The Experience, Miscellaneous
November 19, 2014
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.
November 6, 2014
Last Saturday, the Hispanic Studies Department hosted a trip to visit the new Goya exhibit at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Francisco Goya (1746-1828) is a well-known Spanish painter and printmaker. While I originally associated him with the stiff portraiture of the royal court, I was pleasantly surprised to see the wide variety and versatility of his art. Court culture was merely one aspect of society reflected in his paintings. The influence of the Enlightenment, the Peninsular War, the War of 1812, the American and French revolutions, the church, the Inquisition and much more can be seen within his art; he lived at an extremely interesting time in Spanish history. My favorite is his series of prints, Los Caprichos. A satirical critique of Spanish culture and society, they have a dark humor and informality that contrasts with his paid portraits. Unfortunately, no photography was allowed at the exhibit, but I thought this 7th century glazed earthenware camel from the Sui Dynasty exhibit would make a nice replacement.
October 31, 2014
There are hundreds of resources available to students on this campus, but I want to highlight one often-overlooked gem: the Print Shop. Printing on campus is just as you'd expect on any college campus: Send your document to the cloud and download it on any college printer. There are occasional technical issues, of course, but in general, our system means that most students don't bring printers to campus. Because ink and paper are expensive, the College designates each student an allotment of funds each semester for printing costs.
Imagine, however, that you are working on an event and you need to print 30 13-by-19 heavy card-stock posters. Outside of the College, you might have to head down to the local FedEx office or copy center and get them printed for a hefty price. Here, though, we have the Print Shop, and it's just like having a Kinkos on campus.
You can print almost anything under the sun, right from your College account or your club's fund. As part of the student-run TEDxConnecticutCollege organization, I have huge print jobs to manage nearly each week. Sometimes, I need glossy posters or postcards to stuff mailboxes. Other times, I need large, vinyl banners to hang to advertise our latest event.
Whatever the need, the Print Shop succeeds and the staff is knowledgable and understanding, particularly about the occasional rush jobs students need. As a bonus, the shop is only a few hundred yards from my dorm room.
October 28, 2014
As I was walking to my digital media evening class in Cummings Art Center recently, I heard rustling in the bushes along the sidewalk. As I got closer, I realized it was a skunk. I had to do some off-roading to avoid being sprayed. However, as I made a sharp left, there were two more skunks scampering across my path.
Over the past month or so, there has been an overpopulation of skunks on campus. It's a curious, fun little challange added to our College experience. Students and professors have conspiracy theories as to whether or not there is a hidden world of skunks underneath the College.
Walking to and from class, one may be pleasantly surprised by these friendly black and white critters. Residents of the Jane Addams residence hall have even named two of the skunks — Snowball and Oreo — that reside in the outside bushes. In a strange way, the surplus of skunks has brought our campus even closer together. Undoubtedly, each student at Conn has a story about the time they almost ran into a skunk!
While we may be a school of spirited Camels, we treasure our neighborhood skunks.
October 24, 2014
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.
May 27, 2014
It's summer at Connecticut College! Our fantastic blog team has left campus for the break. They're off to internships, jobs and a few months of well-deserved relaxation. Although our team may share photos or quick updates over the next few months, the ConnCollegeLive Experience will be taking a break for the summer. We'll be up and running again in September.
In our inaugural year, our team of nine students produced over 130 posts. Through photography, words and video, our blog team captured their experiences in classes, with their advisers, meeting their roommates and making their mark on campus.
Highlights of this first year include the following posts.
- Alexis Cheney '16 took part in the first ever Pre-Floralia 5K Color Run and reflected on her class trip to the United Nations.
- Laura Cianciolo '16 attended President Bergeron's first Q&A and captured beautiful scenes of winter snowfall with her camera.
- Matteo Mobilio '16 recorded the excitement of dance fitness classes and importance of Curricular reVision Week on film.
- Kurt Reinmund '15 took viewers behind the scenes of the Martial Arts Club, then wrote about his study abroad experience from Prague.
- Calli Reynolds '17 took part in her first Eclipse Weekend, a Connecticut College tradition filled with dance, history and alumni connections. As a first-year student, she came to realize that age doesn't really matter in college.
- CJ Robinson '16 wrote about his experience at the “Speak Up and Take Rape Culture Down” conference, and shared his favorite meals from Smith Dining Hall.
