Category Archives: Student Life

J-Term

The first week of J-Term -also known as yay-term and play-term – has come to an end, and we are already half-way through the second week. It was only yesterday we were all freaking out about the apocalypse and wondering if we were going to make it to 2013! Time really flies during the month of January at Middlebury. I am taking a class  called Visual Data Analysis, which explores various ways of representing data using R, a statistical language. My friends are pursuing independent projects, writing their theses, taking a class on Immunology (just in time for the flu epidemic), working on the Solar Decathlon house, and taking an EMT course. Anyhow, my class takes place only on Tuesdays and Thursdays … which means I have a four-day weekend!

There are so many fun things going on during J-Term. Of course, you can always go skiing or snowboarding at the Snow Bowl. If you’re more of a cross country skier, the Bread Loaf campus has a lovely trail as well. If you are more inclined to stay indoors, this Thursday, Fun. (of Some Nights and We Are Young fame) is coming to Middlebury. The Dance Marathon is also happening this weekend. The proceeds will support  local families at the Vermont Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, Fletcher Allen, in Burlington, VT. What a great excuse to dance all night long? This week’s Free Friday Film is Wes Anderson’s Moonlight Kingdom,  and Trivia Night happens every Wednesday if you want to test your ability to hold random facts.

I have to admit, though, all these fabulous events aside, some of my best J-term memories consist of long conversations with a friend over hot chocolate with a subpar reality show playing in the background.

The Student-Athlete Experience

What does it mean to be a student-athlete?  I have been asked that question a number of times since coming to Middlebury, and the idea of the “student-athlete” played a large role in my college application process.  I love sports, and I have always loved them, throughout my life I have played on a variety of sports teams and was a 3 sport varsity athlete in high school.  I knew that when I finished high school I did not want to stop being part of a team or stop playing the sports that I love.  That is why I decided to look for a school where I could continue to play football.  However, I didn’t want to go to a school that would define me by my participation in athletics, Middlebury was the only school that recruited me that said as a student-athlete would be a student first and an athlete second.  This concept played a large role in me eventually going to Middlebury, and it has continued to be important to me since I have been here.  That is why I would like to talk to you all about what it means to be a student-athlete at Middlebury.

Probably the greatest thing about Division III sports is the passion, love, and respect for the game that exists at this level.  Every athlete at Middlebury and at other D III programs plays because they love the game and wanted to continue to play.  There are no other motives to play, we do not get scholarships, and most of us (besides possibly Ryan Moores) are not going to play at a professional level.  Because sports are just a passion for the student-athlete and not the full reason why an athlete is at Middlebury, athletes are able to participate in a variety of other things as well.  There is no set definition for what an athlete has to be.  Athletes can be found in every major or minor at the college and on scores of the over 150 non-athletic student organizations that you can find on campus. 

So what does just relying on passion bring you?  The Directors Cup  for one.  For the first time in our history last year Middlebury College won the Director’s Cup.  In short the Director’s Cup is an award given by National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), it is given to the D III athletics program that performed best overall in terms of season records and championship performances.   A variety of teams last year from our women’s field hockey, ice hockey and volleyball to our men’s basketball, lacrosse, and soccer teams all put together terrific seasons.  This goes to show that by coming to Middlebury and playing for a team here you will not sacrifice the excellence that all athletes expect of their teammates, their coaches, and their selves.

The Bucket List

            I have taken it upon myself to use this blog not only to inform you – the reader – about what Middlebury has to offer, but also to remind myself of what it has offered me, and will continue to offer me long after I graduate.  However, as I start my senior year it is hard for me to focus on the things that I have accomplished here at Middlebury, instead I find myself focusing on what I have not yet done.  Perhaps this comes from every Midd Kid’s biggest weakness; FOMO, or the Fear Of Missing Out.  It’s a constant problem at a school like this, how do you choose between the dozens of weekly musical acts, speakers, and other performers?  How do I choose between the over 150 student clubs and organizations offered?  Worst of all, how do I choose what to do now, when I have less than 9 months to do it?  Because of these pesky questions that I keep asking myself I decided to create a senior year bucket list style top ten of things that I NEED to do before I graduate. 

