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The Experience, Allison Mitobe '17

Hometown: Castro Valley, CA
Major: Government
Activities: Office assistant at the Academic Resource Center

Favorite aspect of Connecticut College:
The staff and faculty are unbelievable pillars of support. Professors engage, challenge, and inform their students. Staff members accommodate and help students to the best of their abilities. I’ve also noticed that students are quick to include others in their various activities. On a campus that offers a beautiful and traditional New England charm, this is a home away from home!

Favorite location on campus:
For studying I like to work in the common rooms; they allow me to escape noises, gather my thoughts, and also shield me from the distractions of my room. For picturesque scenery, the Arboretum never fails.

The Arbo's transformation from winter to spring

One of my favorite places on campus is the Arboretum — a beautiful place to reconnect with nature. After looking at pictures of the Arbo from Conn’s website, I knew that when I arrived on campus, visiting it would be one of my first priorities. When I first visited the Arbo, it was during mid-year transfer orientation; I went alone to see this captivating sight. At that time, it was winter and the water had frozen over. Trees were naked and revealed their skeletons. The frosty air nipped at my nose and I gravitated to the serenity.

I got to revisit the Arbo during springtime thanks to ArboFest, a sort of precursor to the highly anticipated Floralia. There was live music, dancing, people relaxing on the huge lawn, and perfect weather. While listening to the live singers perform, I sat with my friends, chatted and laughed. What made the whole thing special, besides hanging out with friends, was being in nature and sharing that moment of sheer bliss. After the music was done, everyone started packing up to leave.

I asked my friend if she would join me on a walk on one of the trails. Walking around, what really shocked me was the Arbo’s transformation from when I had seen it during winter. The water in the pond had liquified; the buds on the trees had blossomed; the sun was out. Spring was back in action. Just minutes from the center of campus, I felt completely sheltered from outside distractions.

Every day, I’m surrounded by invasive technology and I forget to relish simplicity and be in the moment. For some reason, nature always puts me in a pensive mood — and I love it. I loved being able to talk to my friend while she and I strolled along the trails. I will forever cherish the Arboretum, because it is the one place on this campus that never fails to remind me to stay grounded despite life’s pandemonium.

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A bit of something borrowed, something new and something Floralia!

- The Experience, Allison Mitobe '17 

When you attend Connecticut College, it's impossible to escape the buzz surrounding Floralia. The crescendo of excitement becomes contagious as the number of days to Floralia decreases. So, what is Floralia? Think of Floralia as Conn College’s Coachella — Connchella, if you will. It is a music festival and a favorite annual tradition. Rain or shine, Floralia looks good on everyone. Students wake up early, set up canopies on the library green to claim their spots, bring out sofas and folding chairs, dress festively, dance and hang out with friends. In other words, Floralia is to Conn students what Christmas is to children. In fact, on the day of Floralia, everyone greets each other with a "Happy Floralia!"

My Floralia experience started on Floralia Eve. I had some friends stay over in my room in Harkness House. I told everyone to arrive at my place with their Floralia regalia so that we could all see what everyone would be wearing for the next day. I smiled at my friends' creativity — a bit of something borrowed, something new and whole lot of Floralia! As I looked around the room, I realized how far I had come from being a transfer student who, just a few month ago, knew no one. Suddenly, the people in my room were friends. As the early Floralia wake-up crept closer, we found ourselves exhausted but excited for the big day.

With only four hours of sleep, I jumped from my bed so that my friends and I could set up our canopy. It was only 7 a.m. when we arrived behind Crozier-Williams, but already there were canopies set up all around us. As we struggled through the embarrassment of not knowing how to set up our canopy's legs and attach its fabric roof, our group’s effort and tenacity prevailed. Lo and behold, we had ourselves a lovely canopy.

Everyone migrated back over to my place to get ready for the busy day. We all dressed up, had breakfast and finally arrived back at our canopy. There was so much happening around us. We stuffed our faces with cotton candy and freshly baked donuts, took rides down the inflatable slides, got ourselves airbrush tattoos, danced by the stage and enjoyed the sun. As the day was expiring, so was our energy. The sun set and the featured performers took the stage. After so much socialization and dancing, I went back to my place and fell quickly asleep.

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The Academic Resource Center: a place for community

What’s amazing about the newly renovated Shain Library is that the Academic Resource Center (ARC) is now more accessible than ever for students. When I first started working at the ARC at the beginning of this semester, we were located in the Plex, above Harris Refectory, a temporary location which was a less recognizable location than Conn's main library. Needless to say, I love the new space! We are located in a beautiful glass office on the second floor. There are so many white boards, desks and study spaces at the students' disposal.

