Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Where is the snow you ask? Labrador Mtn.

Since I've been home, there hasn't been much snow in where I live; and I'm guessing we're not the exception, as indicated by many of my friends' facebook and twitter updates.

But on Christmas Eve my dad and I were fortunate enough to get a small dose of Winter Wonderland en route to my home mountain, Labrador, in Truxton, NY. Here are some pictures from my drive with my dad on Shackham Road through Morgan Hill State Forest:

It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas, even though the rest of the state wasn't. Unfortunately, the rest of the state still doesn't, but the area around Lab has continued to get some snow, and they're making a ton as well. Even though my skiing situation is pretty solid, I'm still crossing my fingers to let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Plans for Break.

I've now been home for a week to the day. It's been nice to unwind and see family, chill with my dog and cats, watch some movies and just relax in general. But I can only do so much relaxing before I get bored, and let me tell you, there's a limit to how much Christmas advertising I can take in between my Law and Order and NCIS reruns. I've become quite bored.

As a result of this boredom, I've decided to be productive. There are a few things I have to get done over break (fill out an I-9 and W-4, draft a resume and write a paper for Freshman Seminar). But I don't want to be working my entire break; so here are a few personal goals I've set for myself, as well as other things I'd like to accomplish on my time off.

Skiing Faster

I've mentioned here before that I've had the opportunity to train dry land with the ski team this fall. Well, the last Thursday of the semester before break I got to run gates for the first time this season, and I gotta say after looking at the video my coaches took, my runs were rough around the edges to say the least (not like Ted Ligety, pictured above). There's a few things I need to be working on if I want to race faster and make the team next year; so over break I'll be skiing, running gates and getting to the gym as much as possible. The only problem is that I have a cough that won't go away, and that leads me to my next goal.

Getting Healthy
I've had a cough since September that has not gone away. The rest of my body feels healthy, but when I work out, if it's cold or if I've been lying down for a while, I get this cough that sounds like my left lung is trying to fight it's way out of my chest. I don't mean to complain, but it's a nuisance and something I plan to get rid of over break. Since I'm home I hope I can get more sleep, eat better and follow all my doctor's directions so that by the time I get back to school I'll be healthy and ready to go; hopefully I'll be better even before that.

This one is a little ambitious, because the extent of my guitar knowledge is about 5 lessons from when I was 12 (aka nil), after I got a guitar for Christmas. I still have my guitar, so my goal is to teach myself some basics and learn a song before I go back to school. People say that guitar is overrated and that everyone can play it. I hope at least the latter is true.

Dance Moves

I am not ashamed; I want to learn some dance moves. My friends Nathan, Harper, Carlos and I have managed to learn the Party Rock Anthem as well as the And We Danced dance segments, and we've pledged to perfect those and try to learn some other crazy moves as well (Nathan wants to be able to windmill). Not quite sure which crazy dance move I'll try to learn, but I'm sure I'll think of something soon ;)

This is less of a bummer than it sounds, because it's something that any college student should have for internships and other jobs; also, because I'm really excited about the internship I'm building this resume for. I live in Rome NY, close to Utica NY (I tell people I'm from Syracuse, though, because that's where I grew up and I still don't know Rome very well) where there is a huge refugee population. The Mohawk Valley Refugee Center in Utica offers various forms of support for resettled refugees in the area, and the internship I'm applying to for this summer is with this organization. I'm really excited about this opportunity because it's in line with what I plan to pursue as a career after college. I've already contacted the woman in charge of the internships, and it looks promising!

So those are my plans for break! If you have any questions / comments, feel free to contact me!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Lessons from Finals Week

Yesterday marked  the last day of my first finals week, and I'm glad to say I made it out alive (after many academic building "study sessions" with friends, lots of caffeine, an all-nighter and a lot of stress).

Admittedly, I did better than survive grade-wise, but it was a struggle at some points and I pulled some good lessons from this past week:

1. If you did your homework, you know more than you think you do.

My plan of attack (which did not come to fruition) for studying was to start from the beginning and intensely examine every detail of every course. In retrospect, this was an illogical expectation; the whole idea of being enrolled in a course for a semester is so that you learn the material, and the final is a test of your learning. It's not necessary to freak out and re-examine every nook and cranny of a class. I'm not, however, recommending doing absolutely no review; it's good to make sure you remember everything you're supposed to before you take a final, but you shouldn't have to re-learn it. 

That is, unless, you did no homework all semester, in which case this plan might be necessary.

2. Stay relaxed.

When you're cramming to finish that paper the night before it's due at 3am (we all do; it's a rite of passage), getting excited/nervous/anxious will not help you. In this situation, it's best to just stay relaxed, hydrated and push through. Caffeine is a toss-up; personally, too much coffee makes me anxious, but I definitely require a little bit to stay up!

3. The dangers of group studying.

If you're with your friends, it tends not to work. Especially if it's not for the same course. For example, my friend Nate and I got a decent amount of Calc practice done in a St. Edmund's classroom while playing music; but when there were 8 of us studying for Bio, History, Chem, Calc, Anthro, etc... we ended up ordering Chinese food. But I did discover that doing lots of math on a whiteboard (with a friend who knows what he's doing) is a great way to prepare for a Calc final!

So that's all I can think of after a week of finals! To college readers, have a nice break! To high-schoolers, keep up the good work!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Official SMC Blogger!

Just a quick update on the blogger front!

This semester was a trial period for us Class of '15 bloggers, with the expectation that we would act as normal paid bloggers, and at the semester a few of us would be selected to continue. I got the news this past week that I was fortunate enough to have been picked, and am now an official "Online Student Ambassador" (this term was invented by Gabbi, I believe) for the class of 2015!

I was pretty psyched by this and thought it was worth sharing here. I've enjoyed doing this since I began, and I'm glad I have the opportunity to keep on doing it for the next four years. So thanks to SMC, Founders Society, and all you people out there who read my blog! I appreciate the support!

Once again, thanks for reading!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

(Trying To) Chill Out About Finals.

This week marks the last week of classes for the semester, before *gulp*... final exams.

So far this semester I've done pretty well. Except for a few slip-ups (33% on a Calc Test... it's getting dropped), I've had pretty much A's in all my classes. But these are my first final exams of college and I'm pretty nervous! I've been studying consistently this week as well as a little bit last week, but I can't help but remember the things I had trouble with in all of my courses, and it's psyching me out.

In times like this, I try to remember things that my dad used to say to me in high school (which, unfortunately, I didn't really listen to at the time). "Be the best you can be" is one of them, and it's been a useful thing for me to remember because you really can't do better than your best. So if you do honest work and study as much as you can, there's not much else you can do. Besides, if you're doing those things you're far more likely to get good test grades than if you sit on facebook all night and then try to study the morning before your test for an hour at the breakfast table. I know this from experience.

