The Experience, First Year Experience


Impromptu trip to the beach

October 10, 2014  |  The Experience, Rebecca Seidemann '18

Last Thursday, a last-minute plan to go to the movies with one of my friends became a giant adventure to the beach. It was reminicsent of the local exploring I did with my high school friends during the summer. It's always nice to be able to explore and get a sense of one's community. Adventures are also great bonding activities. 

It all started when I was looking up movie times with my friend. We discovered that it was the last day the movie we wanted to see was playing, so, "Let's go see it some time," became, "WE NEED TO GO SEE THIS MOVIE IN AN HOUR!" We caught the Camelvan, the College's shuttle system, and collected friends (as well as some new people I hadn't met yet) along the way. Over time, our plans and group grew and evolved.  

A ride in the CamelVan, a taxi trip and a few changes of plan later, we arrived at Ocean Beach in New London. The moment we got to the beach, everyone immediately kicked off their shoes and ran towards the water to start building a communal sand castle. As the sun set, we took a walk on the boardwalk before just sitting and talking.

It turns out that when you go on an impromptu beach trip with some people you met earlier that day, you end up knowing them pretty well by the time you get back to campus. As a plus, I ended up with some seashells for decorating my room, too!

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Tags:  |  The Experience, First Year Experience  |  The Experience, New London  |  The Experience, Photography

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A chilly get-together

December 12, 2014  |  The Experience, Rebecca Seidemann '18

I've enjoyed ice skating ever since my friend invited me to the neighborhood rink in middle school. We had to go with her mom, and I almost died at least 20 times, but it was fun. By the end of middle school, I was taking figure skating lessons. I towered over the other, younger skaters, most of whom only came up to my knee. Surprisingly, I moved up in the skating world faster than my small, youthful friends. Once I finished the basic skating levels, and a few figure skating classes, I quit.

I haven't skated much since, so I was excited when I found out that Conn has an ice rink. Many of the schools my friends attend don't have rinks on campus. On a recent Friday, I went to my first open skate here. It was only $1 to skate for 3 hours, and all profits went to the College's Relay For Life chapter.

I was eager to skate again, but a little nervous that I wouldn't be able to do the things I used to be able to do. Most of my friends were having trouble just staying upright, though, so there wasn't much pressure. After I got accustomed to the ice again, I started trying to do some of my old tricks. Some were rough, but others went pretty well.

I was in the middle of the rink practicing when someone skated up to me and asked if I was in the figure skating club. I said that I wasn't, and she told me that I should be, and that she could give me more details if I wanted them. I haven't agreed to anything yet, but I'm definitely considering joining. I really miss ice skating regularly, and it was flattering to be spotted as a possible member. I've already signed up for the email list, and we will see where things go from there.

I think the highlight of my night was when my friend Brion joked that he wasn't impressed by my tricks, and then, seconds later, face-planted on the ice. If he had gotten hurt, I wouldn't be able to note it as the highlight of my night, but he's fine, so I can tell you that it was HILARIOUS. 

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Tags:  |  The Experience, Athletics  |  The Experience, Clubs & Orgs  |  The Experience, First Year Experience  |  The Experience, On Campus

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Dealing with stress

December 1, 2014  |  The Experience, Rebecca Seidemann '18

College can be a stressful time. There are tests, homework, athletic obligations, etc. Right now, it's midterm season. The midterm bells are ringing in the streets, and professors are singing carols of molecular biology and behavioral neuroscience.

This week in my psychology class, however, we've been discussing health and wellness. We talked about the effects of stress and some ways that we can lower stress levels. One way: sleep. My professor reminded us to prioritize sleep, but she also reminded us that it's sometimes OK to put fun, social activities ahead of work, because those are the things that we'll remember in 20 years.

On Saturday, I decided to follow this advice. I had an overwhelming amount of work to do this weekend, but I told myself that I was only allowed to work on Friday and Sunday. Saturday, I would leave to myself. It was during this day of relaxing that my friends and I attended a "Destress Fest," an event developed and run by my floor governor, Sarah, and her friend, Brenna. There was ornament-making, cookie decorating and a Gak station. Yes, Gak; apparently, a strange rubbery concoction that helps your mind wander and spark creativity. And, of course, there was also food.

I, personally, did not make any Gak, but I did try my hand at ornament-making and cookie decorating. My ornament was a bit of a disaster, but my cookies were pretty awesome. I made a sunset cookie and a cookie that looked like Earth, which I'd like to think was to scale. My years of art classes served me well.

After the Destress Fest, I hung out with friends and took a breather from the stress of school. On Sunday, I still managed to finish all of my work, which served as a good reminder that a break once in a while is always a good idea.

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A surprising lesson

November 19, 2014  |  The Experience, Oliver Ames '17

Last year, as a first-year student, I tried hard to get involved in any and every activity I could find — a conquest that quickly overwhelmed me. I've continued with some activities and dropped others, but one notable activity I found myself involved with last year is still important to me now: I became an amateur telescope maker.

The story starts when a professor asked me if I was interested in getting involved with a peculiar project: I would be making my own telescope. At first, I didn’t really know what to expect, but took the two-credit course because I wanted my own telescope to look at the night sky. I signed up, paid for a telescope mirror blank and jumped right in, not knowing what I was getting myself into.

