Author Archives: Melissa Segil

Middlebury Footwear

This might seem a rather frivolous topic but… I went to high school every day wearing Rainbows sandals.   Shoes never really crossed my mind.  After only a few weeks here my freshman year, I was so surprised at how many people sport the same footwear!  Most of these types of shoes I had never seen before coming to Middlebury, but here’s a heads up for those of you who will be experiencing a change in climate when you get to school!

Bean Boots: all-terrain, all-weather, and somehow worn from November through April.  Potentially even May this year. You’d think they’d only be worn for duck-hunting, but as it turns out, are acceptably paired with jeans, skirts, and even leggings.

Dansko Clogs: comfortably crunchy and Vermont-sensible.

Frye Boots: they’re everywhere.  Nice looking leather and appropriate for everything from class to bike riding to a capella concerts.

Toms: comfortable slip-ons that give back.

Top Siders: again, they’re everywhere. As soon as it’s warm enough to go without socks!

Survival tip: Smartwool.  Dry quickly, keep your toes warm, and last forever! (and come in fun colors…)

Reasons the Looming Winter is No Cause for Alarm

People in New England never seem to get bored of talking about the weather.  Although cold temperatures are a yearly guarantee, I’m always asked how I can deal with Vermont winters, coming from sunny San Diego.  But truthfully, I think having been denied snow for so many years makes me more excited than most for the first snowfall…

3 Reasons the winter is something to embrace, and not to fear.

1.  J-Term

J-Term is a glorious time at Middlebury College.  Usually about the time that fall midterm exams are getting underway, there are murmurings of “I can’t wait until J-Term… it’ll be so nice when J-Term is here…”  When we all return to campus after winter break in January, we’re looking forward to a month of one intensified class.  Students can choose to take courses ranging from Chinese Painting, to Middlebury Entrepreneurs, to the ever-grueling Organic Chemistry.  Classes meet with greater frequency and for more hours per week than during the fall and spring semesters, but this is a time to really dive into a subject, focus your energy, and be creative.  I’ve been looking forward to my Introduction to Painting class for a few weeks now, and can’t wait to take my first-ever art class!  Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 1-4pm, so there is plenty of time for skiing, making snowmen, and taking a Wine Varietals workshop.

Student and visiting instructors also put on workshops that students can choose from—yoga, “Cooking to Seduce,” Intro to Guitar, Tap Dancing and more.  J-Term is a time to hone new skills, experiment with new hobbies, and enjoy Middlebury’s diversity.  We also have the pleasure of hosting many visiting professors during January as well.  Other students choose to do an off-campus internship or volunteer work for the month.  Whatever the case, J-Term is a time to experience Middlebury life like never before!

2.  The Snowbowl

The Middlebury College Snowbowl is a great place to spend a few hours getting outside during those frosty months.  A student life pass is an affordable $150 for the entire ski season, and the ACTR shuttle passes by Adirondack Circle every hour to take you the quick 25 minutes up to the mountain.  We have a new tri-chair lift to get you up the hill and a student-run ski patrol if you take a bad turn on your way down Kelly or Lang.

My favorite Snowbowl routine is to head up to the mountain, take a few runs with friends, stop for a hot chocolate and head back out if it’s a nice day.  If it’s an especially icy day, I’ll grab the book I’ve inevitably brought with me and read a few chapters while admiring the snowscape outside the lodge’s windows.  It’s fun to watch all the little kids walk awkwardly in their ski boots and be impressed by that kid who sits next to you in history—who knew he was a nationally competitive ski racer??

3.  Winter Carnival

Winter Carnival is a long-standing Middlebury tradition.  Reasons to love it: we have a day free from classes.  The ski team hosts their home races.  The winter sports teams have some victories at home, and the students guarantee an active (and vocal) fan section.  We have a great concert or two.  There’s a bonfire AND fireworks.  Ice sculptures!!  The Carnival ball is always a blast, thanks to our MCAB Traditions board.

So have no fear!! Yes, sub-zero temperatures and icy sidewalks are coming soon, but so is J-Term…

The Solar Decathlon

This year I’ve been working on the Middlebury College Solar Decathlon Team.  The Solar Decathlon is a Department of Energy sponsored greenbuilding competition that challenges college students from around the world to design and build 100% solar-powered homes.  Last year, a team of students from the College submitted a proposal and was selected as one of the 20 finalists!

We’re competing against 19 teams from all over the country—California, Florida… and the world—China, Belgium, and more.  Middlebury is the only small-liberal arts college to ever compete on its own in this competition, and our home is named “Self-Reliance,” after the essay by Emerson.  I’ve been planning events for our team, including the Fall Family Weekend Open House, the Homecoming Weekend Open House, and am looking forward to some events in J-Term as well.  In a few weeks, our design sketches and architectural renderings will be on display in 51 Main, and in January and February we’ll be featured in Town Hall Theater for the “Home in Vermont” exhibit.

This project epitomizes the liberal arts to me.  There are over 70 students involved in the project, majoring in over 20 different departments.  We have physicists, chemists, writers, economists, architects, political scientists, athletes, musicians, and artists working on this project.  We have $500,000 to raise.  We have less than a year to build this house, and construction starts in April.  We’ll finish it over the summer, and then it’ll get trucked to Washington, D.C. and reassembled on the National Mall in just seven-days’ time.  We’ll compete in the ten competitions of the Decathlon, and then bring our home back to Middlebury, where it’ll be a permanent fixture on campus.  We don’t have a graduate level architecture or engineering program like many of the other competing teams do.  We’ve never taken on a challenge like this before.  But the interdisciplinary approach that we’re taking to this competition is our biggest strength, and I’m enjoying this project more than any other activity I’ve ever gotten to be a part of on campus.  Tomorrow we have an enormous portion of our design due to the DOE, and I am so proud of everyone who’s working hard to make this all come together. I couldn’t be prouder of the other students I’m working with—Middlebury kids really know how to rise to the occasion, and this is such a clear example of the talent, drive, and energy that makes Middlebury what it is.

For more information about the project, please visit our (student designed and managed) website!

Back to Middlebury

After having just spent a year abroad, it’s wonderful to be back at Middlebury.  I had an amazing year in South America—one semester in Montevideo, Uruguay, and another in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  I had the opportunity to travel, my Spanish improved significantly, and I really took to the lifestyle there.  While abroad, many of the other international students enjoyed a new routine: we ate dinner at 11pm, we were chronically late to everything, and we moved around the city like locals after a few months’ time.  But after a year of “different,” I was looking forward to coming back to the familiarity of my best friends, the push of Middlebury academics, and the beauty of New England.

While some parts of Middlebury I knew I had missed—my friends, a reliable internet connection, and vegetarian options—I’ve realized that there were so many other aspects of living here that also make it a place where I love to be.  I love walking to the Saturday Farmers’ Market and sampling cheeses, chatting with the orchard owners, and watching the little kids pet the farm animals.  I look forward to the Thursday environmental studies colloquium lunches and all the fascinating speakers and topics.  Class has never been more enjoyable than when my Natures’ Meanings course goes out to the organic garden to discuss that week’s readings under sunny skies.  These are the things that “make Middlebury” and the reasons I’m already starting to fight the creeping feels of nostalgia that this is our senior year!  I’m hoping the leaves take their time in falling off the trees and that the fall lasts as long as possible.