Monthly Archives: January 2013

January Independence

J-Term is here and fun has arrived! Literally. Tonight, Fun. will be performing at Middlebury, to the delight of students from all classes. I know the concert will be just one highlight of what has already been an amazing winter term – that tiny, sacred sliver of time between semesters when your academic load is lighter than usual and every day brings a new adventure. For me, that has meant plenty of trips to the Snow Bowl to ski, lots of IM squash and my first-ever attempt at paddle tennis. Of course, more free time in general also means more time spent relaxing, and the girls I live with and I have done a good deal of baking and catching up on TV shows in our cozy house on campus.
My fourth and final J-Term is also my most unique. It is the first time I’m not taking a class and am instead pursuing an independent study in Political Science, focusing on a topic of my choosing. With a professor serving as my advisor, I am able to make my own schedule entirely. At first, this task actually seemed daunting, as I didn’t quite trust that I wouldn’t devote all my days to skiing and be left in a bind at the end of the month! So far, I think I’ve found a good work/play balance. I love the freedom of dictating my own schedule, not being held down by class meetings. I love exploring all that Vermont has to offer in the snowy winter, and making the time to delve into my own research as well. I’m finding that the more I give to my independent study, the more I like it (and, of course, the more I venture out into the snow, the more I appreciate Vermont!) The beauty of winter term is that it’s each student’s own creation. Friends of mine are taking courses in Biology, Statistics and Theater; others are interning in places as close as Burlington to as far as the Middle East. A few of my friends have created their own independent study in which they do a different activity each day – from knitting to dance classes to midnight sledding – and write about it on their own blog. I don’t know anywhere else where that would count as a class! The overall feel here on campus is carefree and fun. It feels like anything goes during the month of January, and I plan to keep making the most of it!


The first week of J-Term -also known as yay-term and play-term – has come to an end, and we are already half-way through the second week. It was only yesterday we were all freaking out about the apocalypse and wondering if we were going to make it to 2013! Time really flies during the month of January at Middlebury. I am taking a class  called Visual Data Analysis, which explores various ways of representing data using R, a statistical language. My friends are pursuing independent projects, writing their theses, taking a class on Immunology (just in time for the flu epidemic), working on the Solar Decathlon house, and taking an EMT course. Anyhow, my class takes place only on Tuesdays and Thursdays … which means I have a four-day weekend!

There are so many fun things going on during J-Term. Of course, you can always go skiing or snowboarding at the Snow Bowl. If you’re more of a cross country skier, the Bread Loaf campus has a lovely trail as well. If you are more inclined to stay indoors, this Thursday, Fun. (of Some Nights and We Are Young fame) is coming to Middlebury. The Dance Marathon is also happening this weekend. The proceeds will support  local families at the Vermont Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, Fletcher Allen, in Burlington, VT. What a great excuse to dance all night long? This week’s Free Friday Film is Wes Anderson’s Moonlight Kingdom,  and Trivia Night happens every Wednesday if you want to test your ability to hold random facts.

I have to admit, though, all these fabulous events aside, some of my best J-term memories consist of long conversations with a friend over hot chocolate with a subpar reality show playing in the background.