Our class met in the basement of Olin, one of science buildings on campus, and I was one of six or seven students who were given card access to a special room downstairs, usually used for processing images from the main, roooftop telescope on campus. There, I met Jay Drew, an amateur telescope mirror grinder who would be our instructor for the class. He proceeded to tell us all about how to turn a mirror blank for a telescope into an accurate imaging device. The thing that stuck in my mind was how many hours it would take — upwards of 100 hours.

Fast forward to the end of the course. Now, I have a beautiful, 8-inch mirror for the telescope I've yet to build. It is more accurate than something you can buy online for thousands of dollars and I got to make it with my own hands. Carving the concave glass with a convex tool night after night was tedious, but seeing the progress I made was incredible.

I ended up really enjoyed making something beautiful, and gained an appreciation for the delicacy of imaging instruments like cameras and telescopes. I’ll be building the rest of the telescope later this year, but, until then, I have something beautiful to show for my hard work. There is nothing like seeing a product come to fruition, particularly one that you made with the sweat of your own palms.

 

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Tags:  |  The Experience, Academics  |  The Experience, First Year Experience  |  The Experience, Miscellaneous

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750 acres of exploration

November 17, 2014  |  The Experience, Rebecca Seidemann '18

When I first learned about Conn's Arboretum, well before I became a student here, I thought, "OK, trees."

As someone with a tremendous fear of bees and a general dislike for a significant portion of things one might find in nature, exploring a forest didn't strike me as fun. Since becoming a student, however, I have become more comfortable with the idea of spending time in the Arboretum. After all, it's kind of hard to avoid: the 750-acre Arbo encompasses the entire campus and expands for acres in each direction — nearly a mile to the north — as a natural land preserve.

Entering the wilderness proved to be a slow process, like dipping your toe in a cold pool to test it out. The first time I went inside the natural land preserve-portion of the Arboretum, I saw a giant bee and ran away. The next time I went in a little further. I made it to a little gazebo, where I sat with some friends for a while. The next time, I didn't venture any farther, but I did stay longer to do some landscape drawing.

Then came Arbofest, our annual student-organized bluegrass and country music festival. I knew it was kind of a big deal, and I knew there would be food and music. The food was really the selling point, plus it was a stunningly beautiful day. I had to go. 

So, I made my way into the Arboretum, going deeper into it than I ever had before. There was indeed music and food, as well as a giant crowd of students lounging on the grass. The bands were playing right in front of the water, and it was actually very lovely ... despite some close calls with bees. 

Near the end of the festival, one of my friends asked if I wanted to take a walk with her. I agreed, and we walked along a path that led us deeper into the Natural Plant Collection (the area of the Arboretum most frequented by students and the community, just across Williams Street from campus.) To my surprise, it was actually a very cool walk. Hidden in the Arboretum are all sorts of paths, gazebos and benches, along with a cabin, Buck Lodge. I found myself wanting to explore deeper when my friend was ready to turn back. 

I've also heard there are cliffs and a small waterfall hidden somewhere back there. So, that's something to look into for a future trip. In retrospect, I sort of wish that I had realized how interesting the Arboretum is before, since it's starting to get chillier now. I'll resume my exploration in the spring.

Lesson learned, though: the Arboretum is not just a bunch of trees. 

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Tags:  |  The Experience, First Year Experience  |  The Experience, On Campus  |  The Experience, Traditions

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A trip to the gym

November 5, 2014  |  The Experience, Rebecca Seidemann '18

In my 18 and a half years, I had never been to a gym. 

That finally changed this past month. My friend Brion needed a gym buddy, and I obliged. I was a little hesitant about going with a gym aficionado; in fact, I was a little hesitant about going at all. I've always heard that gyms are intimidating, and I certainly don't know how to use any of the equipment, except the treadmill and exercise bike. I was afraid that I'd walk into the gym and immediately be pegged as a fish out of water.

I was surprised to see a number of students and College staff doing different exercises at their own pace. There were probably a few washboard abs in the room, but it actually wasn't that intimidating. Everyone was paying attention to their own things, and I didn't feel like I was being watched or judged. There was a lot of equipment that I didn't know how to use, but Brion helped with that, as did the handy-dandy instructions on every machine. There was also a lot of empty space in the complex, so it was easy to find some privacy when needed. I also got to use the pool, which was great because I love swimming.

Another bonus element to working out: The gym offers a gorgeous view of the Thames River, so you can try to focus on something pleasant while your pores cry with sweat.

I've come to appreciate our gym in many ways. One of my friends that goes to school in a city was given a membership to a gym a few blocks away as a consolation for the lack of a complex at her school.

Overall, my first trip to the gym was not a terrible experience. Although, for about a week afterward, I could barely walk ... but that's another story. 

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Tags:  |  The Experience, Athletics  |  The Experience, First Year Experience  |  The Experience, On Campus

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Fall Semester: Midterms

October 25, 2014  |  The Experience, Calli Reynolds '17

There are two extraordinarily busy times during the fall semester: midterms and finals. October is the month for midterms. Last year, as a first-year student, I was still adjusting to college life in October, occasionally getting lost and still learning all the Camel lingo. Having a midterm so soon into the year was surprising, as they approached faster than I expected.
Fast forward a year: Midterms? They still are — and will always be — stressful, but this year, I was ready. I knew that as October approached, I would be forced to hunker down and study more, and I adjusted my plans accordingly. A year makes all the difference, better preparing me for the four exams I'll be taking over the course of two weeks.

