Category Archives: Vermont

Fall Family Weekend

Soon after leaving for college, I learned that my parents have this eccentric habit of trying to stay in touch with their children after they leave home.  Even more bizarre, it seemed that the families of many of my friends had the same habit.  Who knew?

This odd trend, surely unique to Middlebury parents, led to the creation of Fall Family Weekend.  This weekend is a campus-wide celebration of both how much Middlebury students love and appreciate their families and also how grateful they are to no longer be living at home.  The College puts on a whole host of events: lectures, open houses, performances, panel discussions, screenings, and more to bring students, faculty and families together.  These events often occur back to back and are always located as far as possible from one another.  This ensures that you spend the majority of the weekend with your parents walking around in the rain.  This goes along with the long-held theory* in psychology that family bonds are best strengthened by damp, chilly, and exhausting situations.

For me, it is always a privilege to show my family the things that I’ve accepted as normal in my Middlebury life.  Things like eating in the dining halls (my parents LOVE the dining halls), spending time with my suitemates, going to the farmers’ market, attending guest lectures, and walking up Chipman Hill are the norm for me but hardly for my parents.  Being able to show my parents and sister what my life here actually (well, vaguely) looks like helps us to better connect with one another and to see my education here in context.

And context is really what Fall Family Weekend teaches you.  When you meet your friends’ parents you realize that everyone here, as much as they appear to be completely singular and independent, comes from a background that helped shape them to be here.  At the same time, you connect your Middlebury education to the way that YOU were raised, and your parents do exactly the same from the opposite perspective.  Bringing parents to Middlebury helps to break down the barrier that all of us unintentionally place between our college lives and our lives prior to Middlebury.

Long live Fall Family weekend!

But wow, thank goodness it’s over.

*not a real-life theory

ES Senior Seminar

Every fall I get more excited to come back to Middlebury. Walking across campus during the first week of the semester means running into old friends and never knowing when to expect the next bear hug, and the summer weather sticks around long enough that I can squeeze in a few bike rides with my teammates from Middlebury Cycling before the weather gets cold. While I love summer, I always look forward to getting back to school, and even though starting to think of what I’ll be doing next year is a little bit scary, being a senior means greater academic freedom.

I’m an environmental chemistry major, and the environmental studies program requires all seniors to participate in a project-based Senior Seminar that looks at an environmental problem in the local community from scientific, political and human interest angles. My seminar has sixteen students in it, and while each of us has completed the same general coursework to become an ES major, our focus areas range from geology, chemistry and biology to geography, human ecology and environmental nonfiction writing. Together we’re looking at the development of small hydroelectric projects in Vermont and exploring both the benefits of adding a new source to the state’s renewable energy portfolio as well as the potential costs to the local environment and economy. Although we’re guided by a Middlebury professor, most of our time is spent working with local environmental companies and doing our own research, so it feels like we’re working as consultants in a large firm.

Last week we took a field trip to an existing hydroelectric dam in Weybridge, Vermont to talk with some of the engineers who work on the project and to gain a better practical understanding of small hydroelectric projects. Watching the water from the tranquil reservoir above come crashing over the dam and into the creek below gave me a greater appreciation for just how much power even a small project involves. I’m looking forward to working more on my seminar’s project throughout the semester and presenting my group’s findings at the Environmental Studies Woodin Colloquium on December 8th.

