The Experience, On Campus
January 27, 2015
Being from Vermont, I’ve had my fair share of sledding experiences. But sledding today in the Arbo has got to be one of the best. Students from all over campus congregated on the big hill, laughing and sharing the random objects brought for sledding, a variety of accessories that included skis, snowboards, cardboard boxes, trays borrowed from the dining hall and, or course, actual sleds.
We all worked together to pack the feet of powder down into a trail, and then took turns going down, giving each other pushes to gain momentum. People tried all sorts of techniques including standing up on trays and hooking sleds together to form a long train. It was most definitely one of my best Conn College experiences to date.
And the best part: it’s still snowing!
January 28, 2015
Today a couple of my friends and I grabbed brunch in Harris and trekked over to Tempel Green, all of us clad in at least three layers of snow pants. We fell back into a fluffy three feet of snow and made snow angels until we were all too cold to move. Afterward, we retreated to a friend's room for hot chocolate, popcorn, and lots of blankets.
January 21, 2015
In my two-dimensional art class, we've been learning how to create drawings that appear more full. A lot of our still life paintings were "floating" in the middle of the page with only a thin table line to spruce up the background. Our professor has been stressing that we should add more to the drawings so that they are more interesting, or draw the things we see behind our still lifes. Despite her gentle nagging, the class as a whole wasn't really getting the concept.
To solve the issue, our professor came up with a creative way to intervene in our bad habits. She took us down to the Lyman Allyn Museum, a fine arts museum adjacent to campus with which the College has a working relationship. First, we did some critiques of the pieces because, as an art class, we can't just ignore the masterpieces when visiting a museum. Then, we were told to pick a spot in the exhibit and draw the space. We weren't supposed to hone in on any artwork, just get the dimensions and perspectives of the complex interior design.
It was frustrating trying to capture the relationship between angles and objects and such, but I found that when I slowed down and really observed my surroundings, it became a lot easier to create a realistic drawing. By the end, I was really happy with what I had created.
Our walking-distance field trip to the museum proved a unique way to improve our work and technique. During the following class, when we were back in the studio, we were given another still life to draw. Again, we were told to pay careful attention to the space around the still life. There was a clear improvement after our museum intervention. We hung all of our drawings up for a critique and each pretty accurately reflected the still life, as well as the room behind the still life.
January 27, 2015
It’s the snowpacolypse! When leaving my dorm this morning, I was greeted with a wall of snow. Forging our way through in order to get to Harris, my friends and I were delighted in the dramatically changed scenery, so much so that the first thing my friend did was jump into the snow and make a snow angel.
Banks of snow up to my knees are everywhere; haphazard piles and trails wind their way through the campus as we embarked on the cold trek to the dining hall. Classes have been canceled for the day, and I hear the shouts and laughter outside my window as students, reverting into our child-like selves, play in the snow.
My friends and I have signed out our house's sled and later today, we will take to the Arbo, the most popular place for sledding on campus. Sledding down the hill in the Arboretum has been on my Conn Coll bucket list since I arrived in my first year and I just cannot wait. Snow days are the best.
January 23, 2015
I declared my majors the other week. This is how it happens: You walk into the middle of Tempel Green, spin around in a circle 10 times, shouting your major and adviser while the registrar sits 10 feet away, ringing her bell, asking you to be louder.
The above is decidedly not true. It's just something a professor told me when I came to her with the declaration that I was finally, after months of indecision, declaring two decisive majors. She looked me up and down; I was excited, like I was declaring a big secret. It really is not that big of a deal. She sarcastically joked that I was making a ritual out of it; most students get so stressed about majors, they forget about classes. I agree with her now, I think.
After declaring my majors, I felt no difference. No history or art god descended from the heavens to bless me or take me into their secret society. On paper, I simply declared a major, which did make me feel better. I had goals to work toward.
I think the reason this professor said this to me is because she could see the fear in my eyes. Declaring your major sounds like such a big deal. It seems like you're setting yourself up in life for something so specific. Like now, I can't be anything but a historian, and I'm restricted. All these things are just untrue; I'm still taking classes I want to take, whether they relate to my major or not. I'm working with people I like working with, whether they fall into my department or not. This is what makes a small college like Conn special — because of the high number of professors, you really can, even within the confines of your major, blaze your own trail.
So I went up to Tempel Green, signed my declaration form and spun in a circle anyway, content in the knowledge that I was still free. Majors don't restrict you — fear does.
January 16, 2015
Here at Conn, Tuesdays and Thursdays are associated with one of our College's beloved traditions: "Soup and Bread Day." Taking place in Freeman Dining Hall, one of our smaller, more homey dining halls, Soup and Bread Day offers a variety of soups and fresh baked loaves of bread, in addition to the usual options. This means a stomach full of buttery, creamy goodness. Everyone develops their own soup and bread preferences. I, for one, think that the circular loaves with a thick crust are without competition. A slice of that with a bowl of butternut squash soup is magical. Others, however, disagree. Some of my friends, for example, prefer the whole grain breads, which I find ridiculous.
I've been going to Soup and Bread Day since nearly the first week of school. It's always nice to be able to take a break from Harris, the main dining hall, and be able to traverse campus a bit. My friend Anne and I generally head there after Latin class and, without a doubt, there are always crowds. Students from every corner of campus seem to flock to Freeman twice a week. There are a lot of regulars, like myself, as well as newcomers. It's always interesting to compare how many familiar faces there are versus how many new faces there are.
After a few visits, you'll find that more and more faces become familiar. Given the popularity of Soup and Bread Day and the intimacy of the dining hall, people often find themselves merging tables with strangers. It offers a great opportunity to make friends, or at least have interesting conversations with new people over a meal. Personally, I've met a couple of very close friends over soup and bread.
Now that it's getting colder, I can only imagine how satisfying warm soup will be in the winter.
January 14, 2015
There is only one word to describe the Upright Citizens Brigade: hilarious. This touring improv group based out of New York City, also known as UCB, is sidesplittingly funny. Lately, they have performed at Conn each year. UCB begins by interviewing a student about life here at Conn, and this year it was a first-year student named Carson (as seen in the photo above). This interview provides the material for their set, so the show includes our college's inside jokes. And, to add to the fun, our student improv groups, Scuds and N20, opened for UCB, making it a great night of comedy.
January 7, 2015
The College's Roth Writing Center offers free peer tutoring on papers and drafts for all students on campus. One becomes a tutor after being recommended to Professor Steven Shoemaker, the director of the center, after which there is an interview, a callback and a class offered in the Fall called "The Teaching of Writing." It's a 300-level English seminar. I was recommended last year by two professors, and went for my interview. (I wore my brightest paisley shirt, in an effort to be memorable.) Since English is not my first language, I want to help other non-native English speakers feel empowered through writing. I'm taking the seminar now, and as the semester winds down, the writing center is in need for more tutors. So the week before Thanksgiving, I had my first appointment. I was to tutor for the first time, finally, after the long, long process. I walked into the center five minutes early, set up my folder, took out my pen, and waited.
My first student was a first-year student who needed help with his first-year seminar. The center works this way: We ask the students to read their paper or draft out loud. If the student isn't comfortable reading aloud, we'll read it for them. The motto is to make sure the student is in the driver's seat; the tutor is a road guide, a map to the destination that the student must find themselves. I took notes as he read.
Collaborating with the tutee, working on problems, is a huge part of the job. The goal is to nudge, to prod students in a direction where their own thinking gets expanded, and to give them ideas, not to impose. This is hard for me; I love imposing myself on people most of the time. I have a specific way in which I do things, and this makes me a bit stubborn sometimes. I had to reign that in super hard when I was tutoring, and the results were a clear indication that this was the right philosophy. The student left with a better understanding of the paper, his assignment and what he might do better.
I left with an understanding of my own role in this, which is — and should be — minimal. I left with a better understanding of how my professors must feel when students don't understand what they're trying to do. Their job is hard. A teacher doesn't teach knowledge, I discovered. They teach the process of knowledge. The knowledge must be acquired oneself. I left knowing that our jobs as students are also hard: We have to come to conclusions ourselves, with the road map of learning in front of us. The destination is ours to conquer. This is a responsibility I felt heavy on my shoulders as I walked out, but it gave me more incentive to learn vicariously. If I'm being trusted as a student to make my own contribution, the responsibility also gave me agency. And students need agency to learn creatively. Most of all, I left with a giant amount of respect for this learning environment. If one doesn't take responsibility for one's own learning, everything falls apart. You can flourish or you can fail. The decision is in your hands, and that's kind of liberating. It means you're taken seriously. That's the path to adulthood, not regurging knowledge. It felt good to know.
December 29, 2014
You've probably never heard of Amy Poehler, Ellie Kemper, Aubrey Plaza, Aziz Ansari or Ben Schwartz, right? Well, they're alums of this little comedy group called the Upright Citizens Brigade ("UCB.") The traveling UCB team performed a personalized improv show on campus recently ... no big deal.
Kidding. It was a pretty big deal. Yesterday, I got to see a free show, on campus, that likely featured the next generation of famous comedians. Conn's own improv groups, N20 and Scuds, opened up for UCB. Even cooler is the fact that the entire performance was based on my campus neighbor's life. UCB started their show by picking someone from the audience — my neighbor Carson — and interviewing him. The interview included stories about smooth rocks, broken Playstations, the nicest woman on earth, professors, making films, girlfriends, etc. It was very eclectic. At first no one really knew why Carson was being interviewed. Then, once he sat back down, UCB told us that they would now be performing Carson's life ... with a few changes using their artistic license, of course. Carson's brother, for example, turned into someone who breaks antiques in fits of rage. A smooth rock that Carson owns also became part of the story by morphing into some sort of addictive, apocalyptic device. Even Harris, our main dining hall, got a shout out. The UCB actors played chefs who put peanuts in "peanut-free" food in order to play mind games with the students who are allergic to peanuts. It was a very strange, but very funny skit (with no connection to reality, I promise).
It was a hilarious show, especially since I know Carson personally. I was sitting in his row, so I was able to look over and see his reactions to UCB's interpretation of his life. Carson loves improv, so it was a great opportunity for him and the rest of us and, in 10 years, he'll probably be able to say that he was on stage with famous comedians.
December 26, 2014
December 24, 2014
I never meant to take this class.
I'm an art and history double major, and as I entered my sophomore year, I realized that I hadn't taken many classes in either. I told myself that I was going to make my requirements a priority, take classes I needed to, and expedite the process. No extra classes, no outstanding interests.
It didn't work out that way.
Last year, my friends took a class called "Narrative Non Fiction" with Professor Blanche Boyd; it's a creative writing class. Although I've been writing since middle school, I'd never taken an English class at Conn. I really couldn't envision myself writing stories; primarily because I'd seen some friends in high school do a much better job than me and I was scared. Plus, I kept telling myself, writing wasn't sustainable for me. Ironic, since I'm an art major, but we all delude ourselves sometimes. Through some weird twist of fate, however, the class I was planning to take filled up before I registered, and it was in the exact time slot as Blanche's short story writing class. I scrambled to send her an email, since a writing sample is a requirement for this class. A day before pre-registration, I got the email that I'd been accepted into the short-story writing class.
I had no idea what I was signing up for.
The class is more of a conference, with a lot of writing, critique and support. It's a very organic way of learning, where your brain begins to comprehend it's own problems. In many ways, it's more challenging than being told what to do, or what you're doing wrong. You have to realize it yourself. Blanche is always there to help you, and will nudge you, but she herself claims that you can't learn writing through someone else's efforts. It's different from information being disseminated, it comes from within. That's hard to confront, but it's so, so rewarding.
The one event we had to attend on the very minimal syllabus was the Klagsbrun symposium, which is an event Blanche has been organizing for a while. We've had great writers come to campus as part of the symposium, from Jhumpa Lahiri to Michael Cunningham, and Art Spiegelman to David Sedaris. This year, we got an extra; we had two writers join us. Conn alumna and professor Jessica Soffer '07 and her writing mentor, Colum McCann, spoke about their work and we had dinner together. Afterward, there was still half the symposium left, and I was sitting on a bus with my friends on my way to watch the premiere of Mockingjay Part 1.