 

 

10. Apple picking

Yeah I know, what have you done with your life Kyle?  But in all seriousness I have not yet gone apple picking since I started to live in Vermont. 

 

9. Epic snowball fight on Battell Beach (keyword: EPIC)

            EPIC!

 

8. See the Dalai Lama speak, live, in Nelson Arena, at Middlebury College

I really just wanted to talk about how I’m going to see the Dalai Lama speak in a few weeks, to quote myself from earlier in this post… “EPIC!”

 

7. Vermont Brewery Passport Tour

            Finally 21, and Vermont is considered one of the best beer making states in the country

 

6. Learn how to ski (well settle for falling 3 times or less on the bunny slope)

Not only does Middlebury have its very on ski mountain, but also free shuttles that continually go there all day during J-term.  This is the year I finally conquer my fears, or fall trying

 

5. Make maple syrup

How awesome would it be to put YOUR own maple syrup on pancakes, waffles, or just about anything else.  There must be somewhere in Vermont that I can make this dream a reality.

 

4. Take a dance class

The liberal arts for me have been about trying new things, and dance is something that would be very new to me.  However, I have true potential, or so I tell myself.  I’m pretty sure my awesome rhythm and plethora of awesome dance moves make me the perfect candidate to be a dance prodigy.  Also this may be the last time I can take a dance class that will be taught at this caliber.

 

3. Feb myself – this won’t happen, but a man can dream

In my later years at Midd I have realized that perhaps I was born with some Febbish tendencies, it may be too late for me to realize my feb-potential, but I implore you to try it out for yourself.

 

2.  The Vermonster / Tour of the Ben and Jerry’s Factory

Ice cream, enough said.  But really Ben and Jerry’s factory is in Vermont and I havenot yet visited.  Not only can you tour the facility and receive free samples all day long, but you can even try and conquer the Vermonster – enough ice cream and toppings to feed an army of competitive eaters.

 

1. Go to Steve’s Diner on President Lebowitz’s tab

It’s one of the last things that seniors do before the graduate, so I figured that it is fitting for the number one thing I need to do before I graduate.

Fall Family Weekend

Fall Family Weekend is coming! As a senior, my parents will be making it up to Middlebury for their first Family Weekend of my undergraduate career. It’ll be the last time they’re here before graduation weekend, and since there won’t be much time at graduation for them to see the campus and surrounding area, I’m hoping to make the most of it this weekend. So I’ve got quite the itinerary planned.

My parents are staying at a hotel in Vergennes, about 15 minutes north of Middlebury. I’ve always liked Vergennes. It is the “smallest city in America”—Vermont has a unique system of classifying cities and towns, meaning that tiny Vergennes with 2000 people gets to hold the title. Last year in one of my classes, Separation of Church and State with Professor James Davis, my class re-enacted a real life debate that had been going on in Vergennes, about the placement of a crèche in the city square. And, like most other towns around here, Vergennes is quaint, Vermont-y, and fun to walk around.

So on Friday afternoon I plan on taking the ACTR bus up to Vergennes. The Addison County Transit Resources is the Middlebury area’s fantastic system of local transit—free shuttles run constantly around Middlebury College and through town, and ACTR also offers bus service to Burlington and to some of the towns surrounding Middlebury. Last J-Term, I took the ACTR bus to Burlington every morning and evening to get to an internship there. The ACTR also places a heavy emphasis on green transit options.

So I’ll be taking the bus up to Vergennes, walking around town with my parents for a few hours, and then joining them for dinner at Black Sheep Bistro, a restaurant there specializing in delicious local foods. Vermont has a really wonderful food culture, and almost every medium-sized town surrounding Middlebury (Vergennes, Bristol, Brandon, etc.) features at least one or two truly excellent restaurants, most specializing in eclectic local fare.

