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The Top 10 Fall Activities in and around Middlebury

  1. Apple Picking: Nothing screams fall in Middlebury quite like a visit to Happy Valley Orchard with some friends. Pick your favorite type of apples and then cook your favorite apple dessert. Don’t forget to taste the fresh cider, homemade apple sauce, and other delicious apple products at the orchard (or in our dining halls!)
My first adventure to Happy Valley Orchards during fall 2013

My first adventure to Happy Valley Orchard during fall 2013

  1. Harvest Festivals: All of the best things come together at harvest festivals: fresh food, great friends, fall weather, and live music. Whether at Middlebury’s very own Organic Farm, the town co-op, or Shelburne Farms, you’re sure to leave with a full stomach and a replenished soul.
  1. Walk/jog/run in and around Middlebury: Take the foot bridge for a fantastic view of the Otter Creek Falls, saunter in an out of local shops, and get to know this picturesque New England town in a personal way. For a more extensive adventure, discover the Trail Around Middlebury (“the TAM”) for eighteen miles of fun.
  1. See the views from above: For an iconic view of fertile Addison County overlooking Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains, check out Snake Mountain. In less than an hour, you can experience an unparalleled view of fall foliage. If you hate hiking, fear not! You can get permission to take the elevator up to the roof of McCardell Bicentennial Hall (our science center) for a 360 degrees view of campus.
I took my grandparents on the roof of Bi Hall and they loved it!

I took my grandparents on the roof of Bi Hall and they loved it!

  1. Fall Family Weekend: Whether you have family visiting or not, Fall Family Weekend is the perfect time to take advantage of fabulous fall activities. Take the free shuttle to the Middlebury College Snow Bowl (our very own ski mountain!) and ride the chairlift to see the foliage from up above.
  1. Swim: Yes, the water is freezing, but the thrill is so worth it. Some of my favorite bodies of water for swimming are Dog Team, The Middlebury Gorge, Bristol Falls, Falls of Lana, Silver Lake, Lake Dunmore and, if you’re up for the trek, Warren Falls.
  1. Class Outside: Convince your professors to have a class outside. Get the best parts of Middlebury all in one moment by engaging in thought-provoking conversations while enjoying the natural beauty that surrounds you.
I had an amazing Portuguese class sitting in this grass

I had an amazing Portuguese class sitting in this grass

  1. Homecoming: There’s nothing like seeing friends who have graduated back on campus. The Midd spirit abounds, whether over meals in the dining halls or over cheers at athletic events.
  1. Eat a maple creemee: Try Vermont’s version of soft serve ice cream in its best form before the weather gets too cold. Rainbow sprinkles are a must.
  1. Picnic: Grab a to-go box from Proctor and head to the Organic Farm for a sunset dinner. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, drive to Champlain Bridge on the Vermont/New York border for what’s guaranteed to be a magical sunset moment.
There's no better way to start off senior year than a dinner by the lake with friends!

There’s no better way to start off senior year than a dinner by the lake with friends!

*All photos are my own; #nofilter

My Last First Week

Hi everyone, 
I am finally wrapping up my last first week of college. It couldn’t sound like more of a cliche, but I feel like I started my freshman year at Middlebury only yesterday, and it hasn’t sunk in that I’ll be graduating in less than a year. But I’ll save the soppy graduating-senior-blues themed post for later in the year! 
When I signed up to write a blog post about my first week back at Middlebury, I had planned to tell you all about my first week on campus as a freshman and compare it to my first week back as a seniorsome kind of reflective exercise that would demonstrate just how far I had come and how much I had matured over the course of my time here. After all, my first week on campus back in 2013 was something of a blurry trainwreck – I was late to just about every single class and was That Freshman who carried around a wallet full of bright green add cards for classes that I hadn’t been able to register for.  After making my way off the waitlist for a highly coveted class, I managed to sleep through my alarm, missing the class entirely. Needless to say, it was a long week, and one during which I kept my mom on speed dial. But, every cloud has a silver liningduring that chaotic first week, I was directed to multiple classes by helpful professors and students, demonstrating to me what a tight-knit community I had joined. I met one of my closest friends sitting on the floor of a classroom in Twilight Hall, both of us having arrived too late to snag a chair. We still laugh about that fateful encounter today. 

