February is the shortest month of the year, but then again, short is sweet! It’s one of my favourite months of the year at Midd: the days are getting longer, the spring semester begins, and it’s the month of Winter Carnival. This year we celebrated our 91st! Winter Carnival Weekend is a celebration of our varsity ski teams, where students go to the Snow Bowl or Rikert and watch the alpine and cross country ski teams race at home (that means students get Friday off to go watch races)!
The carnival also entails a big kick-off bonfire and fireworks show followed by a comedian performance right across the street! Everyone shows up to the bonfire in their big jackets and grabs a cup of hot chocolate to watch the fire grow, and soon coats are off because the heat from the fire (and the hot chocolate) is keeping everyone toasty. Soon enough, the fireworks are up in the sky and the DJ is playing tunes as everyone enjoys the evening!
Friday is always the first day of races, and friends will get together and take the shuttle up to the Snow Bowl, or to Rikert to watch our teams compete, listen to some live student bands, and get some grub, and as the day is done they come back to campus just in time for a small concert to get their groove on! Saturday entails more races, an après-ski hot chocolate bar (yes we’re big on hot chocolate here- but don’t worry there is white chocolate too!) and the Ball. Every year, 1500 students will fill the decorated Nelson Arena and enjoy snacks, some drinks, and dance till they drop (or until the ball finishes at 2am).
Now that the races are over, the ball is done, and February is starting to draw to a close, I’m waiting to see what March brings…
I finally got my thesis carrel!
At Midd, seniors have the option to sign up for reserved study carrels (not carrols, carolls, carels, carrells, or carells and I now confidently know) in the library. Last semester I did not have one because I was not yet working on my senior project, and, while working at a library table or at a friend’s carrel, I nerdily pined for my own. These carrels become campsites where you can hunker down with your fave snacks and work away. And now I have one, and it’s lovely.
I’m writing my senior essay on the role of governesses and haunting in Victorian novels. Victorian governesses operated in liminal space because of funky dynamics with their class and gender, as do ghosts because of their being neither alive nor dead. The books I’m examining (Jane Eyre and The Turn of the Screw) both have ghosts and governesses with a lot going on between them, and it’s the area I’m exploring for this essay, which by May will (hopefully) be around 40 pages. It’s a topic that I know enough about to want to learn more, and I’m currently doing a lot of that at my carrel (and checking email, reading articles, and taking Buzzfeed quizzes).
So if you’re ever around the the North Side Main Level Mezzanine in the Davis Family Library, come say hello. I might even share my snacks with you.
It is beautiful and snowy. It is that time of year when you see skis resting outside of classroom doorways anxiously awaiting the student that has the efficient plan to meet the shuttle bus at ADK right after class. Many of us have done this: wake up, pack bag for school, pack ski bag, pack a snack, attend class, hit the slopes. Both nordic and downhill lovers are privy to the prompt bus shuttle schedule from the Middlebury campus up to either Bread Loaf for some cross-country ski fun or the Snow Bowl for some shoop shoop shooping in that fresh pow pow.
Speaking of pow pow (powder in colloquial terms), we currently have some beautiful pow pow. A few feet in fact. The west coast may be the best coast but the east is beast. I have skied on the east coast my entire life and we currently have some of the best conditions I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying. However, when the wintery fluff turns to a wintery mix there can be issues.
Mainly, footwear. I made the mistake today of seeing the clear and crisp morning sky and deciding that the paths were clear enough to wear a cuter and more spring like pair of boots. Rookie mistake. As I sat in my political science seminar on US and Latin American Relations my heart sank…straight to my boots. It had begun to snow and not just a light dusting but a proper snow that meant I was about to be slipping and sliding on my way to Environmental Economics across campus. Not only was the potential embarrassment of a wipeout on my mind (we have all done it, it is a right of passage really), but these poor boots were about to get a beating.
Alas, they are only boots and alas I am a senior who should know better. Every now and again it is fun to walk on the wildside and slip on the waterslide.
When you come visit us in the Middlebury Admissions office, we play a short video profiling a few Middlebury students to set the tone for the information session and tour to follow. While most of the movie is upbeat and sunny, in the last few moments a senior reflects on how sad she will be to graduate and leave Middlebury. It’s kind of a somber moment but it perfectly encapsulates our love for this place.
Normally, I sit in and watch the video before I start my information session, tapping my feet in time to the music and quoting the lines with the professors on screen. I know this video by heart now; I even dream it sometimes. When the video ends, I transition from the reflective last line to my silly description of a Texas girl buying snowshoes for the first time with a cheerful “And on THAT note!”
But that was last semester, fall semester, when the senior in ‘Senior Fellow’ felt more like a fancy title than an actual state of being. This state of being has an expiration date, and that date seems significantly closer on this side of j-term.
Today was our last first day of classes at Middlebury. There was the usual first-day jumble of adding or dropping classes, decoding the building acronyms on our schedules, and tumbling into the last chair in class with only a few minutes. But the “lastness” of it really hit me when I was rushing to fill up my tea thermos between classes and I overheard two brand new febs talking near the coffee pot. As I wiggled between them to grab some hot water, I heard one of the febs ask the other where the forks were in the dining hall. The other laughed and pointed to the enormous and fairly obvious island of utensils right behind her. For some reason, this small and silly interaction made me suddenly sad and nostalgic. Here these two new febs were discovering the utensil island for the first time and I’d been grabbing forks nonchalantly from that area for three and a half years now! I suddenly felt extremely old.
So now as I sit here on my last first day of classes, I’m vowing to walk into my information session after the video finishes playing. I’m doing this for all of you, future visitors, so that you don’t have to spend the first ten minutes of your first visit to Middlebury comforting a bawling senior fellow. Don’t get me wrong, I am so excited for all of you to come visit this spring and I can’t wait to talk to you as you start your journey here. But I am also insanely jealous that you have these next four years ahead of you.
As for me, time to start savoring the last four months.
When do pop culture, gender, and racial identity intersect? Here at Middlebury, J-term (January semester) injects life into the campus as students return refreshed from December break. J-term allows students to deviate from traditional academic courses and explore sections of academia outside of their comfort zone. This semester I took Performing Power as my final J-term class of senior year. In this course we explored the myriad dynamics of power as related to class, race, gender, etc. Following such, classes ranged from examining the power dynamics between female wrestlers to analyzing the role of performing masculinity in professional football. While the class was non-traditional, it still represented Middlebury as an institution that embraces all forms of academia whether in a laboratory or theater. Similarly, the class was composed of students from all four grades, three different countries, and several cities across the US. Each class was started by students performing a creative work that showed performing power in modern pop culture. As a neuroscience major this class was without a doubt outside of my comfort zone. And yet that was the very reason each day was a refreshing and challenging endeavor to explore my creative side. In essence the class represents the very reason that J-term exists—to allow students to not just leave their comfort zones, but instead go flying out of it. Ending my final J-term with a class that was unlike my previous experiences has allowed me to come full circle in terms of my academic experiences at Middlebury.
As J-term comes to an end one can sense the changes in the student body. Dining halls slowly empty, tearful goodbyes are said to graduating Febs, and professors begin to prepare their Spring lesson plans. It is certainly a period of change—change that resonates through the whole school.