Retroactive Fomo

On tours, in information sessions, and in life I have often received the question, “What is your least favorite thing about Middlebury?”. I sometimes coyly respond that the walk to the gym is a little too tiresome for my liking. An ironic quip, nothing more. But when I give my honest response, I usually say something much more astute- Fomo, or, more precisely, retroactive fomo.

Fomo stands for “fear of missing out”. That’s my least favorite thing about Midd. There is so much going on, so much to take advantage of, so many moving pieces that, when you start staring graduation in the face and recognizing that you are already ¼ finished with fall semester of senior year, you start to feel like there are opportunities that passed you by. Retroactive fomo.

I remember the end of my sophomore year of high school and the internal debate I had about whether or not I should take AP English Lit with Mrs. Roeser. Mrs. Roeser’s name is enough to awaken fear in the hearts of Spartan warriors. The work load is tremendous. You are lucky if your essay doesn’t come back to you with red pen stabbed right through your cover page and onto her cluttered desk. Maybe I won’t take it, I thought to myself. I deserve a break.

No one deserves a break. I took Roeser’s course and it was one of my favorite high school courses ever. That is the attitude you need to have if you want to truly take advantage of all that Midd has to offer. Maybe I shouldn’t join Solar Decathlon… It’s too much commitment. Wrong. Join Solar Decathlon. Maybe I shouldn’t add math as a double major. I love math but it’s just so difficult sometimes. Wrong. Double major in Math. Push yourself to the limit. Set goals for yourself. Fulfill them and surpass them and then shock yourself with how much you were able to accomplish.

Four years will pass you by in exactly 1460 days no matter how you spend them. Do everything. It’s ok to spread yourself a little thin sometimes. It’s worth it, in a place like Middlebury, where opportunities are ample and experiences rich. You will never remember the course you didn’t take. You will never form connections with the people you didn’t interact with. You will never fall in love with the place you didn’t visit.

I have packed my Middlebury career nearly to the brim, but I know I could have added just a few more drops to the surface of the penny before it all spilled over. 1460 days. Spend them well!

Movin’ and Groovin’

This Saturday, the Middlebury athletic fields buzzed with activity. Starting in the middle of campus, the men’s tennis team kicked off the weekend with rounds of singles and doubles matches all day. Winding past the athletic center, women’s field hockey picked up their first win of the weekend and cheers of victory sounded from both the men’s and women’s soccer fields. The  cross country team hosted their only home meet of the season and swept the top finishing spots. Even the men’s golf team played and won on home turf.

A little farther off campus, I was competing in my own sporting event – of sorts. To kick off senior year with a flourish, a group of my friends and I signed up for the Vermont Color Vibe  run in Vergennes. The purpose of this 5k is twofold. One, it benefits a Vermont charity Camp Ta-Kum-Ta, a camp  catered to children who have, or have had, cancer. Second (and I have to admit this was the driving factor in our signup), you get to throw paint all over your best friends while getting a little exercise. What better excuse to wake up early on a Saturday morning and support a local charity?

Despite my initial excitement at the idea, my sleepy self was skeptical when we pulled up to the race to the tune of “Gangum Style” at 8:30 in the morning. But once we got out of the car, the spirit of the event and all the brightly costumed Vermonters was absolutely infectious. We picked up our powdered paint packets and set to work tie-dying our white t-shirts. Parents, children, fluffy white dogs, and a large representation of the Middlebury swim team, laughed, danced, and painted their way to the finish line in waves of colorful enthusiasm.

All in all, it was a winning day for the Panthers and a vibrant start to a year of senior bucket lists. I’m already looking forward to the next Vermont adventure!

Film Lab Number 1!

Getting involved in film production has been one of the best things I’ve done at Middlebury. Having always been intrigued, and then encouraged by friends and advisers, last spring I took Sight & Sound I, the Film and Media Culture Department’s introductory production course. It was demanding, hands-on, collaborative, creative, and exhausting. In other words, it was wonderful.

This semester I’m continuing the challenge and taking Sight & Sound II. This course expands on the foundations laid in Sight & Sound I, both expanding our technical skill set, and delving into all facets of the question “what makes a film ‘successful’ ?” Over the course of the semester we will make three individual short films and collaborate on one as a class. This collaborative film is written and directed by a current Middlebury senior and stars students and local residents. Our class will shoot this film over the course of ten Tuesday nights, swapping on-set roles every week.

