Author Archives: Shannon Muscatello


Some of you may have heard about the IPhone App MapMyRUN. Well, after walking backwards every day from one side of campus to the other and back, I was curious as to how far I was walking. The solution to my problem was simple: instead of mapping my run, I would map my tour. When I got back to the admissions office, I was shocked and pleased at the statistics on my phone. Don’t be intimidated by them, though. You must keep in mind that we meander through campus. This is not how much you have to walk to get to class. So the stats are as follows:

Every tour is 2.52 miles of walking, forward for all of you, backwards for us tour guides.

We gain an elevation of 55 feet.

We burn 259 calories.

That is one impressive tour, if I do say so myself. So come and join us for a brisk walk through campus, and you can work off that milkshake you ate last night (or at least I can).

Life Abroad: 2 Students’ Perspectives

Below you will find two rising seniors’ accounts of their time abroad. One used a Middlebury approved but not directed program (he went to Oxford), and the other went to a Middlebury school abroad in Paris). They had very different experiences, but both fantastic. Take a look into the lives of two students abroad:

Shannon Muscatello ‘13: Paris, France, Fall 2011

What do most people associate with junior year of college? Study abroad. Or at least, I do. Studying abroad was one of things I looked forward to in my life. “When I’m a junior, I’ll be living in Paris.” Some people save up to buy a car. I saved all of my money to spend while abroad, traveling around Europe. Surprisingly, I did not use all of my money, but a good chunk was definitely gone when I arrived home in the US (Euros are so expensive, and Paris makes everything more expensive).

My name is Shannon Muscatello, and I just studied abroad in Paris, France, in the Fall of 2011. My dream finally came true to live in Paris, and it’s really weird to think that it is over now. That one thing I always envisioned happening is over. But it was an experience that I will never forget.

I chose to go to a C.V. Starr Middlebury School Abroad. About half of the students that go abroad use Middlebury schools. The rest, like Khalid below, use Middlebury-approved programs where the credits transfer, but they are not Middlebury directed programs. If you want to travel somewhere where we teach that language, you must use a Middlebury program, taking our language pledge. The language pledge is one of the most amazing parts of our programs abroad. In it, you pledge to speak, read, write, listen to, and live only in the language of the program. Complete immersion. And it really works. You begin to think and dream in your language, and it sometimes becomes difficult to speak your first language. (This is not to say that you can’t stay in contact with friends and family in English. I wrote a blog in English so my friends and family could hear about my time abroad – if you are interested. – They just want most of your life to be immersed.)

So, I, as a French major, naturally went to France. I had three choices: Paris, Poitiers, and Bordeaux. I chose Paris because, as stated before, it was my dream. I set off to Paris to live in a home with strangers and take classes with other Parisians.

My living situation was fantastic. I lived with a host family of two parents and a 21-year-old daughter in med school. Three older children would come by for dinner with their spouses, but did not live in the house. On my housing form, I chose to have fewer meals with the family per week because I knew that I would be busy. I was given one meal per week, so we would usually dine on Sundays. It took me a little while to warm up to the family, as it was more of an independent situation where they weren’t home very often, but I ended up becoming very close with them, going to their Christmas celebration, the daughter’s engagement party, and being invited to visit my host mom when she came to New York to see her eldest son. They were an amazing family to have, and it was nice to have independence.

Academically, I took four classes and an internship for credit instead of a fifth class. Two classes were at the Middlebury Center, two were at L’Université de Paris 7: Didérot. At the Middlebury center, I took a history and a culture/language course, and at the Paris university, two psychology classes. Those were scary and hard and very different because psychology is not that same here and there (they tend to focus on Freud and psychoanalysis). Classes were classes, interesting, but not the most exciting thing about being abroad.

My internship, however, was one of the most amazing things I did while in Paris. I worked at a sociocultural center where I would play with little children and tutor them and help them with their homework. This was in a poorer neighborhood than where I lived, so I got to see a different side of Paris that I would not have had a chance to. I got really close with the kids and my supervisors, and still keep in touch. As part of the internship, I had to write an at least 20-page (ended up being about 45 pages) paper that explained the center, what I did, and explored/analyzed a topic relating to it. It is incredible to have a 45-page paper written in French about my experience. It’s almost like a thesis.

Socially, I made a few Parisian friends; I would say the most out of the people I went to Paris with. I went to a university restaurant (a cafeteria for cheap meals for students), sat down with random people, and made friends. I had a group of friends that I would meet regularly for meals or on weekends, and it really helped my language skills. One friend, Hugo, was talking quickly to a friend about ¾ of the way through my time in Paris, making a harmless joke about me and my friend. I laughed and commented back, and his response was, “Oh no, you can understand me now.” My listening comprehension improved so much that he could no longer talk about me behind my back, however jokingly.