Another thing my dad used to tell me, although I don't have a clean-cut quote of it, was something to the effect that your physical health and your emotional health are important, and have significant effect on your thinking. That is, if something's bothering you and you don't acknowledge it, or if you're not eating right or taking care of your body, these things can affect the way you think, your study habits and how well you do in school. Of course there are always exceptions, but I think this makes sense. So when I study, I try to eat right and stay chill, no matter how easy it may be to eat only french fries for dinner (which I've done) rather than a balanced meal, or to freak out from anxious energy (which I've done) rather than taking a deep breath.

One more thing that my dad actually just told me on the phone the other night was "when you're walking down a path, you can only take one step at a time". You can't do all your studying at once, and as much as you plan, plans change. And I'm not trying to get too cheesy here, but I think sometimes it's good to remember things like these, because no matter how hard you work you're still human.

I'm sure I could make a book out of the useful advice that my dad has given me, but I'll save more for another time. So I guess the moral of this story is stay positive, work hard, eat well, sleep well, drink water, be the best you can be, etc. Hopefully, I'll be able to do all this and score well on my finals!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Warren Miller and First Day of the Ski Season!

Found this photo here.

Most skiers (and all ski fanatics) know this name. His movies are legendary, and his enterprise continues to make awesome films about crazy skiing pursuits all over the world. This past Thursday night, I got to go see the newest one, "Like There's No Tomorrow" (I tweeted about it trying to win a prize, but, alas, to no avail).

It was awesome. They filmed in Portillo, Chile (somewhere I've always wanted to ski), New Zealand, India and Alaska, to name a few. But the audience was probably the most psyched when the Tuckerman Ravine segment came on. Tuckerman Ravine is known as some of the most challenging skiing on the east coast, and for us east coast skiers to see it in a Warren Miller film was pretty rad. I've never skied it myself, unfortunately, but my siblings, dad and I are hopefully making the trek this coming spring!

Yes, I'm happy to say this year was yet another awesome film. However, seeing Warren Miller is a big deal not just cause it rocks. It's a big deal because for me, and a lot of other skiers, it marks the beginning of the season and gets us pumped to hit the slopes. Lucky for me, I was able to do so this morning!

As most people who have heard of SMC know, we as students get an awesome 30 dollar season pass deal with Smuggler's Notch. It's one of the best things ever, right up there with the invention of skiing itself. So, this morning I rolled out of bed around 6.50AM, made some coffee, microwaved a waffle, got dressed, packed my ski bag and was on my way to Smuggs for opening day. Again, lucky for me, I was able catch a ride my friend Mike from Green Up and fellow blogger Lisa and their friend Katie.

It was a good group of skiers and we had a lot of fun, even though we only stayed until about 11. We all had stuff to do back on campus, but it was a nice, 5-run start to the season, and we have lots of snow to look forward to after winter break!

And as an aside, there were a surprising amount of people there, for just one trail being open. I'm impressed with the Vermont Peoples' addiction to snow.

Here are some pictures I sent to my dad from the mountain:

From the lift.

"Top of the Notch!"

So there you have the beginning of my season, and I can't wait for the rest of it to start!

Also, to any prospective students, just a reminder that the last Knightchat of the semester is coming up this Tuesday, December 6th at 7:30pm, check it out!

Happy winter, and thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Planning for a Double-Major, Double-Minor

Yup, you heard (rather, read) me right. I'm doing a double-major double-minor and here's why:

I'm kinda crazy.

No, but seriously, I've decided that I want to major in Anthropology and Environmental Studies, with minors in French and Spanish; and although nothing is "official" yet (besides the Anthro Major), I'm stubborn and confident that I will be able to do this.

But it's not like I can just pull this out of the air, I know this is going to require extra planning, hard work, and summer courses at my hometown university. Here's what I've done so far:

  1. Made a list of all the requirements for my various majors/minors, as well as the Liberal Studies Requirements (LSR's).
  2. Checked for any overlapping class requirements between majors (GG101 - Intro to Human Geography was one).
  3. Chose a possible "study aboad experience", which is required for the Anthro major (I'm thinking my junior-year fall semester in Cameroon).
  4. Made a tentative 4-year plan (including summer classes), accounting for credits from high school and credits I will get from study abroad.
The result, ladies and gentlemen, is this beautifully done chart of all my tentative classes over the next 4 years:

It's a pretty rough draft, but it's a start! It contains all my required classes, and now I at least know what I'm getting myself into! And since I made this, I've met with my advisor and we figured out a few things we have to work out, like planning in my honors courses, which I should be able to do. Basically, this isn't a final copy.

So that's it for now, folks. Any questions at all about my plan, or if you have questions about academic planning, I'd be happy to help you or direct you to someone who can! Send me an email at brosbrook@mail.smcvt.edu, or ask me on twitter or formspring!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, November 28, 2011

It's a small world!

This is a funny story I thought I'd share (albeit a week after the fact) about returning home last week for Thanksgiving break.

I was driving back with my parents (who had come up Monday to spend a little time in Burlington) Tuesday evening, when we took a quick bathroom break at a McDonald's in Whitehall, NY. As I opened the door to walk in, a girl was leaving wearing an SMC hoodie, and I said,"Hey, I go to Saint Mike's!"

So then we started talking and we discovered we were both from NY (when I first asked her where she lived, she said "the 4's. oh wait, you mean home?") and then I asked her what town and she said Rome; aka the small town my family just moved to about a year ago when I was in Poland.

We all couldn't believe it, I learned that she was a senior, and my parents asked if they had any mutual friends in Rome; all in all it was a pretty funny experience! Small world, huh?

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Classes for Spring Semester.

I've noticed that a lot of other bloggers have posted about registration/classes for next semester. While my registration was not at all eventful (got all my classes; woot!), I thought I'd share my schedule for the Spring '12 semester!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


This is the first time I've been home from Saint Mike's since I left for school in August, so there were some things I've been missing from home, and some things that I now miss from school. So, I decided to make a quick list of things that I'm thankful for in life both at school and at home!

At home; cooking for myself. Alliot food get's old; it's nice to be able to whip up something to eat with the ingredients that you want, whenever you want.

At school; no dishes. Then again, there's a conveyor belt for dishes in Alliot... no conveyor belt for dishes in my kitchen.

At home; my room. My dorm room at school is nice and all, but there's nothing like being in your room at home. Plus my room at home is like 1.5 times the size of my room at school; definitely thankful for that!

At school; beautiful Vermont. Then again, it's nice to roll over in the morning and look out my window at the Green Mountains!

At home; family and pets. Being away, you start to miss your dogs/cats. And your siblings... and your parents... but mostly your dogs/cats.

At school; friends. A lot of people get to see friends when they go home... but all my friends live an hour away since my family moved after high school, and I only get to see them once in a while. So I definitely miss all my college friends when I'm not at SMC!

In general. I'm thankful for the opportunity to be a student, a skier, a traveler and all-the-other-things-I-get-to-do-er, and that I have a family and awesome friends that support me! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Occupy Movement, from Burlington to New York.

The Occupy Wall Street movement started on September 17th in New York City. It's spread to cities all over the world since then, and through opportunities as an SMC student I've been lucky enough to catch glimpses of the Occupy movement in Burlington, Washington D.C and most recently, New York City.