This week, I was on the boom operator. I’ve done some work with audio recording, but never in a way that was such an arm-toning experience.

Check out some of these stills from this week’s shoot and stay tuned to see the final product in early December.

- Joanie

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Play Ball

Last first day of classes. First day of last year of school. But beyond that cliché Facebook status everyone seemingly fell victim too, making us realize that no matter how individual we are we really are walking this cobble stones path together, this is about yesterday.

 

Yesterday was Convocation and seeing the first years line the path to Mead Chapel, dressed in a familiar dress or button down, a pair of slacks, and a familiar sense of unfamiliarity that has begun to feel comfortable. I remember that day vividly. Our orientation week had been a hot one, confusing for an incoming student believing that, “wait, isn’t Vermont supposed to be cold all the time?” Caught off guard by the beautiful heat, we lined the path to Mead Chapel, following behind our Common’s banner, almost marching behind a flag, a team, a country, a new family tartan. What does Wonnocott mean? And why is our mascot a squirrel?

 

We were the incoming class of 2014 and were beginning, finally. After years of preparation, even deliberate or not, we had made it to the place we would call home for the next four years. We were united in a common nervousness if nothing else.

 

The nervousness culminated into a group mind of action, and that action was the wave. Yes, while not quite a Fenway Park all the way around the stadium wave, it was a top of the hill to the bottom of the hill wave. Smiles a mass and arms in the air, immediately more than nervousness bounded us. Perhaps it was more of a reaction than an action, but none the less, a memory was formed.

 

That same flutter of energy was felt yesterday. As I returned from a run I saw the first years lining up. Sweaty and tired, I climbed the stairs in my dorm that lines the quad and commented to a roommate, “Did you see all the first years lining up for convocation?” With a yes of agreement and an “We are old,” we began to hear singing. The communal nervousness of 2017 had manifested itself into a roaring revel of “Star-Spangled Banner.”

 

First Years, it is time to play ball. With the national anthem and the wave in place, it is going to be a great game.

The Sting of Seniorhood

I walk outside and am greeted with a blast of cool air and a flash of warm sunlight. I feel in my bones the minor chill and fluttery excitement of a new year. People rush around, hugging each other quickly, smiling uncertainly, swaggering down Mead Chapel Hill. It’s fall at Middlebury, and it’s my last. What happened?

I spent most of last night with two people who I am extremely close to on this campus, people I met on my freshman hall. One of them was unpacking and little notes, jokes, and pick-me-ups I had written over the years surfaced in the papers he had saved. They created a patchwork of memories: hilarious, bittersweet, intense, difficult, silly. We played guessing games as to when exactly they were written; we reminisced and remarked on how much we all had changed. I felt something tug at me somewhere deep and inaccessible, and I let it hurt. I think I will be doing a lot of this, and I think it will be a very good thing.

Middlebury hurts a lot of the time; you appreciate what you have, and you ache to retain it. The idyllic setting, the small classes, the engaged professors, the wide and easily accessible network of strong and supportive friends. These are things that are great, and inevitably there is pain when you are reminded that it doesn’t last forever. I have often felt guilty for feeling this pain because I feel like it makes it more difficult to appreciate the present moment. But now I realize that it is part and parcel of the present moment: it is a fluid sting, a natural accompaniment to love. Whereas in past years I have fought it, now I welcome it.

My wistfulness was also – pleasantly, in some sense – accompanied by nerves. It’s invigorating to feel some first-day jitters even as a senior. The campus feels new again, as it does every fall. I am changed, but I enter every year as a new iteration of myself; I get the chance to put a new kind of “Rachel” into action. I wait for results, I hope for the best, I get butterflies – I feel a part of the living, highly active organ that is this campus. I feel ready, and in that readiness, I feel a healthy level of expectation and even insecurity. I know I have attained a certain level of ownership of this place, but I also like to acquiesce that grip and let myself flow in the sometimes chaotic rhythm of it all. I’m a senior, but I only feel like one as often as not.

I have a lot to learn this year. I feel it in every step I take on the concrete, every breeze that unsettles my hair. In some ways I’m just a kid. But for the adult I am becoming, I have Midd to thank for making it painful.

