Hometown: North Haven, Conn. Major: Psychology Minor: Art Activities: Active Minds and Slavery Ends Today
Favorite aspect of Connecticut College: The community here at Conn is really amazing. I think that it has a lot to do with the size of the school. Students at larger schools really don't get to experience a college community in the same way that we get to experience it here. Most people say “hello” when you pass them, whether you know them or not, and you're likely to see your friends all over campus. I think this also has to do with Conn's personality as a college. There are a lot of quirky, inclusive activities offered that really create a sense of community.
Favorite memory at Connecticut College: Being a first-year student, I really don't have too many memories to share just yet. That being said, my favorite memory thus far took place only weeks ago: I met a crowd of new students and one invited the group to his room where we sang along to 90's pop music. It was the first time I felt like I was really finding a niche here.
Favorite activity in New London or the region: I haven't explored too much but my favorite activity would, no doubt, have something to do with eating.
Student tour guides lead prospective students and their parents through Crozier Williams (Cro), the student center. The tour guide offhandedly says, “And there’s the mailroom.”
“There’s the mailroom?” That is such a lackluster introduction. Our mailroom is a treasure.
At home, I was always excited to get mail. However, the feeling of disappointment usually muddled that feeling of excitement. More often than not, I would discover that none of the hefty-looking mail was for me.
Here, at Connecticut College, any mail that comes to my mailbox is for me. All of it. AND, it’s not junk mail.
Sometimes, I find myself online shopping just for the thrill of receiving a package. When you find a pink or yellow slip in your box, you know you have a package waiting for you. Walking across the mailroom to the front desk with that infamous slip in hand, you feel like a champion among the masses. You have a package. A few solemn people will slink past you—they did not receive a slip. You, however, received a slip. You get to pick up a package today.
When I was looking at schools, one of the things that excited me most about Connecticut College was the fact that the College’s music program offers free lessons. Last year, I investigated this opportunity but didn’t end up taking advantage of it because of scheduling conflicts. Given how busy I’ve been this year, I did not plan to inquire about the music lessons again.
I have a good musical ear, and I’ve done well teaching myself how to play instruments and read music. I also have my guitar on campus and access to the school’s pianos, so I figured that was enough to satisfy my passion for music. I wasn’t capitalizing on lessons, sure, but I was given access to a practice room and a full piano—two things I don’t have at home. It was still a win.
As an art minor, I might as well live under one of the easels in Cummings, our music and arts center. One day, I found myself there with some time to kill, so I figured I'd ask about the music lessons. To my surprise, everything fell into place. The same scheduling issues came up, but I may or may not have found some loopholes to get past the problem.
I have a special prejudice against art classes. In French class, you have to learn vocabulary and grammar before you can read a book in French. In math class, you have to know how to add and subtract before you can multiply or divide. It makes sense. One has to have a solid foundation before they can delve into a subject. Yet, in art, I get so frustrated when I have to learn about technique. I want to dream up a project and run with it; I want to create subversive drawings; I want to materialize my feelings into art. I want to paint with all the colors of the wind! I know I have to learn about the foundations of each medium, but I don’t want to.
This isn’t the usual type of article that one would see on The Experience. I feel that it would be wrong, however, not to pay homage to Anique on a forum that he helped create and mold.
Anique Ashraf, class of 2017, died this week after being struck by a vehicle in front of the college entrance. Anique was a fellow blogger and one of the first people I met here at Conn.
When I first came to college, I was not in a very good place. The excitement I’d felt in the summer turned to terror. I didn’t even understand why I was so afraid. The only person I found myself being able to talk to was the director (at the time) of The Experience blog, Andrew, who was aware of my adjustment issues. One day, I managed to get out of my room to attend one of the orientation events. I saw Andrew across the room and he motioned me over. He pointed to someone a few feet away and said, “That’s Anique. He’s a good person to know. He’ll be working on the blog with you. You’ll like him.” Andrew then motioned Anique over, and he introduced us.
It was fourth grade. We stood in the cafeteria line. “Girls can’t crack their knuckles,” proclaimed one of the boys. My yet-to-be-defined feminist senses were tingling. I responded, “I can crack my knuckles!” So I did, and I kept cracking my knuckles. I thought it was cool. Over time, cracking my knuckles turned into cracking lots of other areas of my body.
This semester, I’ve been taking a cognitive-behavioral therapy course. Our semester-long project is to correct a maladaptive habit, so my first thought was to try to work on my knuckle-cracking. The habit itself doesn’t really bother me, except for its occasional inconvenience. What bothers me more is that the habit tends to bother other people. I’ll crack something and gross out my company.
For some time, it was a well-kept secret that yellow pigment was developed from the urine of mango-leaf-fed cows.