As a disclaimer, I'm just going to mention that I wont push my political views in this post. Although I have made it clear in earlier posts that my political leanings tend to be democratic and that the environment is an issue of concern for me, I only want to report on my experiences with the Occupy movement, not whether I support it or not (although it would be difficult to say that one supports the movement or they not, since it represents such a wide range of issues).


Tents at Occupy D.C, K Street location.

I first saw an Occupy encampment in Washington D.C, when I was there for the Tar Sands Protest. Unfortunately we weren't there for very long, but I got a glimpse of the movement, the people and their goals (which were many; they were also coming to the Tar Sands Protest). Frankly, it left me with the same impression I got from the media. Some impassioned intellectuals, and more than a few vagrant hippies, all sleeping in a bunch of tents. But it was interesting nonetheless.


Gogol Bordello live at Occupy Burlington.

Another experience I had with occupy was right here in Burlington, VT. One Wednesday I dropped in on a S.L.A.M (Student Labor Action Movement) meeting with my friend Dan, where we heard that Gogol Bordello was going to be playing at Occupy Burlington that night. We then proceeded to ride our bikes into Burlington and wait approximately 2 hours for a show that we weren't even sure was going to happen. But while we waited I got the opportunity to learn more about the Occupy movement, and I was impressed by one UVM student who seemed to know a lot about it. If I can remember correctly, his argument was something to the effect that our current economic system in unsustainable, because the rich have too much money to spend, and the poor have so little money that they have to spend it constantly, but mostly on necessities (not enough to keep the economy going). Excuse me for just this blurb on such a complex topic.

Another thing I observed, and actually my original reason for going, was the art/culture aspect of the movement. Like a lot of social movements, Occupy has produced some pretty cool art, especially posters. I see them around Saint Mikes all the time, here's a favorite:

Photo credit: http://huff.to/ur6Rp9

Here's another, which I like but have not seen around campus:

Click here to find this poster and others.

Emerging from the Occupy Movement is another activist culture. I've observed this, an older man at Occupy Wall Street shared this observation with me; I think that a lot of people have noticed this. I remember at the Tar Sands protest a woman proclaiming that our generation is the generation that's going to change things, like the famous protesters of the Vietnam war and others of the same era. It's exciting and intriguing to see this happening with people my age and to have been a part of it myself. It makes one wonder where this new-found activism will take our country, and the world.

I also learned on this night that Gogol Bordello was my new favorite musician.

Occupy Wall Street

Onlookers at food justice rally at Occupy Wall Street.

Finally, this past Saturday, the 19th of November 2011, I had the opportunity to go to New York and see where it all began. At first, there weren't many people and I was a tad disappointed (we were all aware that the camp had been raided and disbanded the previous Monday, but according to Twitter and other online sources, they were still congregating). Although that changed pretty quickly, as you can tell from the picture above.

There was a ton of stuff going on during the day. We brought signs, and passers-by took pictures of us holding them, there was a food justice group speaking, union workers, "911 was an inside job" marchers (whom some were convinced had been hired by Fox news to make Occupy look ridiculous). 

A lot of what I had recognized during Occupy Burlington I noticed again, and amplified, at Occupy Wall Street. Before, I used the term Micro-Culture to describe it, but the legitimacy of that word was questioned so instead I will use microcosm. What I found in New York was a very democratic microcosm of society, fit with its own laws, culture, barter system; and that's nothing to what it was before, according to one unnamed Occupier, who claimed that "we could perform minor surgery in here before they tore us down". Whether that's true or not I can't say for sure, but from what I heard and what I saw, they had at least been very well established. 

The most impressive thing I saw here, though, was the General Assembly. It was the epitome of democracy; everyone was allowed to participate, granted they adhered to the rules of etiquette set by the people during previous G.A.'s. The purpose of these meetings is to make decisions for the movement through horizontal organization and participation from all those who care to do so. When someone isn't adhering to the rules, there is a hand signal that participants put up to encourage that person to stop. Facilitators ask permission of the assembly if it's alright with the assembly that they facilitate. It is all up to the assembly; every little detail. There is no official leader, and anyone who takes a leadership position of any sort asks permission to do so first. It is very much how you wished Animal Farm would have turned out while you are reading it.

While I was there, one man was arrested for allegedly having blown cigarette smoke in a police officer's face (although everyone around him claimed that wasn't the case, and even if it were, it would not be grounds for arrest), someone who appeared to be a Wall Street worker gave my friends and I the finger, and all day I saw different people from all over the place, occupying Wall Street. Finally, we left around 8.20PM after the General Assembly, fit with lots of videos, photos, stories and, something I thought was pretty clever, a few issues of The Occupied Wall Street Journal.

The Occupy movement is a hot topic of controversy and discussion, and after these experiences I feel that I have gained more understanding on where the Occupiers come from, even if others aren't sure where they're going. I think the problem isn't that the movement lacks direction, but that there's so much change to be had, and they're willing to accept anyone who is looking to create this change. So whether New York wants them there, or Boston, London, Seoul, Los Angeles, or hundreds of other cities want them there, occupiers are looking for change, and they're not backing down until they get it.

Also, check out this short film called "Why Do You Occupy" by my friend Dan Quigley, about our trip to NYC, and why people choose to occupy Wall Street!

Thanks for Reading!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cool Stuff on Campus: The Shack

This week is Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week and students at SMC have been observing it in a few different ways, including an Oxfam Hunger Banquet, fasting, canned food collecting, vigils and The Shack.

The Shack is set up in the lawn outside the academic buildings, and students can sign up to stay in it for various amounts of time; both throughout the day and overnight. Last night, my Shack Buddies and I took on the challenge, and stayed in the shack from 8pm to 8am (except myself, I have a bad cough and was having trouble in the cold so I went back to my dorm around 1am; but it was cool while it lasted!). We had some visitors, including Father Brian, who came over to say hi and asked if we knew what day yesterday was (the Feast of St. Edmund). Anyway, it was a cool experience and *hopefully* was helpful in raising awareness of the fight against Hunger and Homelessness!

Here are some pictures!

Fellow Shack-Buddies Sophie, Emily and Kelly.  

Brendan playing the Ukulele. 

One big, happy Shack family!

Photo Credit goes to Brianna Coughlin.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

5 Great Things About My SMC Experience So Far

Just for fun, I thought it would be nice to share some of the things that have made college life at SMC really awesome for me. There's a ton of stuff to do on campus; and in general if you want to try something new, there's something new for you to try. Or, if you want to continue doing activities that you've been doing in high school you can do that as well! So without further ado, here's what I've been into!

1. Ski Team

I've been a racer since I was a little kid, and before I came to SMC I decided that I'd try out for the team. So, all fall I've been doing dryland training with them and it's been great for staying in shape and meeting a cool group of people. I'm really looking forward to training with them this winter (but I'll be racing USSA; If you don't know what that means, don't worry about it), I think I'll learn a lot and improve a ton as a racer.

