of these places bring me peace.  Others don’t.  I do this to myself and I am doing it all of the time.

My rituals develop and change shape with time.  For example, every morning, I crawl down from my lofted bed, brush my teeth, splash cold water to my face, and I immediately change into my clothes for the day.  If I can hear one of my 6 roommates in the kitchen, then you can dang sure bet I won’t be having breakfast for the day.  Something about starting my day off bumping and pushing around people in the kitchen ticks me in the wrongest of ways.  So instead, I’ll pick up some coffee and walk myself to the bus stop.  The most important part of this routine, though, is the music played during the walk.  “What’s today?” I ask myself.  Last week was a very much a Frank Ocean week.  This week?  All about the Chromeo.  Next week?  Maybe it will be back to Alanis Morisette for the… possibly 60th time.

The trouble with my many rituals is the dissatisfaction I have when one, for some reason or another, didn’t prove successful in the same way that it always used to.  I rely on my preparatory rituals so much so that I get aggravated when I follow one to no success.  When this happens, I drop a lot of positivity from my day.  I get frustrated with myself and my lack of ability to preform.  Reconstructing my faith and trust towards myself becomes the new challenge of the day, rather than all of the exterior things I had already planned to tackle.  I’m left wondering whether it’s better not to rely on these rituals and to find excitement in the unknown.  Is it a ritual to live a part of your day carefree with no specific ritual?

http://petecaro.wix.com/portfolio15 : That’s Explicit

As much as I’ve come to love reflective writing this past semester, it is more than music to my ears that this will be the last of it for the term.  Almost all of my projects have involved reflective writing and yes, I’ve enjoyed it but I can not wait to be able to learn through other writing means during the next semester!

Anyways, I am here to talk about my ePortfolio.  This piece was in fact a roller coaster in itself.  I had the awesome chance to express my more creative and design driven talents within a medium that I had never explored before.  Wix makes building a website look super easy.  And it is!! But filling it with content is a whole other ballgame in a whole new ballpark.

So I faced a couple of rather significant challenges within the ePortfolio project.  The first was the complexities of format.  I was constantly thinking about how someone would go about using my website and what path they would take from point A to point B without me explicitly saying to travel in that path (which I did resort to on a few occasions).

My next challenge was working within the limitations of the PDF file reader.  I worked through a number of different platforms to find a way to display my 50 to 70 page long PDF files until I finally came across one that actually worked.  It was named Issuu and this is the platform you will find on my site for all of my large file projects and design portfolio.

Besides these two hardships, I struggled with the passing of time.  It seemed like I could sit in front of my laptop for an entire day just playing and dabbling with this site and never even realize that an amount of time had passed by.  Of all of the projects, I most enjoyed putting together the ePortfolio because I love to conduct presentation and work with orientation of information.  I found the task and assignment particularly relaxing; yes, I said it, the ePortfolio was stress relieving for me to create.  It takes a lot of work and time, but it is such a rewarding piece to carry with me where ever I need it in these next few years.

My portfolio isn’t particularly formal.  In fact, it’s almost quite the opposite.  But being formal in a project like this isn’t really like me to do.  I wanted my personality to bleed through the pages of my site and through adding almost only my own photography to the site helped me to achieve that.  For me, every page had written meaning as well as visual meaning.  The pictures are just pictures and help to give a bit of context for my argument, but for me, the pictures are almost as reflective as the work I had put on each page.

I am really proud of what I’ve made here, though.  I feel as though everything has sort of come together right at the end.  The body of work is representative of something that is larger than myself and that is something that not everyone gets the chance to say during their time in classes at college.

Overall, I am really excited for the end of things in this class.  I feel like I’ve grown tremendously as a writer and as a person and peer.  I also sort of feel that I’ve learned all that I can learn this semester and that it is time for a new term to come.  I am excited to start fresh but like always, saying goodbye to the old is hard.

Ta-ta for now Minor in Writing.  It’s been a pleasure.http://petecaro.wix.com/portfolio15  We will meet again for the capstone course.  Until then,

Caroline C.A. Petersen

Michael Buble's Christmas Album cover

Advising Appointment No.1

I’ve never really been that great at giving advise.  But here’s some.

Advice 1:  Never discredit yourself at the beginning of a blog post (as I just did) because it will probably not help you in convincing your audience of everything else that you have to say after.  Which leads me to advice number 2.

