One recent Thursday morning, the stars finally aligned for us to hold a sectional rehearsal for the orchestra’s clarinetists. No other wind instruments and definitely no strings present! It was just Scott, the other clarinetist, our professor, Kelli O’Connor, and me running through orchestral music together. One of the pieces we’re playing in orchestra this semester is the impressionist composer Maurice Ravel’s “Mother Goose Suite.” As is typical of his works, it features complex, mystifying and beautiful harmonies. Part of our job in a sectional is to learn to get these harmonies in tune, which helps the orchestra sound better.
My entire high school career was dedicated to our theater department; whether that meant taking the drama classes, acting in the productions or eventually directing a show, I was always involved in one dramatic aspect or another. So, it was only natural that I continue this level of commitment once I arrived at Connecticut College.
There’s something special about the closing of the semester and the beginning of finals coinciding with the most wonderful time of the year. As I write this post, it is beginning to snow and campus feels wonderfully quiet—a silent beauty has taken over as finals season takes hold.
Most of the student body heads home for Thanksgiving, but since I’m from Chicago I tend to stay on campus and enjoy the comforting isolation. Some might find it a bit creepy to be the only person living on their floor for four days, but due to my being a hermit in training I look forward to this time each year more than I do Christmas. I get an immense feeling of liberation from inhabiting large spaces entirely alone, leading to many hours of singing as loud as possible and dancing in my undies, and maybe once without, in the hallway during my one-man parties. This year, however, I wanted to focus on developing some of my more socially acceptable skills. So whenever I wasn’t having my private bachelor parties, I found myself picking up my long forgotten flute.
For two weeks in November, Connecticut College Asian & Asian American Students in Action (ASIA) hosted ORIGINS: An Asian Arts Festival, a first for both the club and Conn. The festival brought many amazing cultural opportunities to campus, including a lecture by internationally renowned Chinese artist Xu Bing, a food making workshop, and a student art exhibition in Coffee Grounds, one of the coffee houses on campus.
Over Thanksgiving break, I spent some time at home and decided to binge-watch a Netflix series. With my busy schedule at school, watching television can be rather tricky. Since it was a holiday weekend, I decided to treat myself to a quiet night in with the “Gilmore Girls," a tv classic from the early 2000s . As I watched the show, I found myself drawn to the character Rory, played by Alexis Bledel. Rory sees the fictional town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut, the setting of the show, as her home. Even with her crazy schedule, she always finds herself returning to Stars Hollow, Connecticut. On that night in particular, I found myself in a position quite similar to Rory’s: I am in a period of transition. A place in Connecticut has also come to be my home and I am getting ready to leave this place in three weeks for my semester abroad in Israel.
Every time I admit to someone that my favorite class this semester is chemistry, the conversation usually becomes a miniature interrogation. People don’t seem to believe that it is a possibility, and until this semester I would have vehemently agreed. Let it be known that my choosing to major in one of the natural sciences at Conn was not because I excelled at them in high school. I wasn’t the worst, but since I preferred understanding larger scale things like earth sciences and biology, I would walk to chemistry with a good deal of dread every day. I wasn’t comforted when, upon entering college, I learned that a semester of it was required for my major. I’m not a human without flaws, and I will openly admit that I waited until the last possible moment in my senior year to take the class. However, my irrational fear and shameful procrastination is validated by knowing that I am one of two seniors in my class of otherwise first-years.
On a recent Friday evening, my musicology class went out to dinner and attended a collaborative performance by contemporary string quartet ETHEL and Native American flutist Robert Mirabal. While introducing the show, our director of arts programming mentioned that the College had enjoyed hosting ETHEL for a three-day residency preceding the concert. Hearing him say this made me smile because I gained many great things out of their time here.
I’m getting ready to go abroad. Just today (Friday, November 18), I applied for a visa to live and study in Israel for four months next semester. Following my trip to the Israeli Consulate, my mom and I ventured to Aroma, our favorite Israeli coffee chain in New York City and sipped on a cappuccino for her and an iced chai latte for me. When we sat down, my mom asked me about my plans for my summer internship and if I had thought about remaining in Israel over the summer. This is where I drew a blank, and told my mom, the news most parents struggle to hear, “I don’t have plans BUT... I do have a few ideas. Don’t worry, I’ve got the funding from Conn secured and will start gathering ideas over Thanksgiving.”
As a residential college, weekly activities in the residence halls are a large part of the culture at Conn. The floor governors, student staff responsible for residential programming, make a concerted effort to create varied events every week. I’m a huge fan of this. It allows the residents to grow closer, which molds what was previously just a residence hall into an actual home. This is important, because living away from home— whether you’re a first-year or a senior— is often not as comfortable as being in your own familiar space. The events are an inclusive way to band together and become a surrogate family between the months of September and May.