2. Floor Mates

J4 is where it's at!

The people on my floor rock and we've formed a great group of friends. It's not uncommon for us to all pile in someones (usually our friends Bean and Cait) room on a Friday night and have a hot dance party (hot as in temperature; try fitting 25 college students into a room while bumping LMFAO and keep it from boiling within 5 minutes), until we get thirsty and walk to Cumby's or hungry and go out to the grill (fun fact, the grill rocks, my friend Sarah did a post on it here; but it would rock more if they had veggie burgers =p).

3. Green Up / Clubs in General

I've posted about Green Up on this blog a few times before, but to anyone who doesn't know what it is, it's the sustainability club on campus. For me, it's been really cool to find a nitch with Green Up. I'd been "environmentally aware" during high school but had never really been proactive about it, and Green Up has given me the opportunity and I love it. Read about our trip to Washington D.C here, and check out some pictures here.

4. The Freshman Quad

Pictured are; Ryan Hall on the left, Joyce Hall on the right.

All first-year students live in Joyce, Ryan and Lyons hall, called the freshman quad (the fourth hall in the quad is Alumni, but that's mostly sophomores). This is cool because it's in the center of campus, so it's close to everything which is helpful when you're a first year (although SMC campus isn't that large anyway). Also, on Friday and Saturday nights, this is where the famous grill takes place!

5. Professors and Academics

When I was touring colleges, I remember how each one said that their professors were fantastic and hands-on and how they really will work with you outside of class. While I'm not sure if that's the case everywhere, it is at Saint Mike's. I've had good experiences with all of my professors this semester, even if I've had a little trouble in their class (calc). And of course you can't generalize every professor at a college, but from what my friends tell me about their professors, I'm not the only one who's experienced this.

Of course there are a ton of other things that make me happy at SMC, and If you have any questions about classes, clubs or life in general feel free to contact me!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cool Stuff on Campus: Addicted to Plastic

On any given night at SMC, it's more likely than not that you can find some lecture, speaker or film showing on campus. Tonight, Green Up hosted a viewing of the movies "Story of Stuff" and "Addicted to Plastic" in honor of recycling week (the first is a link to the film on Youtube, the second is just a trailer).

I highly recommend checking both of these out; the first one looks at the economics of what's called the "Material's Economy", addresses the flaws of the system, and then then tells what's being done to change it, and what needs to continue to happen. It's literally a story of our "stuff"; where it comes from, how it gets into our stores and homes, and then where it goes after we throw it out.

The second is a documentary about plastic and its impact on the environment. A lot of the time it looks at where plastic ends up in the world after we throw it out. This one you might be able to find online, but we had a DVD.

There's always cool stuff happening on campus!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

SMC ranked number 88!

Woohoo Saint Mike's! On the Forbes list of 650 Best Undergraduate Institutions we got ranked 88, which is awesome for a little college in VT! Check out the link here: http://onforb.es/tCaWll

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Protesting in D.C

In my last post, I uploaded some pictures from my recent trip to Washington D.C with Green Up. Some of them are goofy, but some of them show how massive and important this protest was.

Off the bat, a few fun facts. Approximately 12,000 protesters were in attendance from all over the country (I ran into a former ski team mate who goes to school in Florida; her school, Eckerd College, had a huge turnout), we fully encircled the White House for the first time since 1960, a floor-mate of mine, Dan Quigley, was interviewed by the Associated Press and mentioned in this article (he also got a mention for SMC), and since the protest, Obama has decided to delay his decision on the pipeline. While that is neither a "loss" nor a "victory" for the Tar Sands movement, it does mean that it's not being built right now.

So, about the trip; it was awesome. I went into it with the expectation that a lot of the people there knew more than I did, and I wanted to learn from them. And between the discussion we had Saturday night at the All Souls Unitarian Universalist church, talking to fellow SMC students about the pipeline, and hearing what was said at the rally, I learned a lot.

At All Souls (as I mentioned in passing), there was a rally Saturday night to unify the protesters, inform them of the logistics and planning, and also to get the ball rolling on actions after the protest. A few of the key organizers spoke, and each of them of a surprisingly different background. It was interesting to see, in the organizers and in the protesters, the variety of people that cared about this protest. The most represented age groups were teens/twenties and fifties/sixties. The latter kind of surprised me until later I was made aware that most of the fifties/sixties had been environmentally active in the 70's, and were getting back into it now that the movement was making a comeback.

We left All Souls at around 9, went to the church we were staying at (St. Stephen's), made a quick run to IHOP, and were in bed around midnight... only to wake up at 6 in the morning.

The protest didn't start til 2, so until then we had time to explore the city, which was pretty cool cause I hadn't ever been before. We had a good (if not kinda pricey) breakfast, walked around some monuments, went to an Occupy D.C location, and met at LaFayette Square around 1:30pm.

After that it was pretty nuts. At the rally there were people with signs (some of them very clever; I saw "if you build it, it will leak", "thank you big oil, I hate polar bears", "fossils are friends, not fuels"...), a large pipeline that said "Stop Keystone XL", awesome speakers (including Bill McKibben), and the feeling was overall really exciting and united. I had never felt so connected to such a large group of people; it was like being at a concert, but with more protesting and less fighting (amongst the crowd, anyway).

Probably a little after 2pm (I lost track of time) we began to circle the White House. It took a while. We went in 4 mass-migrations of people; I went with the 3rd one.

Once we got into place, it was unreal. I almost didn't want to talk; I wanted to just stand there, holding my sign, remaining silent and stoic and feeling like I was really making a difference. I did stay silent for a while, but eventually I started shouting with the crowd, which was also fun.

About 20 minutes after we got into place, the organizers came around and told us we had completely encircled the White House for the first time since 1960, and it felt like we won. People started shouting louder (I tweeted about it ;p) and it kind of felt like the climactic moment of the trip.

After some celebration, we were told we could go back to the rally or go back home, so the crowd began to dwindle, and eventually we headed back to our bus, and were back on the road to SMC.

During this weekend, I learned so much, I felt like I was making a difference, and I discovered a new-found passion for activism that I hadn't really experienced before. Definitely one of the most important things I've done since I came to college!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pictures from D.C!

Hey guys, here are some of my favorite pics from D.C! I've been kinda swamped since I got back, but expect an informational post on the trip this week. Enjoy!

Prof. Greg Delanty wearing my sunglasses.

Sleeping friends. 

Protesting in the street.

In front of the White House.

Polar bear with sign "Keystone XL: Game over for my arctic home".

More protesters.

Me and my friend Lauren in front of the White House!

So these are just a few, I promise more to follow/a more detailed post on the entire event and weekend!

Thanks for reading! 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

D.C : 5 days

I've mentioned before on this blog that I'm involved with a group on campus called Green up. Green Up is awesome, we are the environmental group that does stuff like reusable-cup coffee hours on Thursday mornings, and hosts Harvest Fest, which you can read about below.