I admit that midterms and I will never be friends, but they are no longer an unexpected guest.

(In case you were wondering: A year later, I do know most of the Camel lingo, but there are still moments where I learn about a new phrase, building or acronym. That's better than getting lost, right?)

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Tags:  |  The Experience, Academics  |  The Experience, First Year Experience  |  The Experience, On Campus

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Green Dot Family Feud

October 24, 2014  |  The Experience, Rebecca Seidemann '18

IT'S TIME TO PLAY FAMILY FEUD! 

This past Thursday, the Office of Student Life and Think S.A.F.E., the College's sexual assault prevention group, hosted a game of Family Feud in Cro, our student center. Yes, there were prizes, though no Steve Harvey. First, second and third place teams won things like water bottles and bowls full of candy. 

The game show was Green Dot-themed. Green Dot is our sexual assault and violence prevention program. In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a number of sports and activities have been Green Dot-themed. The theory behind our program is that "no one has to do everything, but everyone has to do something." By connecting difficult issues of sexual assault, dating and power-based violence, and stalking to athletics and fun activities, we're working toward a necessary cultural shift. Increasing awareness enables bystanders to step in during "red dot" (problematic) situations. It promotes a safe and welcoming community. 

Given the theme, there were definitely some interesting sexual questions in our game of Family Fued. Though a little uncomfortable at first, we all sort of got used to the awkwardness of it in order to win points for our team. And, of course, it was all for a good cause. We learned things about safe, consensual sexual situations and, because of the survey section of the game, we also got a chance to see what our peers thought about certain situations. 

The night consisted of fun, games and prizes — though, not for my team — all in an effort to create a giant cultural movement against sexual assault and violence.

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Tags:  |  The Experience, First Year Experience  |  The Experience, Miscellaneous  |  The Experience, On Campus

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Smith Dining Hall: a gem hidden in plain sight

October 24, 2014  |  The Experience, Oliver Ames '17

The dining hall within Smith House is one of those gems that hides in plain sight. I’d call Smith the most intimate dining hall on campus, one where you really know the employees and the people that frequent the tables every morning. Smith serves breakfast and a sandwich/salad lunch, which is perfect. I usually arrive between 8:30 or 9 a.m., although, as a regular, I've determined that 9 a.m. really is the perfect time of day to enjoy the environment. Those who rush too quickly to grab a quick bite before their 9 a.m. class have all left and those who have a 10:25 a.m. class haven’t arrived for breakfast yet (or, for that matter, woken up). Those left during that perfect moment between 9 and 9:45 a.m. are the kind of people that sit and slowly enjoy their breakfast over a good book, some last-minute homework, or that day’s New York Times (which, by the way, is waiting for students — for free — right in the lobby).
 
These casual mornings remind me a lot of Sunday mornings at home — everyone is clearly relaxed but they are all excited for the day ahead of them. That atmosphere helps me prepare for my long and busy days filled with classes, clubs and study groups.
 
I should also mention that early in the mornings, right when Smith opens, the employees sit at a table near the entrance and chat, listen to music softly and welcome the regulars by name. Their morning prep work is done for the moment and there is a brief window where they can sit and relax. During this time, most students swipe their own Camel Cards to enter. It's a moment when the Honor Code is in action, and when common courtesy and a "thank you" make for a great start to the day. 
 
 

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Tags:  |  The Experience, Dining  |  The Experience, First Year Experience  |  The Experience, On Campus

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Collaborative learning

October 16, 2014  |  The Experience, Oliver Ames '17

One Wednesday evening, I found myself preparing for the first exam of the semester. I’d been dreading this moment for a week, so I tried to figure out a way to ease the pain: I tried something new and studied with Kim, a classmate. We settled into the Branford House common room at 7 p.m. and began our calculus preparation. I had blocked out three hours that night for studying and had prepared myself by bringing all my notes, my textbook and a Vitamin Water. As the night began to unfold, I quickly discovered three things.

First, I realized that studying with a friend from the same course can be highly effective. Often, Kim would understand the concept of a certain problem better than I would, and other times I would have a better understanding than she did. Having an extra brain is incredibly helpful, especially when you both can bond over a common desire: getting through the next exam.

Second, I realized that we were not defined by our notes. The resources of the College stretch very far in all directions and easily provide us with more than enough help. This particular night, Kim and I explored the helpful information available on our class Moodle site, a handy webpage that serves as a reference, curated by the professor, for each course. Our professor had provided helpful links to resources online, scanned resources from different textbooks and helpful solutions to difficult problems. These extra resources often go unnoticed. There were so many resources at our fingertips, fully understanding a topic was easily within our grasp.