I wish I could report that as a senior, my first week back on campus after the summer was smooth and painless, and that I appeared to all as the cool, collected and mature adult I had hoped that I would one day become. But, alas, that would have been too easy. I probably shouldn’t have been surprised that my last first week of class bore a strikingly uncanny resemblance to my first first week of class. As a senior, I know I should have this song-and-dance nailed down, but I somehow found myself sprinting across campus to make it to class on time (apparently we have an academic building called Adirondack House.. It was news to me, too!) with a stack of add cards in hand. But there have been silver linings to this week, too. Seeing my friends after the summer has been a wonderful reminder of the many incredible relationships I’ve formed over the course of my time at Middlebury, while having the opportunity to discuss my senior thesis ideas with my advisor reminds me of how far I’ve progressed at Middlebury, despite still feeling somewhat like a headless chicken. I’ve accepted that I will probably never have a semester that I don’t start without a stack of add-cards in hand—my curious and indecisive personality combined with the incredible number of interesting courses at Middlebury makes it pretty tough to commit to just four classes. But with the dust finally settling on my first week as a senior, I could not be more excited about all the adventures to come and all the wonderful fall-themed food coming my way.
Till the next post! ~ Francesca
Here is an irrelevant picture of a sunrise over the Green Mountains that I took last week.

Here is an irrelevant picture of a sunrise over the Green Mountains that I took last week.

A Cook’s Repertoire: Daring Dishes and Family Favorites

Senior year of college is like watching a great cooking show.

These shows (disclaimer: I only watch them on planes) instill a sense of adventure, possibility and wonder. Like anything is possible. Really? You can layer pan fried bison on a bed of stewed jelly, and it will taste good? Even gourmet?

Done well, these shows will spur initiative. The ingredients are presented in such aesthetically delightful kitchen ware. You can even buy the proper accoutrements on screen. The idea is: you have the tools to make these dishes come true. And the time is now.

As seniors, we’ve been “cooking” for three and a half years now. Admittedly some dishes tastier than others. But on balance, we’re getting by. In most cases, thriving.

But there is always that time that you’re flying Jet Blue from Burlington to New York and the cooking channel comes on. You’re overcome with a sense of newness and a near-frantic feeling that this dish is now or never. Like maybe the old dishes you’ve been cooking haven’t really been as good as you think.

So, you try cooking the primo-deluxe fish dish. You buy the ingredients, make the dish, and serve it up. Your company enjoys the filet. It’s a hit!

This newness is so important for us as students, like hiking Buck Mountain for the first time, or joining the jazz ensemble as a second semester senior. Like successfully tracking down the ever-elusive Heady Topper, or meeting a new friend. These tasty new “dishes” excite and rejuvenate. It’s what keeps things interesting.

But when the newness fades and the buzz quiets, we return to what we know and love. We remember that we actually enjoyed subsisting on peanut butter and ramen. Our first friends are some of the most meaningful – the things that made us happy still do.  It’s what we’ve been doing for the last three years, and it’s worked beautifully.

Of course, Middlebury’s unlimited dining plan sort of muddles this whole analogy anyway. Rarely do I prepare my own meals here. But the point remains: exploring the new, because I feel like I’m running out of time, has renewed my love of the old.

Mary Lou Finley, Civil Rights History, and Campus Activism

This past Thursday, I had the privilege of participating in a roundtable conversation with Mary Lou Finley. A primary organizer for the Chicago Freedom Movement (1965-1967), she worked closely with some of the leading civil rights activists of the era—from Martin Luther King, Jr. to James Bevel. She was just emerging from college then, but in decades in between she has continued to valiantly push for greater social and economic equality. Mary Lou is now a professor of sociology at Antioch University in Seattle; additionally, she leads trainings with various civil rights organizations.

Her years of organizing experience show. She greeted us with compassionate confidence, listened deeply, and offered humble reflections on the arc of race relations and social change in late 20th and early 21st century America. In what became a fluid conversation, students, faculty, and community members engaged in a moving discussion of the troubled times in which we find ourselves today.

Moments like Thursday night have proved essential over my four years at Middlebury. It is all too easy at times to let immersion into the thriving campus life here supplant engagement with the outside world. But it is essential to remember that they are not mutually exclusive. As a history major, I have come to understand the inseparable links between past and present, campus and (world) community.

Our beautiful campus may be far away from some of the sites we have seen mentioned in the news lately. But in its distance lies the root of the intense sense of community here. Here, where a group of committed citizens can so passionately and respectfully discuss avenues for making our world a better place. Here, where the lines between professor, student, and townsperson blur. Here, where we learn to engage.

In a period of strife and social conflict, college campuses should be spaces of engagement, of conversation, of introspection and outward-looking action.

Mary Lou reminded us Thursday night of the successes and the unfinished work of history. It is our role as students and citizens of the world to carry that work forward.

Falling into Senior Year

Since this year began it hasn’t really hit me that I am a senior in college. When the school year started I pushed away any sadness and anxiety I felt that this is my last year at Middlebury because I kept telling myself that 9 months was a long time and so there was really no use in thinking about it too much. I spent the past two months enjoying the weather (it has truly been the most beautiful fall I have experienced in Vermont), working on my thesis, and pushing off any and all thoughts of job applications and my future. However, now that it is the first week of November and there are officially more leaves on the ground than there are on the trees, the blissful ignorance that I have been enjoying up until this point is no longer a sustainable mindset with which I can operate in.

