Tag Archives: abroad

Thanks, Middlebury!

By committing to Middlebury College, we, the students, have decided that this institution was the place where we’d trade in $200k+ and 4 years of our lives in exchange of its stellar undergrad experience. Sure, we all expected to take ECON105 and maybe discover a new passion for History of Africa, or even take part in a theater production but personally speaking, I think I have grown exponentially during my time at Middlebury far beyond the academic setting.

People have referred to our campus as a ‘country club’ in its remarkable facilities and general easygoing atmosphere. I won’t deny that we attend an institution that runs like butter but I think sometimes the  tangible aspects get in the way of realizing the little things. So I will take a stroll down memory lane of all the things I am thankful for as an attribute to my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving.

1. Perks of traveling abroad as a Midd student. 
a)I was never afraid to travel alone because I knew that if I ever got lost, I would have contact information of someone who can help me. I cried tears of joy when my friends came to my rescue when I was lost in Gare du Nord with severely limited French comprehension skills.
b) I literally ran into a Midd student when I went to visit Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. Talk about a total coincidence!
c) I was able to receive personal recommendations from students studying in various parts of the world while planning out trips.

2.  Meaningful internships
I’ve had the opportunity to spend time in Costa Rica by partaking in an arts/literacy program in San Jose, Costa Rica during my sophomore year J-Term. Funding to participate in this program was available by the Middlebury Arts Council, who provided a generous stipend to help cover traveling and living costs.

This past summer, I secured an internship through the Career Services Office and I spent time in Louisville, Kentucky as a summer school teacher for at-risk youth. It was probably the hardest I’ve worked and boy, did it make me appreciate my teachers a whole lot more, but the outcome was well worth my efforts.

3. Good school-sponsored activities
Middlebury is the farthest thing from identifying as a metropolitan city. The school realizes this and makes a strenuous effort to ensure that students are entertained. There are numerous guest lecturers, LNDPs (late night dance parties, duh), small and large venue concerts (can we bring Kid Cudi back please?), comedians (Judah Friedlander, you are the MAN)—-and these are only activities that are sponsored by MCAB! Each campus organization is given a budget to have fun and events are open to the entire Middlebury campus. I love that I don’t have to make a huge effort to figure out what I’m doing this weekend; I can just open up my email and see what all is happening.

4. (lack of) meal plan
I am extremely thankful that this institution does not make me pay for every food item that I consume on a daily basis. We also do not have a swiping system and it makes this place feel more like home, as I can walk into all three dining halls and eat as much as I want. Already looking forward to the next Breakfast for Dinner!

5. School spirit
I love walking around campus and seeing everyone displaying their Midd apparel. Even more so, I enjoy seeing them off campus.
Midd hockey opened up its season last night against Colby and I must say, I have never been prouder to be sitting in the Student Section with my best friends cheering for our boys. (special shout out to PRESCOTT HOUSE)

The Beginning of the End

So perhaps this is going to sound overdramatic and sentimental,  but kids we’ve reached the beginning of the end.  Back on campus for my last semester at Middlebury, my mind constantly wonders back to the beginnnings of my inklings that Middlebury was even a place that I was interested in making a part of my life.

This time, four years ago, I was a sitting duck.  Second semester senoritis – Relax, but do not slack off! – was setting in and translating my early decision acceptance to a life.  I was in love with Middlebury, but not having started here yet, I couldn’t even begin to fathom the eclectic experiences that I would have here.  The number of days that I was extremely excited by coming to Middlebury were tempered with days when I grew terrified that sitting in the middle-of-nowhere Vermont I would follow a very linear path that would lead me to an English major and a publishing career.  Both are perfectly valid choices – I’m still pursuing a minor in English and jobs in the literary world – but the point is that I was terriffied about feeling stuck here, but my time at Middlebury has been the least stuck that I’ve felt in my life.  There were other days that I worried that I would just not be cooky enough for this place that gets stereotyped as only flannel and granola, but Middlebury is what you make of it and you will be what you let it make you.

The greatest gift that Middlebury has given me has been freedom from the feeling that I always need to have my next move pre-planned and fit into some larger life plan.  I still overthink things sometimes, but Middlebury has been a time when I’ve been able to just go with whatever came my way.  Four years ago I would never have imagined that Middlebury would lead me to Costa Rica to teach English for a J-term, to Germany or Argentina for research and a semester abroad respectively, or to logrolling or joining a social house on campus.  How could I have known that I would try rugby or take a class about the state of Islamic women in Germany?  How could I know that I would get an opportunity to do publicity for a restaurant in town?  How would I know that my friends would hail from far and near from California to Hong Kong?  And that the options for next year would range from Boston to Thailand?

I chose Middlebury because it intrigued me.  I chose the school that I would most regret not attending.  At times, Middlebury scared me, but somewhere in the fear of getting stuck I got this glimpse that maybe Middlebury would mold me into something I’d never imagined before and as I begin to reach the end of that road, I can’t imagine it any other way.

Je suis un “Feb”.

While regular Seniors are all picking courses for their FINAL semester, I am comforted by the fact that as a Senior-Feb I still have one year left at Middlebury.

Being a Feb has truly shaped my Middlebury experience. Having a semester- off before starting college gave me the time to relax and explore opportunities that would have otherwise not have been available to me. After a challenging Senior year of high school I was very much in need of a break! However, when I first found out that I was admitted to Middlebury in February I was unsure and scared of not starting college at a “normal” time in September like the rest of my friends. When I finally sat down and realized that I had 8 months to do whatever I wanted… the list of possibilities was ENDLESS.

I always had an interest in French, but had never used it outside the classroom. Therefore, for my “Feb-mester” I wanted to find a way that I could travel (affordably) and use my French. In my search, I found the  organization, WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), which is a network of farms and organizations all over the world that looks for volunteers to work in exchange for food and housing. I ended up making a contact with a farm, “La Ferme d’Art”, in the south of France and took my chances and decided to spend 6 weeks there as a volunteer. “La Ferme d’Art” or “The Art Farm” in an independent sustainable works project started by Pan, the owner, who reconstructed an abandoned farm house to create a sustainable farm and community center. Before I arrived he had just finished installing solar panels and finished a water system in which all the water supplied at the house was purified rain water. My daily duties varied. Some days I was responsible for feeding chickens other days I was creating new hiking trails  in the surrounding land. Not only was I improving my oral French, but I learned so much about new sustainable agricultural and overall  lifestyle practices.

Once I arrived to Middlebury for “Feb”-Orientation I was immediately reassured in my decision to come to Middlebury when I met 100 other first-year “Feb” students that had also participated in amazing and eye-opening opportunities. It was this energy and support from orientation that truly provided a secure start to my college career at Middlebury.

Now while all of my Senior- “Reg” friends are frantically registering for their final four classes and looking ahead to secure jobs and/or fellowships after Graduation in May, I could not be more happy that I still have one more year to work these things out!

From “Feb-mesters” farming abroad to skiing down a mountain to receive your diploma, being a “Feb” at Middlebury is truly a unique college experience. (But maybe I’m just biased…)

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.