So this Saturday, I'm going to D.C with 30 or so other students from Green Up to join the Tar Sands Action protest. Basically what is happening right now is that Trans Canada, the company building something called the Keystone XL pipeline, has plans to build that pipeline through America's heartland and down into Texas, where it will be refined and exported to Europe and Latin America, tax-free. Further, a burst in this pipeline could destroy drinking water for 2 million people, since the plan is to build it through a major water reservoir. They estimated the Keystone might have a burst once every 7 years; it's already burst 12 times in one year in places where it's already been built.

Building this pipeline could have hugely negative environmental repercussions, and there's no economic gain for the American people. The only person who has to say yes or no to this deal is Obama, and that's why we're going to protest at the White House this Sunday.

This is a really important issue to all of us at Green Up, so my goal is to keep this blog, my twitter and my facebook updated throughout the event, and about the issue in general. Stay tuned!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Good Things To Have When You're Sick

Unfortunately, this past week-and-a-half or so I've been feeling pretty under the weather. At first I thought it was just a cold; long story short it didn't go away and now I'm on an antibiotic and crossing my fingers!

But being sick has made me aware of some things that college kids (especially in dorms, where sickness travels faster than light) should have at all times, in case of emergency, extreme discomfort / laziness or otherwise.

1. Aleve / Ibuprofen / Tylenol

You never know when you're gonna wake up with a headache 10 minutes before class starts and no one else on your floor has a pain killer; and it stinks to sit in a lecture with your head pounding. Always  keep a bottle of these in your desk drawer.

2. Liquids Besides Water

This one goes mostly without saying, but when I first moved in I thought I'd be able to survive on tap water outside of the dining hall. Wrong. Now I keep orange juice or cranberry juice in the fridge at all times. Gatorade is also good, especially when you're sick and you don't want to / can't eat much.

3. DVD's / Good Books

It's really easy these days to google a movie that you want to watch and have it streaming in a few seconds.. But sometimes those don't load and become frustrating, so having a favorite movie at hand is always a plus. Also, books are good because staring at a TV / computer screen can get old after a while.

4. Special Medical Stuff

This one definitely doesn't apply to everyone, but I'll just tell you what happened to me. I have asthma, and when I was younger, I used to have to do these nebulizer breathing treatments when I got sick or had an attack. I hadn't done one in years, so I didn't bring it to college. Just for fun, here's a picture of what one looks like:

Sure is a beaut, isn't it?

You can see why I wouldn't want to drag something like this along to college. Anyway, my family happened to come up this past weekend for my birthday and upon hearing I was sick, they brought this thing along. At first I thought it was excessive but it's been a huge life-saver. Just something to keep in mind for the weird kids like me! (Just kidding, no one is weird!)

5. Lots of Blankets / Pillows / Hoodies

This one is directed more at the guys, cause I've observed that girls tend to do this anyway. I'm not saying that everyone should decorate the crap out of their beds with all the blankets they can find, but they're awesome to have when you've got the chills or need to elevate your head or need something to cough into.

VoilĂ !

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Semester in Photos (Thus Far).

It's crazy to think that we're already about half-way through the first semester; I took my first-ever midterm last week! Time's been flying by, and in honor of these past 8 weeks or so, here are some random snapshots from around campus since my first day here...

A shot of the freshman quad from Joyce (the hall in the picture is Lyons). 

"Chill" license plate. 

Church Street. 

A picture of St. Ed's from the courtyard. 

Planking on the steps of Joyce.

Flyer for the Slutwalk (click for details) that happened this past Sept. in Burlington.

"This is our story" written in SMC's awesome word garden.

"To Kill a Mockingbird" in Polish. I saw it on some board in St. Ed's. =)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Harvest Fest 2011

Since I decided to attend school in Vermont, I've noticed a lot of people think that students who choose to come here for college are all eco-friendly hippies and peace activists. And while there's no formal census that's been done on the subject (to my knowledge), I'd say that this isn't untrue.

Green Up is SMC's "environmental" group, if you will, and I feel like the name kind of gives away the mission. We work to bring awareness to the college and the community about environmental change, and take steps as a group to reduce our own carbon footprint, and give others the opportunity to join in. Such steps include SMC's own organic garden, helping local farmers, as well as events like Harvest Fest.

Harvest Fest, which will take place on the Library Lawn of SMC campus from 3-6pm on Saturday, October 22, 2011; is an annual event hosted by Green Up to promote local products, listen to good music, and have an all-around good time while maintaining our commitment, as a group, to the environment.

Since I'm a freshman, this will be my first year attending the event, but I can promise that it will be awesome! There will be home-made vegetable soup, beverages, and other assortments of local treats served for free to anyone who attends; BUT THEY MUST REMEMBER TO BRING THEIR OWN BOWLS AND MUGS! Green Up won't be supplying disposable ones. Also, there will be live music from Dirty Paris and The Turtle Underground, and after the festivities have settled down, we'll pitch a Tent City on the Library Lawn.

So this event should be pretty rockin', and anyone who can come should definitely check it out!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cool Stuff on Campus: College Radio Day

Today, everyone on campus got a taste of SMC's college radio station, WWPV. And I say everyone, because they were DJ-ing from a table set up outside Joyce Hall in the freshman quad, so literally everyone could hear them.

My friend Dominique DJ-ing the 5 o'clock slot.

In my opinion, "Happy College Radio Day!!!" It rocked. They played all sorts of music (literally; I heard the Recess TV show theme song at one point). Also, it made for nice background noise while I was doing homework on the quad.

Rock on WWPV!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

8 College Challenges with Big Benefits

There's a lot to be learned in college. There's lots of fun, friends, and good memories to be had. And there are some things about college that are not so great. There will be frustration, awkwardness, and sometimes feeling like "why am I here?!"

So in honor of the college experience as a whole, I present you with "8 College Challenges with Big Benefits"!

1. College Food

The Challenge: Everyone has heard of not-so-great college food and the freshman 15, so this one is pretty self explanatory. I remember long ago (almost a month and a half), when I first came to college, I was pretty pumped about the cafeteria. No cooking, no cleaning, minimal thinking; just eating. What could be better? But I quickly learned that grilled cheese, pizza and french fries get old pretty quickly, and I began to miss the privilege of being able to cook my own food (no kitchen in my dorm, tight on funds; the usual).

The Benefit: This is kind of a sink or swim situation. After a while, you'll learn to make better choices in the cafeteria (they do have salads, soups and veggies, and there can be decent, balanced hot options as well), or you'll succumb to the less-balanced, not-so-healthy options all the time. To be fair, I'm still finding my balance in this area. I do occasionally indulge in a plate of fries. But the point is that there is a lot to be learned about making good choices and eating right!

2. Room Mates

The Challenge: Not everyone gets to have their own room growing up, but from the age of 13-now, I've been so fortunate. Even while living in Poland I had my own room in each of my host families. That's why for a lot of people, having a room mate can be tough. After all, you just met them, you know nothing or very little about them, and they may have very different sleep and living patterns (I go to sleep late, get up late; my room mate is the opposite). I've been pretty lucky with my roomie situation, but others don't have such luck.