Finally, I realized how valuable professors are. My math professor encourages us to take a photo of the problem we are working on and send it to her with questions. She can glance over our work and tell us what we're doing wrong. This is not uncommon for Conn professors. In another class, I had not yet learned good time management and would often find myself up doing homework later than I would have liked. Even in that case, when I sent the professor a photo of my work, I would often get a response late at night with helpful hints. Professors are highly accessible here and they define my experience.

I came to college expecting a struggle and, in some senses, I was right. You are challenged as an individual in many ways but, if you reach out to find the resources, it's hard not to come out of the struggle wiser and smarter. I’ve discovered that working with my classmates and struggling through the material together, reaching out to professors with each and every question, and using the resources provided helps me succeed and thrive.

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Tags:  |  The Experience, Academics  |  The Experience, First Year Experience  |  The Experience, On Campus

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Rolling around Cro

October 9, 2014  |  The Experience, Calli Reynolds '17

Remember those old skates in your closet? Take them out and bring them to college! We are going roller skating!

I had no idea it was possible to create a roller rink on campus, but Conn made one night of disco-themed, four-wheeled madness happen. To clarify, we don't usually have roller skating on campus, but one recent event produced by the Office of Student Life turned the largest room on campus into a roller rink, with skates provided too! I never would have expected to see so many of my friends go to a roller skating event. Everyone had a good time, from those who had never skated before to even the most expert and acrobatic skaters.

That evening, I'm convinced everyone shared one goal: Don't fall. While some succeeded and some didn't, it was definitely a great way to start my weekend and an event I'll remember for many years.

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A marathon of charcoal

October 7, 2014  |  The Experience, Rebecca Seidemann '18

As part of my two-dimensional art class, I recently participated in the Art Department's seventh annual charcoal drawing marathon this past Sunday. Our assignment was very broad: We were told to use a variety of shapes, color tones and depth to fill the very large, intimidating blank pieces of paper in front of us. Between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., we drew without stopping. We had no specific subject to work with, we simply had to respond to our environments and the music that was playing.

The presiding art professors encouraged us to think of our pieces as completely mutable. We were encouraged to draw over things, erase our work and paint over large sections of our pieces to work, then rework, the charcoal. As someone who has taken many art classes, the process was a challenge. I'm used to crafting my pieces carefully, focusing on intricate shading and minute details. Inevitably, I get attached to my art and I'm reluctant to change anything more significant than those tiny details.

This experience made me explore a very different technique: a "kill your darlings"-type of technique, where you have to get rid of some of the bits of your work that you're attached to in order to improve the piece as a whole. While this was difficult, it helped me loosen up and go with the flow of things.

By the time 4 p.m. arrived, it seemed that there was more charcoal on my face, hands and arms than on my actual canvas. Despite the mess and a very sore drawing arm, I was very happy with my piece. Looking around the room, I was pleased to see that others found the process — and final results — to be successful.

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Coming back after Fall Break

October 5, 2014  |  The Experience, Rebecca Seidemann '18

As I write this, it's the first day back from Fall Break. Many of my friends were excited to go home for the long weekend, specifically to see their various breeds of furry creatures. I wanted to see my family, swap stories with my friends and, most of all, have my bedroom to myself. Having roommates is fun, but being back in your own room is definitely a welcomed bit of quiet. 

Despite the immediate comfort of being home, I found myself missing Conn. I missed being able to roam around the campus, having food available to me at (almost) all times of the day and seeing all the familiar faces. Part of me felt like I didn't fully belong at home. I've now spent a month here on campus and, in that time, I've made a new friendships and experienced so much that's new and different. It makes sense that, at least partially, Conn is becoming my home more and more.

After a brief weekend away, I'm back home at Conn. Sure, I have homework, tests and, yes, I'm again sharing a room. But I'm happy to be back in the routine here.

I'm also happy to have access to the abundance of ice cream in Harris once more. 

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My first Camelympics

September 23, 2014  |  The Experience, Rebecca Seidemann '18

I recently attended my first Camelympics. You may be wondering, "What on earth is Camelympics?!" Imagine if the Olympics were held on a college campus and included activities like board games and hula hooping. That should give you the gist of Camelympics. Different houses compete in games to get points and, at the end of the day, only one house is declared the winner — a coveted title.

Of all the activities I found myself participating in — including Apples to Apples and Catch Phrase — Quidditch was certainly my favorite. I lack the coordination usually required for sports but, as a huge Harry Potter fan, I volunteered to play. I was the Keeper (basically, a goalie) for Johnson House, and our house ended up winning fourth place. 

At the beginning of the game, no one was quite sure how the game would work when the brooms did not begin to fly. The confusion was brief and, after the first round of games, people started getting very into it. There was a lot of cheering, a lot of running, a little bit of tackling and a dash of screaming to distract opponents. Players also started growing attatched to their positions. The passion for Quidditch that developed over the course of roughly 20 minutes was pretty surprising. 

The most entertaining part about Quidditch is how the role of the Snitch is adapted when playing without magic. In Harry Potter, the Snitch is a little golden ball that, when caught, ends the game instantly. In Muggle (non-magical people) Quidditch, the Snitch is a bystander who volunteers to wear a yellow shirt and run around campus to avoid being tagged by the Seeker. In one of the final games, as the Snitch was about to be caught, he tripped and fell. As others jumped over the Snitch to avoid landing on him, the opposing Seeker snuck up from behind and fell onto the Snitch, winning the game. It was surprisingly intense.

