So all of your bloggers here will be graduating in just a little over two weeks so soon we’ll have to say good-bye to not only you, but Middlebury. My last articles for the school paper hit presses today. And tonight D8 and the Mischords, two of our beloved acapella groups will send off their senior members in their Spring Jambo. Over the course of the next week or two all 8 acapella groups (Study break concerts in dorm lounges are so much fun!) will be doing the same. We’re all approaching the end of an era. Soon, we’ll have no more papers (score!), but there’ll be no more crawling into a friend’s bed for a mid-day heart to heart either. No more racing across campus at 1:57 a.m. to make it to the Grille before it closes at 2. No more middle-of-the-night trips to Denny’s just because it’s practically the only sit-down restaurant Vermont that’s open 24-7. More than anything else all of my friends won’t be in the same place anymore. No more Weybridge Feasts full of local foods, that are delicious enough to make even standing in the rain worth it. There’s so much more that I could add, but you get the point. I wonder what everyone else is saying goodbye to?
It’s been a wonderful ride, Middlebury. I hope that some day you can try it too!
One of the great delights of being a student at Middlebury is great food and leisurely food. The food at Midd is great on a regular basis with student favorites including chicken parmigana, burger day, and our snazzy panini bar. On the desert end magic cookie bars and creemies (soft-serve ice cream) or a scoop of Moose Tracks is always on the menu. Lately the salad bar is featuring new protein options like spicy chicken salad and mongolian beef in addition to all the pasta options that have always been there. Beyond what chefs whip up for us Middlebury students get creative in the dining halls. One of my friends is determined to have chocoalte at every meal so she melts down chocolate chips and drizzles them on everything from orange slices to toast. Another friend tops her waffles with applesauce and I recently ran into a neighbor making his special morning blend of seltzer water, lemon juice and fress-squeezed OJ. The possibilities really are endless, especially with our open dining policy, which allows students to walk into the dining halls any number of times they want to throughout the day. Our meals are prepaid as part of our comprehensive fee which means that we never have to worry about swiping into the dining hall or making sure that we get our money’s worth at each meal. What that ends up meaning for students is that rather than having three neat meals each day many students will have breakfast before their first class, a snack between classes, lunch, first dinner, second dinner, and grab a piece of fruit to take back to their room for later. And you can have every meal with a different group of friends.
In addition to the dining halls, McCollough Social space boasts two fabulous on-campus eateries. The Grille which features a varied menu offering food from Turkey Clubs to a Heart Attack , which is a stack of french fries slobbered with freshly-melted cheese, bacon bits, and chicken finger bites. Yep, it’s sinful. Downstairs teh new student-run Crossroads Cafe is quickly becoming a hot spot on campus with healthier offerings, waffles, smoothies, a create-your-own-bowl menu, cookies from a bakery called Cookie Love, and Stone Leaf Teachouse. The library also has a cafe that’s great for late nights.
Now that the year is winding down and the weather is getting nicer opportunities to celebrate abound. Smaller barbeques are popping up all over campus with Midd Mayhem, an annual all-campus cookout on the last day of classes is right around the corner. It will be complete with a band and inflatable obstacle courses and other such games. We’ve been finding more reasons to head into our favorite restaurants in town, including the Natural Foods Co-op and Two Brothers Tavern. Further out there are some great plcaces that allow you to sit on the dock while you get food and Vermont breweries are amazing. Otter Creek Brewery will even give you a free pint glass for being a 21+ MiddKid.
Vermont is full of tiny gems. Thank goodness VT Restaurant Week starts next week!
So perhaps this is going to sound overdramatic and sentimental, but kids we’ve reached the beginning of the end. Back on campus for my last semester at Middlebury, my mind constantly wonders back to the beginnnings of my inklings that Middlebury was even a place that I was interested in making a part of my life.
This time, four years ago, I was a sitting duck. Second semester senoritis – Relax, but do not slack off! – was setting in and translating my early decision acceptance to a life. I was in love with Middlebury, but not having started here yet, I couldn’t even begin to fathom the eclectic experiences that I would have here. The number of days that I was extremely excited by coming to Middlebury were tempered with days when I grew terrified that sitting in the middle-of-nowhere Vermont I would follow a very linear path that would lead me to an English major and a publishing career. Both are perfectly valid choices – I’m still pursuing a minor in English and jobs in the literary world – but the point is that I was terriffied about feeling stuck here, but my time at Middlebury has been the least stuck that I’ve felt in my life. There were other days that I worried that I would just not be cooky enough for this place that gets stereotyped as only flannel and granola, but Middlebury is what you make of it and you will be what you let it make you.
The greatest gift that Middlebury has given me has been freedom from the feeling that I always need to have my next move pre-planned and fit into some larger life plan. I still overthink things sometimes, but Middlebury has been a time when I’ve been able to just go with whatever came my way. Four years ago I would never have imagined that Middlebury would lead me to Costa Rica to teach English for a J-term, to Germany or Argentina for research and a semester abroad respectively, or to logrolling or joining a social house on campus. How could I have known that I would try rugby or take a class about the state of Islamic women in Germany? How could I know that I would get an opportunity to do publicity for a restaurant in town? How would I know that my friends would hail from far and near from California to Hong Kong? And that the options for next year would range from Boston to Thailand?
I chose Middlebury because it intrigued me. I chose the school that I would most regret not attending. At times, Middlebury scared me, but somewhere in the fear of getting stuck I got this glimpse that maybe Middlebury would mold me into something I’d never imagined before and as I begin to reach the end of that road, I can’t imagine it any other way.
One of the things that I have been most blessed with during my time at Middlebury has been good conversation. The pace of work and life here is surprisingly fast in such a quiet surrounding, but what continues to refresh me are my conversations here.