The Benefit: Again, I think that a lot of people could see the benefit in this situation. Living with someone who may be very different from yourself helps you to learn how to deal with/work with other people, how to manage conflicts, and may not even be a bad thing. There are two girls on my floor who are room mates and best friends. Also, if you feel like there's absolutely no way you can live with another person, I'm pretty sure every college offers singles (SMC does!!!)

3. Laundry Rooms

The Challenge: There are like 8 washers for a building of hundreds. Some people feel the need to leave their stuff in the dryers because they're too lazy/forget to come get their stuff. There are many reasons why college laundromats aren't ideal.

The Benefit: For those who don't already know, learning to do laundry is an invaluable life lesson. Also, having to plan out when to do laundry, how long it will take, and the most cost-effective and time-efficient ways of doing it are all good ways to learn time and money management.

4. College Bathrooms

The Challenge: They can get pretty disgusting. There was a period of time during which no guy on my floor would dare approach the fourth toilet stall. Also, in an effort (which I think is pretty cool) to reduce our carbon footprint, SMC doesn't have paper towels or soap in the dorm bathrooms (although most R.A.'s have put little bottles of hand sanitizer/soap in there our of pure kindness). But the lack of paper towels can be annoying, despite its environmental consciousness. And another thing; you never know when the other people on your floor are going to be showering. So grunge days will happen.

The Benefit: This one is mostly character-building. You wont soon take for granted the shower you have at home. Also, more time management, because you can figure out the times of day when least people tend to shower and take advantage of that.

5. Online Programs and Stuff

The Challenge: When I first got here and was told that I would have homework assignments to turn in via ecollege, that I was expected to check my email daily, and then got 9,000 emails a day from the college, I got kinda overwhelmed. It turned out not to be as bad as I thought it would be, but there were definitely some stressful nights of trying to figure out where online I could find my French listening homework.

The Benefit: Dealing with stuff that isn't totally straight-forward helps you learn more and think outside the box. It helps you to be more aware of all the stuff you have to do, because you'll be penalized if you forget an assignment that was due online if you try to hand it in in person. Don't get me wrong, probably most Professors would be chill if you hand in an assignment in person rather than online once or twice, but they have the online programs for a reason, and they expect you to use them.

6. Keeping Track of Your Own Appointments

The Challenge: You'll have to make your own appointments, fill out your own paperwork, remember those appointments, get yourself there, and make sure that these appointments don't conflict with your other activities.

The Benefit: Learning how to do all this helps you to become an adult, and also makes you more aware of how much money you have, how long it takes to do certain things, and overall gives you a greater appreciation for some things that you took for granted in high school. In the words of my friend Tarah, "You might never get a secretary like your mother in this economy."

7. Realizing that You are Poorer than You Thought

The Challenge: Your friends want to get Chinese food. You check your wallet; no money. Your checking account; not enough to withdraw funds. You don't get to buy any food, so you watch as your friends munch on fried rice and egg rolls while you drink tap water. It's already happened to me that I've spent a lot and caught myself low on funds, having to ask my dad for more WAY too soon. It's not fun, and it makes you feel bad.

The Benefit: You learn how to manage your money, and this can be a source of inspiration to work hard and earn cash so that you never again have to miss out on late-night take-out or dining in town.

8. It's All Up to You

The Challenge: There's a lot of temptation in college. People drink, people smoke, people try drugs. And while I'm not advocating the use of alcohol, tobacco or drugs; the fact is that people use and try these things, and it's up to you to decide whether or not you will. On top of that, you have grades to maintain, athletes have to train and stay in good physical shape, and people involved in school clubs, theater, campus ministry or anything like this have to meet certain expectations to remain involved. My sister has said that college is a sink-or-swim situation, you can work hard, try new things, and learn to manage your time; or you can do the bare minimum and get out with the lowest requirements met (or fail).

The Benefit: You will learn the things that you like to do, as well as the things that you can and cannot do. You can have a lot of success and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, and there are tons of obvious reasons why doing well in college is a good thing (good jobs, grad school, years of experience and knowledge that no one can take away, liberal arts-induced naivete).

So there they are, 8 ways in which dealing with the tough stuff will make you stronger! Any comments/suggestions/questions can be directed to my email (brosbrook@mail.smcvt.edu), also I'm on facebook, formspring and twitter!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Learning Lessons in College: Money.

Money is an all-powerful substance, which, although we (I) may not like to admit it, is really important and has a huge impact on many of the decisions we (I) make in life. Taking myself for example, there's a lot of stuff that I like to do which requires money (eating, studying, travel, eating), and I've had to learn to accept that, despite my rebellious-stick-it-to-the-man-teenager-angstiness.

The problem is, I'm a spender. I'm not saying I have some type of dude-version confessions of a shopaholic thing going on, it's just that sometimes, when I have 20 dollars to buy 19 dollars worth of stuff, I may forget that I really need that stuff and I'll go on and spend 10 of those dollars on cheese fries and a milkshake instead.

My point is that it's been a battle. I've had jobs and saved for stuff in the past, but when I first came to college, having not worked for a year, and my dad put a few hundred in my People's United Account for my first few months at college, most of that few hundred was spent in a few weeks.

I'm real bad.

So I said to myself; "Thats enough. You don't have enough  money on your knight card to do laundry and you just bought a large order of fries with the 12 quarters you found in your desk. Time for a change."

So, in the lame way that I do things, I organized myself a budget. I looked at what I had spent so far, made some cuts, decided what would be most appropriate for necessities as well as money for spending, and then I called my dad and said "sorry I suck at money; so here's the deal", and we figured something out.

For sure, everyone doesn't have to resort to a budget, but it helped me out a lot. I know what I can spend on this or that, and unfortunately it requires more thought and planning, but that's the best way I can do it!

There are tons of lessons-learned to be had in college, and if anyone wants to hear advice/stories about certain adjustments upon starting freshman year, I'd be happy to do what I can! Shoot me an email at brosbrook@mail.smcvt.edu, or find me on facebooktwitter or formspring!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Manejando Juntos (Driving together)

This past Wednesday night, I went on my first drive with Juntos.

Juntos (meaning "together" in Spanish) is a UVM-SMC coalition group that works closely with the VT Migrant Farmworker Solidarity Project (VTMFSP), and basically, the goal of the group is to reach out to migrant farm workers in this area of Vermont. We do this by providing them with a transportation network of volunteer drivers, promoting human/civil rights in the community and, eventually, we hope to provide ESL lessons for the workers.

So Wednesday night, I met with Keelia, a fellow SMC student and Blogger, to go on our first drive. She'd gone on Study Abroad last semester, and we talked about living in Europe and the Spanish language on the drive over to the Vermont Worker's Center. Once we finally figured out the directions (it took a minute), we got to the Center towards the end of a meeting about the Secure Communities Act. The meeting, held by the VTMFSP, was to promote community activism, with the goal of making sure that worker's rights are respected. The meeting was all in Spanish, which rocked.

