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!

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