Author Archives: Jia Coco Liu

The final final

So this week is the final final week for seniors. Wow. Usually I wanted the final week to be over as soon as possible, but this time I hoped that it could last longer. Once it’s over, it is time to graduate! Bitterweet moment.

What does the final week look like at Middlebury? Most people will say it is pretty crazy and stressful, especially if you have three exams and two papers clustering into one week. However, Middkids usually manage it pretty well. There is a lot of work during final week, but we won’t usually be running in nude, screaming at plants, or staying up every single night ending up having a panda bear face. Middlebury is a rigorous school, but the workload is still managable. The key to be less stressful is just to start early.

Many seniors were struggling with their “babies”– their thesis. An undergraduate thesis at Middlebury is usually a two-semester-long project, ranging from 70-120 pages on a specific topic within the department. It is not required by every department, but a large portion of seniors still do a thesis because it is a great learning process and it could be a nice summary for the entire college career. Thesis are often due at the beginning of the final week. It is so much fun to see how seniors react after submitting their thesis– Here are some quotes:

— “Thesis Free!”

— “Thesis IN!”

— “I just gave birth to my 100-page baby after 10 months!”

— “DONE! Time to go sleep”

— “Oh no I just found a typo in my thesis– I wrote ‘chemical shifts’ as ‘chemical shits’…”

Cute isn’t it? ūüôā

Seniors also have a lot to do during their final final week other than completing their thesis and exams. Send gratitude to professors and friends, arrange meals with friends, prepare for commencement and leaving, and try to accomplish everything on the Middlebury Bucket list (some must-dos before graduating from Middlebury). Even cuter, crush lists were covering the entire walls in front of our two dining halls, Proctor and Ross. Students were crowding in the dining halls, eagerly trying to find their names on the list of the people they care about. Once in our youth, we were flipped by someone iridescent. As time goes by the innocent little crushes will be fading away but our great memories with these people will last forever deep in our hearts.

The final final week will be over soon and it is time to say goodbye. It will be a new start. Middlebury has taught us so much: deal with challenges, share our passion, and hard work will be paid off eventually.

Let’s wish our seniors best luck in their life after Middlebury!

Awesome libraries

I always have a special love on libraries. The three libraries at Middlebury, Davis Family Library, Amstrong Science Library and¬†Starr Library¬†in Axinn center¬†are my favorite buildings on campus. Middlebury’s libraries provide enormous resources that support the teaching, learning and research on campus. I started working at the circulation desk at Davis Library in my freshman year. Having worked for almost four years, I’d love to share with prospective students.

One of the most impressive buildings on campus is the giant “space-ship-like” building called Davis Family Library. Before it got its official name, it was called “main library” because, well, it is the *main* library. It hosts most of the collection and runs as the center for interlibrary loans, academic resources, and studying advices. The amount of the collection, one million, may not seem to be a large number, but all the books are shared by only 2500 undergraduate students. You can grab the book you want and borrow it for four weeks. If you need additional time, feel free to renew it.

Whenever you need something outside of our collection, you can always use interlibrary loan. We have two types of interlibrary loans: Nexpress and ILL. Nexpress is a consortium of libraries in New England: Bates College, Bowdoin College, Colby College, Middlebury College, Northeastern University, Wellesley College, and Williams College. Our libraries have created a combined catalog of our collections. Authorized users may borrow other member libraries’ materials by requesting them online in the NExpress Catalog and have them delivered to Middlebury for pickup. It is totally free and the ordered from NExpress¬†usually¬†arrive in 3 workdays. The other type of interlibrary loan is the *InterLibrary Loan (ILL)*. If the item is not avaliable in all¬†the libraries in the nine New England colleges, you can also fill out an online form¬†and request from any other libraries in the world.

For journal articles, Middlebury subscribe the majority of articles of many online archives such as JStor and Web of Science. If some articles request a fee, you could always fill out an online form and request the articles through the ILL office. The library will pay the fee and electronically deliver the artiles to your Middlebury account in a few days.

The Davis Library also¬†provides equipments for loan: laptops (PC and Mac), headphones, chargers, digital cameras, camcorders, external hard drives, voice recorders, tripods, mouses, GPSs, webcams, dongles for Mac, projecters, screens, … just anything you can think of. Printings are free within quotas. From my own experience I’ve never used up my quotas. You can also print large posters in Amstrong library.

Amstrong (science) library is located in the beautiful seven-story building called Bicentennial Hall (BiHall). The size of Amstrong Library is relatively small, but it has a more focused collection: all the collections are related to science. BiHall is also the “home” for most of the science departments and labs. As a science student at Middlebury, It’s really conveient to immerse myself into the science world in BiHall.