Life in Paris was fabulous. Very different, but very awesome. However, I missed a lot about Midd. I missed the dining halls being “free” and delicious. I missed grass that you could walk on and play on. I missed nature in general. I missed psychology in English. I missed teacher-student relationships, actually getting to know your professors. I missed the friendliness of the people as you walked by. I missed the active nature of this campus, aka not getting stared at in the streets as I run. Mostly, though, I missed my a cappella group, the Middlebury Mamajamas. They are my family, and it was so hard to be away from them and away from singing. Midd just doesn’t compare to anywhere, even Paris.

Khalid Tellis ’13: Oxford, Spring 2012

Before I delve into my time in Oxford and my time studying at the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (CMRS) /Keble College – University of Oxford, I will happily introduce myself. Hi! My name is Khalid and I am a rising senior from New Jersey. Here at Middlebury, I major in English and American Literatures with a focus in Creative Writing.  In turn, I was extremely excited to hear about an opportunity to study at CMRS with real-life Oxford University Tutors and all of the resources of Keble College.  One distinguishing feature about an Oxford education is that one’s classes will consist of lectures and tutorials. Tutorials are extremely unique because it consists of a student and their tutor, and that tutor normally has obtained the highest degrees in his or her field or are working on completing said degree(s). Therefore it is a class of one student, which allows for an outstanding classroom experience where a student works very closely with an expert on the materials he or she is studying. The deciding factor in my decision to apply to CMRS was the fact that tutorials are a unique experience and the lovely administrators at CMRS can find a tutor for almost any tutorial that one would like to take – I believe the exception is Organic Chemistry (the Principal, Dr. Mark Philpott, would happily remedy that conundrum if a student wished to study Organic Chemistry while in Oxford). That being said, you can be any major and study at the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. I studied in Oxford this past spring ’12 and my cohorts’ majors spanned a myriad of disciplines from psychology to archaeology, there were classes for them to take or they were designed to suit their home college and major needs.

The Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies in Oxford was founded to offer the opportunity to American college students to study in Oxford and more specifically at the University of Oxford. Thus, students are allowed to attend the program regardless of whether their college uses a semester or trimester system. Normally if one wishes to study at the University of Oxford through Middlebury, one has to study for the entire year. I knew I would miss Middlebury too much, so I was extremely elated to know that I would be able to enjoy Middlebury in the fall and experience Oxford in the spring.  On the other hand, students are provided with the opportunity to study at CMRS for both semesters if they wish to.  I highly enjoyed studying at CMRS in the spring. Each semester, students are enrolled in four courses and one of those courses is called the Integral Course. Ostensibly the integral course is a multidisciplinary course about England. One fun aspect of the integral course is the field trips. Yes, field trips! You are never too old for a coach bus and a trip to a few royal palaces. One week we would be studying a certain aspect of British history or culture and the next we were somewhere studying it hands-on. Normally, an Oxford student only takes two tutorials and lectures. At CMRS we had two tutorials, a seminar course, and several weekly integral lectures and discussion sections. My classes were as follows: Shakespeare II (seminar), Medieval Travel Writers (tutorial), Milton (tutorial) and Renaissance to Enlightenment (integral). It all sounds like a great deal of work, at times it was, but it was manageable as well particularly because of the scheduling of the program.

The first 8 weeks or so were spent listening to lectures and taking two tutorials and a seminar course (which ended two weeks after tutorials did, so it lasted 10 weeks). Thus, the last four weeks we spent intensely on our Integral Course which was titled Renaissance to Enlightenment.  The most challenging part about being abroad – at least academically – was the tutorials.  Each week I was required to produce a 6-8 page essay for each tutorial after having read the primary materials and finished secondary source research. Then, I would print out two copies, one for me and one for my tutor. During a tutorial, it is customary for the student to read his or her written essay aloud to the tutor after which the tutor will critique the students essay and his or her interpretations, responses and overall ideas about that week’s material. Reading my essay aloud was extremely nerve wracking, I am not normally a shy person but there is something to be said about having your work critiqued in general, let alone right in front of you by someone with a doctorate from Oxford University. Don’t get me wrong, I am always a bit anxious and excited to hand in a paper because I’m curious to see what the Professor will think of my interpretation.  Nevertheless, my experience in tutorials was extremely pleasant and I enjoyed them a great deal. Tutorials allowed for a great deal of discussion and collaboration between a student and tutor, and I at first wondered why the American education system did not allow for the same sense of transparency and collaboration. Then I realized that by going to Middlebury, professors are extremely accessible when I have questions about my work and my interpretation of the materials. Furthermore, I came to understand that I can and do achieve the same feelings of transparency and collaboration by taking advantage of a professor’s office hours and speaking with them after classes or simply whenever they are available.