This past weekend I attended my final Middlebury Panthers Football game as a Midd kidd, I handed in the first section of my History thesis, and I checked an item off my my senior year bucket list, which seems to be growing longer and less doable everyday. This week I will be registering for my last semester of college classes and attending Middlebury’s 200 days party (a party that celebrates the fact that seniors only have 200 days left until graduation.) Pretending I’m not graduating has ceased to be possible, and though I am sad and anxious about life after Middlebury, I still believe it is way to soon to give into those worries. I want to change my attitude and embrace my senior year without only thinking about the fact that it is my last year of college. I want to take advantage of Middlebury and do as much as I can, while acknowledging that my bucket list will never be completed– and that’s okay! Ultimately, I want to try and find the balance between enjoying the next 200 days and living my life here at Middlebury to the fullest, while still being able to reflect on the fact that these are my last 200 days of college and that should be factored into how I approach them.

Wish me luck!

Becky 🙂


Three weeks have already passed in the fall semester, and now the winds are picking up, the leaves are changing color. Since I traveled abroad last fall, I feel like it has been a long time since I have experienced the beautiful Vermont fall. It has been a busy first few weeks here at school, maybe due to the late start this year. The Clifford Symposium, which happened last weekend, was an excellent event. This was actually my first time attending the Clifford Symposium and I am sad that I haven’t had the opportunity until my Senior Year, but I am glad that I got to at least once! This years topic was “the good body” and how that is defined. I had the privilege of attending Eli Clare’s Friday morning discussion of the notions of what a “bad body” is. Clare has cerebral palsy and discussed how judgements of disabilities have played into his life. By the end of the talk, he related disability and access to Middlebury College. he asked about reflecting on the opportunities and accessibility of becoming a Middlebury student. Being a senior and looking back on my Middlebury experience, this is a question I have recently been thinking about …and maybe by the end of the year I will be able to come up with an answer! For now, I will just say that I am so grateful for the opportunities that I have been given to come to such a school and for the opportunities the school has given me for the future.


That’s all for the time being…. Until next time!


Welcome to the Blog!

Hello everyone. Glad you found your way to our wonderful Senior Fellow Blog, the best place to get all the insider tips from real Middlebury Seniors about everything from the best Chicken Parm-Pasta pairings to the latest updates on Gossip Squirrel.

My name is Nicolas, one of the eight Admissions Senior Fellows in the Admissions Office. But wait! What is an Admissions Senior Fellow?? you ask. We are a group of Seniors who love Middlebury so much we were selected to give Campus Information Sessions daily to all of our phenomenal visitors to the campus.

The Senior Fellow program began because we found that our Admissions Counselors were a bit busy getting out to amazing high schools all across the country in the fall and reading awesome apps in the spring, that at the end of the day we wanted to give them a much deserved break. So while during the summer you may have an Information Session with an Admissions Counselor, during the Fall you get to have one with one of the eight Senior Fellows!  Each of our information sessions are different, although they all will combine lots of facts about the college with fond annecdotes from our time here.

And What is this blog I found myself on? Who is Gossip Squirrel? Well Gossip Squireel is the name of one of Midd’s most curious squirrels on campus and this blog is about all the personal, fun, exciting, anxious, scary, adventurous, funny experiences that comes with being a Senior at Middlebury! This blog is really our chance to take some times to reflect on our three years here, and give you some insights that we’ve learned along the way!

So welcome, sit back, relax, and we hope you enjoy all the stories to come!




This past week, the Middlebury student body went to the polls to elect the members of next year’s Student Government Association. For 24 hours from noon on Wednesday to noon on Thursday, students logged into a website where they ranked their preferred candidates in races for SGA President, the Student Co-Chair of Community Council, representatives for their Commons and Class, and two proposed amendments to the Honor Code.  After the dust had settled on these hotly contested elections, 75.4% of the student body turned out to vote in the election, by far the highest rate in recent memory. After a year in which the issue of apathy and communication between the student body, the student government, and the College administration has been at the fore of campus conversation, this incredible turnout is an emphatic statement of how much Middkids care about what goes on in their community.

The campaigns for the SGA elections generated ample campus chatter on campus. It seemed like everywhere you went, students were asking each other: “Who are you going to vote for? What do you think of (insert your favorite candidate here)?” The buzz was partly generated by the number of candidates, 34 in total running for 15 positions, including four for President, and partly generated by who the candidates were. There were students who had been a part of the SGA since their first day at Middlebury and others who had never done anything in student government ever before. And as such, almost every social circle was brought into the election in some way, since they all had a stake not just in how the student government would affect them in the abstract, but a concrete interest in seeing a friend win a seat at the table.