I couldn't go. I thrust my ticket into my friend's hand, walked off the bus and went back into the symposium.
Colum McCann reads like a god. His reading is theatrical, interspersed with slight Irish brogue, emotions coming through like waves as he stresses and de-stresses some words, changing their meaning. One of the excerpts he read was a piece about a dancer in the '80s, and he wrote 40 pages without a full stop. Seeing that made my brain explode. Here we were, not knowing how to write with given structure, and this man sat casually on a stool, decimating every rule with absolute panache. Soffer's reading was more subdued; her clear, quiet intonation reflecting the tightness of her sentences, the sheer structure of her words. Everything counted. Emotions resonated from the words themselves, as she read everything at the same pace. In it's own way, it was as immersive as McCann's.
I left the symposium with nothing; no signed books, no selfies, no ticket stub, no name tag. But in my mind, a tiny dent was filled with possibilities, with ideas and with futures. I wrote well into midnight that night, and signed up for Blanche's non-fiction class the next day.
December 22, 2014
Have you ever walked into a classroom expecting to take a quiz, only to realize that your quiz has been replaced by a naked middle-aged man?
Me neither. Well, not until a few days ago.
What does this mean? It was figure drawing week in my two-dimensional art class! This came as quite the surprise, since we had totally different plans for that class.
It only took a few seconds for faces to light up in shock as my classmates started walking into the classroom. Our professor, however, was, appropriately, very nonchalant about the whole thing, particularly since she has more experience with figure drawing. I won't lie, it was pretty uncomfortable at first. I was not alone; there were many glances of discomfort exchanged around the room. Once in the drawing process, though, we became more accustomed to the situation. In order to draw something, you have to visually break up the form into shapes. Instead of drawing a figure, it was more like we were drawing shapes that happened to connect into a figure. That helped lessen the awkward tension in the room.
Despite the initial unease, one has to appreciate the opportunity to be able to draw nude models. In high school, we did figure drawing, but we used clothed models. This can highly distort the perception of human anatomy. That's an unfortunate reality for artists, since proportions are so important. Working with nude models is also helpful for creating shading and forms, because the model is, of course, three-dimensional. If you use something two-dimensional, like a photograph, you'll never develop the skills to be able to transform a 3D form onto your 2D paper. It was helpful to have the model in the classroom, and our progress was very quick and very noticable.
One word of advice I'll give you from this experience: avoid eye contact with the nude model at all costs, because if you're not careful, it will happen and you will feel awkward about it.
December 19, 2014
December 15, 2014
A week ago, I went to work at 9 a.m. in Ruane's Den, a coffee shop located in Harkness, one of the College's residence halls. I work the opening shift on Mondays and after a long, tiring Sunday filled with homework, I wanted nothing more than to escape into the warmth of the coffee shop and make myself a chai latte.
Turns out, I didn't have to. As I walked up the steps to the patio of Harkness, I encountered a strange sight: two open boxes of Dunkin' Donuts and a large box of coffee on a table. A student was sitting in one of the chairs and a slightly older man was sitting in another. They were chatting and laughing, but the scene looked strange still; why would two people need 20 donuts? I then saw random people coming by, conversing with the older man, grabbing a coffee or a donut, and leaving for class. I had to investigate.
The housefellow of Harkness — each residence hall has a "housefellow," a student in charge of the house — had decided to throw a surprise breakfast for the dorm custodian. With the help of the Office of Residential Education and Living (REAL), she'd gone down to Dunkin' early in the morning and brought donuts for all her residents, and she'd asked the custodian to take a few minutes off and just relax with the students. As sappy as it is, I couldn't help but feel a warmth inside me; I didn't even care that people would skip my coffee shop to get free coffee from the table — the custodian looked so happy!
Last year, another student at Conn filmed a short video asking students if they knew their dorm custodians, and quite a few did. I remember leaving notes outside the door of my first-year custodian, and I remember friends going out of their way to clear rubbish just so there would be less work for our friendly, resident custodian. Sometimes, simple acts of caring can really make a difference.
I sipped my coffee and was 10 minutes late to work. My manager didn't care.
December 12, 2014
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.
December 10, 2014
When you tell people you’re staying on campus over Thanksgiving break, you get a sad ‘that’s too bad’ sort of look. But for me, there wasn’t a whole lot sad about it (aside from not getting to see my family, that is) because I got to stay with my three best friends. Taking over the halls of Knowlton, we dragged pillows, blankets and junk food down to the common room for movie marathons, dyed my hair blue in a tiny sink, slid along the wooden floors in our socks, drew on the chalkboards and sang at the top of our lungs. It felt like we had the entire campus to ourselves. The quite was a refreshing change of pace. And when Thursday evening rolled around, we made our own Thanksgiving meal using the kitchen in the basement of Lazarus. First venturing to Fiddleheads for provisions (as featured above), we spent the afternoon prepping and cooking. And once we sat down over our home cooked meal, we toasted to how grateful we are to have each other.
December 9, 2014
With final exams only a few days away, Conn students are busy scouring research materials for projects and papers. (It will be open when we return from Spring Break!), so we aren't able to browse the stacks like usual, but all the library's books and resources are still available. I went behind-the-scenes and into the construction zone with library staff to see how our book requests move from Shain to the temporary circulation desk each night.
December 8, 2014
The weather has been absolutely gorgeous this semester. Right at the end of November, the weather was still lovely. Friends and I have even been studying outside without coats to soak up the last of these sunny days before snow. Polar vortex this week? Nah, I'd rather it stayed in the mid-50s.
December 3, 2014
December 1, 2014
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.
November 25, 2014
One of the hardships of coming to a college so far away from home (I'm from Pakistan) is the strange limbo I find myself in during holiday time. I don't really celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas or Hannukah, and I knew my peers wouldn't really celebrate Eid or Diwali, which is the Indian festival of lights.
Well, I was wrong.
This year, ATLAS, the international student organization, organdies a Diwali celebration in The Pink House, which is home to the Gender and Women's Studies Department. Religious studies professor Dean Accardi explained the festival and ATLAS provided Indian food for everyone to enjoy — some of which was home-cooked, the rest ordered from a nearby restaurant in Groton. I ran into the most unlikely professors there: from Sunil Bhatia in human development, to Priya Kohli from mathematics (whom I had never met), to Blanche Boyd, my fiction teacher this semester. The event seemed truly familial. The students argued loudly — in Hindi and Urdu and Punjabi and English — on who had to serve the food, who could lounge around and who got cleaning duty. It was a truly south Asian experience, with multi-linguality, camaraderie and a good amount of fun bickering.
November 23, 2014
On Nov. 11, 2014, outside Harris Refectory, the Connecticut College Chamber Choir and Orchestra gave the community an unexpected treat. Passersby were invited to try their hand at conducting the Hallelujah Chorus, a preview for the choir and orchestra's concert that weekend.
Video edited by Dana Sorkin '16
November 19, 2014
November 17, 2014
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.
November 7, 2014
On Oct. 29, Connecticut College students stood in solidarity with Emma Sulkowicz, a Columbia University student who is protesting the way her report of sexual assault was handled on campus. Students from the SGA Public Art Task Force, the College's Think S.A.F.E. Project, and the sophomore seminar class “Art of Protest: Occupy ___” collaborated to carry the mattress to different locations around campus every hour and students were encouraged to sign it.
Learn more: Read "#ConnCollCarries: Bringing the #CarryThatWeight movement to campus," a guest blog post by Bettina Weiss '15.
November 5, 2014
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.
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 31, 2014
N20 is nitrous oxide, or laughing gas. Fittingly, it's also the name of a Conn College improv group, one of two we have on campus. Last Friday, the group hosted a "baby shower" performance to welcome their new members ("babies,") John and Julia. The group played a variety of humorous short games and I couldn't stop laughing. It was fun to see my peers and friends perform on stage so effortlessly.
October 30, 2014
Occasionally, The ConnCollegeLive Experience will invite guests to blog about their experiences as a Camel. Today, Bettina Weiss '15 contributes to the guest blogger series.
On Oct. 29, Connecticut College students participated in a National Day of Action inspired by the art and activism of Emma Sulkowicz, a student at Columbia University. Sulkowicz has been carrying a 50-pound mattress wherever she goes on campus for her senior art thesis. The New York Times calls Sulkowicz’ project “an artwork of last resort.”
In 2012, Sulkowicz filed a complaint with Columbia after an alleged sexual assault. Her complaint led to a hearing before a panel that found the alleged perpetrator not responsible. This decision was upheld upon appeal. Sulkowicz brought her case to the police but decided not to follow through after the report. She began carrying her mattress around campus to protest the fact that her alledged attacker was allowed to remain enrolled at the university.
In response to Sulkowicz’ project, the coalition “Carrying the Weight Together” was formed by students and activists who are working to support survivors of sexual and domestic violence. It is made up of members from No Red Tape, Carrying the Weight Together at Columbia University, Hollaback! and Rhize.
When students at Connecticut College heard about the National Day of Action to support Sulkowicz, we sprung into action. Sal Bigay '16, the Student Government Association (SGA) chair of residential affairs, brought the idea to our SGA and began planning with the Public Art Task Force subcommittee. Members of SafetyNet, a peer education group within the Think S.A.F.E. (Sexual Assault Free Environment) office were brainstorming ideas on how to bring the movement to our campus. At the same time, the sophomore seminar class “Art of Protest: Occupy ___” was also inspired to bring the movement to campus. In a phenomenally successful collaboration, all three groups came together to organize our College's participation in the day of action. Representatives from each group met, and off we went. “This is how things need to happen at Connecticut College: authentically and passionately,” said Bigay.
October 28, 2014
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 25, 2014
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?)
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.
October 24, 2014
October 23, 2014
Last Wednesday, I was given the opportunity to visit "Lost At Sea: Shipwrecks of the Ancient World," an exhibit presented through the Classics Department. The exhibit is currently up at the Lyman Allyn, an art museum next to campus that the school works closely with. The exhibit consists of amazing, ancient artifacts that until recently remained, well, lost at sea. Also featured are some of the nifty-looking tools used to find artifacts, as well as some short videos about artifact-hunting.
The exhibit room that interested me the most, though, was a room full of live feeds from the Nautilus, a ship currently exploring undiscovered U.S territories in the Caribbean and Pacific. In front of the room, there is an iPad where you can type a question to a scientist on board the Nautilus and get a live response.
After a guided tour of the exhibit, I attended a talk by Dr. Robert Ballard, who led the team that discovered the Titanic. All of the artifacts in the exhibit were discovered by Dr. Ballard, who has a strong connection to the local community and the College. At the talk, he told us about how his fascination with the ocean began, how he fell into his career and, of course, how he found the Titanic. Dr. Ballard was an excellent speaker, and his exhibit was very interesting. I'm glad that I was offered the opportunity to attend.
October 22, 2014
Over the last two years, I have been waiting for that moment: when a class or teacher would somehow leave me walking out the door with a new perspective.
Last week, as I sat in the second row of my "Introduction to American Studies" class, Professor Jim Downs did just that.
“Can we all just take a few minutes to listen and appreciate the beautiful lyrics created by John Mayer?” Professor Downs announced as he walked through the door. For the next few minutes, my class of 30 students sat in darkness, staring up at the projector screen as we watched John Mayer’s live performance of “Covered in Rain."
For class that day, we had read "Americanah" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which tells the story of a Nigerian emigrant who critiques America and the American dream. It was hard to see where Professor Downs was going with the soulful voice of John Mayer as an introduction.
As the lights came back on, Professor Downs asked us to think about finding our own voice like John Mayer does through his lyrics or Ngozi Adichie does in her novel. We further discussed the novel and how Adichie’s voice is heard in her personalized immigrant narrative. It was interesting to see how Professor Downs used different types of mediums and contemporary examples to help us further understand the shaping of an immigrant narrative and the history of the American dream.