 

Welcome to the Blog!

Hi all! We are the Middlebury Admissions Senior Fellows for the 2013-2014 school year! We’re going to tell you about our adventures, impressions, thoughts, feelings, and ruminations as we move through our final year at Middlebury. We’re a very diverse group of people, so you’ll find all sorts of different opinions and perspectives on campus life on this blog. Whether it’s the food, the professors, the dorms, or the weather, you’re guaranteed to hear many different sides of the story. But what unites us, undoubtedly, is our love for this place. We have all come to that passion in different ways, but we’ve ended up at the same place – Admissions! So we can’t wait to share our passion with you.

All the best for a happy and successful year and stay tuned,

The Senior Fellows ’13-’14

Visiting “The Castle”

One of the most exciting things about Midd is a chance to be in a community small enough that everyone gets the opportunity to showcase their talents and get a good audience. One of the truly amazing things is how many of these little showcases are put on in any given week–any particular span of 7 days here often includes an a capella concert, a play, a senior piano recital, and a tapdancing performace, just to use this week as an example.

Plays at Middlebury are some of the most heavily attended of these events. There is something at the same time alluring and alarming about seeing friends and acquantainces up on stage, with deep make-up induced wrinkles and in period costume, enduring struggles and triumphs that you know are very different from those that they undergo on a regular basis.

The threatre department at Midd is a tight-knit, friendly place, with many of the same actors playing lead and bit roles during the same semester in everything from Shakespeare to Howard Barker. Barker was, in fact, the playwright of the most recent piece that I attended. Directed by Richard Romagnoli, “The Castle” was true masterpiece of feminist thought, betrayals in love, and questions of punishment and hierarchy. It is a simultaneously dark and comedic play, and seeing the war-torn, ragged students on stage (the main character at some times strapped to the body of her murder victim) was unsettling.

At the same time, it showed the incredible power of the student body to put aside all of their papers, readings, meetings, and cares to submerge themselves into the arts, both as performers and observers. Yes, at this frantic time of year going to see a play is partially escapist, but it is also a way to get to know a whole other side of the everyday life of a small select group of Midd theatre kids.

What Do You Do For Fun Here?

 

Speaking of concerts… I always get the question from prospective students, “What do you guys do for fun here?” And I get it. The idea of a college in a small town in Vermont does not sound like the most “happening” place in the world and initially looking at colleges, I was worried about the same thing. I had friends who had already committed to schools in the city because there would be “so much to do all the time.” However, I distinctly remember a current student telling me during my preview days, “Yeah, the great thing about Middlebury is that either the school brings cool things here or the students make cool things happen.” And the thing is… she was totally right.

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Another thing I have loved about being on this campus is how much is always going on here because of a few things:
1. 98% of students live on campus so everything is happening right here
2. This is a student body that is constantly creating events with such innovation and drive
3. The school is always in support of these student initiatives. If you have a speaker, band, performing artist, comedian (you name it) that you want to bring to campus, with a little bit of organization, it isn’t that difficult to make it happen.

The beginning of this semester totally showcased this point. In one weekend, we had WRMC (student radio station on campus)’s spring music festival Sepomana, which brought rocking indie bands like Baths, Delicate Steve, and Rubblebucket. The next night, a benefit concert was thrown with Middlebury’s very own Alpen Glow opening for Anya Marina while at the Hepburn Zoo, an improv group brought PULSE, a 10-Person percussion group to perform. After this, one house hosted a 1950′s high school dance with a student band playing live. Whoo.

And best thing about it, rather than some concert in a city, I get to be dancing with all my friends throughout.

Alpenglow In Studio from WRMC 91.1FM on Vimeo.

 

Rowdy Roast: Spring Is Here! Spring Is Here!

rowdyroast3So, after 5 straight days of sunshine, it is official. Spring is here. Now, I know… this should have been the case 2 months ago, but you never want to get your hopes up when a sunny day comes up in the middle of April. The next day could easily be rainy (maybe even snowy…) but! now. Without a doubt. It is here. And boy, is the campus celebrating.