At the end of the meeting, we introduced ourselves to everyone there. Then we met Over, the guy we were driving. He's from Chiapas, Mexico. The ride started out pretty well, we introduced ourselves in Spanish and made some small talk, and then it was quiet for a little while. We weren't really sure what to talk about. Then, when Keelia was about to ask whether to turn or not, Over said, "you can take a left here", in what sounded like really good English.

The rest of the ride was on-and-off conversation, in Spanish and English, but it was clear that Over spoke decent English. And it made me feel like he was the one doing us a favor, speaking in Spanish with us.

So there is something to our name. I've just gotten involved, but that drive the other night and having been at that meeting makes me feel a sense of solidarity or togetherness (juntos-ness? ;p). It's an awesome organization, I'm really excited to be a part of it during my time here!

For any SMC kids who are interested, shoot me an email at brosbrook@mail.smcvt.edu, and I can help get you involved! Or if anyone has questions about the group feel free to ask!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Mt. Mansfield with the Wilderness Program!

As I mentioned in my last post, today I got to hike Vermont's Mt. Mansfield with SMC's Wilderness Program! It was a great day of hiking, there were 6 of us plus 2 leaders, and we got to roll up in what our fearless leader, Nelly, liked to call the "greased whale". It was a church van.

We left a little after 8, got there at 9, and summited in pretty good time. I don't remember when we got to the top, but we made it up and down by 1:30.

Here are some photos of the view!

View to the south...

View to the west (Lake Champlain and NY)...

I definitely recommend one of these hikes (if you're into hiking and outdoorsy-type stuff), cause the people going with you will probably rock; everyone on my trip today was pretty cool! I'd already known a few of them  from my floor, but it's a great way to meet new people and get fresh mountain air, and all those other hippie things that VT students are into!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

SMC Culture Pass Program.

So, being an SMC student rocks in many ways. And one of the reasons why life here is so sweet, is because any Saint Mikes student "in good academic and social standing" (according to the website) can see any event and the Flynn Center, for 10 bucks. Not a bad deal, right?!

 For example, tonight I went to see the Alfredo Rodriguez jazz trio with my friend Tarah, and the performance was in this really cool, underground black-box theater; an awesome setting for jazz tunes (which isn't even my favorite type of music, but it was still cool).

So check it out, my friends, its an awesome deal! Tomorrow I'm off to hike Mt. Mansfield with the Wilderness Program; more on that later!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Tips on Productivity.

I'm a very social person. I love being around people, listening to people, talking to people and meeting new people. So what happens when, instead of having a "study session" (sitting around, watching Glozell on youtube, and listening to music with my friends, while my lonely history book lies open 5 feet away) like I want to, I actually have to get down and do some serious work?

My friends and I procrastinating...

During these first two weeks I've been able to toe the line between being social and being productive, and I've worked out a few things that help me to concentrate and get my work done. First of all, though, I'll point out that I really enjoy all the classes I'm taking. I even like Calc! That may be mostly because I'm impressed with my new-found abiliy in the subject, or because there are cool people in my class, but what's important is that I look forward to going; and as a result, the homework isn't so bad. So I'll make that my first tip:

1. Find a way to look forward to class

Like I said, I'm lucky enough to like all my classes, but from what I hear, it would be pretty rare to go through 4 years of college and not have at least one bad class. So how to be productive in a class you don't like? The way I do it may be kind of lame, but I'll think that class as the weak link. And since you're only as strong as your weakest point, work your butt off in that crappy class so that it doesn't affect the rest of your awesome college education!

Too lame? ...nah.

2. Use the library

The library is an awesome place to get stuff done. A; because it's an environment designed specifically for the purpose of learning (unlike your dorm room, where there is facebook and a mini fridge and friends 2 doors down). B; because it's so quiet, and there are fewer distractions (most cell phones don't get service in the basement of Durick Library, and your floormates aren't bumping dubstep while you're trying to do derivatives). Finally, C; because at Saint Mikes, there are confining study cabins in the library basement that will hold you until you're done with every assignment you've ever been given. No I'm totally kidding, you can enter and leave the study cabins as you please, but can we address for a second my awesome ability at run-on sentences?!

Watch a video about Durick Library here!

And I can honestly attest to the awesome power of the study cabin, my friend Tarah and I use them all the time! We've even unofficially claimed the two most hidden study cabins we could find... in the farthest corner of the basement... hidden by moving bookshelves. We like our concentration.

3. Don't be afraid to be productive and social... at the same time

Yes, this might be strange, since I just said that friends and dorm rooms are terrible distractions, but here's how this works. Some things (for me; History and Anthropology), require a lot of reading and writing and take loads of time to finish because it's all thought, little practice. Others (like French and Calc), require some thought, and more practice. In the case of the latter, I've found that it's actually possible to do this type of "practice" homework in a low-key social setting. For example, last night, a bunch of my friends and I were sitting in a room, "studying". Some of us actually were, but there was definitely a lot of youtube and talk going on. So, knowing that I had to study French, I started making flash-cards. It's easy to stop and go while making flash cards; all you're doing is copying words. Also, I could ask my french-speaking friends (again, Tarah) how best to say something. And when I finished the cards, my mind was in study-French mode, so it was easy for me to transition into my small amount of assigned reading and questions which were due the next day. See, productive and social at the same time!

(The thing about this tip is that homework takes longer, but it's not as bad cause you're with friends!)

4. Drink a lot of water

My 4th and final tip; when studying, drink water, and lots of it. I'm definitely a coffee-lover, but when I study, I always drink tons of water. Why? Because it hydrates you, makes your brain work better, it's good for you, and because bathroom breaks are a natural and excusable way to get a 2-minute breather during long study-cabin sessions. It's simple, but it works.

So there you have it, this is how I get stuff done! Feedback is always welcome, and anyone can comment below!

Happy learning!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Freshman, week one.

As one might expect, I'll gladly report that the first week of school has been awesome. The people on my floor are great, really social but also academic-oriented, the classes are engaging (if not really hard, like Calc), and I don't have to cook my own food! Some of the things I've gotten into include the Alpine Ski Team (doing dryland training and then trying out this November), the Wilderness Program (signed up for a Mt. Mansfield hike), as well as some Calc tutoring (which isn't bad).

Also, a fun first-week-of-classes story... I got locked out of my room while I was in the shower. I was in the bathroom, my door was unlocked, my roommate takes off for class, locking the door and not realizing that I was still in the shower... yeah. Thank God I happened to bring a pair of shorts to the shower, cause I ended up having to walk to Alliot (the main hall on campus, which is actually really close to my dorm hall) to get my door unlocked. And as I was approaching, I could tell that I wasn't the first to do this and I certainly wont be the last. There were some faculty standing outside the entrance to Alliot who looked at me, started laughing, and said "We know exactly what happened, come with us."

So as far as the first week goes, that's pretty much it, and I'll just say one more time that I love SMC!!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Packing for College: II and Orientation!