Going abroad allowed for me to not only experience another country, another education system, (some might argue another language) but also another part of myself and my aspirations for life at Middlebury. I left Oxford surer of myself and more appreciative for life and time at Middlebury. Oxford, England is a beautiful place and the University of Oxford which consists of almost a thousand years of history, breathtakingly beautiful architecture and world-renowned places and things does not equal the natural beauty I have experienced while in Middlebury, Vermont. The tranquility I experience here at Middlebury is something I will cherish for a life-time, even when I undoubtedly move back to the hustle and bustle of one of our nation’s biggest cities. All in all, I highly suggest studying abroad to everyone, even if you are unsure of yourself, where you want to study or even your right from your left. GO! Just do it, it is better to have had the experience than to wonder about it later.

A Typical Summer Tour

In case you can’t make it to campus, or you forget things about the tour you did go on, here is a brief summary of a typical tour during the summer. We hope you enjoy this mini-tour, and hopefully you’ll have time to make it here for a live tour with one of our smiling tour guides! Here’s a link to our campus map in case you want to situate yourself on campus as you read about buildings.


We start here in the Admissions office, of course. We introduce ourselves and find out a little about you, but then we start our backwards walking and begin the tour.

Our first stop is the Mahaney Center for the Arts (CFA). This is our arts building for dance, music, and theater. Visual arts are in a different section of campus. Inside this building, we have many facilities that are open to all students regardless of their major. Some of the facilities include the Seeler Studio Theater, one of our three theaters on campus for faculty-directed shows, the Dance Studio with sprung floors for dance classes and performances, the Museum of Art, and the Concert Hall, a magnificently acoustic room, for visiting and student performances. We have several theater productions throughout the year, a few faculty-directed and several student-directed shows. We also have the Middlebury College Musical Players (MCMP) which is a student-run group that performs musicals, and one faculty-directed musical during J-term. Our musical groups include the Chamber Music Ensemble, the College Orchestra, the Jazz Ensemble, the College Choir, and Glee Club. There are many opportunities for dance as well, from classes for credit to the Dance Company of Middlebury to MiddDance, OnTap, and Riddim, our student-run groups.

After the CFA, on our way to the next building, we pass the athletic center. Again, all the facilities are open to anyone, even if you are not an athlete. We have an Olympic-sized swimming pool, basketball courts, a hockey rink, tennis courts, squash courts, an indoor track, and a rock climbing wall, among other things. There are about 600 Varsity athletes at Midd, and we are a Division 3 school. Aside from Varsity sports, we have some Junior Varsity, club, and intramural sports. Intramurals are a lot of fun with lighthearted competition between friends to win the coveted Intramural Championship t-shirts.

We also pass by the Biomass plant before entering the next building. Middlebury has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2016, and the Biomass plant helps out the initiative by using wood chips instead of oil to fuel a lot of our campus. In fact, it reduces our carbon footprint by 50%. In addition to the Biomass plant, we have recently added a solar farm behind our science center to help us on our path to carbon neutrality.

Our second stop on the tour is the McCullough Student Center. This is where the CCAL (Center for Campus Activities and Leadership) and MCAB (Middlebury College Activities Board) offices are held. CCAL oversees the 140+ student organizations and the many student activities that happen throughout the year. MCAB is made up of a group of student committees who facilitate activities on campus. Some examples are speakers that they bring to Middlebury, including the Dalai Lama, Homecoming weekend, Free Friday Films, and our big end of term concerts (including Kid Cudi, Wale, and Guster). Inside McCullough is the Social Space, where a lot of these activities happen. Some more specific events we’ve had in the Social Space are hypnotists, comedians, ‘80s dance parties, and swing dances. Across from the Social Space is the Grille and Crossroads Café downstairs. These are social areas with delicious food (not included in the meal plan) and are great places to hang out.

Proctor Dining Hall comes next. One of our three dining halls, Proctor serves up many delicious choices. Always salad, sandwiches, soup, hot entrées, and fruit, there’s a multitude of items to decide between. If none of those entice you, there are also Panini makers for the more creative souls. In Ross, another dining hall, the Panini makers are replaced with different pizzas. Atwater has pizza as well, and all of our dining halls are staffed by different chefs who choose what to create for us every week. We do not have a meal plan at Middlebury, which is fantastic. Meals are included in the comprehensive fee, and so you never have to worry about how many meals you have eaten in a certain week. You can eat whenever, wherever, and however much you would like. It’s brilliant.

After the dining hall, we pass the Janet Halstead Franklin ’72 and Churchill G. Franklin ’71 Environmental Center at Hillcrest, or Hillcrest for short. This is our environmental studies building, and it was created with environmentally friendly architecture with solar panels, low-flow faucets, and energy efficient windows and lights, among other things. It was the first building in Vermont to receive LEED Platinum, which is the highest designation awarded for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Environmental Studies is one of our more popular as well as well-renowned majors, and is interdisciplinary in nature. If you choose to major in ES, you also must choose a focus, which could be one of many different areas, including, but not limited to, Economics, Food Studies, and Architecture.