Good To Be Back

I vividly remember a few months ago running with my friend from Middlebury through the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina on a cold, rainy Sunday. We were a bit lost and quickly running further and further into an unfamiliar neighborhood.  We were looking around us at the run-down buildings, not catching even a glimpse of sun and pounding our tired feet on hard pavement. We were keeping fairly quiet and just running, hoping to soon see a landmark that would orient us in the city. We were speeding up and both pretty antsy, and I looked to her and said, “Just imagine, in a few weeks, we will be back at Middlebury, in the hot summer, running on the Trail Around Middlebury through the plush, green woods, breathing in cows and grass and proctor granola, knowing exactly where we are.” The thought of being back at Middlebury and running together from our senior year housing was unbearably exciting and felt like an unimaginable dream. Ironically, a few weeks before leaving for abroad, I am sure that we had a similar conversation about how excited we were to soon be in a huge city, speaking solely our beloved second language of Spanish and being far from the words organic and snow.  Sure enough, leaving Middlebury and seeing the world from a completely different angle was unbelievably necessary and rewarding. I absolutely loved being abroad in a place that was essentially the opposite of Middlebury for a semester, and I was extraordinarily happy during my semester abroad.  However, I would say that the greatest part of being abroad was coming back to Middlebury. Towards the end of abroad, it didn’t seem real that I was not only coming back to live in the United States again, but that I had one more year to spend at Middlebury College. Before leaving, I took for granted that I was constantly surrounded by my best friends along with a couple thousand remarkable peers all of whom were eager to talk, eat, run, walk, play or simply hang out at most hours of the day. Being abroad gave me a lot of independent, alone time, as well as daily opportunities to reach out and meet new people from a distinct culture.  While I have yet to speak with one friend that has spent time abroad and been disappointed or unhappy with it, I can pretty fairly say that everyone is unbelievably grateful and energized to be back at Middlebury for one last year and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.  While leaving and heading powerfully to a new, foreign city is quite stimulating, being able to come back to having delicious meals prepared for you daily, having running courses mapped out through clearly marked trails, living next door to all of your best friends, watching the leaves slowly turn bright colors, taking classes in the language that comes most naturally to you in subjects that most interest you and feeling pretty comfortable pretty much always is the craziest, most thrilling opportunity of all.

Middlebury Footwear

This might seem a rather frivolous topic but… I went to high school every day wearing Rainbows sandals.   Shoes never really crossed my mind.  After only a few weeks here my freshman year, I was so surprised at how many people sport the same footwear!  Most of these types of shoes I had never seen before coming to Middlebury, but here’s a heads up for those of you who will be experiencing a change in climate when you get to school!

Bean Boots: all-terrain, all-weather, and somehow worn from November through April.  Potentially even May this year. You’d think they’d only be worn for duck-hunting, but as it turns out, are acceptably paired with jeans, skirts, and even leggings.

Dansko Clogs: comfortably crunchy and Vermont-sensible.

Frye Boots: they’re everywhere.  Nice looking leather and appropriate for everything from class to bike riding to a capella concerts.

Toms: comfortable slip-ons that give back.

Top Siders: again, they’re everywhere. As soon as it’s warm enough to go without socks!

Survival tip: Smartwool.  Dry quickly, keep your toes warm, and last forever! (and come in fun colors…)

Explore Middlebury Video Snapshots!

If you would like to get a good snapshot of Middlebury College and what we are all about, be sure to check out these videos!

And, our very own senior fellow Ben Wessel is featured in one the videos speaking about his passion for the environment!

You can also view the videos separately under the following categories:



Student Life


Academic Life

Enjoy the videos!


There is nothing like a Vermont sandwich! Good thing this town is full of great places to pick up a tasty sandwich before class or on the weekends!

Here are my favorites:

1. Otter Creek Bakery

The location could not be more convenient right at the base of the college heading onto Main St. Plus, since it also a bakery the bread is always warm and FRESH. Don’t forget to pick up a yummy cookie or pastry on your way out!

2. Grapevine Grille

Probably the best sandwiches in town… but you need a car to get there. This restaurant is located South on Route-7 right across from the Blue Spruce Motel. If you are not careful it is really easy to pass! The menu has over 20 types of delicious sandwiches with very clever names.

3. Costellos Market

Located in Marble Works, this Italian market is the best butcher in town. They have great local meat products and sushi grade quality fish! Also there sandwiches and wraps have been known to change lives. Next time your in try the veggie wrap with beets, goat cheese, and curry (an “out of this world” experience).

4. The Middlebury Natural Foods Co-Op

While shopping you can pick up a sandwich from a wide range of vegetarian and meat sandwiches all that sponsor local farmers and agriculture!

5. Noonie’s Deli

A true Middlebury classic! Also in the Marble Works district, Noonie’s Deli attracts both college students and residents at all hours of the day. The Purples Pleasure sandwich is truly a Middlebury tradition!