My favorite moment during these elections, however, happened this past Monday evening, when the four presidential candidates and three candidates for Student Co-Chair of Community Council participated in a public debate in Crossroads Cafe. I was in charge of catering for the event and ordered refreshments for about 40-50 people, a good turnout for this kind of event in the past. Boy was I wrong! As the hour for the presidential debate creeped closer and closer, more and more students kept streaming into the space. By the time the debate began, more than 200 of us had managed to squeeze into the cafe. Every nook and cranny of the space was taken; some students leaned over railings on the second floor, others sat on the billiards table, still others stood on the stairs. And in front of that crowd, our four candidates made their case for why they should lead the SGA. They answered questions about their experience, their qualifications, and their stances on issues ranging from social life to environmental sustainability to surveillance cameras.

During the debate, I was in charge of walking around with a mike in the audience so that students could ask questions of the candidates. And as I stood amongst the crowd of students, I realized this was exactly what I imagined college would be like. If they had made a movie about the small residential liberal arts college experience, this scene would have made it into the script. In that moment, the feeling of the Middlebury community was palpable in the room and in that moment, I was so grateful to be a part of that community.

The Last Lap

Back in high school, I ran cross country and track. I was a distance runner, most of the time running the 2-mile or the 5000m. Having spent a large amount of time in the racing realm, I picked up a lot of the lingo. One of the classic coaching phrases for distance racing has to do with the end of the race. Typically, as I neared the finish line or turned into the last lap on the track, I would hear my cross country or track coach belting, “Don’t let up!” or some other phrase guaranteed to make runners like me sprint to the finish.

I have been thinking about this advice a lot lately, as the final month of my time at Middlebury nears. In some ways, I’ve been approaching these last few weeks with the opposite perspective. Knowing that I’m going to leave Middlebury in a matter of weeks gives a different perspective to the final days of class and even the upcoming exams.

The last issue of the newspaper comes out next week and it’s hard to believe that there won’t be another afterward. Despite the work required to produce the weekly newspaper, I’m already feeling nostalgic for editing sessions, article drafts, and working with the fantastic team we have assembled in the newsroom. Normally, I’m excited to see the paper on dining hall tables on Thursday. However, the knowledge that it is the last set of articles and stories makes me practically want to delay this week’s publication!

The same applies to classes. I thought I might be counting down the days until commencement, and I am — but not in the sense that I want to be finished. In every class, I find myself relishing the ability to explore different topics or to discuss with the professor and a group of talented peers. It is all the more bittersweet knowing that these opportunities might not come around again for a while.

Even the upcoming exams don’t seem like a hurdle to get over but, rather, the last chance that I’ll have to show what I’ve learned.

I was recently reading the statistics for the newly admitted class of Middlebury students and could not be more excited for them. They are about to embark on a new adventure. If they are anything like I was in May 2011, they may not anticipate the opportunities and encounters at Middlebury that will change them in immeasurable ways.

In any case, I think there is something to be said for not sprinting to the finish line. I am positive that I will look back on these last few weeks with fondness, just as I know I am going to reminisce on my time at Middlebury overall. With that in mind, I definitely won’t be leaning into the turn to the finish line of what can sometimes seem like a race. Rather, I am just enjoying one last run.

Preview Days

Hello Accepted Students!!!


This week is Preview Days and the senior fellows are anxiously awaiting your arrival. We’ve been working hard to ensure that you have the best time of your life over the next few days. We even ordered top notch Vermont weather for your enjoyment (forecast is sunny and 65 F with 0% chance of rain).  Be prepared to toss a frisbee on Battell Beach and chat with new friends on Proctor Terrace while watching the sun set. If you’re looking for some more structured activities, you can find a whole slew of them posted here:

I highly recommend the Student Panel and Brooker Fireside on Wednesday. Likewise, the Iron Eyes Cody concert and Middlebury MothUP will be awesome on Thursday. But really, everything will be fun.

Wednesday through Friday your days will be packed. My advice to you – especially if you’re still trying to narrow down your decision [to Midd] – is to talk to as many students and professors as you can. Ask questions that matter to you. Determine if this is a place that will challenge you and support your search for knowledge. See if you find Middlebury fun.

Please note: College today is not only about the books you read and the concepts you study. You will learn the same history, math, philosophy, chemistry, or sociology wherever you decide to spend your next four years. What matters at the end of the day are the people who shape your experience. I hope Midd’s Preview Days will alleviate the burden of your college decision-making.


Wishing you all the best,