I have a tendency to overpack. The first time I took the Amtrak back home from Conn I lugged two giant bags and my backpack onto the train and squeezed them into the luggage space. I am now a self-proclaimed Amtrak expert, zipping back and forth from the New London to Boston with reasonably sized bags that fit easily aboard the train.
Back in November, my mom gave me two concert tickets for my birthday. My favorite band, Bastille, was going on their “Wild, Wild World” tour and they happened to be playing at Mohegan Sun Casino, which is a 20-minute drive from campus. It was the perfect opportunity for me and my friend, fellow blogger Dani Maney, to get off campus and venture to this place in Uncasville, Connecticut.
The Walk-in Coffee Closet at Ruane’s Den has served as my home away from home since my very first day at Conn. Living in Harkness House, I have the luxury of being able to leave my room and be right at the entrance of the Walk-in, located on the first floor of my building. The Walk-in has been my lifeline. They serve (in my opinion) the best drinks on campus, and they have a variety of pasta dishes, paninis and snacks that are always there for me when I don't feel like walking to Harris Refectory, the largest dining hall on campus. The Walk-in is also one of my favorite places to study because the atmosphere reminds me of my favorite coffee shop at home, and they have the comfiest chairs on campus.
In my senior year of high school, as I was receiving responses to my college applications, I logged once more into the Common App website and used the download feature to save copies of all my applications for future reference. Looking back at my application, I see a very different person than I am now. Perhaps the most dramatic change came from my answer about my top two choices for my major. I said I was interested in majoring in government and English although what I really wanted to say was undeclared and undeclared.
Since coming to Conn, I have become a professional novice, frequently trying out new experiences to find my place within the community. My first semester here I joined the Ultimate Frisbee team and tried out for the improv comedy group N2O. Second semester I tried out for “She is a Tempest,” the Women’s Empowerment (WE) Initiative’s annual show.
Touring colleges as an admitted student, when I knew that I could study at any of the fabulous schools I was looking at, made me examine them a little differently. Instead of deciding whether a school had given a good enough presentation for me to add it to my growing list of places to apply to, I was able to spend my time looking for small things that would influence my decision.
As a kid, I spent a lot of time in a home that looked straight out of Country Home and Living Magazine, with many wicker baskets and an odd number of duck sculptures and paintings. (I counted once and made it to double digits for ducks/items with ducks on them.) I would meander around this home while eating blueberry pie, admiring the immense gallery of artwork that my grandma created over her 95 years of life. Her quaint yellow country home is where my love of art started.
I was asked to purchase six books for a single class my first semester at Connecticut College. Being overwhelmed by the sudden onslaught of assignments in my first week of classes, I decided to purchase the books for that class one-by-one. A couple of weeks later, I walked into the bookstore and discovered that the lovely piles of books had transformed into empty shelves featuring a couple of incredibly tattered, used copies and many order forms. I’m always a little averse to used books because I want my books to look nice; I don’t like having books that have been marked by other people or treated roughly. I chose to buy new copies of most of my books for that class online, which only cost a few extra dollars, something I could afford.
Most incoming first-year students are excited about the idea of new classes, new friends and new experiences. One of the last things on their mind is the process surrounding a prospective internship or (yikes) a job down the line. Finding a job was the last thing on my mind too but, luckily for first-year students at Conn, the College begins the process for us right away.
In my entire four years of high school at Grace Church School in New York, I only experienced one snow day. Our headmaster felt that if he could make it out of his driveway, so could everyone else. So, naturally, when everyone at Conn was talking about a possible snow day on Thursday, I was among those who thought it too good to be true. By nightfall on Wednesday evening, I began to come around to this seemingly impossible event. I was leaving the library when a friend told me there was a snow day tomorrow—it just hadn’t been announced yet.
Typically, students who are keen on majoring in theatre and have an interest in minoring in film studies don’t leap at the prospect of studying economics. But when said student happens to join an econ course by accident, they may have their preconceived notions about the subject turned on their head.
My Sundays start like every other Conn student’s, with moving sweaty clothes from a large blue bin to a slightly smaller washing machine—only they’re not my clothes. How did I get myself into doing other people's laundry? The summer before my first semester at Conn I knew I was going to be involved in the Federal Work-Study program, which helps students who receive financial aid get jobs on campus to further reduce the cost of being a college student. I emailed Kelsey Lengyel-Jacovich, the manager of the Athletic Center, and asked her about available jobs for the upcoming semester. There were multiple jobs open so I decided to take on three different positions: ID checker, equipment room staff, and game crew. In my three roles, I work at the front desk greeting people and checking them in. I wash practice and gameday clothes for in-season athletes, and I assist with setup and other miscellaneous tasks to keep the games running smoothly.
