Monthly Archives: November 2012

Crunch Time

The final few weeks of the semester after coming back to Middlebury from Thanksgiving break can be, well, somewhat stressful. It is “crunch time” for everyone. Final papers, lab reports, presentations and tests dot our calendars in the coming days and weeks. The library, with its cubicles, tables and notorious “comfy chairs” already packed, will soon be open 24/7 for exam week. Do not quote me on this, but I’m sure if the dining halls and cafes on campus were to calculate the amount of coffee consumed during these next three weeks, they would find a massive increase of caffeine intake among students.

I’m no coffee drinker, but I generally struggle with the stress of these final weeks like my peers. In years past, I remember asking myself “how will it all get done? Is it even possible that I will be relaxing at home in less than a month?”

This year, though, my mindset has changed slightly from my underclassman worries. Not only do I now know (based on experience) that yes, inevitably it all does get done, but I’ve learned how to keep things in perspective and, more importantly, how to enjoy these final weeks of the semester. The truth is, a lot goes on here even as things wind down! There are final shows, concerts and performances that you don’t want to miss out on; winter sports are officially in full swing, and people flock to the squash courts and hockey rink to catch a match or game. I have gotten emails and invitations from professors and students  in classes in a range of departments – from Political Science to Dance to Film and Media Studies – who have been working all semester long on various projects that they will be presenting. Friends make announcements at the end of class inviting their peers to view their thesis work, a play they happen to have written and directed.

Thus, in the midst of all this academic work, the final push of the semester includes so many activities that are worth making time for. Even carving an hour out of your day to go into town for a meal with friends, hit the gym or go to a lecture you want to hear can make all the difference. And, as I just found out, all month long the town of Middlebury will be organizing “Very Merry Middlebury” events, which include sleigh rides, Santa visits, free gift wrapping and 25 cent hot chocolate!  Who says “crunch time” can’t be fun?

Giving Thanks for the Break

           By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, I couldn’t care less about pilgrims. I wouldn’t mind if the break were to celebrate the opening of the nation’s biggest teddy bear factory, or if the foods eaten were broccoli and sprouts, I am just so ready for a pause.

            I love Middlebury, no question about that (in fact, some would say my being a Senior Fellow, tutor, President and Treasurer of a Student organization and on the Equestrian Team all in the semester nudges ‘love’ toward ‘obsession’).  But I also love the snatches of freedom we get in between intensive work periods, like that of Thanksgiving break. They are so necessary for myriad reasons—getting out of Midd makes you realize how much you miss it, how much you love being surrounded by friends, how odd when you haven’t had at least one serious theoretical conversation with a professor, and how you’re ready to dive back into that research project that you were happy to forget for a few leisurely days.

            I also love Thanksgiving in particular because I find it incredibly quirky. Not having grown up with in the United States, I find a holiday based around odd pairings of food (cranberries and turkey? where else?) and the settling of obscure coastal towns incredibly quaint. I will this year be having my first ‘official’ Thanksgiving feast at a friend’s house in Massachusetts. I have requested of her the real experience, and she assures me that there will be stuffing and American football galore. No matter whether I enjoy the food or not, and I don’t see what can go wrong with pumpkin and spices within a pie crust, the gathering of family around a table will be lovely for someone who gets to see their own parents only a few times a year.

            So to everyone off to their separate homes to sit on the coach, plate of food in hand, and talk and relax for the entirety of this long weekend—enjoy. I will be right there with you.

That November Chill

It has arrived. That extra chill in the air. That moment when you realize you have to pull your real winter coat out of the closet. That morning when you check the temperature before leaving for class and realize it starts with a “3,” when you were anticipating a “4,” hoping for a “5” and fantasizing about the possibility of a “6.” Winter at Middlebury!

Despite the horror stories I was told before entering  my freshman year about kids having to snowshoe to class with ski goggles on, I have to say that after experiencing a few Vermont winters for myself, I remain committed to the belief that the months between November and March are some of the finest of the year.

Rule number one Midd Kids learn to follow? LAYER. LAYER. LAYER. Sometimes, even experienced seniors need to be reminded of this crucial skill; shivering in a single sweatshirt on the sidelines of the field hockey game this weekend, I quickly remembered the importance of my beloved layers.

Once students have mastered this technique, smartly bundling themselves in long sleeved shirts, fleeces, coats and scarves, the sky is the limit. As I learned my first J-Term, Middlebury students do not run from the cold, they embrace it. They catch the shuttle bus to Middlebury’s own ski mountain, the Snow Bowl, on a daily basis; they build snowmen on the quad behind the freshmen dorm Battell (affectionately known as Battell Beach); they slip and slide down hills on anything they can find that may pass as a sled.

The snow may not be here quite yet (though my economics professor did point out the flurries whirling around outside during class today), but even now, students are embracing the fall in all its chilliness. Walking to the dining hall the other day, I noticed a group of Midd Kids shouting with joy as they launched themselves into an impressively large pile of leaves. Even as we sadly set aside t shirts and flip-flops, my friends and I are secretly excited to welcome a new fall wardrobe, as it makes daily raids of each other’s closets that much more exciting (living with six girls multiplies your clothing options substantially). Chilly temperatures also make trips to the Tea House in town that much more frequent.

In the end, Middlebury students enthusiastically greet the onset of winter in the same way they embrace most other changes – with open arms (and a cup of hot chocolate).