After the class discussion, I thought more about my voice in my community and on campus. While I have made an effort to get involved on campus, I'm still working to establish my passions and find my own voice. With the help of other students, I am now working to create a movement on campus that would help showcase students' artwork throughout campus.
While I may not be a famous musician or best-selling novelist, the art movement is a step in the right direction as I determine my real passion and voice.
October 20, 2014
Music was in the air last weekend.
Fall Weekend kicked off with a Musicians Organized For Bands' Rights on Campus (MOBROC) concert. The event gave student bands an opportunity to show off their musical abilities and gave the audience a chance to show off their '90s grunge-inspired dance moves. The lineup included student groups Canopy, the SB's and Montreal Protocol, but the real treat came at the end of the show: We got to hear our beloved President Bergeron sing. When she and her husband, Butch Rovan, got on stage, the audience began to chant "Queen B" and bow down.
It was quite the experience. Needless to say, "Queen B" gave a flawless performance.
It was interesting, although not very surprising, to see a lot of faces from MOBROC groups performing one night later during the weekend's other huge musical event — the annual Fall Weekend a cappella shows. For years, the seven a cappella groups have performed together during Fall Weekend, and the crowds have grown so much that two shows are needed. The pinnacle of the night might have been when the ConnArtists performed "Fix You" by Coldplay. It was so moving that the audience was completely silent.
Other groups lightened the mood with some humor: Vox Cameli performed a zealous Lady Gaga mashup, the Williams Street Mix drew inspiration from SpongeBob and the ConnChords pulled out some unexpected dance moves.
It was such a musical start to the weekend, with tons of talented Camels involved.
October 20, 2014
Fall Weekend is one of the busiest weekends on campus, with no shortage of events, lectures and activities. The East Asian Studies Department hosted renowned Japanese floral artist Yuji Ueno, ateacher at the Nagaoka Institute of Design in Tokyo. Ueno demonstrated his craft for courses during the day and then in a most unusual location: President Bergeron's front lawn. The event drew a large crowd of onlookers who watched in silent amazement as his stone sculpture grew to be even taller than he is.
October 17, 2014
My friend Chloe Jones '15 recently brought a basket she'd woven for an ethnobotany class to dinner. I was fascinated to hear her describe the process of its creation. She extracted strips of bark from a tree, then learned how to soak and weave the strips together from a member of the nearby Mohegan tribe. In the process, she learned about the pawpaw — tiny, green, tropical-tasting fruit native to Central America, the Midwest and the Great Lakes region.
Chloe thought she might have seen some in the Arboretum. I suddenly had a great idea: What if we went and foraged for pawpaws in our own Arbo and collected them in the basket? For some reason, the prospect of foraging our own fruit got us really excited and, right after dinner, we walked to the Arbo.
We found only one pawpaw tree, and it was pretty tall. Chloe and I aren't very tall, so we came to the logical solution of using found sticks to fish the fruit from the tree. We could see about five bunches of fruit on the tree, so we quickly got to work. Chloe held down a branch (the branches are pretty flexible) with a long, forked stick while I knocked the pawpaws off the tree with the branch I was holding. We then celebrated the fact that should an apocalypse strike, we'd be the first to find fruit for survival.
This image is our handiwork — both Chloe's basket and our collective forage. You can't eat more local than this.
October 16, 2014
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.
October 16, 2014
Recently, Conn hosted "Fresh Check Day," a mental health fair with food trucks, music and interactive booths. The goal was to get students talking openly about mental health issues. I am a member of the College's chapter of Active Minds, a club that promotes mental health resources, so I participated in Fresh Check Day by serving as a photographer for our new "I Have a Therapist" campaign.
October 15, 2014
Last Wednesday, I was one of a few lucky people invited to have dinner with Rob Richter, director of arts programming, and Khumariyaan, the band that he helped bring from my home country of Pakistan to perform in the U.S. I ran into quite a few familiar faces at the dinner, including friends and faculty, and I was introduced to some new professors and the band members themselves.
I was excited to meet the artists from back home, and I asked to go to the dinner because I couldn't attend their onStage concert during Fall Weekend. In Lahore, the city that I'm from in Pakistan, I'd only heard of Khumariyaan in passing; they usually perform at a city about five hours away from mine and they sing in Pashto, a language I don't speak.
It was kind of surreal to be introduced to this folk-rock band that I'd only heard of — not from my friends back home, but at Connecticut College — 7,000 miles away. Rob told us about the process of finding bands and artists in different countries and how this international program was sponsored by the State Department to bring in artists from other countries to broaden the American perception of that country's people.
What's strange to me is that the program brought a culture that I probably would not have been introduced to. I don't usually listen to folk music and I rarely visit Islamabad, the city this band is from. I am kind of giddy over what a treat it was. Having dinner with the band and their awesome tour manager, as well as a several friends, a professor who's probably going to be my adviser, and another professor whose work I'm very interested in felt like a personal gift.
To anyone curious about Khumariyaan, I'd definitely recommend them. Their music will make professors and parents dance, as I witnessed that evening, and it'll probably make you dance, too.
October 14, 2014
Last week, Chakena Sims '16 led a very successful voter registration effort with the help of the Office of Volunteers for Community Service (OVCS). Denise Merrill, Connecticut's Secretary of State, was in attendance to congratulate new student voters.
October 13, 2014
One of the most unique places on campus is the Barn, a former squash court where MOBROC — Musicians Organized for Band Rights On Campus — bands can practice and perform. I hung out with Canopy as they practiced. Check it out!
October 9, 2014
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.
October 8, 2014
October 6, 2014
Following the success of a community discussion about issues of race in Ferguson, Mo., our Office of Residential Education and Living (REAL) decided to continue the conversation, this time bringing the discussion closer to home. The event, titled, “How Not to Talk About Race at College,” included a panel led by professors Sunil Bhatia (human development), David Kim (religious studies), and Rosemarie Roberts (dance), as well as students Ramata Diallo '17 and Maurice Tiner '17. The discussion sought to answer a number of questions: Why do conversations on race become deadened in the classroom and amongst students? What is that block that’s created that prevents people from expressing their feelings? How do we generate a more open environment in which race can be talked about, not as an abstract concept but as a real, human experience that a lot of people have to deal with.
I don’t know if the panel completely answered all these questions, but the audience was spirited and engaged on that Wednesday evening. As 70 students and faculty members informally gathered in a circle, students shared personal stories about experiencing racial prejudice in their lives.
The event was illuminating on so many levels. After the event ended, I was approached by a professor I’d never met — she teaches French and Africana studies, departments I've never taken courses in. She stood next to my friend and I, put her hands on our shoulders and told us that although she had to run, she'd love to continue the conversation, passing along her name and email address. David Kim also made himself available after the panel so students who didn’t have a chance to speak would be able to in a more personal way.
Professor Audrey Zakriski from the Psychology Department had some choice words to say about approaching one’s own racial biases and confronting them, and Dean of the College Caroline Denard proposed a “color-brave” narrative performance piece, that would bring together art, dance, music and monologue to share stories about discrimination and acceptance. Another student proposed “issue-tables” in the dining halls where you could move to and from different topics of discussion. I suggested there be a disclaimer in every class' syllabus about any incident of prejudice a student might face and a third party to contact — just as the syllabus already has an addendum about sexual misconduct, resources available in the Office of Accessibility, and the drug and alcohol program.
On our campus, the difficult issues of sexual violence prevention, disability and personal health are already part of conversations we have openly and often. The leaders of offices that work with students on these topics are are incredibly engaged, and are often on a first-name basis with most of the campus, helping to create a lively, open and honest community. This event was an attempt to do the same with issues regarding race.
October 6, 2014
Last week, Fresh Check came to campus for a day. Fresh Check is an organization that travels from college to college, promoting mental health awareness. Booths included Love is Louder Than, a project emphasizing the positivity of love and healthy relationships; Be Yourself, a project that encourages self-acceptance in the LGBTQ community; and Paint Your Art Out, a project that sponsors art as a means of self-expression and stress reduction. These booths and others filled Tempel Green with information and activities about the issues and available resources regarding mental health.
This photo comes from my 9 Out of 10 Pledge. One out of 10 college students contemplates suicide, but nine out of 10 college students can serve as sources of support and education. My signature, the light blue one in the center of the photo, is my pledge to help take action if a friend or peer may be struggling.
October 5, 2014
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.
September 30, 2014
Visiting Italian artist Paola Ricci has, quite literally, taken over the first floor of Cummings Arts Center. For three days of last week, she worked on an experimental piece: a large drawing taped to the floor that represents her interpretation of the universe. Her performance art has inspired and intrigued students and professors passing by, and a number of classes interacted with and watched her work progress.
September 23, 2014
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.
September 29, 2014
Each year, Camelympics pits residence houses against each other for a day of spirited competition. There are so many different ways to participate, and I decided to represent my house, Windham, by playing Connect Four. I came in second place. Windham came in second place in the overall competition, ending the daylong event in style.
September 28, 2014
Camelympics is a Connecticut College tradition that pits residence houses against one another in friendly competition. House residents compete in events that range from volleyball to Quidditch and from Apples to Apples to Bananagrams. All houses have a theme, a cheer and a team shirt. It's a great event that promotes both house and Camel spirit!
September 27, 2014
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.
September 26, 2014
My friends Jasmine Massa '17 and Alissa Siepka '17 catch up on some work while enjoying a beautiful day on Tempel Green. It's one of the most active places on campus, where you can work, play and relax ... or do all three at the same time.
September 25, 2014
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.
September 24, 2014
Every Tuesday and Thursday, my friends and I head to the Athletic Center for dance fitness class, also known as Zumba. Dancing along to Shakira's "Waka Waka" or Nikki Minaj's "Pound the Alarm" is probably the most fun way to stay active.
September 23, 2014
“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.
September 22, 2014
"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.
September 5, 2014
Canopy, a band made up of Connecticut College students, played an indie rock set last Friday at an opening event for Coffee Grounds, a student-run coffee shop. It was the perfect study break with half-priced drinks, friends and some good music.
September 10, 2014
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.
August 27, 2014
“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.
May 19, 2014
The year has now ended, but those last few weeks are arguably the most busy moments of the entire school year. With finals looming, deadlines for next year’s leadership positions arriving and beloved friends preparing for graduating, the last weeks of the year beg great balancing acts. Though I am no acrobat, I have found a way to keep my sanity: by singing.
Before the semester ended, I reflected on how important singing has been for me during this entire year:
I sing on Mondays and Thursdays in Chamber Choir. We begin our rehearsals with massage trains (very relaxing) and warm-ups. Then we sing. Whether classical or modern, the music relaxes and rejuvenates me. For example, when the choir sings “Ubi Caritas,” a beautiful Gregorian chant, in Harkness Chapel, I can’t help but feel at peace. The livelier song “Wanting Memories,” also helps me let loose. Accompanied by African drums, we move to the beat while singing. Last Sunday, we showcased our talents at our Spring Choral Concert, “Vive l’Amour”. Before we performed, Professor Moy, our choir director, compared singing in a concert to taking the SATs: at a certain point you have to stop practicing, trust yourself and go for it. We went for it and the audience loved it.
On Tuesdays, I enjoyed singing individually. This year, I took voice lessons with the amazing Jurate Svedaite-Waller. Voice lessons are free at Conn for students. I am happy I’ve taken this opportunity because Jurate has revolutionized the way I think about singing. Just like running, singing is a sport. One must exercise muscles throughout the body to produce a beautiful sound. Similarly to running, singing helps me relax and enjoy the moment.
May 16, 2014
As we come to the end of this amazing year, many of my graduating friends are preparing their theses and final projects, showing the campus what they’ve put so much hard work into all year long. I have seen quite a few projects in the sciences and in the arts.
Although the chemistry department seminar series usually features visiting faculty or professionals from other colleges and businesses, the final event of the year featured our very own students presenting their research. It was quite interesting to finally find out what my senior tutors do in their off-time, when they’re not helping me learn the ins and outs of chemistry. I’m excited to see myself in their shoes, completing research with a faculty member, when I am a senior.