Camelympics may be about fun and games, but there was true competition amongst Camels. There was a very strong sense of community. As houses came together, there was a chance for students to intermingle and meet one another, and the traditional event also gave me the chance to act out my favorite, magical sport.

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Tags:  |  The Experience, First Year Experience  |  The Experience, On Campus  |  The Experience, Traditions

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Welcome to 'hard times'

September 27, 2014  |  The Experience, Rebecca Seidemann '18

In the last week, I've noticed some unusual additions to Cummings Arts Center on campus. First, a wooden chair appeared in the middle of the lobby. The next day, another chair appeared. Then a table. Then an embroidery wheel with felt letters sewn onto it that read, "I *heart* BEING A MAN." Strange, I thought.

I soon learned that all of these installations were part of an upcoming art show, "Welcome to Hard Times," by artist Dave Sinaguglia, an adjunct professor here at Conn. I attended the opening of his exhibition, which included a lecture, and came to appreciate his artwork much more.

Before attending Dave Sinaguglia's talk, I was unaware of the depth of his work, most of which is commentary on masculinity. I gathered as much from the embroidery wheel, but I didn't really know the context. Dave Sinaguglia explained that he was raised in a very "stereotypical" family in terms of gender and familial roles. Now, he uses tongue-in-cheek concepts to push the ideas associated with gender. For example, one of his projects involved living alone in a homemade log cabin. While building the cabin, he made sure to wear flannel and pose with power tools (as stereotypical "manly men" do). Another one of his carpentry projects was titled "My trouble with women, is my trouble with Music, I love this one song, I listen only to it. For weeks, I never stop loving it — I just stop listening."

This gender aspect of Dave Sinaguglia's art is very interesting because it's an atypical take on a very "complicated topic," as Sinaguglia called it. Of course, this is not the only characteristic of his art projects. They also deal with ideas about socialization versus isolation, independence and precision.

I'm glad that I was able to attend the gallery opening. It offered some new perspectives on gender and got me thinking about other innovative ways in which people can express ideas through art.

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Tags:  |  The Experience, Academics  |  The Experience, First Year Experience  |  The Experience, On Campus

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How to become a Camel through clubs

September 25, 2014  |  The Experience, Calli Reynolds '17

People spend four years at college exploring many different paths but, at Conn, these years are also spent learning how to be a Camel. There are many ways to embrace your Camel identity, connecting with your peers and your community. The number of ways to spend time are plentiful, including playing sports, volunteering in the community or joining student clubs and activities.

Last year, my first year at Conn, I joined a few clubs. I went to several meetings and decided what worked and what didn't. By the end of the year, not only had I found groups and causes that I cared about, but I had taken leadership positions for the upcoming year. I've become an active member of Umoja — the Black Student Union — and I've met close friends in the process. I also attended Green Dot training, a program dedicated to ending sexual assault and power-based violence on college campuses. I'm also now the vice president of Eclipse, an annual, student-produced dance show.

Now, I have a chance to represent these clubs — the activities that I love so much and that helped me feel at home here — publicly as a spokesperson at the annual Student Involvement Fair. I distinctly remember the fair from my first year and how that one event helped me choose my path. Leading up to this year's fair, I was excited to be on the giving end of the process, helping new students find their passions and activities.

Something surprising happened: I found myself signing up for new clubs, as well. A good walk through the fair presented clubs and groups that I hadn't seen before, along with activities I had previously overlooked. I'm someone who loves to be active and have lots do to over the course of a week. As I go through my four years, I will probably join more clubs, change the activities I'm involved in and find other ways to be involved on campus. That's part of the joy that comes with finding a Camel identity.

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Tags:  |  The Experience, Clubs & Orgs  |  The Experience, First Year Experience  |  The Experience, On Campus

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A night of improvisation

September 23, 2014  |  The Experience, Anique Ashraf '17

“One, two, three, four, one, two, three, four …” The voices are in unison. I stare around me; these are the people I’ve known for a year. We’ve met three times every week in the College Center at Crozier-Williams to practice improv. We’re N2O, the short-form improvisational comedy group at Connecticut College and it’s our first show of the year.

The warm-ups are done and the rituals begin: we sit in a circle and talk, and have quiet moments to prepare. Each one of us is nervous — this is also our first combined show with the long-form comedy group on campus, Scuds. A lot rests on this show because we have auditions the day after and we want a good turnout. We want some of the spectators to show up because the people who often think they’re not funny are actually the funniest.

I joined N2O last year in the beginning of September. I heard about the auditions from a friend and almost didn’t make it. In those first few days after Orientation, you run around like a headless chicken and want to join everything — and that’s good, because that’s how you discover things you never knew you were good at. How was I to know that my inherent awkwardness and desire to engage with even the most minor of things would translate to improv? I got to the auditions, however, and I was scared. So many people were so good. The members of the group were informal, though. They could have been ruthless but instead, they were the kindest, nicest people I’d met yet. I got called back and I joined improv.