The most genuine conversation I’ve had lately came from the most unexpected source. I walked into Ross dining hall, book in hand to read for a quiz in Education in America. After doing a full circle around to see what was up for grabs for breakfast decided to start with coffee before anything else. Let me point out that I am a firm believer that breakfast can and often needs to be a working meal. It’s my time to wake up and to finish up whatever last bit of reading I just almost finished last night. Depending on how much sleep I can sometimes go from standard politeness to even friendly, something my mother would tell you has taken me long to learn. I suppose I was being particularly friendly Thursday morning as I said hello to a classmate because he decided to join me at my table. Ignoring the reading material that I had brought with me, he sat with a full plate of French toast sticks and we began to talk about the Sociology of Tourism senior seminar that we are taking together.
We talked about the professor, the class dynamic and even a touch of the reading material – all standard small talk. I continued to sip from my coffee cup, prepared with an out whenever the cup came to an end, but somehow by the time I hit the bottom of it we were talking about our paths into our chosen majors, what both rich and poor colleges have to offer students, our frustrations and our hopes for the future. We talked about ways in which we’ve shaped our own educations and moments where maybe we should have done that more. It almost doesn’t matter what we talked about, but the quality of our conversation convinced me to sit down with food as well and stay to continue it rather than just politely ducking out.
I’ve never been a morning person, but given that this was not my only great breakfast conversation of the week Middlebury just might inspire me to wake up with the sun. Where else would I have the chance to sit with a fifth-generation Vermonter and talk about the distinct advantages of rich and poor colleges or talk to a Hong-Kong born Australian about the identity and future of ethnic enclaves?
Middlebury’s size is often touted as one of the major draws of the college. Being at a small institution gives students the chance to form deeper, lasting bonds with professors as they receive individualized attention and combined with Middlebury’s secluded location fosters meaningful friendships. I know that all of this may sound abstract as I couldn’t fully understand the role that Middlebury’s scale would have in my experience here until I got here and lived it. That said, I’m going to try to provide you with a couple of concrete examples of the role that Middlebury’s size has had on my college experience.
This semester, the Department of Sociology & Anthropology is hiring a new Professor of Sociology. Of course the beginning of the hiring process is pretty standard with paper and electronic applications, but the truly exciting part of the process begins when finalists come to campus to get to know Middlebury and better help Middlebury get to know them. As part of the hiring process all finalists deliver an afternoon talk on their research to all of the current faculty in the department and interested students. It’s a chance for us to get a live feel of the professor in action and begin to imagine him or her at Middlebury. Candidates meet with professors and students on campus to deepen that relationship as well. As an upperclassman majoring in the department, I’ve had the pleasure of having lunch with each of the candidates and a small group of other students to get to know them outside of a formal setting. While it’s a big responsibility to think that my opinion of these candidates will affect which one of them is hired and serve as student input on behalf of many more students than myself, I’m getting to help shape the future of the program. Watching this process from the outside a couple of other times, though I have not always agreed with the decisions it yielded I have always appreciated their relative transparency, which is part of a larger culture of openness and access at Middlebury. In a similar vein, President Ron Liebowitz will hold his monthly open office hours this Friday. These hours are an opportunity for any member of the college community – student, faculty, and staff – to talk to the president of the college without an appointment or formal invitation.
Hopefully this has helped you envision a life at a small college just a little more clearly. If not, I guess you’ll just have to wait and see when you visit us, but to sum it up small means contact; more contact with all of the human and physical resources that Middlebury has to offer whether it be chatting with friends until 3 in the morning or getting your hands dirty in the labs.
The more time that I spend at Middlebury, the more I’m convinced that this is just a campus full of big kids. I have to admit that I was not born a Halloween lover, but Midd has made me a convert. This year there was a bit of confusion about what day to celebrate on, but that just meant that we celebrated from Thursday to Sunday. The weekend included a great mix between informal parties thrown by students, and formal activities, such as the Annual Commons Creep with mini-parties around campus, trips to haunted corn mazes in the surrounding towns and pumpkin carving. The 3rd Annual Middlebury Spooktacular was a great opportunity to remember that as students at Middlebury we are part of the town community as well as the college community. It was a special treat to see faculty and staff out with their families on the town green for all the Halloween and bridge opening festivities and to hand out candy to all the kids who came trick-or-treating at the student houses on the edges of campus. I’m pretty sure that I caught some Middkids mixed in with the groups of parading kids.
Seeing everyone decorate their dorms and get dressed up for Halloween is an annual reaffirmation of the fact that Midd is a big kid’s paradise, but Midd is really a playground everyday. Muggle Quidditch was born here for a reason, and Mchaka and Midd for Play are regularly attended throughout the year, whether it’s finally getting down the lyrics to all the Tanzanian running songs during the colder months, or a game of Capture the Flag in the snow. These are just a few examples of fun that’s become institutionalized as offerings for the entire college community, but if you ask around everyone is doing something to relax and let go. I for one, can’t wait to see what type of beer my friends are brewing this week or what film the boys down the hall are watching for Bad Movie Friday.
While college is a major step toward adulthood, that doesn’t mean that fun dies once you walk through your first college classroom. In fact, I’d say half the fun of being at Middlebury is the opportunity to be somewhere where you have enough resources and fun-loving peers to bring your childhood whims to fruition. For example, during last months’ Fall Family Weekend, the Middlebury College Activities Board (MCAB) transformed McCullough social space into a roller skating rink and students are often found at the ice hockey rink enjoying free skate time with friends.
We all come to Midd to learn, but we do a great job of not forgetting to play at the same time.