On the completely other side of the academic spectrum, I also attended a senior capstone project in our very own Tansill blackbox theater. I’m not normally one to dabble in theater, but last Friday night I heard that a friend’s senior, independent project was being performed, so I gave it a shot. I can honestly say it was time well spent. The performer, my friend Jacob Rosenbaum ‘14, performed the entire 45 minute play, “Barely Naked,” entirely by himself. He humbly graced the stage every moment of the show. By integrating dance, theatre, vocals, and witty humor, Jacob captured my mind with this theatrical story.
Between science and theater, I’ve appreciated the opportunity to see what my friends have been up to all year. It’s amazing to witness their hard work come to life.
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.
May 5, 2014
Napkin Notes at Conn are a unique way for students to let know how they're feeling about the food. Almost every note gets a response from the staff. While Dining Services can't always accommodate everything, like my friend's request to have our famous chocolate chip cookies at every meal, but the staff is usually able to find a way to make sure the majority of the requests are met.
May 7, 2014
This past weekend was the track team’s annual home meet. Each year, we host one meet -- The Silfen Invitational -- and it’s always a big day. For once, we don’t have to wake up early and take a bus somewhere. Instead, eight other colleges travel to New London! By having the meet at home, it’s an opportunity for our families and friends to see us compete and support our team.
I had more family at this week’s meet than I would have ever expected. Since the Invitational coincided with Easter, my Philadelphia-based family was visiting and they were able to spend time in New London cheering me on. One of my cousins had never been to a meet before, so it was a great experience for her.
I just loved that my family could see me pole vaulting, doing something that I love. Best of all, they got to see Camels win!
May 5, 2014
Being able to engage in conversations with other students about critical worldly topics is something that I have learned to appreciate here at Conn. I am a student who has educated himself since freshman year about domestic violence and sexual assault awareness through training offered here at the College. It has been an eye-opening experience that I’ve been able to share with my peers through dinners, outings on the greens and just conversation in passing. This week I added even more training to my skillset, in part because April is sexual assault activism awareness month.
I completed training for the 10x10 program, by Safe Futures, a New London-based program that works with the community on sexual assault education. The training helped me start conversations with other men about activism and gave me the courage to act in situations where it can be tough to speak up. Programs brought to the College, like 10x10, also create safe spaces for learning about difficult issues from various perspectives. Ultimately, by having access to these moments of activism, I find opportunities to give others the same courage I now have.
May 1, 2014
On Monday, hundreds of sophomores attended the first ever Sophomore Pinning Ceremony. The night was filled with dessert, speeches and recognition of sophomore achievements. The ceremony opened with addresses by Class President Sal Bigay and Class Vice President Kristina Harrold. A performance by a cappella group Miss Connduct followed, which included John Legend's "If You're Out There."
April 28, 2014
As an arts editor for The College Voice, our campus newspaper, I work closely with both my writers and my fellow editors. The Voice is a resource for students on campus to vocalize their opinions from everything from a favorite event or concert to more serious concerns. I sat down with other staff members to see what advice they would share with incoming students.
April 22, 2014
It has been a long winter, but Spring has finally arrived and students are ecstatic. On days like these, you will find Tempel Green filled with students relaxing under the sun, hanging out with friends, listening to music, playing sports, eating, doing homework and so much more.
April 23, 2014
As most people know, Connecticut College has an arboretum. Sometimes, however, guests and even students don’t realize the whole scope of what we lovingly call the “Arbo.” The protected lands extend across Route 32, along the side of the athletic center. The arboretum even includes an island -- Mamacoke Island -- and it’s where I spent most of my Friday afternoon hiking.
Glenn Dreyer, director of the Arboretum and executive director of the College’s Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment, led an informative hike around Mamacoke, telling us about it’s history and geology. I had been to the island once before, for a geology lab, but I attended on Friday afternoon because I was interested to learn more about the history of the island.
I had no idea that, many years ago, Native Americans lived on Mamacoke. Students in the Anthropology Department are currently mapping out areas where they may have lived. Just a few years ago, two Native American skeletons were found in the area. They’ve also found places where they Natives shucked and cooked oysters.
There are also deer and various animal predators on this island, and during our hike we were being scouted by some turkey vultures, and we even found the wing of a turkey — maybe their lunch?
Overall, it was great to get out of a classroom and just walk around, talk to my friends and professors and learn about an important part of our campus history.
April 15, 2014
Slavery Ends Today, a student organization at Conn, is protesting to end human trafficking. The organization has partnered with the International Justice Mission for a 27-hour-long standing protest. Conn student Olivia Dufour ’16 is one of the 27 million participants.
April 14, 2014
It’s always lovely watching your hard work become something enjoyed not only by you, but also by others, too. After weeks of planning and meetings, the concert I helped plan came to life, and it was amazing. The late-night student performances were part of the festivities for the Inauguration of our new president, Katherine Bergeron.
With the Inauguration weekend in full swing, a student band, Canopy, opened our 11 p.m. show in Cro’s Nest, a performance space in our student center.. The late night show followed “An Evening of Voice and Community,” a public concert and celebration for our president that I was also involved in planning. Canopy played a full hour of songs, but when they played “Magic” by Coldplay, I couldn’t believe my ears. (It was that good.) The second student band, Montreal Protocol, went on stage around midnight and once the band got going, the audience’s jumping signaled they wouldn’t be stopping anytime soon. It was around this time when President Bergeron dropped by the concert, only hours before the big ceremony that would follow on Saturday morning.
Both Canopy and Montreal Protocol put everything they had into this event, and they thanked me for choosing them to play. I thanked them for sharing their insane talent with all the students who came out on a Friday night. These are the moments I cherish the most at Conn.
Everyone has talent, but sometimes it takes a little time to figure out what those talents are. For me, it turns out the talent is pulling off a successful concert and making sure everything goes as planned.
April 10, 2014
In the middle of November, the first semester of my first year at Conn, TEDxConnecticutCollege reached out to students who had expressed interest in getting involved with the organization. TEDxConnecticutCollege has become an inspiring example of student involvement on campus. A few meetings in, I found myself loving the team and the process.
I am honored to be on the organization’s executive board. Gearing up for our April 12th conference has been a wonderful learning experience; my education at Conn would not be the same without it. Fundraising into the greater New London area has shown me the importance of community outreach and collaboration, while my time doing marketing projects have brought me vital skills in communication. This learning experience can be said of many clubs on campus, and I’m glad Conn has made such a valiant effort to acknowledge how important extra curriculars are in a the 21st century liberal arts education.
This Saturday, I’ll be backstage with an assortment of students, professors, and speakers who have traveled from near and far. From astrophysics to deep sea exploration and the discovery of the Titanic, the TEDx theme, “not all who wander are lost” attempts to encompass “adventure, exploration, discovery, and everything along the way.”
TEDxConnecticutCollege will stream their conference live on Saturday, April 12 beginning at 10 a.m. on their website.
April 10, 2014
Pictured here is a performance by Reflexion, the spoken word group on campus. Apart from putting on shows every semester, Reflexion runs writing workshops on weekends. It's a great opportunity for students who are interested in poetry and spoken word to get their creative juices flowing and work with a great group of writers, mentors and peers.
April 7, 2014
Birthdays at college are fun, but it’s not often you get to celebrate a milestone like turning 21. The day started out like any other Wednesday: breakfast with my roommate, three classes, track practice. Following a long day, I had a birthday dinner with my friends in Harris Dining Hall, complete with birthday cards and gifts. We chatted and laughed for over an hour. When I came back to my room, I found a gift and a beautiful and thoughtful card from my roommate on the desk.
After I did a couple hours of homework, I joined my friend Melody at the Cro Bar, our on-campus pub. Entering the Cro Bar for the first time, I proudly ordered a glass of wine and then settled into a booth with Melody. Little did I know, Wednesday nights are trivia nights. In between our conversation, Melody and I guessed the answers to such questions as: “Which Beatle was barefoot on the cover of Abbey Road?” (Paul McCartney) and “What are the three longest rivers in the world?” (The Nile, the Amazon and the Yangtze.) Luckily for us, we were joined by two other trivia-skilled friends and we had fun guessing answers and singing along to such throwbacks as Kelly Clarkson’s “Break Away.” Since I had a 7:30 a.m. track workout in the morning, I did not stay too late. I had a terrific birthday all the same, and I can’t wait for the next trivia night now!
April 8, 2014
In preparation for the Inauguration of President Bergeron, we were asked to create a video to help welcome our new president, on behalf of the student body. We interviewed some of our friends who are involved in a wide variety of activities to find out how what sort of messages they would send. The was one of the most exciting days of the year so far, and our aim was to capture the students' feelings leading up to the event.
-Matteo Mobilio '16 and Dana Sorkin '16
April 4, 2014
I met Jana in the south of France. We were both working as Au Pairs for a summer. Over spring break, she flew from her home in Germany to visit me in the States. We spent two weeks museum-, art gallery-, concert hall-, and theater-hopping in Boston and New York City and then relaxed in Maine. Instead of returning to Germany at the end of spring break, Jana accompanied me to Conn for a week. Given the excitement of our first two weeks, I was initially concerned that Jana would find the week at Conn boring, especially in the moments when I was doing homework or at track practice.
To my relief, Conn entertained Jana fabulously. She attended classes and practiced piano and sang in the music practice rooms. She attended a lecture on East Germany, studied Mozart pieces from Greer Music Library and watched French films in the Language Lab. Jana even took the Camel Van—our shuttle van—into New London and went grocery shopping, then cooked ratatouille in the Unity House kitchen. She took photographs in the arboretum, attended a concert in Cro, befriended a German student, helped another student studying German, and more. Here is her take on the week:
It’s been almost a week since I arrived to Connecticut College and I enjoy being here a lot. After some sightseeing in New York City and Boston, I was quite excited to get to know the “real life” of American students. On the first day, I sat in on international relations and French classes. The classes were interesting, the professors enthusiastic and competent, and the students very ambitious and attentive. Soon enough, I observed differences between studying at Conn and what I know about studying at German university. At Conn, students and professors establish close relationships and meet for lunch whereas, in Germany, students attend lectures with over a hundred students and the professors often don’t even know their students’ names. Another difference between German university and Conn is that students stay on campus almost exclusively. They go to classes, work in the library, have dinner at the dining hall and sleep in the dorms. In my hometown, students live in apartments in the city, take the subway or bike to attend class. Lastly, I was impressed by the huge variety of clubs one can join and the extra activities offered here! All in all I am glad to get to know this campus. Maybe I’ll come back one day for a semester abroad! ;)
I sure hope she comes back to Conn, since hosting her spurred me to enjoy Conn in new ways. In the meantime, I look forward to next spring when I study abroad in France and can visit her in Germany!
March 25, 2014
In college, cooking is all too often equated with ramen noodles. Fast food and microwaved leftovers aren't exactly gourmet food groups, either. I want to learn how to cook, but I don’t want to do it alone. My solution? Apply to live in an apartment-style residence for junior year, with a kitchen for gourmet experimentation.
Last week, I did just that. My friend Alex and I applied to live together in one of the apartment-style options available to upperclassmen. These are campus housing options, but have kitchens and a little more independence. I can’t explain how excited I am to learn to cook my own meals in preparation for life after College. Alex and I are both peer educators on campus and living together will give us a way to plan and help run the organization.
Most importantly, I will certainly be buying an apron.
March 6, 2014
One afternoon a few days ago, the Peer Educators Empowering Positive Self ("PEeps") were handing out free cupcakes in Cro in exchange for a quick survey. PEeeps are students on campus that are committed to promoting healthy choices and creating innovative educational programs that meet the needs of their peers based on issues faced by Connecticut College students. Topics include stress reduction, alcohol and other drugs, tobacco, sexual health, nutrition, fitness and sports performance.
March 4, 2014
Sometimes we forget how much of our studies in the classroom relate to what’s happening on campus or in the world around us. My English class, for instance, has been analyzing different themes in Homer’s The Odyssey. We have discussed the role of violence in the text; whether or not Odysseus, the main character, is truly a hero in our modern sense of the word; and how Homer often creates stories within the epic work. Coincidentally, it seems, at the same time we’ve been reading The Odyssey, there have been several lectures on campus that relate to the exact themes and ideas we have been researching. Our professor suggested that we go to the lectures to see how what we learn in class applies to the world.