The third library, Starr Library at Axinn Center, is the “oldest” and “newest” library on campus. It is currently the oldest library on campus, but it was renovated in 2007. It hosts the old books and some of the student thesis. This library, in my opinion, is the one of the most classy and comfortable places to study. If you ever visit Middlebury, Axinn Center a must-go.

There are also various other resources available. The Technology Helpdesk is at Davis Library to help with any computer-related problems. All the libraries are equipped by large-screen computers and you can find almost any academic softwares on these computers. The Center for Teaching, Learning and Research is in Davis Library and students can get help on writing or ask for tutors for private academic assistance for free. Librarians are on duty everyday and they are the nicest people to talk to when you have questions on finding data, article or governmental information.

In short, I can’t thank more on the libraries for support my study and research in the past four years. They are really amazing. If you have any questions about library resources, feel free to visit¬†or contact 802-443-2000.

Nostalgic about my semester abroad

Today of last year was the first day of my semester abroad in Berlin, Germany. I reached Berlin Tegel airport after a 10+ hour’s fly and my Middlebury friend Stanis, who arrived days earlier than I did, came and picked me up. It was still chilly in Berlin in mid-March, but my heart was filled with warm greetings from my friend. Excited but also a bit unsure what’s gonna happen in the semester, I calmly moved into my room after a long subway ride from the airport.

The semester in Berlin starts in late March and ends in late July. Students who attend Middlebury Study Abroad Program in Berlin will enroll as exchange students in a local university called Free University-Berlin (Freie Universitaet-Berlin). We take the same courses as other German students, do the same assignments and exams, and will have to write a 12-page paper (1.5 spaces) in German for each course.

It sounds a bit intimidating for me– I only have learned two years of German! But after the first meeting with Heike Fahrenberg, the residential academic director of the school abroad in Berlin, I was relieved and felt ready to go: all I needed to do to survive was just to be bold and broad-minded. What’s good about Middlebury’s study abroad program is that we have 30+ actual schools outside of the US, which means we have an office, a group of staffs and tutors in each of these schools to help you go through all the processes and challenges you might have during the time abroad.

Can’t believe it’s already one year since the first day I got there. I did had a great time in Berlin. Berlin is so different from Vermont. It is a VERY big city with over three million population. If you take subway to go from the east of the urban area to the west, it takes three hours. The university there is also completely different from Middlebury. There are 20,000+ students studying there and the students do not live “on campus”. Actually there is no real campus, but all the university buildings spread out the entire southwest part of Berlin. There were six students from Middlebury studying abroad in Berlin in spring 2010, and we all lived in places all over the city. The Middlebury program helped me find a dorm. The dorm buildings in Berlin were not properties of the university. They belong to a company in Berlin and the company assign dorms to all the students in Berlin. ¬†I lived in a dorm with five other¬†suite mates who were from different universities in Berlin and pursuing different degree programs.

It took me some time to get adjusted to this new environment. I was too used to attending very small classes, seeing my classmates after class, going ask professor questions whenever they are in 0ffice… but in Berlin three of my classes had over 150 students, and one seminar had around 30 students. Everything was far away– I have to commute 40 minutes by bus to go from my dorm to classes, and another 30 minutes to dining halls or libraries.

Fortunately the staff in Middlebury school in Berlin was so supportive and helpful. Each of us students was paired up with a tutor who helped us with writing and speaking German. The director provided us great information about the city and the university. Berlin was awesome. It was covered by dark history but also has bright perspective for future. The people there were from very diverse background and of course, the beer and sausage was fantastic. The Middlebury program also provided us some fund to travel. I traveled around eighteen cities in Germany, and the trips made me grow significantly. Looking back, the semester in Berlin was a completely new experienceРI learned to plan carefully and be rushing from this bus to another subway train, face difficulties with courage and maturity, and learn from different cultures even within Germany.

And in the end, I survived, with two years of study of German . The last day I was in Berlin three of the Middkids, Stanis, Donny, and I went to a plaza in the city center, and Donny was so excited that he started hip-hoping in English and generated lots of applaud from Germans. What a great way to celebrate our semester abroad!!

I am really thankful that Middlebury provided me such a great opportunity to experience city life in another culture. Middlebury’s campus is way beyond the Vermont border. As long as you’re passionate about a culture, possibilities are always waiting for you at Middlebury.



Wants to sing?

There are days on which I just wanted to sing. In this small rural campus, how can I make my voice heard?

One of the many answers: Join an A Capella group!

There are eight different A Capella group on campus and each of them has a different style.


The Bobolinks is a co-ed a cappella group which sings a wide range of songs, from pop music to country to oldies in performances on and off campus. At least once a year, the Bobolinks travel further afield to sing in places like New York City and Boston.