Advice 2:  Take risks in this class (and in every other class you are ever going to take).  Sometimes those risks lead you into really disastrous and time consuming outcomes but other times these risks are what separate students from devotionalists. I promise you, I’ve learned more about my writing by being willing to make mistakes over these past three months than I have in the entire rest of my 18 (or so ) years of writing before this semester.

Advice 3: Don’t take crap from anyone [ins: everyone].  Listen to your peers, whether you think their advise is good or bad it is most certainly not worthless.  Learn how to be a listener just as much as you learn how to become a writer this semester.  Classes like this one teach you just as much about life as they do academics and being willing to be taught about both will push you to be a better student and person.

Advice 4: Don’t write for the grade because doing so is 1. a waste of time and 2. putting your energy into a class for the wrong reasons.  Work on something else if you aren’t going to put effort into a piece of writing for the purpose of benefiting yourself or the work at hand.  GPA is a number, grades are letters and you are a human.  Treat yourself as one!!

Advice 5:  Do it with a smile on your face.  Be overjoyed for the opportunity rather than annoyed by the assignment.  Take everything as the blessing that it is.

Advice 6: GET GOING ALREADY!  Life goes fast and so does this class!! Dive in with all of yourself as quick as you can because before you know it, the semester will be over.

Good luck and happy writing.

From one writer to another,

Caroline “my finals playlist is all of Michael Buble’s Christmas album” Petersen


Status Update


Dear fellow bloggers and readers alike,

I am sitting in the University of Michigan’s Union Reading Room with a Klean Kanteen of coffee to my side and an extra chair to put my feet up on.  I am in my ideal working spot and have everything I need to get cracking for a productive night.

As I look through my “List of Things to do Before December 18th at 7:21 pm”, which by the way, is when my train takes off back to Chicago in case you wanted to invite me out to dinner or hang in the library sometime before the holidays, I am coming to terms with my time frame and work load over the next couple of weeks.  I can skip over subjects like physics and sustainability and society for the week, as they are a little less demanding of my attention at the time being.  I really need to focus my attention on history and writing, though, as I know I have plenty to do to prepare for their respective deadlines.

“What’s left” is what I always ask myself when I look at my to do list in writing.  I feel like it all just never ends!  So here’s what’s left:

  1. I absolutely hate my “How and Why I Write” insert.  I worked for hours to get something started and I just could not get something on paper that was from the heart.  I need to completely re-look at that if I want to have a good piece to put in my portfolio.
  2. My ePortfolio is really coming along!  I have all of the pages formatted.  All I need to do is insert projects as I come to finishing them.  All of the photos in my website are my own, which I think adds a special little flare to the collection.Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 7.35.43 PM of my ePortfolio home page
  3. I am collecting information, pictures and quotes for my new remediation project.  I started all over with that project too.

Lately, I just feel like I can not make decisions about my writing.  I think I might just be about run down in terms of writing capacity for the semester.  I will be able to pull through in order to produce these last few projects, but I am just beyond pooped in trying to write things I really like!

Well, that’s enough for now.

Status update: in.

Caroline: out.



A Fall in Review

I’ve been in school for a lot of years now.  Just about fifteen, to be precise.  And through these fifteen years of learning, I’ve sort of developed this theory on teaching.  And here it is.

There are good teachers and there are bad teachers.  I’m comfortable with making the assumption, then, that I’ve never once had a bad teacher through my education and I think this way because I further assume that, if a teacher was bad, then the school districts wouldn’t be writing a contract to them in the first place.

So all of my teachers over the past fifteen years have been good teachers.  But through these fifteen years, I can name only about four to five of which were particularly memorable.  And when I say memorable, I don’t mean just the memory of school; I am taking about memorable outside of school, too.  In no way were these years consecutive, either.  But then I’m struck with trying to understand why exactly some years were more memorable than others if all of my teachers were generally good teachers?  And I believe I can answer this question by focusing particularly on teaching style.

With today’s technology (and whatnot), we have the ability to understand that human brains are divided by left and right sided lobes.  Generally speaking, it’s been decided that left brained people are mathematical and textual in their learning style.  Therefore, right brained learners benefit from the more imaginative and creative methods of information intake.

A diagram of the left and right sides of the brain.The way people taught when I was growing up was very traditional, in that A+B=C and all things good come from text or reading.  And this teaching style fit one type of learner: the left brain learner.  And sure, the majority of the population was and still are left brain learners, but what about us right brainers?  How do we get to learn?  Are we, then, deprived of equal education if our teachers are teaching us in ways that are hard for us to learn?