Joining a club is not just a time commitment, it’s a commitment of spirit. In an English seminar I’m taking this semester, “The Teaching of Writing,” I had to analyze my own writing process in a fair amount of detail. When I got to the end of the paper, I realized that my writing is influenced by improv. I’m committed to the principles of “yes” “and” (agreeing and adding on, to make the scene work) and it’s honestly made me a better writer and storyteller. Even in my personal life, improv has made me more direct, but also better able to engage with the absurd and the fantastical. Between the number-counting and the limb-shaking of a warm-up before a show, I feel immensely glad that I tried something completely new and it paid off.

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Tags:  |  The Experience, Clubs & Orgs  |  The Experience, First Year Experience  |  The Experience, On Campus

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Taking out the thinking caps (but actually...)

September 22, 2014  |  The Experience, Rebecca Seidemann '18

"Put on some gloves and grab a brain." Those were the words I heard my instructor say as I walked into my Psychology 100 lab today.

Yes, today we dissected brains. "Whose brain?" a friend asked before lab. "Do you remember the guy who used to live across the hall?" All humor aside, though, the lab was quite interesting. (It was the brain of a sheep.)

Working in pairs, we located some of the outer parts of the brain, a process which involved cutting the item in half. I felt surprisingly grown up, using the scalpels, dissection scissors and various sharp, scientific tools we had been given. As we cut open the brains, the thalamus, hypothalamus and corpus collosum all became visible. These are structures found in the center of the brain, which some of you "brainy" readers probably already knew.

I'm sure some students might have found this lab slightly nauseating, but, as a psychology major, I thought it was fascinating. My psychology professor walked around and helped when necessary, but for the most part we were given freedom to figure things out on our own. It was a vastly different experience from my previous high school science labs. After hearing about various brain structures in the course's lecture, we were able to match functions and locations during the lab. Suddenly, the concepts became less abstract. It sounds utterly cliché, but today's class made learning fun. 

After dissecting brains on day two of the lab, I have very high expectations for the rest of the year. 

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Tags:  |  The Experience, Academics  |  The Experience, First Year Experience  |  The Experience, On Campus

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Round two

September 10, 2014  |  The Experience, Calli Reynolds '17

A few weeks ago, as I headed out the door to college for the second time, a few things ran through my mind. "OMG, I'm a sophomore … can time stop moving so quickly?!" I probably had that thought a few times, actually. It is scary when you realize how quickly time passes and how fast your four years go. After I came to peace with the notion that time stops for no one, I thought of all the positive things this year would have in store for me.

Your first year is a time to explore (and learn … but you are always learning). You go to almost every club meeting on campus at least once and you can try activities and courses just to see if you like them. By your second year, you find a few projects that interest you and you are able to hone your passions. It is an amazing feeling to come back to campus and know what you are excited for.

I arrived back to campus feeling just exuberant. I was ready to be a Student Adviser, to be a more active member of the clubs I really connected with my first year, and, especially, to be on the executive board of the largest student-produced performance on campus. I'm now a student leader, an active learner and an engaged member of the student body. Now, I attend lectures and go to the events hosted by the Student Activities Council with excitement. These activities, I’ve realized, keep me busier than ever.

The first few hours on campus reminded me of what I missed over the summer. The year is only just beginning and I can't wait to see what sophomore year will bring.

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Tags:  |  The Experience, First Year Experience  |  The Experience, On Campus

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Back to Camel Land

August 27, 2014  |  The Experience, Calli Reynolds '17

“Once a Camel, always a Camel.” The return to Camel Land, as we lovingly call campus, is always anxiously awaited. This year, I moved in early because I completed a week of training to prepare me to be a student leader on campus. While there are several ways to be a student leader on campus, I chose to be a Student Adviser, an important part of Orientation.

Being a Student Adviser entails working closely with a handful of first-year students to help them acclimate to campus, both during Orientation and in the days and weeks that follow. I went through a week of training to be sure that I would best be able to help our newest Camels.

Preparing for Orientation is just as much fun than the actual events. Watching and participating in all of the hard work that goes into Orientation was incredible: There’s the beautiful summer weather, productive meetings in which everyone is working toward a common goal, and good friends who make an early return to campus exciting. All student leaders who were back on campus early had a chance to bond as we all excitedly awaited the arrival of the first-year students. We discussed Orientation events over dinner and spent our free time enjoying the sun. As a student leader, you really get to know the campus in ways that you might not otherwise.

Returning to campus and helping new students get adjusted was a great way to end the summer. I was able to move in early, get settled and then give back to new students, answering their questions and helping them get around campus. I gave them the same royal treatment that I was given a year ago when I arrived on campus for the first time.

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Tags:  |  The Experience, First Year Experience  |  The Experience, On Campus

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Arrival Day 2014

August 26, 2014  |  The Experience, Kurt Reinmund '15


I returned to campus a few days early to help capture Arrival Day for the Class of 2018 and transfer students. It was a long day and brought back many memories of my arrival four years ago. Take a look!



Tags:   |  The Experience, First Year Experience  |  The Experience, Video

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I remember

April 29, 2014  |  The Experience, Calli Reynolds '17

Sometimes it is easy to forget what life was like before college. Once you're acclimated to college life and get a schedule going, the past is a distant memory.