I work a night shift at the front desk of the ARC and ever since being relocated to the library, so many more students come into the ARC and collaborate on work and get academic assistance. From my seat at the front desk, I can watch the scenes unfold: Groups come in to collaborate on projects together, friends meet up for homework and students come in for appointments with the ARC counselors (who, by the way, are amazing and informative). There's a social element, too: As students study, they update each other on their lives and classes.  It makes me happy to see the ARC so active and constantly moving, even at night.

The best part about my job is the interactions I have with the visitors who come through our glass doors. No matter if they'e requesting a form to request a tutor or a form to sign up as a tutor themselves, I enjoy every second of getting to meet new faces. A student once came in and we just started talking about social complexities. I had never even met him before, yet here we were, having a discussion about contentious subjects. Working at the ARC is a thrill because it is a vehicle for exposing me to the eclectic students here on this campus; it's like I'm making up for lost time. 

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Tempel Green and spring

There is something amazing about the East Coast: spring weather. Every native I’ve met has always confessed to me that spring and fall are what make this side of the country worth it. I'm from California and living on the East Coast has been a new experience.

I live in the southern part of our small campus, which is a beautiful, vibrant place to live. Outside my window is a view of Tempel Green, where lots of students lounge around to soak in the sun, converse with their friends, listen to music and more. For a more active experience, students play soccer, frisbee, lacrosse and croquet. When the sun is out, so are the people. The atmosphere is carefree, tranquil and happy. This one spring day, it was so beautiful that I decided not to punish myself by reamining indoors while the sun was shining. Like most people who have been sun-deprived during the long East Coast winter, any time the weather permits us to wear summery clothes, we are more than enthused. I had always seen people on Tempel Green and found it to be a great people-watching scene. I decided that I was done watching from the sidelines and wanted to actively be part of the larger scene.

I called up a friend of mine and asked her if she wanted to do homework on the green. She excitedly agreed and we met. When I called her, I reminded her that we would needed a towel of some sort; she brought with her a big comforter, which was perfect. She also brought her journal, in which she could document her creativity, and I brought a book to read for a class. Although we arrived on the green with good intentions of working hard, we hardly worked. In fact, it was one of those moments where it was almost inappropriate to do anything extremely productive. We lounged in the sun dispelling our worries of what ought to be done and instead relished the moments of sheer bliss.

College isn’t only about grades and class work. The key to being happy, I realized, is knowing when to separate your work time with your play time. That spring day called for me to just enjoy my community and my friends.



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Arriving to a rock concert in style

It’s true what they say — "there’s a first time for everything." I had never been to a concert at Conn, but that was about to change. My friend Squadra had invited me to come see the X-Ambassadors perform. This student-organized show was unique: It took place off campus, in downtown New London.

On the night of the concert, I faced the typical problem most people have: What am I supposed to wear? While on my way to the bathroom to wash some dishes, I ran into another friend of mine, Christine. She looked all dolled up and so I asked her if she could help me coordinate an outfit. She enthusiastically agreed. After the advice she had given me, we finally came up with a fun outfit appropriate for an alternative rock band concert.

I met up with Squadra, who of course looked amazing as well. We knew a fun night ahead was waiting for us.

One of the amazing things about student-run events is that they think of everything, including affordable transportation. When I bought my ticket for the concert, I also bought a bus ticket so I wouldn’t have to pay for a taxi. As Sqaudra and I waited in front of Cro, our student center, a huge yellow school bus pulled up in front. I laughed because I don’t remember how long it had been since I rode a yellow school bus. Even though I’m a college student now, I have to remind myself it wasn’t that long ago I was just a kid. Conn students filled the bus and the atmosphere exuded positivity and carefreeness. On the way to the concert, we collectively started singing Miley Cyrus’ "Party in the USA." Giggles, laughter, smiles and, of course, a bit of embarrassment appeared for all.

The bus quickly brought us to New London, a five-minute drive away. The concert took place at the Hygenic Art Park, an outdoor garden-like setting where the trees were lit up, as well as the night sky. I'm always amazed by how nocturnal college students are. There was a stage where the band performed and the students clustered in front, listening and dancing to the live music. It was like a Conn reunion where everyone, despite already knowing each other, greeted the people they knew (or hadn’t seen in a few hours) with open arms.

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A reflection on Reflexions

What I love about Conn is the plethora of activities that happen on this campus. Dances, seminars, guest speakers, clubs — the list goes on. A friend of mine asked me to attend her poetry performance and I happily agreed. Her group is called Reflexions, and what was especially fun was watching students perform their own poetry. We spend a lot of time hearing readings of poems by others, so it is a rarity to hear poets read their own work.

This event wasn’t a typical poetic reading about sappy romance. Instead, the anthology was based on the theme of love and every poet/performer offered different perspectives on the concepts of love. I got to listen to beautiful pieces about what it is like to be in love with an abusive person; what it means to love being a Haitian woman; what it is like to be in love with a person of the same sex; what it is like to be in love for the first time; what it is like to fall out of love; and what it is like to have love torn from you. Some poems had a melodic structure while other poems had a prose-like structure. Every performer offered insights into not only the idea of love, but, more interestingly, the experience of love.