This past week, there were at least three lectures that correlated to our class. These lectures included topics like poetry interpretation, Ancient Greek education and violence in the Roman Arena. Having so many ways to explore what we have learned in the classroom encourages more active learning. We can experience the very things we have been discussing. It's always really cool when a lecture relates to my coursework. It allows us as students to see the application of that which we have learned.
March 3, 2014
For the first time in a very, very long time, I auditioned to be a cast member of a school production. In this case, it was Connecticut College's production of "The Vagina Monologues." The show comes together in less than a week, making the experience tiring, exciting, but most of all, incredibly rewarding. It all manages to come together in the days leading up to the show.
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 26, 2014
Last week, I attended a question and answer session in Coffee Grounds with President Katherine Bergeron. President Bergeron even turned the tables and took the time to ask students about campus life and what they hope to see at the college.
February 25, 2014
Have a favorite place in your town where you just love to eat? Conn is like a small town and we’ve all got our favorite places to socialize and get meals. For me, it’s Smith Dining Hall.
I can go on and on about why Smith is my favorite place for breakfast and lunch. I mean, if you can find one bad thing about Smith, let me know.
Let me take you on a Smith adventure: It all starts with cheese and veggies! Spinach, lettuce, beans, corn salads, tomato salad... basically everything and anything you need for a salad. (Oh, did I forget to mention guacamole? Yeah, that just happened.)
Next are the famous flavored sauces and mayos that you and your friends will come here for. Chipotle-mayo is definitely my favorite, but others are partial to the sundried tomato and pesto spreads.
Toward the end of the line are the meats, should you choose to accept them. (Who doesn’t like a zesty chicken?) I love a zesty chicken, and Smith knows what I love, so they have a zesty chicken.
What makes Smith really special, however, is that I haven’t run into a single rude person in all my afternoons here. Admittedly, Smith is one of the smallest and most popular dining halls, yet there’s never a “Move!” Instead, I always hear “Excuse me”. Never a “I was using that,” always an “Oh sorry, after you.” Smith allows us to create all types of wondrous sandwiches and salads. In the dining hall’s simplicity, it creates a space of unity. That’s what I love about Smith.
February 21, 2014
Pictured is Katherine Bouzianis '14 carrying boxes with letters on every face to different locations on campus. She started this as an interactive project for a class that was aimed at getting more of the campus community involved in the arts. The boxes were placed in various locations around campus like Shain Library, Cummings Art Center, and the atrium above Harris Refractory. Students then could come and switch the boxes around and put together words or phrases, take a picture of what they had done and upload it to any social media site.
February 20, 2014
I wake up at 7 a.m., slide into my slippers, and pull up the window shade. Yellow light streams into our room.
My roommate has already walked to breakfast, leaving me to listen to NPR on my clock-radio and pack up my book bag.
I walk the minute to breakfast in JA dining hall. The sun rises above Cummings Arts Center and casts light across Tempel Green, now a wintery plain of fluorescent white. In the distance, a church steeple pricks the skyline. The Thames River hangs behind the steeple as the backdrop of a set.
The scene and the sun energize me. On my way into the dining hall, I pick up the New York Times, then plop down at our usual table. I take a sip of my coffee; my roommate’s friend joins us. She reads her German textbook and digs into a stack of blueberry pancakes. On the way out, I fill up my thermos with apple cinnamon tea.
It is 8 o’clock when I enter New London Hall. I climb up to the third story and choose a table facing the glass wall. Light pours in and I look out. I still see the Thames, still the steeple. People begin to walk around on the sidewalks below. I sit high above, enjoying the silence and the stillness and a day started off just right.
February 18, 2014
Think about a few of your favorite things to do when it is cold outside. Did staying inside make the list? There will always be reasons why we must trek out into the cold: class, meetings, activities, etc. For the ever so lucky ‘Plex-dwellers,’ meals don't have to be one.
The Plex (officially the “North Complex,” but no one calls it that... ever) consists of six dorms, connected by a dining hall (Harris Refectory) in the center. There are other dining halls around campus, but Harris is the largest. During the winter, it becomes my favorite place on campus. Having a dining hall connected to your dorm means breakfast in pajamas and slippers. It is always easy to tell who lives in the plex when you go to Harris. If it's winter, usually someone in shorts is a nice hint. The other students come in from the cold with boots and gloves.
The occasional snow day can be exciting because you can easily hangout with friends without braving the cold and the mounds of snow. Movie days and the occasional snowball fight become a norm in the dead of winter.
Every part of campus has a special perk or fun aspect, but I must say, the Plex life is the best life.
February 18, 2014
Connecticut College is currently in the process of re-thinking the core components of a student's general curriculum. As part of Curriculum reVision week, I went to an event at Ruane’s Den where chemistry professor Marc Zimmer and a number of students discussed their ideas for a new curriculum. The process is group-oriented and the College is working hard to engage students, faculty and staff in the process.
February 12, 2014
When you’re a student, many opportunities will be offered to you. What you do with them is up to you.
In my case, an opportunity came about that I just couldn’t resist. President Bergeron, the new president of Connecticut College recently started her new role, and I have met with her on one occasion. I was truly inspired. By luck, I’ve been invited to serve on a sub-committee helping to plan her inauguration, which will blissfully tie together my time here. I accepted the offer to be a part of the sub-committee, which is charged with the planning of an evening and afternoon event for the President’s Inauguration. What’s so stellar is that this sub-committee is composed of faculty and staff of the College, and I’m the only student. We recently had our first meeting, and I got to contribute a few ideas and concerns I had.
I was somewhat caught off guard. Usually, when I first enter a formal situation or a new class, it takes me a bit of time to get comfortable before I can express my ideas and concerns. After being asked what I thought about a specific topic in our first meeting, all eyes fell to me. I told them what I thought -- me, a student among a handful of adults. We efficiently planned, organized and brainstormed about ideas for our future events … I’ll leave those for a later surprise.
For now, I just want to give a sneak peek on how things here at the College really work: Students, faculty and staff work together to formulate and execute ideas that we brainstorm together. Shared governance is real, and requires both parties.
February 11, 2014
One of my best friends, Caroline, visited me at Conn over the weekend. Although she and I love quiet chats over mocha at our favorite coffee shops, we also love adventures like kayaking to islands off Maine’s coast and square dancing in Charlestown.
Therefore, it came as no surprise that we spent our time together at Conn doing something adventurous. What did we do? We cooked.
After Caroline arrived in New London on the Amtrak, we headed to Fiddleheads, a natural foods co-op downtown. We looked up vegetarian recipes on our phones and came across an easy one for black bean and sweet potato enchiladas.
Fiddleheads had the ingredients available, even in small portions. That meant that instead of buying an entire shaker of chili powder and bottle of canola oil (which my meal-plan-self would not finish), we could take just as much as the recipe called for.
Around dinnertime, Caroline and I set out to cook our enchiladas in Lazarus Dorm’s kitchen. Although most students at Conn live in the dorms and eat all their meals in dining halls, some apartments are available. Other buildings, like Lazarus, have dorm rooms but shared kitchens that all students, like myself, can use.
We walked straight into a cooking fiesta with the others who were there. As we grated potatoes and chopped onions, a German student made soup; a student from Texas cooked eggs, bacon and biscuits; and two friends fried rice.
Though our dinner took the longest to prepare, it was worth it. The enchiladas and the weekend turned out great.
February 10, 2014
Harris Refectory is a place where students go not only to eat, but also to sit down and socialize, as well. We jokingly call Harris a "social trap," because most students, at some point, find themselves spending an average of one to two hours, sometimes more sitting and socializing, well after having finished their meal.
February 6, 2014
The dorms are especially cozy during snowstorms. I was heading to sled in the Arbo with some friends during yesterday’s snow day but the flurries outside made Smith, my dorm, almost too cozy to leave.
January 23, 2014
Every Friday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Fiddlehead’s, New London’s organic food co-op, sets up a booth in Cro, our student center. They sell all sorts of fresh and organic fruits, vegetables and sweets. (I’m known to buy their raspberries, apples and mangos.) Having Fiddleheads and other groups visit campus is perfect for stocking up on healthy food before finals or late-night study sessions.
January 21, 2014
Often on Fridays, my friend Joanna will invite me to a Shabbat dinner, hosted by Hillel, the Jewish organization on campus.
Although I am not Jewish, these dinners have become one of my favorite weekly traditions. A group of about 15 people (often including “Coasties,” our affectionate name for students from the Coast Guard Academy,) gather around tables pushed together in the Jane Addams dining hall.
One of Hillel’s leaders guides us in song and, once we’ve finished singing, we pass around challah and share snippets of our week with one another.
I am grateful to Hillel for providing me a calming space to reflect on my week, catch up with friends, and meet new ones. With the new Hillel House opening this month, I’m excited to be part of more Jewish cultural events.
January 17, 2014
While I’m here at school, guests occasionally stay in my room at home. Almost everyone tells me how great the room is and how much they enjoy the bed. When I’m home during break, however, it doesn’t really feel like my room anymore. It’s not that I don’t feel at comfortable there, but I long for my dorm room.
People forget that going to college nowadays involves bringing more than just clothes. We bring posters, knickknacks and pictures to make our dorm become our home.
To me, my little dorm room at Conn is my bedroom, study, kitchen and living room. My bed is covered with pillows and blankets I’ve had since childhood. (My purple striped duvet cover is hiding a Little Mermaid comforter.) It is strange, yet oddly comforting, that overtime, my dorm room has begun to feel a little more like home than where I grew up.
January 15, 2014
I returned to Conn last Sunday and hit the ground running. Literally.
I dropped my bags in my room and ran to track practice for a timed 5k. Athletes return to campus a few weeks before classes start for training camps. As much as I have loved getting back to my running routine, I have also enjoyed the non-running aspects of being back on campus.
After our first practice, my friends and I ate a leisurely dinner while filling each other in on our winter breaks. We ended the evening in true slumber party fashion — sprawled out on couches and a jumbo beanbag chair while laughing and watching TV reruns. But unlike at regular sleepovers, we hit the sack early in preparation for our morning wake-up call.
At 7:30 a.m. the next day, the entire track team gathered in the Athletic Center. Instead of our usual morning jog and weightlifting, we played water polo. When not playing, we cheered loudly from the sidelines. The matches got pretty intense (by our standards at least).
Evenings are also active. The past week, we’ve played ping-pong and air hockey at game night, gone bowling, acted out charades, and crossed over an 8-foot vertical string in trust-building exercises. My friends and I also spent an evening making Mediterranean soup and fudge brownies.
For our first meet of the season, we headed off campus. On our way to Bowdoin College, we stopped in Freeport, Maine, to eat lunch and, as our coach called it, “shop ‘till we drop”. We ate crab cakes and lobster sandwiches at Linda Bean’s Tavern and then meandered through L.L. Bean’s factory store. After a practice at Bowdoin, we settled into the quaint Inn at Brunswick Station. I enjoyed meeting some of the sprinters over a dinner of chicken marsala and baked ziti.
Pretty soon, everyone will be back on campus, classes will start, and college will be back to normal. It’s been awesome to have a few weeks just to focus on running and building relationships with my teammates.
January 13, 2014
Occasionally, The ConnCollegeLive Experience will invite guests to blog about their experiences as a Camel. The following is the first in this guest blogger series.
I’ve been a tutor at Conn for the past three years. I work with students in the Science Leaders program in one-on-one and group sessions in chemistry, organic chemistry and biology. The tutoring program was started as a way to ensure our Science Leaders excel, but after last summer, I saw it also as an opportunity to experiment with new teaching techniques.
Traditionally, our group tutoring sessions work this way: Students arrive with their problem sets complete and ask the tutor any questions they have. Faculty and students approve of this type of setup because students can try the problems on their own, and anyone who needs extra help attends the tutoring sessions.