Old Stone Mill

One of my favorite new places on campus is the Old Stone Mill that is located right off of Main Street on the banks of Otter Creek.

The Old Stone Mill is a space for students to create and design projects in an innovative space. There are no limitations to the kinds of work students can do at the OSM. In the past students have designed clothing, printed photos, organized dinners with strangers, and even started their own on-line and campus businesses as entrepreneurs. The OSM is truly an artistic and creative space.

At such a small school it is amazing to have this available to the student body. Not only does it foster innovation and creativity, it provides a home to many artists, musicians, and businessmen that want to work on provides outside of their “academic” work. The OSM is open at all hours for it’s tenants. At any hour you will find students playing piano in the music room, painting in the general space, or working on poetry in a quick corner. Sometimes when I need a break from the library, it is nice to escape to this space that if full of life and energy.

This semester I am working on a project with the Middlebury College Musical Players (MCMP) that will be performed at the OSM later this spring. This “experimental” show will explore the themes of affirming identity through music, spoken word, and movement. This type of project is something that I have been wanting to work on since I started at Middlebury, and I finally found the resources and the space to do it! I look forward to creating this work and seeing where it will take me at the end of the semester. I am sure there will be more blog post about my progress.

The Old Stone Mill is truly a positive student force on campus. It is the projects that happen there that make Midd students so unique!

Already Nostalgic

The reality of time hit when we returned for our final semester at Middlebury after February break.

I spent my break with eight wonderful friends from Middlebury, on a road trip from here to Savannah, Georgia. Six of those eight friends had just graduated as Febs, and the other two and I flew back to campus for the spring semester while the graduates continued the adventure and drove to San Francisco, California.

Watching the Febs graduate and then returning to campus without them made me truly acknowledge that this is our last semester. In the first week, my friends and I threw a potluck, went for walks, and talked about everything we want to make sure to do before we leave the utopia that is Middlebury College. Sure, there are stresses here at times, and yes, not everything is always perfect, but it is hard to complain about life here.

So I will use this week’s blog post to list my favorite aspects about this college — both the deeply meaningful and trivially glorious things — that I want to appreciate at all times for the next four months before graduation:

– Professors who take the time to get to know us, and remember our names.

– The beauty of Vermont in all seasons.

– Our amazing dining hall food and friendly staff.

– The beautiful, comfortable, and clean dorms.

– The ability to take courses in completely new areas while still deeply focusing on my major.

– Constantly meeting new and wonderful people who are passionate.

– Dance parties whenever we want.

– Cross country skiing around the golf course or at Bread Loaf.

– Singing with the Mischords (my a cappella group).

– Having someone willing to go on an adventure with me at any time.

– Hiking around Vermont.

– Apple picking in the fall.

– The Middlebury farmer’s market.

– The friendly businesses around town who remember us.

– Good Vermont cheeses.

– Road biking on sunny days.

– Running with friends around the golf course.

– Having amazing speakers and events available to me for free all of the time.

– Fresh air.

– The diversity of interests that my friends have.

– The cool accomplishments that people have made.

– The potential to get on board with a project anytime.

– Free dance and yoga classes.

– Subsidized music lessons.

– Hanging out on the lawn with friends in the spring.

– Learning a new language with an enthusiastic professor who is a native speaker of that language.

– Making brunch with friends on the weekends.

– Themes parties for no good reason other than to have a theme.

– The variety of activities that I get to participate in every day.

5 Reasons to LUV Spring

It’s a NEW semester! While the Fall semester is full of fall foliage, apple picking, and trips to harvest festivals,  the Spring brings new life and adventure on campus! Here my FIVE FAVORITE Spring events:

5. Winter Carnival

One of the biggest weekend events of the year, Winter Carnival is both a celebration of skiing and the beginning of a new semester filled with outdoor winter activities, snow sculptures, an 80’s Dance,  and an elaborate Winter Ball. Oh… and did I mention… it’s a 3 day weekend! Buy your tickets now to all the great events!

