Walking to Ross Dining Hall today, my first day returning from spring break, my boots were coated with a nice thick helping of what felt almost like primordial mud. Wading through the swamp like land of Battell Beach, I stared down at my shoes to notice the salt stains which serve as Vermont winter tattoos for your footwear—ironically leaving the texture and color of a sun bleach—replaced by the inevitable padded mud that hugged to the bottom of my feet. At that moment I knew it was spring at Midd and therefore time for room draw.
Today the campus is a buzz with the release of housing numbers for the upcoming draw in mid-April. As a graduating senior who has only been through the lottery process once, I am a little more divorced from the sentiment that most people are currently experiencing. I’ve only had to move through room draw during my freshman year for sophomore draw but that was a little more lowkey as my friends and I knew we would all be living in Coffrin–the Atwater sophomore housing–either way. I slipped through my junior and senior housing draw as I’ve been part of residential life for the last two years. From my point pint of view, housing thus seems easy and fun, which I believe most people would somewhat agree with. It is a time individuals have the privilege to choose their own roommates and hallmates which allows for development of new intentional living spaces. For sophomores, individuals will live with the same individuals that were in their freshman dorm but can shape their halls. As I am in Atwater, I moved from Allen Hall my freshman year to Coffrin where I lived in an adjoining single with a roommate. Normally during housing draw for junior year, individuals choose to live in a self-conceived special interest house that attempts to engage with the broader Middlebury community. In the past, some examples have been Vermont Foods, Creative Design, and Spontaneous homes. Individuals also tend to move into Language houses in which residents take a pledge to only speak in the language in order to expand colloquial vocabulary and prepare for junior abroad experiences. During senior year, there is usually a buzz around campus to get a hold of the most coveted senior housing complexes that range from an Atwater Suite, Beach House (a 3 person home) or Porter House (a larger 10 person building). Overall, it brings people together to really start contemplating the realities of next year and is a great way to invite students across campus to start setting personal goals for the coming semester.
This past week revealed that our spring Concert will headline T- Pain! It is so exciting for my final spring concert to come rolling around as MCAB does an amazing job at organizing live music shows throughout the school year. Normally during the academic school year there are two major concerts put up by MCAB’s Concerts Committee in both the fall and spring semesters. The talent that the school brings really ranges in interests and performers and it is not only MCAB that does a great job at getting live concerts to campus. Organizations such as WRMC, Middlebury Musicians United, Commons, and many more are able to pull artists from around the nation to come to our campus. Here is the breakdown of major live concerts that I’ve been able to attend organized by students:
Freshman: Wale, Dead Prez, Guster
Sophomore: Miniature Tigers, fun., Timeflies , Rubblebucket
Junior: Chance the Rapper, Matt & Kim
Senior: Cloud Nothing, Vacationers, Mr. Wives (coming up), T-Pain
Some of my most memorable experiences have been at these concerts. It’s a fantastic way to blow off steam while relishing in music that feels as familiar as when you put on earbuds and also being exposed to completely new genres. That is not to say that the music scene ends on campus. I have been able to go to concerts in both Montreal and Burlington, where a wide variety of artists frequent these beautiful cities. It’s not uncommon to grab a meal and concert on a given weekend.
Music on campus is something that people enjoy and connect over together, whether it is sharing a new Spotify playlist to listen to over your Atwater breakfast or plugging the aux cord in and blasting some tunes to groove to.
I am having a very unique J-term experience this year as I am working on an independent film project with a few buddies. We are writing, producing, filming, and editing the entire project together from start to finish! It has been amazing to take on an intrinsically motivated project in which we have full control. It has also provided great learning moments of figuring out the simultaneously frustrating and magical aspects of organizing day long shoots that are filled with hilarity and unexpected hiccups along the way.
In addition to my independent film project this semester, my other registered course I am taking is martial arts. It is an introductory P.E. course in which the class is learning the art of Tae Kwon Do on Wednesday nights. Our first night was amazing as the class was a combination of sweaty grossness. Throughout the class, our instructor reiterated to us that the two most important aspects of learning Tae Kwon Do is 1) stand as if you are on a train track and 2) never watch your feet but watch your target. Both mantras I aimed to accomplish during my final J-term. I really felt grounded this month which in some ways proved to be quite the exhilarating experience. Finding my train tracks for the month also helped me spend time with some of my friends who graduated this morning and really hone in on my goodbyes to some amazing people. Watching my target was something that came more natural for me. I am someone who will self-describe as being extremely focused on the necessary task at hand. I did push myself to redefine what the target is for me for my last semester. I spent the month really exploring the kinds of places I’d like to be in the next year or so and the kind of people I hope to surround myself with in the coming months.