Unfortunately, the system never seemed to work out this way. Many times, students come to sessions without the problem set complete, either because they couldn’t find the time, or worse, they became irreversibly stuck at some point in the assignment.
This summer, while I was applying to medical schools, I found that most incorporate problem-based learning (PBL) into their curriculum. I sat in on a PBL class for biochemistry at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and it was incredible. Students worked together on complex problems in teams of five, always making sure everyone was on pace and fully understood the question at hand. The strangest thing was, they seemed to actually enjoy it.
So I gathered up our Science Leaders in organic chemistry, and I tried it. This year, rather than stringing together a number of chapter-related problems each week, we started designing problems that pull from multiple chapters and allow the students to make connections between what they are currently working on and older material.
These new sessions foster collaboration between students and teach them that even in organic chemistry, each one of them can benefit from working together.
Yumi Kovic ’14 is a biochemistry major, a Science Leader and the winner of the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship, which encourages outstanding students to pursue careers in science, mathematics or engineering.
January 8, 2014
As a member of the Sustainability Representative Program, I get to work hand-in-hand with many staff members to implement new sustainable initiatives on campus.
It’s pretty cool to think about: an idea that my group comes up with may be implemented in the day-to-day lives of Conn students, and we get to work with the college administration to make it happen.
Our program has been working with a variety of groups around campus including Dining Services and the new Camel Card office, and we’ve also been working with the City of New London itself.
I think it’s amazing that as nineteen- and twenty-year-olds, we are given the power to literally change the face of this campus. Granted, we had to work for the power, and we work even harder to get the projects done, but the fact is that it’s possible. It’s a kind of power I’ve never felt before. That’s what shared governance in action looks like.
January 2, 2014
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.
December 30, 2013
After Thanksgiving, and now with the New Year right around the corner, I found myself thinking about the semester ending. I am particularly thankful for a wonderful first semester at Conn. Here are ten reasons why:
- The comfort to strike up conversation with anyone.
- The willingness of professors to meet with me, even if I’m not taking one of their classes. (One professor even gave me her personal phone number to help answer my questions.)
- Friday night Shabbat dinners (complete with challah). I’m not even Jewish, but everyone goes!
- The openness of my friends.
- The new Science Center in New London Hall provides me an inspiring place to think.
- The arboretum bog loop … perfect for running
- The view of the Thames River when working out in the fitness center
- Facilitating Friday morning creative writing workshops at Sound Community Services, a nearby non-profit dedicated to educating and assisting individuals with behavioral health needs
- The hot cocoa at Blue Camel Café when I’m in need of a boost during late nights in the library
- The Amtrak train that goes from downtown New London to Boston, bringing me home. (And also to NYC and DC!)
December 27, 2013
So I admit: I like knowing what my next step of life will hold. In high school, I definitely enjoyed the challenge of science and solving problems, so I decided to pursue the topic in college. Now that I’m beginning to set my sights on graduation (which, fortunately, is still a few years away,) I’ve been thinking about what I really want to continue studying. I enjoy learning and graduate school is an option, but I don’t know what type. Law school, medical school, or just graduate programs in biochemistry/chemistry are all on my list.
Just recently, I spoke with my minor advisor and she gave me some pretty good advice, suggesting I sample all of my interests. Often, topics on paper can seem really fun or cool to study, but might not pan out.
Is there a point to medical school if you absolutely hate the smell of hospitals? Do you want to go to law school if you think lawyers are really liars? Do you think you can even do four more years of school?
The answer to that last question is yes! I just can’t wait to figure out how much I can learn. Don’t stop opening new doors.
December 23, 2013
Last year I lived in a dorm with my four best friends, one of whom was my roommate at the time.
This year I live in a single, with one of those best friends also in the same dorm. Luckily, she lives right down the hall.
The automatic comfort and support you feel when one of your friends lives nearby is almost indescribable. I definitely would not have been able to get through this semester without my friend living down the hall. Our rooms are always open to each other -- I use her fridge and she uses my microwave. It’s easy and relaxing. I know that at any time, I can walk down the hall into her room, with no already-made plans, and we can just sit around and gossip, watch TV, or eat.
This is one of the best things about college: being surrounded by people your own age 24 hours a day. Sometimes those people can become lifelong friends in the process.
December 20, 2013
After the three-inch snowfall, students took to the green for snowball fights and snowmen. These two students had just started to craft their snowman as the snow flurries began to die down.
December 18, 2013
I’ve read the Hunger Games series religiously and when my friends and I heard that Conn was sponsoring a trip to see the latest movie, Catching Fire, I do remember squealing loudly. We had already planned to buy tickets to the premiere, but going with Conn made it easier.
Seeing the movie through the College’s trip was really helpful. For starters, it made our tickets cheaper and guaranteed us entry. It is usually my luck that premiere tickets are sold out when I go to buy them… even in advance. Then, transportation was included to and from the theater, making our movie viewing experience tress free. I really didn't think I could be much happier about this endeavor until we showed up at Cro to board the bus for the theater.
As I got on the bus, I discovered several other friends were also signed up to see this movie, in addition to the friends I had purchased tickets with. For movies, a big group is always more fun. In my mind, this outing was going to be rated 7 out of 10 in terms of fun anyway, but between the Conn transportation, cheap tickets and additional friends, the rating scale just broke. It was incredibly fun!
December 13, 2013
So, it’s that time of year again when the snow is beautiful, the cold nibbles at your ears and final exams nibble at your conscience. There are very few things I fear as a college student and finals are definitely... all of them. As a second year student, however, I’ve gone through this a few times and I can definitely say it’s not as bad as it seems. For example, there are many stress-relieving activities that happen during finals week, a six-day period in which we students get to self-schedule our final exams.
To start the week of finals, we have the traditional Moonlight Breakfast. This is an event where Student Life staff come into Harris dining hall and serve the students a great breakfast and cupcake spread late at night, like you were at a diner. This year, the event feautured the entertainment of a wandering magician who left me spellbound and kept me distracted from my exam prep. I got to play charades with my friends for interesting prizes (you try performing “dog and pony show” as your charades... it’s quite hard). Throughout the week you will often see people studying but you will also see them making origami in the library, making use of coloring books, de-stressing in Cro and swarming the common rooms for s'mores.
Overall, yes, finals can be very stressful, but friends, activities and time management with self-scheduled exams can definitely make it a manageable experience.
January 10, 2014
On The Can, the weekly publication by the Connecticut College Student Government Association, is, without a doubt, one of the most-read publications on campus. It's a little bit quirky, and filled with upcoming event advertisements, student profiles, puzzles and trivia.
December 13, 2013
The Wednesday before final exams is usually pretty normal, but on Thursday, it all changes. Classes have ended and the library goes into 24-hour mode.
The dorms are empty; everyone retreats to their study space of choice. The library, the campus coffee shops (all five,) the student center and the common rooms are suddenly full of intently-studying students surrounded by stacks of books and papers.
Finals are a time when normal sleep, study, and eating patterns are thrown out the window. Everyone begins living off coffee, tea, soda, and their favorite snacking food (mine is almonds and cheese-its).
During next few days, your study schedule starts revolving around the times you decide to take your exams. The nice thing about Conn is that, as part of the Honor Code, we’re trusted to take our exams whenever we want during the exam week. Basically, there are three blocks of time each day you get can chose from from: 9am, 2pm, or 7pm.
Finally, even when you’re spending late nights in the library, there are moments of relaxation always available all around campus. The librarians bring out coloring books and board games, and staff members are known for walking the aisles giving out juice boxes and energy bars.
There’s also a moonlight breakfast, taking place from 10-12 p.m. the evening before exams. There’s nothing like a late-night snack of breakfast food and cupcakes. This year, a magician performed tricks, roaming through crowds of students.
December 11, 2013
About a week ago, I got to see an incredible performance. I knew the topic revolved around mental health, but I really didn’t know what I’d see that evening.
What I saw was extraordinarily powerful. Charlotte Weber '16, the writer, director and lone performer, put on a show that made me think about mental health in an entirely new light. Instead of simply telling, Weber brought to life the effects of mental health issues for her audience. She portrayed her personal connection the topic and connected with each audience member.
Finally, she asked for help. Charlotte asked for all those in the audience to look around them and realize that mental health issues are not closeted in one corner of society; they are all around us. Even on campus, there are many safe spaces and professionals available to help students.
From Charlotte’s performance, I realized I could do something. Charlotte took theater, a topic she loves, and used it to educate the world about a serious issue. I left an inspired activist.
December 5, 2013
I am an aspiring science writer, and since I know experience is everything, I write for The College Voice, Conn’s student newspaper.
My most recent article is about the faculty dance show taking place next week. Since my former roommate and my friend from chemistry are both in show, I interviewed them for my article. Since completing our short, spur of the moment interview during lunch, I’ve found that I act quite differently when I’m asking questions and conducting myself as a journalist, than when I’m hanging out as a friend. I found that my tone of voice changed, my questions were pointed and I included follow-up questions until I got the quotes necessary.
It was an eye-opening realization:even though I am one of the least confrontational people ever, when I’m trying to get quotes or an interview for my article, I can be very determined.
December 3, 2013
A few weeks ago, visiting artist Alex Rubio worked with my class of painting and drawing students on a collaborative three-panel mural project, being painted on site. The art department has been able to host Rubio through the support of the Dayton Artist-in-Residence Program, which allows students to interact and learn from artists who are not typically accessible in an academic setting. Rubio worked with us non-stop all weekend, teaching his technique, mentoring, and simply getting to know us. He says that to him, the most important part of the whole project is the process and getting the students to feel a great sense of ownership over the work. He told us from day one, “This is not my project, it is ours and all of your names will go on it.”
December 2, 2013
Ever notice that you're never really "normal" when hanging out with friends? Your inside jokes and secret ways of communicating set you apart. People might give you confused looks if you all randomly burst into laughter when nothing really happened. I'd like to call this “comfortable strangeness.” Once you reach this with a group of people, you'll find that it is difficult to be anything but a little weird.
I always eat late breakfast/early lunch in Smith with two classmates — very close friends — before my 11:50 class. We share a comfortable strangeness over sandwiches and bagels. We recently sat with a friend we don't often see and shared the same realization; we were struggling to be normal. It actually made lunch even more hilariously awkward. Our friend departed before we did and we laughed about how we never realized how strange we were. It wasn't until we were around other people that we felt the need to tone down our overly-excited interactions. It's a nice connection to have with friends; this comfortable strangeness.
November 27, 2013
A few days ago, professors Tristan Borer and Afshan Jafar hosted a discussion about Saudi Arabian human rights issues. Both professors are experts on the topic and, at the invitation of the Women’s Center, Think SAFE Project and Yalla Bina Arabic Club, led a conversation that was sparked by a viral video about female drivers in Saudi Arabia. I was one of 40 students who joined the chat while enjoying some free coffee and pastries from Coffee Grounds.
November 29, 2013
Artful Resistance was an event hosted by the education department in the Harris Atrium in response to contemporary issues in education. Students stopped by to make art and express their creativity. In their art, they asked questions including, “what do you love about education, and what have you lost?” and “What does your dream school look like?” Some of the works produced at the event will be displayed at a gallery in downtown New London.
November 28, 2013
I’ve got some tutors at the Academic Resource Center that I definitely have to thank. Organic chemistry has been quite the ride thus far and tutors have been there along the way. From them, I find myself learning new and even faster techniques to solve problems I thought I was doing efficiently. They take time out of their schedules to help us in calm, group settings... something all of us desperately need.
Orgo can be pretty stressful. Every student is welcome at the Academic Resource Center where tutors are available from most academic departments. I find myself enjoying the group tutoring sessions. It’s better for me to have access to a place where I don’t have to know all the answers and I don’t have to come prepared with questions. I can just see what types of questions others have and use those to hone areas and techniques that need improvement.
These groups help me realize that not all learning has to happen within the classroom. Other students also have the key: whether they are in front of the class teaching you that the electrons from double bonds can be electron dense areas or they’re in the seat next to you teaching you that same thing, listening is just as important as individual thinking. Group tutoring definitely has it’s perks.