4. Spring Break

Just when you have had enough of the snow it’s time for SPRING BREAK. While the snow is still melting in Vermont it’s time to escape the cold and find refuge in the SUN. You will need that extra splash of Vitamin D for final exams ahead.

3. Shorts/ SUN

As soon as it is over 50 degrees it’s time to put away the heavy winter coats and bust out those long awaited shorts! I think this is a phenomenon that only occurs in the state of Vermont. In Arizona 50 degrees is definitely still winter weather. However, when the shorts are out the sun and warmer weather are only days away! While I love the colors of fall foliage, there is nothing more beautiful than watching the flowers and leaves come back into bloom just in time for Spring!

2 . Lake Dunmore

One of my favorite days of the Spring Semester is the sunny Saturday when half the campus goes and spends the day at Lake Dunmore. This local lake only 20 minutes from campus is definitely a student favorite!

1. New Febs

Maybe I am biased, but the energy and the excitement of the 100 new Febs makes the cold winter a little warmer. You can always spot a new Feb because they are the ones that will always smile at you along the path or introduce themselves to you at the salad bar in Proctor.

From FEBS to better weather there is clearly a lot to look forward to during the Spring at Middlebury!

Reasons the Looming Winter is No Cause for Alarm

People in New England never seem to get bored of talking about the weather.  Although cold temperatures are a yearly guarantee, I’m always asked how I can deal with Vermont winters, coming from sunny San Diego.  But truthfully, I think having been denied snow for so many years makes me more excited than most for the first snowfall…

3 Reasons the winter is something to embrace, and not to fear.

1.  J-Term

J-Term is a glorious time at Middlebury College.  Usually about the time that fall midterm exams are getting underway, there are murmurings of “I can’t wait until J-Term… it’ll be so nice when J-Term is here…”  When we all return to campus after winter break in January, we’re looking forward to a month of one intensified class.  Students can choose to take courses ranging from Chinese Painting, to Middlebury Entrepreneurs, to the ever-grueling Organic Chemistry.  Classes meet with greater frequency and for more hours per week than during the fall and spring semesters, but this is a time to really dive into a subject, focus your energy, and be creative.  I’ve been looking forward to my Introduction to Painting class for a few weeks now, and can’t wait to take my first-ever art class!  Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 1-4pm, so there is plenty of time for skiing, making snowmen, and taking a Wine Varietals workshop.

Student and visiting instructors also put on workshops that students can choose from—yoga, “Cooking to Seduce,” Intro to Guitar, Tap Dancing and more.  J-Term is a time to hone new skills, experiment with new hobbies, and enjoy Middlebury’s diversity.  We also have the pleasure of hosting many visiting professors during January as well.  Other students choose to do an off-campus internship or volunteer work for the month.  Whatever the case, J-Term is a time to experience Middlebury life like never before!

2.  The Snowbowl

The Middlebury College Snowbowl is a great place to spend a few hours getting outside during those frosty months.  A student life pass is an affordable $150 for the entire ski season, and the ACTR shuttle passes by Adirondack Circle every hour to take you the quick 25 minutes up to the mountain.  We have a new tri-chair lift to get you up the hill and a student-run ski patrol if you take a bad turn on your way down Kelly or Lang.

My favorite Snowbowl routine is to head up to the mountain, take a few runs with friends, stop for a hot chocolate and head back out if it’s a nice day.  If it’s an especially icy day, I’ll grab the book I’ve inevitably brought with me and read a few chapters while admiring the snowscape outside the lodge’s windows.  It’s fun to watch all the little kids walk awkwardly in their ski boots and be impressed by that kid who sits next to you in history—who knew he was a nationally competitive ski racer??

3.  Winter Carnival

Winter Carnival is a long-standing Middlebury tradition.  Reasons to love it: we have a day free from classes.  The ski team hosts their home races.  The winter sports teams have some victories at home, and the students guarantee an active (and vocal) fan section.  We have a great concert or two.  There’s a bonfire AND fireworks.  Ice sculptures!!  The Carnival ball is always a blast, thanks to our MCAB Traditions board.

So have no fear!! Yes, sub-zero temperatures and icy sidewalks are coming soon, but so is J-Term…