Last Saturday, 4 different houses all along Rt. 30 (mine included) joined together to throw a huge roast and outdoor concert in the middle of the day. That morning, I had gone off campus to pick up a friend from Burlington and got back on campus around 3 PM. I knew that by this point, the concert should be going on, but I did not expect to see about 300 people out on the green playing lawn games and dancing to a set of 5 different student bands. At that point, the pig (which came from a farm just around the corner!) had already been eaten, but the music went on until 6 PM.

I think something I have really enjoyed about my last 4 years here is the amount of enthusiasm people have for the weather. In the fall, people fall in LOVE with the foliage – in the winter, people are screaming as they run out into the snow, and just when it starts to warm up, frisbees are out and people are laying out in the sun (and don’t get me started about summers in Vermont). rowdyroast2

That excitement is contagious, it gets 300 people out on a lawn throwing frisbees, kicking hacky sacks, and dancing to some pretty rockin’ student bands.

 

Finding home

One of my first weekends at Middlebury, a friend and I ran up Chipman Hill. As we reached the top, both of us grew quiet. Taking in the vast expanses of the patchwork landscape – the Green Mountains to the east and the Adirondacks to the west – I stood in awe of the place I would grow to call home for the next four years.

From my freshman year, the combination of the natural beauty of Addison County and a curiosity to understand it led me to the study of Conservation Biology. Throughout the campus, and especially as an Environmental Studies major, we often engage in conversations around sustainability. As a budding ecologist, climate activist, and a steward of our natural world at Middlebury, sustainability is more than an oft-repeated buzzword across Admissions brochures. It’s a guiding principle we live every day.

Derived from the Latin word sustinere – to hold up, support, and endure – sustainability at Middlebury is a forward thinking principle that acknowledges the future consequences of today’s human impacts, the interconnectedness of natural and human communities, and the moral obligation to support future generations.

Take my BIOL 0302 class, Vertebrate Natural History with Steve Trombulak. You wake up at 5 in the morning. It’s pitch black. You slowly crawl out of bed, throw on as much wool as you can find, and walk into the biting cold to set out mist-nets. Minutes later you’ll walk the lanes of nets, hold in your hand a Black-capped chickadee, a White-throated sparrow, or maybe a bright red male Northern cardinal. That same afternoon you might go out to Lewis Creek to electrofish or set up Sherman traps to collect a flying squirrel in Cornwall. Or take BIOL 323, Plant Community Ecology, when we hiked through the old-growth hemlock-pine forest of the Battell Research Forest, measured the invasion of European buckthorn and Eurasian bush honeysuckle, and traced the changes in forest composition along an altitudinal gradient.

At Middlebury, our professors do not treat us as students in the traditional sense, but as apprentices in the craft of each field of study. Middlebury students are budding mathematicians and economists, future surgeons and psychologists, or emerging marine biologists. When we learn about how to protect species diversity, conserve natural habitat, and protect wildlife corridors, or the importance of breeding grounds, pollinators, and seed dispersal pathways, this knowledge is not theoretical. It is the work of the future.

All Environmental Studies majors participate in a capstone seminar course which is both project based and in conjunction with a community partner. The theme of this spring’s senior seminar is “issues in transboundary sustainability.” I’m working with a team of five other ES majors each with a unique focus. We are students of political science, economics, biologists, and geographers looking to understand the cross-jurisdictional regional prevention of aquatic invasive species in Lake Champlain. While our professors and community partners are here to guide us with academic support, resources, and expertise, the whole project is ours. Inspired and enriched by this project-based philosophy, we are able to pursue solutions with curiosity, self-discovery, and collaboration.

Four years after beginning my study of conservation biology, the top of Chipman Hill is more familiar. What was once a vast expanse of space has been transformed into place, both personal and specific.

When I arrived at Middlebury, I fell in love with the forested landscape of Vermont with no real regard for its natural history, inhabitants, or processes. Four years later, Addison County is no longer a “landscape” but a place, endowed with value and meaning as I have experienced more attachment to this community. Walking around campus bird songs are no longer undifferentiated calls as I have learned the tones and rhythms of their chirpings. The forest is no longer filled with “trees” but individual species, each with taxonomic nomenclature and natural history. At the top of Chipman Hill, I no longer only see a view, but become a part of what Aldo Leopold pens as the sensory experience of the “theatre of evolution.”

I never thought I’d ever call going back to Middlebury “coming home.”