November 30, 2013
How to describe the third floor of Shain Library in a word or two? “Creepily quiet.”
Each of the four floors in Shain Library have their own personality, I’ve come to learn. The basement contains the Blue Camel Café, serving such wonderful pick-me-ups as red velvet cupcakes and chai lattes. People gather in the booths surrounding the Blue Camel to study in groups. That is, to read — then reread — a few lines of an assignment while catching up with friends.
The main floor is where that confident junior goes to show his friends — and whomever else — that he’s got everything under control. In fact, he’s so in control, he can afford to look up from his studies at the passer-bys printing their assignments and to wave to his many acquaintances. Near him, study groups gather to prepare for biology or chemistry tests and classmates discuss their essays when using the desktop computer stations.
In spite of all the action on the first floor, the second floor beats them. It’s home to wooden tables tucked into bookshelf alcoves, cozy window-side cubicles, movie-viewing rooms, and a spacious Apple computer lab. All perks of the library are available with the freedom of speech. The freedom, that is, to brainstorm verbally or just plain laugh. It’s ok to make a little bit of noise on the second floor.
The third floor is where laughter goes to die, along with other noise. Brace yourself for evil glares if the music from your headphones plays too loudly or if, god forbid, you tread too heavily towards the water fountain. The silence does, however, create a haven for those needing to write that seven-page French cinema paper or read an entire book...by tomorrow. Noise-makers should just leave. Or, better, switch floors.
November 26, 2013
Earlier this month, I volunteered for the astronomy/physics department at our open-house. We opened our doors and invited local kids, parents and high school students to try out our instruments. Even though there were clouds covering the night sky, I got the opportunity to explain how telescopes and other astronomer tools work, helping visitors understand what goes on high above our heads. I hope that we managed to instil a sense of excitement about sciences for the young visitors.
November 22, 2013
It's comforting to know that I can learn more than just academics here at Connecticut College. I now know a little bit of self defense, thanks to the Martial Arts Club.
November 18, 2013
Last Sunday night, I left my appointment in the Writing Center at 10:30 p.m. with hours worth of revisions left to make on an English paper due the next day. Nevertheless, I was thrilled. Inspired by Robert Browning’s poem “My Last Duchess,” I just had a conversation with the student writing tutor about the similarities between art and people and the value in treating art like a human beings. Fortunately, conversation in non-academic settings (such as Knowlton Dining Hall) is equally as fresh, real and juicy. In non-foodie terms, the conversation is equally as courageous.
“Courage” stems from the word coeur meaning heart in French. In her TED talk, sociologist Brené Brown defines courage as the act of telling one’s story with one’s whole heart. My friends at Conn embody courage. They make themselves vulnerable by spilling their stories, even the shameful chapters. By sharing our whole selves with each other — the good and bad alike — we connect authentically.
November 15, 2013
Sustainability at Connecticut College is much more than "going green." It's part of the academics, the student organizations and the big-picture mentality on campus and I got to talk with students who are leading the charge.
November 10, 2013
Spencer Francus '14 handing out pamphlets at the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht event in Evans Hall. Kristallnacht literally means "night of broken glass." It comes from the shards of broken glass from Jewish-owned stores, buildings and synagogues following attacks throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria in 1938. Spencer, like many other students on campus, is an active member of Hillel, the Jewish community here at Connecticut College.
November 14, 2013
Recently, I joined an improvisation group and it’s been an amazing experience. The games we play and the conversations we have are truly uplifting. Being able to open my mind and just say what first comes out - while also incorporating comedy - has to be one of the best things I’ve done so far at college. It relieves stress, too. No matter how long the day or how stressed I am, I always look forward to meeting with the group to do some improv. I’m part of a group that’s willing to help me improve my improv, no pun intended.
Speaking of improving, we just gave our first show last week following many weeks of preparation. I was really nervous, but the auditorium was packed with friends I knew. After the show, we got an amazing round of applause and raving reviews from everyone... It was an adrenaline rush throughout the entire show. Overall, improv has been a stress relieving experience that I’m so happy I spontaneously auditioned for at the beginning of my sophomore year.
November 9, 2013
This week, I attended a dinner with author Julia Alvarez, which brings my count of famous-authors-I’ve-met-in-the-past-month up to two.
...That’s pretty darn impressive.
Julia Alvarez is a renowned Latina writer who was speaking at Connecticut College on the topic of sustainability. I have read one of her books and seen a movie adaption of another. She also embodies the type of writer I hope to be, so having a chance to eat dinner with her was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me.
Upon meeting her, I found out how fun, tenacious and humorous she really is. During dinner, she regaled us with stories about her two years at Conn and her father’s strictness concerning boys. She told us how her father would visit early on Sunday mornings, “so you know, we couldn’t do much the night before…” leaving us giggling to ourselves.
She was intrigued about the sustainability programs we have on campus today, especially the Sustainability Representatives Program that I’m part of. She was interested in the diversity representatives we have in every house and declared that she’d have to talk to people at Middlebury (where she is a writer-in-residence) about implementing a similar program.
I came away from this dinner knowing more about Julia Alvarez, the person, instead of Julia Alvarez, the writer, and wouldn’t have it any other way.
November 8, 2013
Every student and faculty member seems to find the Halloween spirit, and this year was no exception. It's a favorite holiday for Kurt Reinmund '15, and in this video, he shares a glimpse into this year's celebrations.
October 25, 2013
This year we had one of the biggest Fall Weekends that Connecticut College has ever seen, as we celebrated the completion of our $211 million Campaign for Connecticut College that President Higdon started publicly in October of 2008. The weekend started off with the bright blue illumination of the tent, complete with the College’s tree logo projected on it. The first event of the weekend was ONE.EPIC.NIGHT, which was a night filled with exciting performances by the a cappella groups, dancers, two very funny MC’s, a speed painter and Fighting Gravity. This was followed by food trucks of all sorts and a dance. Day two started with Harvestfest and brunch under the tent where clubs and organizations on campus got to sell all sorts of great stuff including t-shirts, posters, coffee mugs, phone cases, raffle tickets and baked goods for the clubs to raise money. This was followed by an exciting soccer game against Bowdoin College on Harkness Green. The night culminated with a green-screen photo booth, performance by Bear Mountain and a dance under the tent.
November 4, 2013
Kurt and I are taking you behind the scenes of an annual Connecticut College tradition: Fall Weekend. It's a weekend complete with athletic matches, the annual all-group a cappella concert and HarvestFest, an open market of Connecticut College swag sold by clubs and teams.
November 9, 2013
This is Niles. I got him at a Connecticut College men’s water polo game.
How? The coach tossed him up into the stands for anyone to have. He’s only one of many free items I’ve gotten at sporting events, including a t-shirt and sweatshirt.
This is a really good incentive to go to water polo games.
I’ve noticed this happens with a lot of sports teams.
My track coach, for example,often draws rewards from “the prize box” for trivia night winners, or for those who get the highest score in bowling, a team activity during the season. Last year, my friend was the bowling tournament champion and got a Connecticut College Camels track & field t-shirt from a few years ago. The surplus swag sometimes piles up and it’s a win-win.
November 8, 2013
Last year when I arrived at Connecticut College, I lived in Burdick House, the “quiet house” on campus. Throughout the year I lived there with my closest friend, we were somewhat loud ourselves. I guess it was just too quiet for me. No one on our floor made much noise though. I love to listen to loud music and that isn’t allowed in Burdick. When choosing my room for sophomore year, I wanted to move somewhere else on campus so I chose to live in Hamilton House.
In this dorm, I can’t be as loud as I want all the time, but I have fewer restrictions depending on the time of day. I bought some new speakers, and I love love love to play them loudly. A lot of people on my floor have often said that they have “mini dance parties” when they pass my room, which is really cool.
This week, however, I found myself studying for the one thing that turns me white in the face: an organic chemistry test.
It’s really convenient to have a single room, because there’s no one else to bother you. That doesn’t mean, however, the entire floor is quiet. While studying for this test, I found myself noticing my neighbors' music, people having small gatherings, and even a quick game of ball-bouncing in the hallway. In short, I was going insane. It’s really cool to live in a quiet house sometimes, but at other times… not so much. Now that the tables have been turned, I’ve realized that studying can be a little bit rougher. No matter though, because after this test the volume is going on max, and I’m going to fist-pump in my room to my favorite songs.
Editor’s note: All houses set hours at which noise should be kept at a minimum. Residents are expected, at all times, to be courteous and must ensure that their noise does not disturb the studies or sleep of their neighbors.
November 6, 2013
This past summer, I ran while in France, nannying for a family. I’d dash out before the seven-year-old woke up, taking narrow dirt roads to the 17th-century castle at the top of the village, passing the lines of people waiting outside boulangeries for their pain chocolat, glimpsing vineyards, farms and tree nurseries. Training wasn’t always so picturesque: The family’s guests would gawk as I did grapevines and exercises in the yard, the boy would jump on my back as I did push-ups and the family’s bear-dogs would paw at my legs as I switched to sit-ups. In spite of my spotty summer training and complete inexperience running cross-country, I decided to give it a go at Conn.
10 reasons why I’m thrilled I did:
- Coach Bishop
He’s constantly cracking jokes, calling out “hit it” when we begin speed workouts, all the while creating a positive and productive athletic experience.
- Pasta dinner at Coach Bishop’s mom’s house
Coach Bishop’s mother kindly opens up her home to us the evening of our first race of the season. Seniors take charge of a pasta and salad dinner and she provides the scrumptious desserts.
- Beautiful running routes
Sunlit foliage on forest trails, prayer flags on Mamacoke Island, sunsets over the beach at Bluff Point, glistening creeks on the Airline Trails...
- Voyages to meets
Meets occur in Maine, Indiana, Massachusetts, Connecticut. We occasionally stay in hotels but consistently enjoy academic, social, and scenic bus rides and a change of scenery.
- Our home course
No course beats our own. The course at Harkness State Park follows the ocean, surrounds gardens and passes a mansion.
During the first week of practice, while out on our long runs, conversation topics run wild. Everything is discussed: the joys of traveling and making international friends, parenting concerns, psychological disorders, favorite recipes, racism in the U.S. and occasionally some taboo thoughts. These girls keep it real.
- Pool workouts
We duel water polo matches and compete in swim relays. The winning team receives prizes (team gear!)
- Improved focus
The mental outlet at the end (and sometimes beginnings) of each day rejuvenates me and helps me return to my studies with renewed interest and energy. Not to mention that exercising helps those time-management skills...
- Morning workouts
There’s nothing like catching the sun rise while running, lifting weights and eating a hearty breakfast… all before 8 a.m.
Sometimes we leave campus before 8 a.m. for meets, but the thrill of race day is worth it. I recite our cheer to motivate myself while racing: “C-A-M-E-L. We’re the camels, run like hell. Ahh CC!”
November 5, 2013
This week, I was named “campus cutie” by HerCampus, an independent online student publication which, each week, profiles a campus cutie. The articles normally go out on Friday mornings, and you never know who is going to be next!
I was sitting around on Wednesday night and, while studying for my organic chemistry test, an email popped up from HerCampus. I was pretty shocked as I read through the email saying I had been nominated. I didn’t think I would ever be considered for such a thing.
There were questions about my idea of a perfect date, my favorite types of candy, my celebrity crush, and even my response to learning about my nomination.
As you can imagine, I remained humble throughout the entire thing. The really weird part about the publishing of the article is that I knew before everyone else on campus did. I had to keep it a secret for two whole days. That may not seem long, but to not tell something to anyone (despite the fact that you want to!) is super hard. Anyway, I obeyed, and no one knew but my best friend.
What has been even weirder is that people actually recognize me from just this article. Little do they know that for, to me, it started as just a campus secret.
October 25, 2013
What do vaginas mean to you? It’s a simple question at first sight, if you’re just thinking on the surface. Vaginas are so much more than the surface, especially for me. I am an only child, and my mother was a single mother. There, I said it. I hope you feel the emotion I have towards vaginas through the computer screen, and what they mean. This year, Alia Roth ’14 is producing the Vagina Monologues. It is a show that happens annually at the college during the spring semester, this year on February 20-22.