Saying goodbye to this final J-term is bittersweet but I feel like I am more than just chugging along and am enthused about taking senior year at full speed ahead.
This week I have been having trouble focusing on a group project. I keep finding myself really avoiding doing the work for it and actively searching for reasons to not engage with the project. The problem is it’s a project that I have chosen to do. It is a film that I’ve written and will be screened in Sight and Sound 2, and I’ve been on this rollercoaster of hating and loving the idea of it. This is a large project; it is worth a significant portion of my grade in the class, but more importantly it is something that I’ve been planning on doing for more than a year at this point. As of now, I have a completed script that needs revising and I have yet to cast or really do most of the pre-production that should be occurring at this point. I have kind of let the project fall to the back burner, and only now am I starting to address it.
Besides the physical barriers of having to shoot an extended film at length, I have created these mental barriers. I feel as if I have been sandbagging myself in a lot of ways by not setting time for the project and not really planning specifics. I think that I need to sit down, make a calendar, and write up an email asking my actors to participate. I think that I am emotionally feeling stretched by the film. In a lot of ways I have become very involved with the idea of making it and the concept of being able to play on set with these ideas which I think are very fun. I am also nervous and scared to think that after a lot of the hard work of setting up of the film, it won’t be successful. Not success in the idea of it becoming some kind of viral hit, but the comedy and feelings of the concept I had not translating on screen. I am not socially intimidated by the idea of getting a crew; I am worried that asking individuals to be part of this project will add on to the heaping plates of activities and stressors that my friends who I would normally ask are experiencing at this point in the semester. Ideally I would like to finish editing the script today, and then send out an email asking individuals to participate in it tonight.
The connections and friendships that I have formed have truly been a great source of support and talent to tap into. It has been great to see Midd students take on different roles outside of academics and really step into these multiple hats of actor, filmmaker and student. I think that as finals are ramping up, it is great to see that my friends are able to find that fine balance of co-curricular interests and academics even during the proverbial crunch time that this next week entails. It is the spirit of holding and wearing so many hats that really speak to the way Midd students shine.
This coming Saturday starts the countdown for the final two-hundred days of my senior year. Since the last time that I corresponded with y’all, I have been able to check off a few of those final firsts. I was able to go to a fall harvest festival two weeks ago and embarked on my first Vermont apple picking experience at Happy Valley Orchards. The experience was very beautiful – I was able to spend the afternoon learning about picking and tasting many different apples. Who knew there could be so many varieties of apples! On top of just learning about the many different kinds of apples that are in existence, I also tried my hand at different forms of ways to consume apples; trying everything from delicious cold/hot cider to fresh cider donuts to cheddar apple flatbread. Overall the experience was very pleasant and I am fortunate to have been able to go on such an amazing adventure. I highly recommend that everyone take the opportunity to visit a local orchard as early as possible.
In addition to my great appleventure, I also have finalized my plans for my last J-term. I will be working on an independent student film project for the month. In collaboration with four other students, we will be creating a 20-30 minute short that we will produce from writing, shooting, acting and editing. It is an amazing opportunity to work on a self-guided project in which we have full control to produce our own idea. I think it will be a great opportunity to put my love for comedy and film making to the test, while also having the opportunity to work with great minds.
My name is Steve, and it’s great to introduce myself. I am finishing up my last first month of school and am very excited for the coming school year. As a senior, it is a tradition to reflect on the last three years and create a bucket list of all the fall/winter/spring activities I have yet to conquer. I decided that this year I want to share with you my entire senior bucket list which is a combination of very Middlebury and Vermont activities that I have yet to accomplish in my time here.
-Swim Belden falls
-Hike Camels Hump
-Finish the book East of Eden
-Learn to Ski
-Snow Shoe the TAM
-Read two non academic books during J-term
-Camp out in the Organic Farm
-Spend a day in Montreal
-Visit the State Capital building in Montpelier
-Enter in the Middlebury Chili Festival
-Go on a sunrise hike
I think these goals are all super manageable and really span everything from things I’d love to see myself doing in general that would be fun, but also Vermont specific activities that seem super finite at this point during senior year. I hope to stick to these goals and I’ll check on in with y’all as these goals are being met.