Ah, the things you learn in a color theory class. Since beginning the course, I’ve learned so many strange, but useful things. Granted, cow urine facts are likely only useful in a select few circumstances.
Color is so omnipresent in our lives that it’s easy to overlook. When you’re forced to examine color in a more in-depth way, your perception totally changes. The other day in my psychology course, we were using M&M’s to illustrate a concept. When I opened the bag, I thought, “Oh my gosh, look at that blue!” Maybe it had just been a long time since I’ve had M&M’s, but I don’t remember being particularly impressed by the brilliancy of the colors. It is truly strange having a new perspective on something that was seemingly so familiar.
Last Thursday, a last-minute plan to go to the movies with one of my friends became a giant adventure to the beach. It was reminicsent of the local exploring I did with my high school friends during the summer. It's always nice to be able to explore and get a sense of one's community. Adventures are also great bonding activities.
It all started when I was looking up movie times with my friend. We discovered that it was the last day the movie we wanted to see was playing, so, "Let's go see it some time," became, "WE NEED TO GO SEE THIS MOVIE IN AN HOUR!" We caught the Camelvan, the College's shuttle system, and collected friends (as well as some new people I hadn't met yet) along the way. Over time, our plans and group grew and evolved.
A ride in the CamelVan, a taxi trip and a few changes of plan later, we arrived at Ocean Beach in New London. The moment we got to the beach, everyone immediately kicked off their shoes and ran towards the water to start building a communal sand castle. As the sun set, we took a walk on the boardwalk before just sitting and talking.
It turns out that when you go on an impromptu beach trip with some people you met earlier that day, you end up knowing them pretty well by the time you get back to campus. As a plus, I ended up with some seashells for decorating my room, too!
We've recently taken on a new challenge in my Color Theory course: turning the visible into the invisible.
Using what we've learned about matching colors and textures, the class is now plagued with the task of finding a way to blend ourselves into the New London cityscape. Along with the camouflage, our groups must make a video capturing our transformation and its symbolic meaning.
My group hasn't started mixing any paints yet, so the task currently seems kind of impossible. Yet, my teacher has shown us examples from previous classes in which students' camouflage is barely recognizable—reassuring knowledge.
Each group is responsible for its own understanding of the history and significance of the area they choose to blend into. In previous years some groups went about this by interviewing the owners of local businesses. Although this approach may be outside my comfort zone, it’s a nice idea. This project really pushes us to connect with New London—a connection that colleges often struggle to have with their surrounding towns or cities. On a personal level, I've found it difficult to connect to New London as much as I'd like to. There have been times where I've forgotten that leaving campus is even a real option. And so, I appreciate both the individual and schoolwide connection that this project facilitates. Though, on a small scale, it really embodies Conn's mission to create an environment conducive to creating global students.
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.
This is my second year living in Central campus and I have no regrets. I spent a few months last year in North campus and found it to be far from academic buildings and many of my friends. This year, I live in Burdick—the quiet house. I’m in the same building as the Smith dining hall, I’m close to Cro and Shain Library, and I’m not far from classes or Harris, the main dining hall. Plus, living in a quiet dorm means that I can take undisturbed naps at any time. I’m living the dream.
There’s another benefit of living in Burdick that I didn’t foresee: Practically all of my friends live in the dorm next door. Burdick and Larrabee residence halls are next to each other, separated by Larrabee Green. I can take a stroll across the green and visit a whole group of friends in one short trip. The beautiful thing is that when I’m done with said socialization, I can crawl back into my dorm and hide until my introversion hibernation fades and the next socialization period begins.
While I like to engage in new experiences, I don’t think I’d like to experience South campus, North campus or independent housing. Central campus fits my needs perfectly. It may sounds strange, but I also think Central campus fits my personality. Each section of campus seems to have a personality of sorts. For example, South campus is known as one of the louder areas of campus. Apart from some definable traits like noise level, the areas’ personalities are difficult to define. Whatever it is, I’ve found my niche in Central campus.
For the masses, Leap Day is that weird little day that sneaks into the calendar every four years. Some people don’t even know how many years are between Leap Days. Five years? Three? What’s the math on that again? How many years ago was it a Leap Year?
I have a different relationship to this unique date because I was born on a Leap Day. Once people learn this about me they go down the typical list of questions: When do I celebrate? What’s it like not having a birthday? Do I actually exist without a birthday?
I celebrated the occasion with a get-together in Coffee Grounds, a student-run coffee shop where I’m a manager. It was nice being able to incorporate my favorite place on campus into my birthday celebration—and boy, was it a celebration. We did it up with a true, “5th birthday” party. I bought balloons, stickers, face paint, glow sticks and a couple of snacks from Target. I was pleased to see that my friends appreciated the stickers, glow sticks and balloons, as much as these items deserve to be appreciated (which is a lot). The face paint, however, wasn’t quite used to its full capacity, but that’s fine.