To promote the show, Alia decided upon a video. She reached out to a group of us students via email. She asked if we wanted to participate in this video. She told us she was going to ask us each a question when we arrived to do the filming, and it was going to be a surprise. I immediately accepted. Never have I been so thrilled to have the opportunity to work on this type of project.
The day of recording came, and I told the camera-no, the world-what vaginas truly mean to me. After I was done I left Alia and John, the videographer in shock. They were amazed at what I had to say. Everything I said was true. We were emailed and told to prepare ourselves for the release. I was sitting in my room watching the video alone, and there was a smile from ear to ear on my face. I was happy.
The video was posted on major media websites and YouTube the following day. It has over 100,000 views at this very moment. The world and our campus really got to see what other students and I had to say. I have always been proud of the role my mother has played in my life. For being able to deal with me and be successful, but now I am also proud of Alia. I am proud of her for showing the world that there are men who really do understand that there is more than a face value to a vaginal treasure, which the world must learn to respect.
October 28, 2013
On Friday the 18th, on the cusp of Fall Weekend, I jumped in the car and drove to the train station to pick up Emma, one of my best friends from high school.
We had decided over the summer that she was going to come visit me over Fall Weekend at Conn, in part because I knew my family wasn’t going to come visit me, but also because I knew there would be plenty of stuff for us to do.
Plenty doesn’t even begin cover it.
On Friday night the festivities began with lively a cappella concerts from the seven groups on campus. These were followed by a jaw-dropping performance by America’s Got Talent finalists Fighting Gravity, a black-light dance troupe displaying (wait for it) gravity-defying illusions. A dance ended the night in the giant tent. I asked Emma if she had fun as we walked back to my dorm, and she replied with an enthusiastic “Of course! How could I not?”
On Saturday we took a tour of the campus, watched the soccer game, and explored Harvestfest, where all the clubs on campus set up tables in the giant tent to sell merchandise as a fundraising opportunity. After dinner at the dance, I introduced Emma to other friends from around campus and also took several priceless pictures in the photo booth.
Sunday, after walking back from a lazy start in Harris dining hall, I asked Emma about her impressions of Conn. As a student who lives in New York City, she was awed by the fact that even on our small campus we remained busy, how there was always something to do.
At the train station I hugged Emma good-bye and she told me to come visit her in NYC. She then said that she hoped to come back to Conn and visit again, maybe next semester. I said, “Yes! Totally!” but I’m not sure how I can top another visit as great as this one.
October 30, 2013
As a sophomore, I did not think I’d already have to be considering what my senior thesis might be.
However, when you are applying to the Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment (GNCE,) part of your application mandates a proposed thesis or senior project.
This means thinking about my future A LOT.
Thankfully I am a future-oriented person who knows what she wants to do with her life. But all of those ideas only existed in my head, and putting them down on paper with a plan for the next two and half years of college are solidifying them in a way that is a little intimidating.
On a optimistic note, you can’t say that college is not preparing students for the future, since through this process I have thought seriously about long-term goals, have had to prepare for interviews, reached out to superiors and learned how to craft a serious proposal. These are all skills you need to have in the world after college.
One of the great aspects of GNCE is that not all of the students in it are environmental majors. There are chemistry, anthropology, philosophy, even English majors, and all want to connect the environment to their major or interest.
Applying to the Goodwin-Niering Center is a great example of what most of what extracurriculars at Conn are like; a lot of hard work, but all in preparation for opportunities you would not have access to anywhere else.
October 25, 2013
I check my mailbox twice a day; once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Usually, I'm most excited to receive a package, but receiving an invitation to a luncheon was even better. The invitation was from the Connecticut College Alumni of Color group and the Trustees of Color, for students of color to network with alumni of color. As a student, I saw this as a wonderful opportunity to learn something about previous members of our campus community and how their experiences could positively influence mine.
Of the many things I learned from the alumni in attendance, one thing really stood out. Everyone tells you to get good grades while having a social life. This time, the entire Connecticut College experience was stressed. Taking advantage of every resource and being involved on campus really makes a difference. It is very easy to be the student who goes to class, does their homework and hangs out with a few friends on the weekend. To be the student who, at the end of the day, experiences the college, requires effort. Conn has so much to offer its students.
I was encouraged to find something I'm passionate about and stick with it. Doing everything on campus is one way to experience the college, but another is make your own unique path. Find what you enjoy and take it where no one has before. It's all possible, you just need to make it happen.
October 29, 2013
Pictured is Wai Ying Zhao, a senior art major here at Connecticut College working late night on an installation piece for our construction and installation class. You can find students just like Wai Ying in Cummings Arts Center working on projects at all hours of the day. We make jokes about “living” in Cummings and having a bed installed somewhere for each of us because we actually spend more time in Cummings than we do in our own rooms... it’s like our second home. The great thing about Cummings is that the building is accessible to art students 24/7, meaning we can work as late as we’d like.
October 23, 2013
I hated open house in high school. Mom always had to come with me to all the classes I really didn’t want her at, and it was super boring. All I can think of is disgusting stale cookies, and cold coffee. Things have changed… at Connecticut College’s open house this year, I was chosen by the admission office to give an opening address.
So I sat down and wrote my speech, corrected the grammar, and asked my best friend to read it a couple times before I sent it back to the admission office. After a short time, I got a very calm reply from them asking for me to come in and talk about my speech. I had a very eye-opening conversation: “It wasn’t me,” they said. I had written a story that was out of my character, and had a lack of my personal charisma. I wasn’t surprised. I had lied to myself. They asked me a couple questions about my experiences to pick at my brain, and I began to talk. I spoke of love, laughter, happiness, all my friends, and the tears began to flow. I had written my speech in real time.
I didn’t immediately write what was the second, revised edition of my speech. I waited a while for the emotions to cool, and I began again, this time alone. I didn't ask my best friend to read it for me, but instead I read it to her. I had to trust myself that what I had written was my voice.
All weekend, I read my speech over and over to myself to draw out my tears, and make sure I didn’t cry on that stage. The last thing I wanted was pity from the crowd of parents and prospective students with whom I wanted to connect in a much deeper way.
By Monday morning I was ready to speak. I was very nervous leading up to the moment of performance, but I know it didn’t show during the speech. To get myself through it I just imagined no one was in the crowd. I just wanted to get on that stage and tell my Conn Coll story. I’m not perfect. I’m no superstar. I learned a lot about myself, how I deal with my emotions, but most importantly, I learned that open house now means something else to me; even if the cookies aren't great.
October 23, 2013
On October 15, I was seated in Evans Hall waiting to hear from one of my favorite writers. As soon as someone mentioned in my English class, weeks earlier, that David Sedaris might be coming to Connecticut College, I immediately began getting fan-girl-excited and geeked out a little about his arrival.
What transpired in Evans Hall can only described as “hilarious.” David Sedaris opened with a never-before-read story about being an unpopular thirteen-year-old who would do anything to get out of gym class. Sedaris also read from his new book, "Let’s Talk About Diabetes With Owls," including an essay in which he describes the characters he meets while waiting in a standby line at the airport.
At the end of the night, I waited in line to get two books signed. (Students were still in line at 11 p.m., as Sedaris is notorious for waiting patiently until each person has been greeted.) This was one of the most amazing opportunities the College has given me.
October 14, 2013
This is a Rugby game that I attended during fall break. Rugby is a club sport on campus, but the team practices and treats the sport as a varsity team. Similarly, rugby is the only club sport that stays on campus during Fall Break along with the rest of the varsity sports teams. About 95% of the team had never touched a rugby ball before playing for Conn College. With great coaching and mentoring from experienced players, the rookies catch on pretty quickly to a sport that was foreign to them months before.
October 10, 2013
After much coercion by my friend, I trudged across Tempel Green to Ruane’s Den in Harkness House. It was a Thursday night and I had to get up early for my 8 a.m. chemistry class the next morning, but Ruane’s Den was hosting a trivia night for the first time and my friend REALLY wanted to go.
As we entered the lounge, I was surprised by how many people we there. At least 30 students, taking up the couches, armchairs and tables, filled the room. Students were grabbing snacks and tea from the café, Jazzman’s, and watching "The Big Bang Theory" on one of the large flat screen TVs while waiting for the questions to start.
My friends and I went to arguing over the different trivia questions given, ranging from “elementary school” level to “college” level. Questions varied in difficulty from “Cats of this color are thought to be unlucky” (Black) to “Which city’s playoff-bound baseball team had to start battling for ticket sales when its football team was founded about 10 years ago” (Cleveland). It was fun, even though we got third to last place. My friends and I are determined to go back, with more friends, and do it again.
October 10, 2013
On Tuesday, Oct. 1, Unity House hosted a dinner discussion about how gender roles and stereotypes present themselves in the Latino culture. This dinner was one of many events to honor Latino Heritage Month, and as an attendee I was pretty excited to learn more about this culture that I knew very little about. The discussion started off by addressing intersectionalities of identity and how gender, race and socioeconomic status play an important part in how we, as Americans, view Latinos/Latinas.
America is a country rooted in binaries (black vs. white, rich vs. poor, able-bodied vs. disabled), which doesn't leave much room for those who do not easily fit a binary. Those who fit in multiple groups may experience identity in a more complex way. For example, when someone assumes that those with Latino/Latina heritage aren't educated because America is exceptional and Latin America is "backwards" in the context of a nation (the U.S.) where many women are intellectually oppressed, how does this affect women from Latin America?
Issues of class complicate this even more. The issue of an assumed lower socioeconomic status comes into play in a culture that prides itself on wealth. How do you address gender issues without discussing race and class issues? What becomes more relevant, culture or color? Does sexism/racism become a driving force for interactions and experiences?
I don't quite know what I was expecting when I engaged in this deep and powerful discussion, but as ideas were exchanged and opinions were shared, a student felt comfortable enough to share a story about how her culture impacted her experience in a classroom. This student shared a time when she felt a classroom was not a safe space, and we all felt like we were a part of her experience. Touching on stereotypes, oppression and gender inequalities, we all agreed that an injustice had been committed. After sharing possible solutions, the groundwork was placed for a student movement to create safer spaces on campus.
To me, this is one of the most beautiful things about Conn: The fact that we could all come together in support of one another's feelings and experiences to improve our community, shows our strength and compassion. A student protest was held several days later outside of Olin to commemorate a new movement. While I couldn't attend the protest, a fascinating discussion turned into something that the whole campus could learn from. Once Camels get going, there is no stopping them.
October 14, 2013
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.
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.
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.
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.
Perhaps honoring Knowlton’s historically male guests, Knowlton Knights attend a dinner sporting mustaches and fancy attire.
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.
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 ;) ;)
Who won the Camelympics chant? KNOWL-TON! Who won? KNOWL-TON! Frankly, who else?
October 10, 2013
CAMELYMPICS: a dorm versus dorm competition that takes place every fall at Connecticut College. The events include soccer, Jenga, dodgeball, Bananagrams and quidditch, to name a few.
This year I was determined to represent my dorm, Windham, in at least one event. Luckily, my best friend also lives in my dorm so we decided that we would sign up together.
Our issue? I am an athlete; my best friend Natalie… is not. But amongst the many contests we found a happy medium and signed up for the photo-scavenger hunt.
When we arrived at the scavenger hunt meeting place in Cro, the student center, we were pleasantly surprised to see pairs of freshmen; as sophomores we thought we’d have a leg up in knowing where certain things were located. We immediately sprinted off to the health center to take our first picture.
The competition proved fierce as the scavenger hunt led us to four different dorms, searching for various Connecticut College memorabilia. In one dorm, we took a picture of a Floralia bottle, part of another Connecticut College tradition.
Other items to find and photograph included the unusual members of the College community, the loveable Larrabee cats. (A pair of cats who live outside Larrabee dorm.)
The hunt culminated with a picture of us wearing three protective items, and then we ran as hard as we could back to Cro. We were proud, but a little frustrated to find that we’d won third place.
We actually should have gotten first, but it’s okay, we’ll be back next year to win first once and for all.