Besides the actual work and material produced, what really amazed me was the community of people willing to come and support their friends. People here are willing to take time out of their busy schedules and be there for people whom they appreciate and respect. The audience engaged with their peers, often by snapping in agreement to something the poet said or nodding their heads. No one was texting or looking bored and, of course, the audience shared a loud applause to thank the poets for being brave.

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Planning a transfer event

I was washing dishes in a bathroom in Harkness House when suddenly, an excited, warm and welcoming voice greeted me. Most people who enter the bathroom are so consumed with their lives that they tend not to acknowledge other people’s presence. It's a bathroom, after all. Granted, I was surprised when this student greeted me and initiated conversation. She said, “Nice teapot!”

I replied, “Huh?” Then I realized she was referring to the teapot I was washing. I smiled, “Thanks.” She said her name was Christine and we exchanged basic information about our class years and majors. I added that I was a transfer student. Christine’s energy shifted up a level and she excitedly revealed that she was also a transfer student from a couple of years ago. Her transfer story paralleled mine. She was from the west (Idaho) just like I am (California). She went to school in Oregon and so did I. We compared the two coasts and shared notes on the cultural similarities and differences. Most importantly, we both agreed that we made the right decision to come to Conn.

Christine told me that going through the transfer experience had influenced her to become a transfer adviser. She was so passionate about helping transfers adjust to the College that she decided to arrange a dinner for the transfer students so that fall semester transfers could meet spring semester transfers. She quickly asked me if I wanted to help plan the event. How could I say no to her? I couldn’t and I didn’t.

A few other transfers helped plan the event with Christine, as well. The other transfers, Lilly and Victoria, were her advisees from last fall. We sat at Ruane’s Den contemplating, planning and making decisions.

The transfer event turned out well. I got to meet other transfers and everyone was warm, open and friendly. People talked and bonded over delicious food. (The cheesecake was to die for; it was absolute heaven.) It was a joy to watch an event that I helped plan unfold before my eyes.

I am truly grateful for the event mainly because it gave me an opportunity to become friends with Christine. She unintentionally helped define for me what it means to be a Conn student: Someone who is inclusive and friendly.

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Slacktivism vs. activism

Recently, I went to a discussion called "Slacktivism vs. Activism," which explored these two different forms of advocacy. It was an open discussion in which people talked about how they personally advocate and whether they advocate through means of slacktivism, activism or both.

I’d never heard of the term "slacktivism" until I attended the meeting and, like most people, I associated the word with a negative connotation, thinking it was a passive and lazy form of activism. (Slacktivism often entails hashtagging a post on social media to demonstrate support for a cause, signing an online petition or similar virtual efforts.) The public has a tendency to see slacktivism as disparaging. Even though a hashtag or a post will not directly change the cause people are supporting, these actions bring attention to the public through social media. As social media is often how people receive news, interact with one another and learn about social issues, Slacktivism, despite the negative connotations in its name, can help social movements to be accessible to anyone who participates in social media.

When it comes to activism, people tend to have more reverence towards physically campaigning for political change. However, it begs the question: Why does it have to be either/or? Can’t a person do both? The answer: Yes! People can push for change in both active and passive ways and you don’t have to place yourself in one category, but instead right in the middle of the Venn diagram.

As the event ended, we discussed that physical activism is a time-consuming commitment. I believe slacktivism should not be written off as bad and lazy, but instead should be viewed as another form of activism. If anything, slacktivism tailors activism to keep up with the times and keep up with the trends of social media. If it weren’t for social media, activism would not be as trendy as it is now. How you choose to advocate is not as important compared to the results, and slacktivism has positively impacted advocacy.

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Working at the Academic Resource Center and picking up some study advice

As a transfer student getting used to Connecticut College, "New" is a big part of my vocabulary: a new school, new schedule, new professors and new jobs. I am fortunate enough not only to work as a blogger for The Experience, but also as an office assistant for the College's Academic Resource Center (ARC).

I absolutely love working at the ARC because of all the new faces I get to meet. Students stop by for tutoring sessions and to become tutors themselves. They stop by to meet with academic counselors about time management skills, to get presentation advice, to polish their interviewing skills and to get papers edited. All a student has to do is ask for some help or advice and, with that, a tsunami of support will eagerly rush in.

As a student staff member of the ARC, I reap the benefits of working around the informative professional staff. For me, like many college students, procrastination haunts my good intentions of studying. Sometimes when I sit down to study, something averts my focus from homework, like Netflix, a nap or sounds from down the hallway.