The past few weeks have been full of tours and overnight visits for both accepted and prospective students. Having spent this spring hosting some of these overnight visitors, I’ve been reminded of what life felt like for me just a few years ago, as senior in high school. I remember the stress of high school report cards and college applications like it was yesterday.

With all these flashbacks come memories of the many people who helped me along the way. Friends who were already in college gave me advice about ways to improve my essays and relax for interviews. My college counselor, teachers and family members made sure I handed everything in on time and wrote my recommendations.

To be honest, after it all ends, you forget about the stress you felt. You only remember the excitement and relief of it all. You remember how happy you were to finally be done with the essays, tests, and applications. You remember senior spring because you were finally free and just waiting for responses.

The most important memory from last year is the day I chose to attend Conn. In that moment, all my hard work had finally paid off.

These past few weeks have been a very nostalgic time. While I wouldn't choose to do the process over, it certainly feels good to remember those days. To the Class of 2018 who will be on campus next year, congratulations!

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Tags:  |  The Experience, First Year Experience

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Being a tourist in NYC (and a pillow fight in Washington Square Park)

April 9, 2014  |  The Experience, Calli Reynolds '17

This past weekend, Student Activities Council organized a free trip to New York City. At 8 a.m., sleepy Camels made their way to Cro to take a bus to the city. It was a day filled with lots of walking, lots of food and like any good visit, an unexpected pillow fight in Washington Square Park.

I went on this trip with three friends. One is from New York, as am I, and the other two are from Boston. We wanted to give our Boston friends a general idea of what the Big Apple is like, so we tried to go to all the tourist spots, including Times Square and Soho. When you live near the city, you often forget how amazing it is, especially for someone who has never have visited.

Of course, the city is full of surprises and we stumbled into a massive pillow fight in Washington Square Park. It looked like everyone in the city had come outdoors to join in.
Trips like this are not uncommon for Camels. The Student Activities Council and the art history department often offer free or cheap busses to New York, Providence and Boston. It was a nice change of pace to be able to experience a dose of city life with my fellow New London Camels.

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Tags:  |  The Experience, First Year Experience

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Preparing for the baby Camels

March 21, 2014  |  The Experience, Calli Reynolds '17

Orientation isn't just for Conn’s newest students. A big part of what makes that week in August, the week before classes, so much fun is how students from all class years come together to help the newest Camels get to know campus. Student advisers are among the many student groups that return to campus early and help make the transition easy. Since I had a really good experience with my own student adviser earlier this year, I applied to become one for the Class of 2018.

When I found out that I was offered the position, I was thrilled. It’s a great feeling to know that I’ll play a part in a week so many students look forward to. I’m getting more and more excited for summer now, knowing that I’ll be back on campus earlier in August. I’ll be there to help the new Camels with orientation activities, picking their first classes, and getting to know campus. Welcome, 2018!

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Tags:  |  The Experience, First Year Experience  |  The Experience, New London

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Age is only a number

February 28, 2014  |  The Experience, Calli Reynolds '17

In high school, it can be very easy to tell your peers apart by their various ages. In college, I have realized, even if you know the ages of your peers, it is very easy to forget.

College life isn't determined by class year. Students of all years will be in your 9 a.m. class or in your 4:30 p.m. practice, and often, they become close friends.

Rarely do you realize the person from your science class who you eat lunch with might actually be two class years above you. The person who agreed with your point during that club meeting is actually a senior, but you both share similar interests and experiences.

The beautiful thing about college is that the friends you make are not dependent on your age. You share moments, develop bonds, and create friendships based on similarities. Friendships originate from a shared love of animal rights or a good lab experience. College let's you explore your interests, and it brings you near the people who want to explore, too.

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Tags:  |  The Experience, First Year Experience

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An hour of CELS

January 2, 2014  |  The Experience, Laura Cianciolo '16

Just before break, I attended CELS (Career Enhancing Life Services) Workshop Four, which focused on professional communication. The CELS staff showed us techniques for writing cover letters, sending professional emails, and interviewing. Each of the seven workshops have a different goal, from completing your resume to finding your internship. If we attend all the workshops and fulfill separate requirements, we are eligible for a $3,000 stipend for an internship during the summer of our junior year.


Tags:   |  The Experience, Career & Internships  |  The Experience, First Year Experience  |  The Experience, On Campus

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But what should I choose?

November 19, 2013  |  The Experience, Calli Reynolds '17

Course selection is one time where everyone on campus has the same problem. One could say that the severity of this issue varies by year and that first year students have it the worst. Since you don't have to declare your major until the spring semester of your sophomore year, the early semesters are perfect for exploration. There are tons of classes to choose from, and your studies aren’t necessarily refined yet. The possibilities are endless and, well, that can be very overwhelming. Picking courses makes me feel like a little kid exploring a new playground, you just don't know what to try first or in what order.

The good thing about being a first year student with many options comes in when it’s time to register. Since our class select their classes last, there's a chance that the class you want to take will be full. After you spend about 30 seconds being sad that you didn't get into one class, you can be excited because now you can take the other class that seemed really interesting but didn't fit into the schedule.

Course selection is so stressful. So many classes, and only 4 of them can win. It's like the Hunger Games but with more victors. Every time I think I'm ready for registration, friends keep telling me about yet another interesting class I might like. Looks like I might need to rearrange my schedule again...