Dissipated Eight (D8)

Middlebury’s Dissipated Eight, also known as theD8, is the oldest a capellagroup at Middlebury College. The group performs both nationally and internationally, at private venues, colleges, and high schools alike. Over the years, the group has arranged numerous contemporary and modern pieces, and now has more than 200 recorded covers of popular music.


This funky co-ed a cappella group wows audiences with their diverse repertoire ranging from Red Hot Chili Peppers to the Grateful Dead to Nelly and everything in between. With a strong emphasis on both musicality and fun, they always put on a good show.


The Mischords are the oldest all-female a cappella group on campus, founded in 1962. Their repertoire includes old classics, pop, rock, some originals, musical songs, and many medleys of contemporary music. They perform at many venues both on the Middlebury College campus and at other schools, clubs, and events. Really awesome girls, really pretty voices.

Mountain Ayres

The Middlebury Mountain Ayres are a co-ed a cappella group dedicated to the appreciation and performance of Renaissance music, particularly madrigals, although they do occasionally sing contemporary pieces (especially if they’ve been arranged by the King’s Singers). Their repertoire is musically challenging (think French and Latin rather than “dim dim”s), focuses mainly on group performance rather than soloists, and has not in recent memory required beat boxing. Despite/because of this, they have a great deal of fun with our music, particularly at our annual “Bringing Bawdy Back” concert. The group generally ranges in size from half a dozen to a baker’s dozen.


The Paradiddles are an all female a cappella group. We enjoy making quality music together in diverse styles including pop, rock, 70s and 80s classics, country, and even heavy metal! The Paradiddles value not only working hard to be the best we can musically, but also creating an accepting, friendly community for all of our members.

People Get Ready (PGR)

People Get Ready, or PGR for short, is a co-ed a cappella group formed in 1998 by a group of Middlebury students who wanted to sing contemporary Christian rock and pop music. Most of PGR’s music is self-arranged by members who want the group to sing their favorites, so you can expect to hear well-known songs–both old and new–at each concert.

Stuck in the Middle (SIM)

Stuck in the Middle (SIM) is Middlebury College’s freshest, cleanest, newest, all-male a cappella group. Our size and musical variety are considerable, large, and in charge, and we relish in providing the full, pleasurable aural experience to audiences of all shapes and sizes.

Each A Capella holds auditions at the beginning of each semester. Usually they ask you to sing a single, and a bit test on volume and pitch. I joined PGR two years ago and it was a lot of fun. It was a big time commitment- three times a week, 1.5-2 hours per time- but it was a great experience. All of us were very passionate on music, which is the what drove us together. We had a concert every semester. Seeing all the friends sitting there and applaud for us made me feel really accomplished. Many A Capella groups plan trips every semester, most likely to other areas in New England. SIM even made a trip to Japan.

Spring is coming–time to sing!

More than a practice

I never thought about being an athlete because I always considered myself as a “weak”¬†Asian¬†girl who would be¬†easily knocked onto¬†the ground¬†by¬†those strong, intimidating athletes. As the time of graduation approaches and I’m going to depend totally¬†on myself, I decided to become a bit tougher and stronger so that I could survive the real world after Middlebury. Then I registered for the Fencing Workshop during my last J-term. Think about fencing– white jacket, long metal sword and a shiny, mysterious mask– is there anything cooler than that?

With the expectation to be cool and fancy and tough I went to the first class. It was fun. The two coaches, both are students on campus, introduced us some basic techniques of fencing and we did some warm-ups and¬†foot works. Then the real practice began. We all dressed up in those fancy outfits and played around with our weapon (like a real fencer in¬†the old times!).¬†Then we lined up and¬†the coaches asked us to¬†hit them with the weapon in the way that they taught us. When Nick’11,¬†one of¬†the coaches, ¬†told me to thrust him, I extended my arm and “touched” him with the weapon. “It is a touch, not a thrust! You should push harder and bend the weapon!” said Nick. I did so. The weapon was really bent and the tip of it was pressed into his jacket. That must hurt a lot! I quickly took back my arm and asked, “does it hurt?” “No, not at all. You should be stronger on that. ” said Nick.

The Courage¬†to be strong and fearless is the “must-have” for all fencers. I finally got the courage to really “hit” my opponent with the sword. I got hit by others too. It does hurt. And when we started¬†real one-on-one fencing, I got a lot of bruises every time we practiced. At first I was¬†scared of getting bruises; but later on, bruises became my best friends because they¬†helped improve fencing skills. During one fencing practice¬†an epee fencer got half of his nail ripped off and he bled so badly. But he¬†was still smiling. I offered to¬†give him¬†a bandage but the other coach, Clark’13, said “no he’s fine. This is such a small thing that I won’t even call it an¬†injury.”