So here's the compact version of what eventually happened with my packing.

It's Wednesday at like 2 o'clock, I'm leaving in 4 hours, and I still haven't even thought about packing. Then my sister intervenes. Whereas I can be a laid-back procrastinator, my sister is almost exactly the  opposite. So she takes me to Staples and Marshall's, get's me packed an ready to go... all in about an hour's time. And as it turned out, there was a lot of stuff that I actually needed to buy... sheets, towels, laundry basket, notebooks and the like. So thank God for older sisters, right?

Now I'm sitting here with some down time during the 2nd day of orientation, and so far I've not had a thing to complain about (except the whistles). The orientation leaders are easy to talk to and FULL of energy, the awkward icebreakers have been doing just that; breaking ice, and I find that a lot of the other kids in the class of 2015 have been friendly and also very easy to talk to, albeit tired (at least I was). Also, I got to meet Tarah for the first time in person yesterday! So I'd say the year is already off to a great start, and I'm looking forward to the rest of orientation weekend followed by my first SMC classes on Monday!!!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

French! and Self-Awareness.

First, I'd like to start off this post by saying I FINALLY GOT INTO FRENCH.

You may wonder why I'm so excited, and here's why. When I registered for classes, I was in Poland, and my dad filled out the form with me over Skype. My firstfirstfirst of all first choice classes that I wanted to get into was French 101. My dad asked me if I wanted to put down a few alternatives, in case I didn't get into French. I told him that was dumb, I'd probably get in cause we were doing the form early enough and I didn't think it would fill up that fast. But, I humored him and said he could put down Spanish (so that I could continue with it), German if I didn't get into Spanish, and maybe as a last choice, Chinese.

I got Chinese.

Long story short, I've been pushing to get into French for a long-A time, and I finally got in and I'm freaking psyched.

Second, it's Sunday night, 3 days til departure day to Saint Mike's, and I still haven't started packing (not even bought the special college bed sheets). I thought this might be appropriate to mention seeing as my last post was about packing and I haven't yet followed it up. Don't worry, it's coming soon (I know the world is absolutely DYING to know what I'll be putting in my suitcase ;p).

Third, I'm going to talk a little bit about Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, the Saint Michael's College class of 2015 summer reading assignment. I started the book a few days ago and for some reason, these past few days I have felt more aware of my vegetarianism than I have at any other point in my life. It's probably just because I've been reading this book and so my mind is kind of focused on the topic of eating/not eating meat, or it's just a funny coincidence. But for example, last night I was at dinner with my dad, grandparents and my grandparents' friends, and the only thing on the menu that was vegetarian was the salad. I'm not complaining (I choose to not eat meat, whatever), but it was kind of a bummer to wait for my salad to come out with the entrees while everyone else at the table ate their appetizers, soups, etc. (and drank their beers! which I miss having lived in Europe for a year). I'm steering heavily away from my point.

My point is that for the last few days, I've felt like this; like everyone else was eating while I was waiting for my salad (this sounds a lot more self-pitiful than I want it to, just stick with me for a second). But it's not like my life hasn't been like this for the past few years, since I made the choice to be vegetarian. So while I was sitting at dinner last night, I reflected on why I choose to alienate myself and not participate in the consumption of fish taco appetizers while everyone else at the table does.

It's who I am. More importantly, it's who I've chosen to be. And this, to me, would seem an important thing to keep in mind when beginning a new chapter in life; college, for example. It's important to know who you are and who you want to be later in life, and to be aware that the choices you make today will affect the person you are tomorrow. Some years ago, I chose to be vegetarian for whatever reason, and it has become a part of the person I am today (but for the record, I'm not a preachy one, just sayin'). And I am aware that the choices I make during college will lead me to be the Ben Rosbrook I want to be after graduation.

So with that being said I promise to bring more on my packing process in my next post! Also, check out this post by Tarah and this post by Sarah about their reactions to the reading assignment!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Packing for College: I

So there's just about a week left until move-in day and orientation at SMC! That being said, I feel very unprepared.

See, I have been in America for just over 3 weeks now (since my return from a year abroad in Poland), and most of that time has been devoted to visiting with friends I haven't seen in a while, unpacking all my stuff from the move (did I mention that my family moved to a new house while I was gone?) AND from my exchange, adjusting to a new town and re-adjusting to America. So since so much unpacking and other nonsense has been going on, RE-packing for college has been kinda low on my to-do list.

And since I'm in the topic of packing for college, am I the only one who thinks that advertising for back-to-school directed at college students is kind of excessive? My sister has explained to me that the beds in college are shaped differently than "normal" beds, so, whatever, I have to buy sheets, but whattup with all the other junk?

In my opinion, it's just a bunch of stuff to be bought, and I don't think I need it. So, my goal for the next few days of VERY last-minute school shopping is to avoid school shopping... as much as possible (cause I guess you really do need to buy new sheets).

Wish me luck; we'll see how this goes!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Why I chose SMC.

Woo-hoo! First blog post!

So I figured that a good way to kick off this blog would be to write a post about why I chose SMC in the first place. Fellow c/o 2015 classmate and international student Tarah Strethwatanakul recently did a post on the subject in which I was lucky enough to be featured, but I thought I would do one on my own blog as well (although you should read her post here, in which 2 other c/o 2015 students are featured, and read the rest of her blog too because she's fantastic!)

Anyway, I've known about SMC basically my entire life because my dad's an alum. When I was a kid I used to travel with him to Burlington to visit old college friends and to go on ski trips so many times that it began to feel like a home away from home. I used to tell him that when I grew up to be a "college kid", I was going to attend SMC.

However, by my senior year of high school, I had basically changed my mind. I had tried a little bit of everything in high school; sports, theater, music, travel, ballet (not kidding), and I still had NO idea what I wanted to do or what I wanted in a college. So, I told myself and everyone else that I was going to attend a big university with lots to do, so I could come home from my epic exchange in Poland and do something great with my life... I was very, very lost.

So I basically applied everywhere (including SMC, to humor my dad), closed my eyes, crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. When acceptance letters started coming in, Saint Mike's was the first and the prettiest one I got. I know it's a pretty minor detail, but it felt nice to get a college acceptance letter in a purple envelope with a gold seal. I was really, really happy when I got my acceptance to SMC, and as the others came in, I just didn't get the same feeling. When people started asking me where I was going to college, I told them it was between SMC and the University of Rochester, I just wasn't sure yet and I wanted to visit campuses before I made my final decision... but the rest is history.

When I came to SMC (I had been here before, by the way), it just felt right. I remembered how much I loved the location, the campus was beautiful, the professors were fantastic, and I realized how much I actually preferred the small-school setting as opposed to a larger university. Besides, being in Vermont offers a lot of outdoors activities and other things (Ben and Jerry's factory) that other states just don't have, or at least they don't have them in the same way. Vermont, Burlington/Colchester, and Saint Michael's College are all fantastic places to be, and there's no other place I'd rather spend my next four years of college!