Next stop: McCardell BiCentennial Hall. Built in 2000, it includes all of our sciences from Chemistry, Biology, and Physics, to Geology, Geography, Astronomy, and Psychology. BiHall has a science library, a greenhouse, an observatory, and several classrooms and labs. There are many research opportunities for us undergrads in BiHall, and there are students living on campus every summer doing research. Research can be done for pay or for credit during the school year, too.

As for general academics, we do have distribution requirements. We have 8 distribution requirements, but you only need to fulfill 7 of them. They are Deductive Reasoning, Natural Science, Social Science, Philosophy/Religion, Art, Language, Literature, and History. (Don’t worry; it’s pretty easy to get these. It’s almost as if they fall into place without much effort, although you may have to work to find one or two.) We also have cultural requirements where you have to take a class about each of three regions of the world and one comparing cultures. These requirements include EUR (Europe), NOR (North America), AAL (Africa, Asia, Latin America), and CMP (Comparative). This requirement is important so that MiddKids are not ignorant of the world when they leave Middlebury.


As we leave BiHall, ahead of us is Le Château. If you couldn’t guess by the name, this is our French department. It also houses juniors and seniors upstairs, and you do not need to be able to speak French to live there. If you do want to live in a house where people speak a language other than English, you can choose to live in a language house after your freshman year. The language houses also have different activities open to anyone who can and wants to speak that language. French, for instance, has French films and a café every week. Le Château also houses a theater in the basement for foreign language productions.


Now on to housing. Battell Hall houses 2/5 of the freshman class. 2 of the 5 Commons are associated with Battell. At Middlebury, we have a Commons system where the student body is split into 5 smaller communities. These are Atwater, Ross, Cook, Wonnacott, and Brainerd. You get placed into your Commons randomly based on what First Year Seminar you choose, and then you live with the people in your Commons for your first two years. After sophomore year, you are still affiliated with your Commons, but you do not have to live with them anymore if you so choose. You can still attend your Commons’ dinners and activities, like fondue Fridays or hikes, but you have a chance to live with some people other than those in your Commons. Commons have a great support network with Faculty Heads, the Commons’ Dean, First Year Counselors, and the Commons Residential Advisor (a recent Middlebury grad who knows the ropes since they were here for four years). It’s nice to have a Dean who knows who you are rather than one who you might never meet because they are in charge of 2449 other students. Battell Beach is the expanse in front of Battell. We use this space in all types of weather, for pick up soccer, frisbee, capture the flag, snow ball fights, and, of course, quidditch.

Next we have the Davis Family Library, our new library. There are over one million volumes here, and there are DVDs you can take out, too. The Technology HelpDesk is fantastic, and they know everything there is to know about PCs and Macs. In the back of the building is the CTLR (Center for Teaching, Learning, and Research). Here, we have people who can help you schedule your life,  peer tutors for specific subjects, and peer writing tutors. You can just walk-in or make an appointment for anything you might need help in. The library is open until 1am on weekdays during the year, and 11pm on weekends. During exam week, it’s open 24/7. Right outside the library is the Wilson Café, open 24/7 as a study space, and other times as a café.


Last stop on the tour is Axinn, or the Donald E. Axinn ’51, Litt. D. ’89 Center for Literary and Cultural Studies at Starr Library. What used to be our old library before the Davis Family Library was built turned into our American Studies, English, and Film and Media Culture Studies building. Inside are many different study spaces, as well as classrooms, screening rooms, a movie theater, and an indoor waterfall.

That’s just a small taste of what our tours are like. We hope you enjoyed it and that you have a chance to come visit us sometime!

Hello Prospective Students!

Welcome to the 2011 Summer Interns’ Blog!

We are the Summer Interns, a group of Middlebury students that stay on campus during the summer to work in the Admissions Office. You most likely found your way here from our Summer Interns page on the Middlebury website. If not, feel free to check it out! For most people, summer is a great time to relax and enjoy the nice weather, catch up on some good reading, spend time with friends or family, and maybe do some traveling. For rising juniors and seniors in high school, summer is a great time to start making college visits and deciding which college or university is the best fit. That’s where we come in! We will be updating this page throughout the summer with our experiences here at the college and in the surrounding area to give you an idea of what Middlebury life is like. We’ll be writing about what interests us and what we think you may be interested in as you start (or continue) your college search. Also, please check out our student bios on the left so that you can get a better idea of what kind of students you may find at Middlebury and what the campus is like during the school year.

If you have any questions for any of us, feel free to post a comment with your question. Who knows? Maybe your question will be inspiring enough to become the topic of the next blog entry!