I’ve got a full day planned for Saturday, too. We’ll start off at Lincoln Peak Vineyard, a few miles from Middlebury. Apparently grape-growing is an increasingly popular pursuit here in northern New England, and Lincoln Peak has wine tastings—being 21, this will be a fun activity with my parents. Afterwards, we’ll head out for a hike. I haven’t quite decided which we’ll do yet—there are dozens of great hikes in the area. A student favorite is Snake Mountain, which provides outstanding westward-looking views of the Champlain Valley, Lake Champlain, and beyond those the Adirondack Mountains of New York. During fall in Vermont, any of these hikes will be spectacular.

We’ll end Saturday with a dinner at Fire and Ice, a restaurant in downtown Middlebury, and hopefully spend the evening  enjoying each other’s company.

On Sunday morning, my parents and I will spend the day on campus. In the morning, Middlebury College Hillel will be having a Family Weekend Bagel Brunch. Hillel is the Jewish student organization on campus, and has been a very important part of my life at Midd. It will be great for my parents to meet some of my friends in Hillel and to learn more about what we do. I know it’s important to them, just like it is to me. In the afternoon, we’ll walk around campus. I’ll show them my dorm, a few places where I have classes or where extracurricular activities meet, and introduce them to some of my friends. They’ll head out in the evening, and I’ll give them a goodbye hug that has to last until Thanksgiving.

As you can see, I’m excited to share this place with my parents—there is a lot to do, and this will be a fun and busy weekend. Moreover, though, I want to share this place with my parents because their love and support is the reason I’m here, and I want to give them a taste of what my life at Midd is like. While they have seen the campus, it’s been a couple of years.  And I hope that seeing the places I frequent will let them know that I am using my time here well, enjoying myself, learning, and keeping busy.

See you on Friday, Mom and Dad!

A Magical Walk

As we are approaching the middle of the semester, I find myself needing to find some personal time. Don’t get me wrong. Reading Joyce’s Ulysses, solving combinatorial problems focusing on guaranteeing a great party, and writing my math thesis on entropy and its relevance to Bayesian statistics really do make me happy, but it’s easy to get lost in the work and lose perspective. I make an effort to make time for myself everyday.

Everyone has their own way of de-stressing, whether it’s having a dance party in your own room, doing your best impression of Kate Bush in the shower at the top of your lungs, engaging in some cardio ballet or going on midnight jogs (Note, I’m not claiming any of these comes from personal experience). My trick of letting the steam out regularly consists of two things: taking walks and lighting scented candles. The latter is actually a way to make the former happen when the weather makes it impossible to take a gander in the woods. I love the smell of moist wood, grass, and mossy air. I could go on and on about my favorite candles… contact me personally if you’d like a personal recommendation. Anyhow, it’s been raining here for a while, which means the surrounding areas have transformed into an absolute dream for the likes of me!

This past Sunday, I decided I needed a break from my three-hour thesis session in the library. I headed back to my room, put my boots on, turned on my iPod, and started making my way towards the college organic garden. The organic garden is about five minutes away from my room. You get to pass by twenty or so solar panels on your way there. The college organic garden has a great selection of produce (the kale looked particularly yummy) and flowers. You can sign up for a certain number of volunteer hours and depending on your hours (you can split with a friend) and get a CSA basket filled with goodies from the garden! Anyhow, here’s a little sneak peak of the garden.

The temperature is starting to drop, but I got to get see some flowers still in bloom.

The picnic table is a very popular place to eat out when it’s warm. The shed is such a cool spot as well!

This is from the greenhouse. There were some tomatoes starting to turn red and yellow, but for some reason, I love the look of green tomatoes so much.

After you walk through the organic garden, you come across a huge grass plain. (Couldn’t help the temptation of Instagram — doesn’t this remind you of Wuthering Heights?) Even though it was rainy, dark, and foggy, it was still so beautiful. After you follow the path for a bit, you see a small opening into the woods!

This segment is called the Class of ’97 trail, and it’s part of the TAM (Trail Around Middlebury). Many students, myself included, love running on the TAM. In the winter, the snow makes it an amazing cross-country ski trail as well. Anyhow, you cross a little bridge as you get deeper into the woods, you come across this lovely part of the trail.