By the end of the workshop I realized that fencing had had taught me so much:

1.Stay gracious even in the most vicious game.
2.Never feel discouraged.
3.Smile when someone get you bruises, apologize when you get someone bruises.
4.Physical pain is always paid off by psychological gain.
5.The sword is sharp, but it is also flexible.
6.Remember to salute your referee.
7. Practice makes perfect. Always.

In the spring semester I joined the fencing team because fencing is really fun. We will have three off-campus competitions this semester. On the way to be a real fencer there will be pain, but it will be paid off finally.

I am so glad that I joined an athletic team in my senior year. I wish I could do it earlier. The experience is more than just practices. It is a way to build up psychological strength, learn to deal with difficulties with courage and to live on with persistence. It also brings me awesome new friends.

Middlebury is a place to discover your potential on anything. All you need to do is just to try. Looking back to the entire college life at Middlebury, what I appreciate most is that I’ve got the chance to try whatever I wanted to do. My peers are exceptional and I’ve learned so much from them. Middlebury is a small rural campus, but she is filled up by all kinds of intellectuals and future characters that have lighted up my world.

* If you wanna learn more about athletics at Middlebury, you’re encouraged to visit:

I’m so thankful for Winter Workshops

Thanksgiving is around the corner! Every student got a special “present”–Winter Term Workshop Catalog!

Just a reminder, the academic calendar of Middlebury is “4-1-4”. Four months of fall semester (September-December), One month Winter Term (or J-term, in January) and four months of spring semester (February to May).

J-term is a fun time on campus. You may think “Really? Isn’t it always snowing in January? What can we do?” Oh well, Middlebury has all kinds of students who can make the snowing semester fun enough. Besides the non-traditional fun classes during J-term, there are also all kinds of student-led non-credit workshops.

This year there are over 100 winter workshops. Here are just a few examples: Acoustic Guitar, Art of Cosplay, Black and White Photography, Basket Weaving, Fencing, Hindi 101, Mahjong, Swing Dance, Ceramics, Wine tasting (21 or older)…

You may find a full list of this year’s winter workshops here:

Are the student instructors eligible to teach such a class? Can I actually learn something? The answer is “absolutely”. Middlebury students have talents that way beyond imagination. For example, the two instructors of “Fencing” workshop, Nicholas Tkach ‚Äô11 and Clark Hatheway ‚Äė13, are fencing club‚Äôs captains and both fully certified Sith lords. The instructor of “Ballroom dancing”, Mark Turpin’11, comes from Germany and he’s an award-winning ballroom dancer. The instructor of “Beer Brewing” workshop (proof of age required), Carson Cornbrooks’11, has brewed beer for over a decade and is an expert on all kinds of beers. During “normal” academic time Mark is my German TA and Carson is one of my class project partners. Image that you go to class and hang out with an skilled dancer and a beer expert… How cool it is!

Have talent? Want to be a leader? Want to make some friends and earn some money? Just apply to be a winter workshop leader.

Want to try something but never had a chance? Want to learn from your peer? Want to hang out with friends and learn something? Just register for winter workshop. Simple enough!

That’s why Middlebury is trying hard to find the most diverse and interesting group of students every year for our campus. I am so thankful for being here!


Princess Snow White came a little bit earlier this year. So excited to see snow flakes flying around during Halloween weekend! They gently kissed my face and shyly disappeared. Although it lasted only a few minutes, Middlebruy was HAUNTED. Beautiful white winter is coming! Many mountains  in Vermont have already got snow capsРlovely white peaks. It was chilly these days, but the trees still stayed colorful. Under them fallen leaves and petals lied in profusion, with some acorns rolling around waiting for squirrels.<3

Every time I led info session I would ask the families if it was their first time being in Vermont and¬† what their impression on Vermont was.¬† Some said “beautiful”, some said “trees” and some said “snowy and cold”. Fall in Vermont is breathtaking. In early October my classmate and I drove to Waterbury to meet with a community partner of our class project (Environmental Studies senior seminar on Environmental Health) in Vermont Geological Survey. It was the most pleasant one-hour trip I’ve ever had. The mountains were covered by layers and layers of colorful trees, with birds singing and flying around in the clear blue sky. The scenery was way more beautiful than an oil painting.

The most beautiful season is almost over, but something more exciting will take place. Our own snow mountain called snow bowl will soon be filled by active student athletes, or clumsy but brave amateur like me ūüėÄ . The ice hockey season will start soon as well. I love our Olympic-size ice rink, the wonderful games among NCAA, and of course, the super handsome ice hockey players… ūüėõ

I look forward to Jterm fun already. Hard to choose Jterm class… So many good ones! Remote Sensing, Paleolimnology, Intro. to Architectural Design, Vermont Waters, or Evolution of Human nutritionÔľüWish I could have more Jterms on campus!!!!!!!!