If you have to go to the Health Center, chances are you’re probably not chipper. Maybe you’re waddling in with a stuffy nose and a cough, or maybe you’re going to get a flu shot. Fortunately, here at Conn, we have a bit of a pick-me-up at the health center: two massage chairs.
I heard about these chairs prior to coming to Conn from a friend, who told me that he and his roommate would leave ample time to get to their classes so that they could take a break in the Health Center to use the massage chairs. Sometimes, they’d even build in enough time for massage chair naps. Personally, I’ve never had the gusto to visit the Health Center for the sole purpose of using the massage chairs, but I always utilize them when I visit for health-related reasons (which, when living with 2,000 other germy people, is relatively often). I have, however, been known to show up to appointments early so that I can thoroughly enjoy the benefits of the massage chairs.
When I registered for classes this semester, I was under the impression that I’d taken on a pretty nice schedule: I’m in a psychology class, film class, art class and acting class. I didn’t realize that with two jobs and each of these classes meeting for double the time of a regular class, I’d be pretty stressed. From 9:00 a.m. on Monday to 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, I have almost no free time. Luckily, I’ve discovered the perfect stress reliever: yoga.
Every student has his or her own favorite spot (or spots) on campus. A lot of people like the Arboretum, which confuses me because there are so many creepy-crawlies there. Other, saner students like the library, which I can appreciate.
My favorite place on campus, though, is Coffee Grounds, a student-managed, organic fair-trade coffee shop that runs out of Katharine Blunt residence hall. It gives off an interesting, homey ambiance. I once described being in Coffee Grounds as being in a large, comfortable, British telephone booth, but my friends thought that comparison was ridiculous. I’ve also never been inside a telephone booth, so who am I to judge?
This year, my favorite spot on campus became my place of employment. I’ll admit: The ambiance changes a bit when you’re behind the counter, but not in a bad way. It’s interesting to watch people come and go, and to observe as the mood in the room shifts throughout the day. Sometimes people come to get serious work done, but other times people come to relax and socialize. As a barista, it’s easy to distinguish the “I-NEED-COFFEE-TO-STAY-AWAKE-AND-WORK” types from the “Hey-I’ll-have-some-coffee” types. I really enjoy working when things are more relaxed; things get so calm that I’ve even seen people taking afternoon naps on our couches.
Coffee Grounds becomes a sanctuary for people. When students need a quiet and serious study space, the shop follows suit. When people need breaks from studying, Coffee Grounds becomes a lively, social space. It’s strange because the students who visit and work in Coffee Grounds change constantly. Since students run the shop, management shifts every year (or more often, if managers study abroad). Yet, despite these ever-changing circumstances, Coffee Grounds has its own persistent, accommodating personality. I find that endearing about Coffee Grounds and I’m glad that I’m now able to be so involved with my favorite place on campus.
'Twas the week before All Hallows' Eve. The air echoed with the cry of wolves and the cackle of witches. The clock struck midnight and many students took shelter, preparing spells for the spooky night to come. Deep within the hallowed halls of Connecticut College, however, those brave enough embraced the Halloween terror with PUMPKIN PAINTING. It was a scary night indeed, punctuated by the cry of, “My pumpkin looks like Donald Trump!” from my friend Emma.
College can be a lot. Your social life and school work are no longer separate entities. You spend a few hours in classes, a few hours in dining halls, a few hours doing homework, a few hours relaxing, a few hours socializing, and then — BAM! — before you know it, you lose track of what's happening in the outside world.
I don't have a TV in my dorm room, nor do I have live-in parents to report recent happenings. I've found myself getting breaking news from Facebook and Twitter, which leaves something to be desired. What I've found here at Connecticut College, though, is that there are so many professors willing to incorporate recent events into their lessons, which helps me keep in touch with the goings-on of the world.
In high school, this would rarely happen. Coming from a public school, teachers were held to very strict, state-mandated guidelines, so they had little opportunity to veer away from the syllabus. In college, we take breaks from the syllabus all the time. In my American Studies class, for example, we were emailed to keep an eye on the events unfolding in Baltimore. We then discussed Baltimore in class — not as a way to abandon the lesson plan, but as a way to draw topical events into our lessons. I also had a friend tell me about a social justice class that discussed the way that Bruce Jenner's transgender announcement has been received by the public and by the media.