Doesn’t this remind you of Narnia? Lord of the Rings? The Forbidden Forest? Whatever it is, this is definitely one of my favorite places. It’s so magical. Out of this world! You feel so removed from everything you know.

When you come out of the dense woods, you will see at least twenty cows on any given day. There are the oreo cows (with clear black/white/black coloring), cows with spots, and brown cows! Anyhow, I love saying hi to them, though I am perfectly aware they only come near me with the hopes that I will give them more hay…….

Went a little crazy with Instagram…. but look at this little guy! So precious! Speaking of cows, Middlebury sources our milk from Monument Dairy, which is literally less than 10 minutes away from campus. Happy Valley Orchard is also less than 15 minutes away and apple-picking is an amazing way to pass the time.

What I am so grateful for is that this “nature therapy” is very easily within reach. I just have to step outside of my room, with the right footgear of course. I usually spend an hour or so on these trails when I feel like getting some fresh air. Afterwards, I am so refreshed. My friend and I love puddle-jumping and mud-trailing, so we often go on walks together and end up having wonderful conversations.

When you come to Middlebury, please check out all the wonderful walkable destinations!

Till next time,

Jimin

Questions and Reflections

As both a pre-emptive and a reflective exercise, I think that it’s a good idea to review the most frequent questions that I have gotten thus far in my presenting experience, along with the most difficult ones. This gives me the chance to both improve on my responses by making them tangible and well-formed, and consider what it is in certain queries that I find hard to formulate an answer to.

I have now more than once been asked how a study abroad experience fits into a student’s total academic experience, and senior year job search. I know that this is a particular concern for those who have hard science and not language majors and consider going abroad a luxury, but I am always quick to say that going abroad can be adjusted to fit any area of study. A Pre-med student can take science classes at the host university in Munich, Germany, shadow a local doctor, and volunteer for a blood drive campaign. An Economics student can study development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, or create an independent project around how the Olympics in 2014 will affect the Brazilian economy. A Middkid interested in English can take advantage of our exchange program with Oxford, heading to the source of modern literature and can see the very places about which Dickens, Wordsworth, and Austen wax poetic. Going abroad is an option available to everyone, and one that, having studied and volunteered in Madrid, Spain and Lisbon, Portugal, I highly advise.

Another top question, often more forefront in the minds of parents than prospective students, is how Middlebury prepares its seniors to go out into the world. As someone with only months standing between me and the workforce, I can identify with this worry, but also promise that the Career Services Office is incredibly helpful. Just yesterday I dropped in to have my resumé polished, and have already worked with them to apply for several Fellowships. They have several online job search programs like MOJO and MiddNet that I peruse in my spare time, so I can honestly say that, with a little time and energy, Middkids will have no problem finding their post-college path.

Finally, one tricky question that I have gotten is regarding our setting in rural Vermont. As a student that applied to Middlebury from Tokyo, Japan, I know that there are lots of things that I miss about urban life. That being said, I know that I will have a lifetime of working in cities or suburbs ahead of me, and I chose to take a break from the rushed, impersonal city life for a rural setting where I know the name of the majority of the people that I pass in Proctor while grabbing breakfast. There is something so special about being able to head out spontaneously on hiking trips, about having a community network, that can’t be found in more developed places. Besides the hominess, Middlebury brings so many speakers, bands, and events to campus that you feel as though you are in the middle of a bustling academic metropolis—which you are.

All of my roommates

I find myself talking about my roommates in every information session I give. I live with four other girls in one of the five person Atwater Suites (most house four students but one of my roommates got a great number, 12, in room draw) and we make for a pretty diverse bunch.