- Miguel Salcedo '14 captured photographs of his experience as a studio art major, showing late nights in Cummings Arts Center and life in the senior studio.
- Dana Sorkin '16 recorded her experiences as a first-time cast member of the Vagina Monologues, and as member of the Women's Rugby team.
- Marina Stuart '16 explored the history of Mamacoke Island, part of the Arboretum, and catalogued her excitement to study abroad in Scotland next fall.
The ConnCollegeLive Experience also included guest posts by Oliver Ames '17 about his involvement with TEDxConnecticutCollege, Yumi Kovic '14 about her science tutoring and Patty Shields '14, who reflected on her week at ESPN during the Super Bowl.
Have an idea for a guest post? Interested in writing, photographing or making videos as a Class of 2018 Camel? Send an email!
May 9, 2014
Floralia, our spring festival, kicked off a day earlier than usual with a 5K color run last Friday afternoon. My friends and I threw on our white T-shirts and met at the back of Cro, the student center. We joined a giddy, lively crowd as music pumped-up the runners. Clouds of colored chalk powder already floated through the air as we dipped our hands into buckets and threw globs of it at each other.
Moments later, the race began and we were off on a course that took us all around campus, even to places I hadn’t known existed. (As we looped around the Lyman Allyn Museum, on the south end of our campus, I realized there was a stone mushroom garden. Who knew?!) As we ran past different intersections on campus, members of campus organizations, including Student Health Services, the Think S.A.F.E. Project, Student Activities Council and others, threw colored powder at us. We blindly ran through the clouds of color, which added to the thrill of the run.
My friends and I were having so much fun that, before the run had even ended, we talked about our plans to do it again. We had to pause our conversation, however, when we encountered obstacles such as low-crawl nets, hurdles, and a stone wall. Though the quirky, unexpected obstacles bore no resemblance of my usual 5Ks from the cross-country season, the hills certainly did. My friends and I agreed that the color run would beat a cross-country race any day. There’s just no competing with color.
February 27, 2014
Finding time to read in college is hard.
Between classes, extracurricular events and relaxing with friends, finding time to yourself that isn’t devoted to homework is a rarity. I have realized that going to dining halls or campus cafés during odd hours can be the perfect way to find some peace and quiet. There are fewer people, fewer distractions and it’s usually a time in the day not already set aside for other activities.
My time to read is after my 2:05 class on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I don’t read every day, usually because I have homework to do before track practice, but if there are no pressing assignments, I enjoy going to Harris and sitting in a booth. With tea and a cookie, it’s my time to relax and read.
In my classes and clubs, I’m studying intense, scholarly works. Sometimes my brain just needs a break, I’ve realized, so my personal reading is not always advanced literary masterpieces. Sometimes, it’s just young adult fiction. My current book? “Divergent,” by Veronica Roth. For those of you like me, with busy schedules and brains in need of a rest, I highly recommend it.
February 7, 2014
When I arrived at Conn, I ate most of my meals in the dining halls nearest to my dorm. As I expanded my horizons, at the urging of a friend, I ventured south to Freeman Dining Hall (in Freeman House.) It was there where I first discovered the joy of at the New York Times crossword puzzles.
Of course, I knew what the crossword was, but had never actually tried it before. What started as a simple lunch became a meeting of the minds. An architectural studies major/art minor with French language skills teamed up with this environmental studies major/English minor who knows Spanish. Together we managed our way through the Tuesday puzzle and -- on a good week -- even the Thursday crossword.
Since my friend graduated, I have continued doing the crossword almost every weekday. My group of crosswordians has grown to include two psychology majors and an East Asian studies major, all of us with varying language abilities. One time, our crossword attempts extended to an evening meal with my track team, and all of us worked together to complete a Wednesday crossword (which, for those who haven’t yet become familiar with the New York Times crossword, is kind of difficult.)
Doing the crossword is one of the new routines that I’ve developed at Conn. It is easy to pick up, because Conn students have access to free copies of the New York Times every school day. The daily challenge has also helped me keep up with current events beyond our small campus, and I’ve met some great new competitors in the process, too.
December 9, 2013
Thanksgiving break is probably one of the most anticipated breaks of the academic year. While everyone's break is different, I'm sure we can all agree that it is still too short.