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Tags:  |  The Experience, Academics  |  The Experience, First Year Experience

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Immigrant culture

November 12, 2013  |  The Experience, Calli Reynolds '17

In the context of human development, a few questions arise. What impact did his/her culture have? How did this affect his/her experiences? These are a few topics that are often discussed in my first-year seminar. We analyze cultures and how people develop as a result of them. To create a more enriching lesson, our professor assigned an oral history project: each student was to cover a different region in the world, and, essentially, capture an immigrant experience. With people from all over the world coming to the United States everyday, learning about their now-bicultural experience would add a new layer to our analysis.

I interviewed a student who I now consider to be a close friend. The act of interviewing led me to a lot of self-reflection. As she told me about her family's journey from Colombia, I saw a different side of her. There was so much pride in her tone, in her story. I was able to learn about her perspective as someone who grew up in two different cultures. After the interview, I started to analyze my own family's history. Where was my deeply rooted pride? Why didn't I have the same bicultural perspective and sense of understanding?

College is where many people say that they discover a lot about themselves. They become more interested in the history behind who they are. They wonder more about what this history means to them and how it has impacted who they have become. These questions we are asked in class are the same questions we ask ourselves throughout our lives. We find the things that make us happy, the things we really enjoy doing, but only after we have found many things we don't like. Every new experience becomes a way to explore and figure out more of where we would like to go in life. If people say they do a lot of this soul searching and finding in college, then I have one question: At the end of all of this, what will I say was my college experience?

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Tags:  |  The Experience, Academics  |  The Experience, First Year Experience

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What's your first year seminar?

November 7, 2013  |  The Experience, Calli Reynolds '17

At Conn, every new first-year student enrolls in a first-year seminar. I am taking a very interesting course on culture and human development, but I find myself doing the work of two classes.

My best friend is in a seminar about feminism and, although I’m not enrolled, I love it. I do the homework for my class and then, for fun, I do the homework for her course. I get the experience of two different seminars just by doing the readings and analyzing them with the assigned questions. How did this all start, you ask? Let me explain...

After doing her own homework one day, my friend asked me my thoughts on something she and classmates had read. She and I ended up having a very long discussion about feminism and how it relates to us on a personal level. This made me even more curious and I began to read the books she was assigned for class. Now, I think I might be more excited about her coursework than she is. My interest in this class even led me to attend a lecture and performance by Sabrina Chap, an author being studied by the class. Anyone who has read Chap’s “Live Through This” can attest to how amazing the compilation of stories about self-destruction is.

Call it a little weird, but I consider myself to be in two first-year seminars … and it is awesome.

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Tags:  |  The Experience, Academics  |  The Experience, First Year Experience

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10 perks of joining the Knowlton knighthood

October 14, 2013  |  Sust Blog, Alexis Cheney '16  |  The Experience, Alexis Cheney '16

Though I transferred to Conn a mere month and a half ago, it already feels as comfortable as home thanks to the royal wonders of Knowlton House.

1. Community
Running upstairs and knocking on Joanna’s door for that much-needed dose of chitchat and chick-flicks (most recently, "27 Dresses"), gabbing with Peruvian Gabby (in between brushing teeth) at 7 a.m. about our intended morning workouts, and cooking crepes in Knowlton’s pantry to prep for French Club with club co-head and floor neighbor, Emily.

2. Lunch
Personal faves include the baked mac n’ cheese and pork dumplings. Not to mention those chocolate chip toffee Heath bars... Mmm...

3. Language Lunch Tables
Gotta love discussing French popular films and joking about the stereotypes of northern Frenchmen with Professeur Chalmin. En francais of course!

4. Roommate Amanda (Jixuan)
A sister to come home to, though an ocean divides our hometowns.

5. Location: South Campus, on Tempel Green
Classes a minute’s walk across the Green, delicious soup and artisanal bread in Freeman dining hall a few doors down, the start line of women’s cross country practice at the tree out the back door.

6. Architecture
A grand staircase fit for a cliché ballroom entrance, crowning bedroom ceilings, rich hardwood floors, a fireplace. Not surprisingly, Knowlton began life as the campus hotel for the (once all-female) students’ male suitors.

7. Traditions

Mustache Dinner
Perhaps honoring Knowlton’s historically male guests, Knowlton Knights attend a dinner sporting mustaches and fancy attire.

Halloween
Across the street from Gallows Lane, Knowlton conjures up its spirits to throw down a killer haunted house. For those easily spooked, pumpkin carving’s also a golden option as part of our Fright Night series.

8. The Piano
A trusty friend when the time comes to plunk out that music theory homework. A godsend when the lunch hour pianist (a talented and surprisingly consistent Conn student) lays his fingers on its ivory keys.

9. Juan
Juan saves the day with his cheery “good morning,” spotless cleaning, and spare set of room keys if one helplessly finds oneself locked out of one's room. Not that I have ever been locked out ;) ;)

10. Wit
Who won the Camelympics chant? KNOWL-TON! Who won? KNOWL-TON!  Frankly, who else?

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Tags:  |  The Experience, First Year Experience  |  The Experience, On Campus  |  The Experience, Traditions

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