At some point in my session I’ll start talking about sports, or the arts, or foreign language study, or Education in Action, and start saying, “One of my roomates…”

  • is a coxswain on the crew team
  • is a joint English/Theatre major (and another is a joint English/History major)
  • is studying Arabic, Chinese, and keeping up with the French she learned in high school
  • just got accepted to a doctoral program at William and Mary
  • is from Texas (or Maine, Mississippi, or Washington state)
  • has worked as an actor/interpreter at colonial Williamsburg
  • has worked in the US Embassy in Romania
  • has worked harvesting peas on large farms
  • knows how to bowhunt

After I get going talking about my closest friends, a lot of the parents and students seem to wonder just how many roommates I have because I rattle off all the different things they do. It’s true that we like to stay busy with our school work and extracurricular activities, but we find plenty of time to get together both for work and for fun. Most afternoons and evenings we’ll settle down in our living room to get going on our homework, occasionally stopping to share something interesting we read or to direct everyone’s attention to the latest Daily Puppy, and on weekends we try to make it to each other’s plays and regattas. Living together this year has been wildly fun and has strengthened our friendship.

Spring has Sprung

In my information sessions, I make a point to speak to the Middlebury Winter and to the integral role that it plays in the Vermont college experience. I specify that even though it can be frighteningly cold, there are countless ways to fill your chilled times. J-term and all of the great winter activities that Middlebury offers make winter a strangely desirable time, regardless of the thermostat reading below zero. However, this year, the winter never really showed up and left us with plenty melty days and zero excuses to wear earmuffs. While I was at first a bit disappointed that I would spend my last winter here without winter, it turned out to be a welcomed heat wave.  What made the weather change wonderful was that I found myself always saying yes. I rarely neglected to attend an event or visit a friend across campus and kept much of my time filled. When the weather turns frigid, it is harder to leave a plush comforter, a cup of hot chocolate and two seasons of The Wire for frostbitten fingertips. This winter season proved to be my most proactive and I am elated that I was able to spend my time moving around and saying yes. While I still believe that the Middlebury winter is essential to the true Vermont college experience, I recognize that the 3:1 winter to extended fall-early spring ratio is ideal for every undergrad.  I will certainly be the first to construct a Snowman as January rolls around in 2013 but as for now, I am thrilled that Frosty took a vacation this year.

Hello Goodbye

This morning I woke up excited—today I get to see a friend I haven’t seen a long time!

Partings and reunions become as common as breakfast, lunch, and dinner when you go to college far away. Having more than one home, it becomes a fact of life that I’m always missing someone—I’m either at home skyping friends from college or at college skyping friends from home (or, more recently, in Brazil skyping friends from both!). Mostly the partings and reunions are centered around the times when I travel, though: at the beginnings and ends of semesters I say a lot of hellos and goodbyes, on either end of my flights.

Today, though, I get to have a reunion—and I don’t even have to leave campus for it! One of my good friends actually lives in Middlebury, though he goes to college somewhere else. I met him a few years ago when I was living and working on campus for the summer, and we bonded over a mutual love of swing dancing and travel. He’s just been studying abroad in Thailand, and I’m excited to hear about all of his adventures.

I’ve been amazed at how many people from the town of Middlebury, commonly known as “townies,” I’ve come to know over my time here. Some I meet in the desk beside me while they’re auditing a class and bringing a different perspective to the classroom. Some are the regulars that faithfully attend dance department performances. Some are more coincidental, like the very friendly people that work at my favorite off-campus place to do homework, Otter Creek Bakery. The reunion I’m having today is with just one of my several townie friends—and I’m looking forward to saying hello!

Hints of spring?

This past weekend I traveled to Hillsborough, NJ to compete with Middlebury’s cycling team in the first race of the spring season. The forecast called for rain, but the minute we pulled up to Saturday’s race course, the sun came out and we jumped out of the van eager to catch some rays. The other teams thought we were crazy for running around in shorts, but after a Vermont winter, even one as mild as this year’s, 50 degrees felt like summer.

The group of us competed in a road race through New Jersey horse country on Saturday and raced around a park in a circuit race on Sunday. Winter is a tough time to be a cyclist-even if the ground is clear of snow, cold temperatures and the possibility of ice patches on the roads lead all but the most daring of souls to move training rides inside. After months of staring at a dorm room wall while pedaling in place, the open road was pure bliss. Driving back to Midd last night, I couldn’t wait to get back outside on my bike, but I woke up this morning to find a fresh dusting of snow. I plan on enjoying this last bit of winter then willing it away–it’s time for spring to come!