Even professors of classes that aren't quite as directly related to the news will reference recent events as a way to make their classes more relevant and applicable to the real world. Professors don't just lecture us about recent events, they create a dialogue. We are prompted to find our own connections between current events and syllabus work in a collaborative setting in real time.
While the school offers many forums and events relating to recent events, it's often easy to develop tunnel vision for your own busy schedule. The inclusion of news in the classroom is both convenient and educational. It's nice to be able to take a step back and tune in to what's happening around us in the present, as opposed to letting these events pass by and learning about them as part of a history class.
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.
Last week, I went to a birth contol panel in the Women's Center run by a representative from Planned Parenthood, a group of students and a women's health specialist from Student Health Services. I didn't really know what the expect from the panel, but I felt a duty to go as someone who's mainly been educated about birth control by MTV.
Sure, I've had health classes before. I know what birth control is, but knowing what it is isn't enough. It's kind of an important thing — and not just because of the controlling births part. Certain types of birth control can also help to regulate hormones and menstrual cycles. It's also necessary to know which types of birth control will prevent STDs and STIs and which will not. In addition to all of this, women need to know what their options are (there are bunches) and how their bodies will be affected by each of these options.
Sure, it's a topic that creates giggling, but it's a topic that needs to be discussed by both women and men so that everyone can have control over their reproductive organs, and be able to take care of themselves and their loved ones.
I ended up learning a lot at the panel. We started off by making a list of all the types of birth control we'd heard of. Ok, that's a lie — we started off by eating Indian food, but list-making was the second thing we did. Then we all wrote down questions anonymously. The rest of the time was spent answering those questions and any questions that came up in the meantime. Throughout the panel, we learned about our resources for feminine health here on campus and in the New London area.
It was a very informative event, and it reflects an overarching theme on our campus: No matter how hard it is to talk about something, there will be a space for it to be talked about. With everything, but especially with issues related to health, this type of openness is paramount. I highly recommend that everyone (yes, males too) attend next year's birth control panel.
I started swimming when I was about 4 years old, and since then I've continued once in a while. I was on my high school's team for a bit, but I knew that I'd never want to be on a college team. I didn't want to give up on swimming — it's the only exercise I can bear, because I'm not sure I'm actually a land creature — but the idea of being on a team was terrifying.
I went into college thinking that I'd swim on my own terms during open pool hours. A lovely thought, indeed, and one I followed through on... once. I underestimated the power of my sedentary nature. What free-thinking human being would willingly jump into a cold pool, while half naked, and then proceed to flail their limbs until fatigued? Not this gal.
There was a pervading sense of guilt that came with this passivity, but it went unattended to until I happened to notice that there were swimming classes in the course catalog. I thought that signing up could be risky because I really had no idea what proficiency level the other students in the class would be on.
It's been a relief, however, to find that the course is adjusted for each student. Everyone's on a different level, and there's really no pressure. It's taught by Matt Anderson, our water polo coach, and there are only six students in the course, so there is ample individual attention. It's been a great way to improve my stroke, force myself to work out and also score an extra course credit.
If swimming isn't your thing, there are other single-credit athletic courses, as well. If you're really ambitious, you could even go for something like scuba diving.
Ok, fine, it's not quite maple tree tapping season anymore. The season is still ripe, however, for my newfound obsession with maple syrup tapping — which, admittedly, may or may not be irritating my parents.
A little while ago, there was some advertising around the school for a lesson on maple tree tapping. I had mixed feelings about attending. I assessed the likelihood that the session would be two hours of hellish tedium. I also assessed the likelihood of the program allowing me to take home a giant bucket of free maple syrup. Fortunately, and unfortunately, neither of my prophecies came true.
The event was hosted by the Connecticut College Arboretum and open to students and the community. Jim Luce, the head of grounds, led the session and told us that anyone who can boil water can make their own maple syrup.
And it's true. Basically, all you have to do is stick a tap in a maple tree and then boil the sap down. It doesn't even have to be a sugar maple tree! Your syrup might be kind of icky if you use different types of trees, but that's your call.
You don't even need any real equipment to start tapping maple trees. Jim taught us that you can get creative and use things like paint buckets and plastic pipes to get the job done. If you do want real equipment, though, taps are pretty cheap.
As it should, knowing that I could theoretically make my own maple syrup and eat it by the spoonful excited me. I started pestering my parents over text about tapping the maple tree in my front yard. Meanwhile at school, my friend Emma and I started pointing out maple trees and making stupid jokes about being able to draw syrup from various types of plants, bushes and such.
I may have missed maple season this year with my passivity, but tapping a maple tree has definitely been added to the bucket list. I would highly recommend taking one of the upcoming maple syrup classes and, if you're ambitious enough, you can tap a tree on campus! (Just ask Jim Luce first.)