While in the office recently, I asked Chris Colbath, a learning specialist and coordinator in the Center, for a simple tip to improve my study habits. His No. 1 piece of advice was to learn how to prioritize. He said that you should do your assignments based on which deadline comes first. Most importantly, he advised me to do homework outside of my dorm room. There are so many distractions (like sleeping and computers) in the our rooms that removing ourselves to the library or other spaces on campus will help remove temptations.

Taking the advice to heart, I decided to implement all of his suggestions. I have been prioritizing my work better and doing much more of my homework in library spaces. Not surprisingly, the amount of work I get done is astronomical in comparison.


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A first visit to Coffee Grounds

As a transfer student, I am still discovering the nooks and crannies of Connecticut College.

A friend from my European Politics class introduced me to the small and homey Coffee Grounds café. When I first entered the space, the smell of fresh brewing coffee greeted me at the door. I looked around, soaking in the cozy ambiance. The window frames are painted red, making the room pop with color. The blackboard menus with chalk handwriting add a personal touch. Instead of unflattering fluorescent lights overhead, the fixtures are a warm yellow. Eclectic, calm music plays in the background.

While digesting the scene, my friend signaled me to sit on a couch before beginning our homework. After a while, she broke the silence, saying, "I don’t understand why this politics homework talks so much about economics!" I looked up and realized that another person beside me had begun to smile. I turned to face her and an intellectual conversation blossomed. After our basic introductions of names and majors, I found out the reason she had smiled was because she studies exactly the topics that my friend had lamented. She explained the interconnection of how political parties affect what economic polices are passed. Left-wing parties tend to pass policies that increase government spending and taxes, whereas more right-wing parties tend to pass polices that decrease government spending and taxes. Her economic explanations clarified the connection between politics and economics.

It was serendipitous to find myself in an unexpected conversation with a stranger, discussing the world's complexities and learning all the while.

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Fifty Shades of CONNunity

My Valentine's Day was a memorable one, and not in the way you’d expect.

A friend of mine and I had planned on seeing a very specific and highly-anticipated movie that would premiere on Feb. 14 — "Fifty Shades of Grey." All of our ducks were in a row: We bought our tickets, chose our seats and planned what time we'd meet at the Camel Van. The one thing we did not calculate was a blizzard.

The blizzard impeded our well-thought-out plans because the Camel Van, due to poor weather conditions, could not make its usual trips. Panic shot through our bodies but our tenacity prevailed over this calamity. With only 30 minutes remaining until showtime, my friend and I eagerly dialed for a taxi. When we called, telephone lines were either busy, calls weren’t going through, or we would have to wait an hour for the next available taxi. Our hopes of getting to our destination dwindled as time progressed. Right when I was about to give up, I saw a taxi pull onto campus and ran for it. Fortunately he saw me, brought us to the Waterford movie theater, and we were on time.

I have never seen such a beautiful theater before. Hardwood floors and big spacious reclining chairs made the struggle worth it. After the movies, the effect of the blizzard had not melted away. A new problem arose: How do we get back to school? Like before, taxis were either unavailable or the waiting line would be hours long.

Thankfully, another Conn student was there seeing the same movie, except her show started 30 minutes after ours. My friend knew the other Conn student, texted her, and asked if she wouldn't mind giving us a ride back. She agreed and drove us back safely to campus. I couldn’t have been more grateful. Her benevolence showed me how the Conn community extends beyond campus. No matter where they are, Conn students constantly look out for one another; she certainly looked out for my friend and me.

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Behind every great advising session is a great adviser

It’s that time of the year again — registration, that is. No matter what institution I have attended, I can’t escape the familiar feeling of apprehension. What classes am I going to take? Will there be enough room for me? Will the class time conflict with another course being offered? Then, of course, there are the courses you should take for your major and the courses you take to fill other requirements. It’s no wonder Conn makes every student meet with their adviser. The information overload and the requirements engulf your mind. It helps to talk it out with a professor who dedicates time to provide you with undivided attention. 

I had my first advising session here at Conn College with my sociology adviser, Professor Campos-Holland. She’s not only an amazing professor who inspires me, but also a hands-on adviser. I always say her class is like a religious experience because every time, I come out feeling enlightened. Her advising session was no exception.

Professor Campos-Holland sat with me in her office and typed up a spreadsheet, documenting the courses I have taken, those I'm required to complete and those that are needed for my major. She helped me pick courses for the fall semester and made sure I had back-ups just in case the class filled up. For the classes she knew about and for the professors whom she knew, Professor Campos-Holland gave me a quick summary of the courses and the professors’ teaching styles. I really appreciated that, because she got me excited about the courses I plan on taking.

When I left her office, I wasn’t as tense about the registration process. I came out of my advising session feeling more comfortable and confident about my future plans here at Conn.

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