I remember five years of my childhood.  Just five years and the rest are a bit of a blur.  And I think I know why.  I think this is because the teachers who taught me during those five years were teachers who weren’t just good, they were innovative.  I believe that these five teachers realized that there isn’t just one method to learning, and thus, to teaching.  There are many.  And the teachers who taught to the right side of the brain just really spoke to me.  And then I would learn and my memory became so much more vivid, in school and out.

In college, I was finally granted the freedom to teach myself to learn.  I used methods of self guided learning that were adapted to my personal style and through doing so, I have really started to like learning.  But the most learning I have done throughout my entire school career has been this past semester.  And, as well, I think I can tell you why.

I think I learn really well through writing.  I used to hate writing.  It took time and effort and I used to think that I would get just as much out of writing as I did speaking.  And speaking was just a lot faster, but the fact of the matter is that it wasn’t really doing anything for me.

I’ve discovered myself as a learner this semester through writing.  And this has been the most impactful semester of my college career, simply because I’ve been asked to write so much.  So that’s what I’ll keep doing then, because clearly it helps me do my job: to be a student.

Therefore, what I’ve learned most about myself as a writer this semester is that, well, I learn really well when I write.  And this is reflected in my academic arguments.  While I am actually learning what I am writing about, my arguments become much more logical and thus, have more flow.  And from the first essay that I wrote this semester to the last shows all of this progression.

SO yes.  I’ve taken forward steps in my writing this semester.  And thank goodness for this because after all of these essays, I’d be pretty bummed if I didn’t show any improvement.

How To: Write what’s Right

I took a trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes this past weekend and got to do a bit of reflecting on the past couple months that I’ve spent here at the U.  Not shockingly, a lot of that reflection has to do with my becoming of a writer, and along with this, an innovative thinker.  The following is (1) a picture of me on the beach, and (2) a response to my much needed time spent in nature these past few days.

Photo taken by Dishi of me at Lake Michigan in the Sleeping Bear Dunes.

At the beginning of this semester, I found myself rather dismayed while looking through my syllabi.  I think that an average semester for me would involve something on the order of 6 to 10 or so assigned essays, in total and split between my classes.  Unbelievably, I was reading through each of my classes and totaled to 20 essays that I would be writing this semester.  And this number is not inclusive of the numerous proposal essays I would find that I am required to write as a pre-essay planning process.  While most of these essays are 5 page write ups, I’ve knocked out one that was a whopping 40 pages.  Let me tell you, 20 essays seems like a daunting number.

Here I am, 17 essays later, coming up on the deadline of my last few assignments and I can’t believe I did it.  Sure, I’ve gotten a bit better at writing in general, but the time commitment hasn’t shortened up too much.  Through these grueling hours of writing anything from creative haiku’s to intensive international urban planning research persuasive essays, I’ve most certainly found more of myself in perspective of a writer than I knew before getting to Ann Arbor for my sophomore year.

Why I Write:

I am very much a “write to learn” type of gal.  Often times on my physics free response homework problems, I will just start writing what I know (which might even be a restatement of a question) in order to get the ball rolling towards an answer.  I love to write research papers because of the satisfaction of realizing you are drawing conclusions about things that no one has ever even thought of before.

Parallel to this, I am, as well, a “write to heal” type of journalist.  It’s hard for me to reflect on things, but I have learned from this semester that the best way for me to come to terms with my past is to write about it.  And the best part about this reflective writing is that it was initially written for myself, but I get the wonderful opportunity to share this writing with others.  And in response to my hard work on a body of text, I can instantly place a smile on a number of peoples faces.  After all, that’s what life’s about, right? Sharing thanks and spreading happiness? (as I discovered in my repurposing project).

How I Write:

I am a VERY slow writer. In fact, I traditionally use my blogs as quick writing exercises, which helps me practice the documentation of quick thought.  My process is lengthy, though, as I like to think through every decision I make in terms of diction and sentence structure the first time around.  I rate paragraphs by density.  Once I start to ramble, I can feel the paragraph losing density.  When this happens, I usually rewrite the paragraph into about two sentences to densify it and then I have the opportunity to add more thoughts to the tail of that paragraph.


Overall, I’ve sort of found my place in writing this semester.  I use it as a way to record my experiences of a place while traveling.  I use it as a tool to say what I want,  I use it as a way to explain my learning process and, as well, a way to learn in itself.  And on top of all of this, I use writing as a tool for healing.  And now, I really don’t know what I would do without this outlet.  In fact, 17 essays later, I can name this as one of the most impactful and learning filled semesters of my college career, thus far.  And that is something that is pretty cool to get to say at this point in my life.