Since the fourth grade, I have wanted to pursue a career in either the performing arts or the entertainment industry. However, I also felt that I should have a backup plan for this notoriously rocky career path. I always liked the idea of being a lawyer because being in a courtroom excites me. I decided to reach out to my mom’s lawyer friend, Mitch, over winter break to gain a new perspective on what it takes to practice law.
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.
One of the most magical parts of college is the ability to make your own decisions for most, if not all, things related to yourself. I enrolled in five classes this semester: Elementary Italian, Acting 1, my First-Year Seminar, Twelfth Night (a Theater Department performance that I am receiving four credits for) and Calc B: Derivatives/Integrals.
The first time I toured Conn, it was a gray, gloomy day in the middle of February. It was probably -13 degrees outside and there was about 7 feet of snow on the ground (the average February temperature is 40 degrees, average total snowfall is 7 inches). Although the weather wasn't up to par, I still enjoyed the school, and the programs that were offered.
This semester, I’m taking a course called “Big History,” taught by Professor Frederick Paxton. We began the year by learning about the very first atom in the universe and how the complexity of life started to form only minutes after the Big Bang. We learned about the creation of new chemicals, planets and moons that formed just from complex chemicals and Goldilocks Conditions. Plot twist: eight weeks later we are deep in the throws of human history and studying the Agricultural Revolution.
It’s almost Thanksgiving, which can mean only one thing...
No, I’m not talking about decadent turkey dinners or a break from academic pursuits. I'm speaking of the ritualistic procedure of choosing college courses for the coming semester.
In many ways, this process is akin to the Black Friday rush. Hunching over my computer days, even weeks before the servers actually open, I’m compiling spreadsheet after spreadsheet of courses that pique my interest, fulfill a general education area, and/or bring me one step closer to completing the basic requirements for majors I’m eyeing but have yet to declare. I have to formulate and stick to a tight budget of time commitments, factoring in how much homework each class carries and the intensity of the work itself.
By the time I’ve finally come up with a plan of attack, I’m counting down until the scheduling servers open. When they do, I frantically log on to Self-Service, PIN in hand, navigating through cluttered menus and clicking “OK” to whatever prompts stand between myself and my target. Every millisecond counts, especially when it comes to the more popular items—once those 14 or so slots are filled up by peers, they’re gone for good (unless someone drops out, of course). If my timing is impeccable, then I’ll come out of the chaos with a guaranteed slot in every class I wanted; if I’m just a few moments too late, I’ll be lucky just to occupy a high-ranking slot on the waitlist. What fun!
That’s not even considering all the prerequisites one may need to gain access to special offers in the first place. Sending emails to professors I’ve never spoken with and gushing about how much I want to take their class and to please, please,please let me know if there’s anything I could do to improve my chances of getting in is par for the course. So is consulting with upperclassmen advisors who have been through the rigmarole enough times to give you solid advice on what options sound good but are actually a bit of a rip-off, what totally lives up to the hype and the best deals that no one knows about. But even then, no matter how much I’ve prepared and planned, I might not be able to get everything I want.
That’s the way life works, I suppose, but it doesn’t make it easier, does it?
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.
Fridays are usually Netflix days for me, but last Friday, I ventured out of my cozy nest and into the real world. I wound up going to two different a cappella concerts, two receptions, a floor party and a campuswide dance. It was a busy day, but really fun.
First were the a cappella concerts, which were the last concerts of the year, so I got to see some of my soon-to-be-graduated friends sing. Then there was some party-hopping with the aforementioned a cappella friends. The highlight of the night was the '90s dance. Sideways caps, M.C Hammer pants, and choker necklaces haven't been as ubiquitous on campus in decades. My friend Emma and I went in matching overalls, though she dresses like she lives in the '90s on a daily basis.
After a night of dancing like sullen, grunge teens from the '90s, a small group of my friends hung out in Cro, the student center. This hangout session later migrated to my room where, pooped out, everyone lounged around quietly listening to music.
It was an exhausting night, but so much fun. I wouldn't necessarily want to participate in all of those activities every day, but it's nice having the option to go out and be social when I'd like to.