Before my train even pulled in to the station on my ride home, I had received more than 5 different text messages from friends asking me when I'd be arriving and when I’d be around for a meal or to catch up. These texts served as a pleasant reminder that I was "officially" home... and that my presence was missed. After squeezing in as many catch-up sessions as possible, Turkey-Day awaited. There is no better smell than that of dinner in the early afternoon.
On Thanksgiving, a blissful sleep ensues after dinner. No one in my house wakes up early to go to a hectic shopping center, instead we all sleep for as long as we wish. The sleep is fueled by satisfaction, drawn equally from the previous meal and from the friends I've reconnected with. Uninterrupted and stress-free is the best way to sleep.
November 17, 2013
I can’t really explain the experience in such a short post, but I’m going to try. Last weekend I went to Harvard University. No, I’m not going to transfer, in fact I’ve realized I actually like where I am even more after this day. I was invited by the V-Day Organization, along with Alia Roth ‘14 and other members who worked on the V-Day: 100 Men Rising project, to the “Speak Up and Take Rape Culture Down” conference.
To openly speak about difficult issues in a room full of people that actually, professionally understand the topic was a very different experience from what I normally encounter.
Often, the point of the conversation is to carefully and calmly educate and inform on a surface level. At this conference, we moved past the basics, diving into more complicated models, examples and stories.
After listening to speakers like Jaclyn Friedman (who has an amazing story of her own,) we had lunch and prepared ourselves for the upcoming workshops. Our whole team was to attend the V-Day session which would feature the the Connecticut College contingent as presenters! Afterward, we would break up and attend different workshops.
In the V-Day session, Alia and others spoke about the 100-men rising video project and the “1 Billion Rising for Justice” campaign in which countries around the world will make video submissions on their promise that 1 billion will rise to end violence against women.
After all our workshops, we all came together and a microphone was passed around to share reflections on the day. As nervous as I was, I spoke. I spoke about the day, my experiences, my hopes, what I felt, how I wanted things to change, what made me happy and what I’d learned that I would bring back to Conn. My heart almost jumped out of my chest by the time I was done and I felt like I had just run a marathon.
The day was spectacular. It brought things into perspective for me and reminded me that, yes, there is a long way to go in the world, but that we as a college are really very far ahead when it comes to activism. We often forget that. I’m glad I have the peers that I do... they bring about amazing opportunities for all of us, and this year on February 14th, 1 billion will rise for justice.
October 18, 2013
Oh fall break, how we were excited when you arrived. I have waited for the day when we would have our first break from classes, a break also from society. Classes can really take it out of you. Fall break, from Wednesday evening through Sunday, was amazing to say the least. It’s the time when people have some serious life changes.
The number one question on Monday is definitely “So how was fall break?” Some went apple picking, got haircuts, visited family, dentist appointments, traveled, held Netflix marathons and indulged in fast food.
Of course, not everyone can do life-changing things over fall break. Like me: I just sat around with my best friend, ordered food, and let fall break go by without a care in the world. That is why we love fall break so much in the first place, right?
October 18, 2013
As someone who does not mind travel, (and as someone who likes seeing her family,) I find myself on the Northeast Regional trains between Connecticut College and Philadelphia quite a lot. It’s only for breaks, but we have four in total, which equals two four-hour trips four times a year… or 32 hours on the train every school year.
While on these train rides, you often meet people and make small connections with them. My most recent trip was on Sunday, October 13. After an ungodly 45-minute delay at Penn station, the train began to move again and, as I started working on some Italian homework, a young couple sat down across from me.
The couple and I didn’t really interact besides an occasional eye roll at each other when the train lights flickered on and off. Only when we had left Old Saybrook, the stop before New London and Conn, did I talk to the couple. They were talking amongst themselves about where they were and how far through Connecticut the train was. I politely told them we had left Old Saybrook and were headed to New London.
We began chatting, and after establishing that I was a sophomore at Conn, the man and I realized we were both from Philadelphia and knew each other’s neighborhoods. At this point he gave me a fist bump and declared: “Any one from Philadelphia is alright by me,” which is such a Philly thing to do: anyone from our city is automatically cool.
It’s a treat to meet someone from your hometown; it makes the train rides a little less lonely, even if it was only the twenty-minute bit between Old Saybrook and New London.