Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Favorite Study Spots

In college, it's inherent that one will (or, should) do a lot of studying; it doesn't matter what your major is. And it's been my experience that in order for me to get anything done, I first need a good place to do it. Certain places have more distractions than others (for example, I can't study in my room, because I have a bed, a TV, and food in there), so it's important to find a place where you can crank out an essay, or cram some French verbs in peace.

But at the same time, you don't want to get bored. For the first month, the only place I would study was the study cabins in the basement of the library; and while these do provide an awesome, distraction-free setting, if you overdo it they may leave you claustrophobic, disoriented and without a social life (just kidding ;p).

But all is not lost, 'cause there are tons of cool places where you can GSD (get stuff done, haha) on campus, and not feel bored or claustrophobic!

On the second floor of Durick Library (this might actually be my favorite building on campus), there are two mezzanines above the bookshelves in the front rooms facing the Library Lawn (pictured to the right). I like to come up here because of the openness and natural daylight, and if there aren't a ton of other people around I tend to get a lot done. Plus, the view of campus is a nice relief after staring at a textbook or computer screen for hours. The only issue is that there are just two electrical outlets (my computer battery stinks, so if other people are already using them I can't), and it's a bit of a walk to the bathroom. But this is definitely a favorite study spot.

Eddie's Lounge
Technically, Eddie's isn't really a study spot; it's a student lounge on the second floor of Alliot Hall where students can have club meetings, art shows, debates, or just hang out and use the big screen TV. But, if you find it empty, there are tons of tables and chairs or couches where you can hunker down and concentrate, and a printer right outside the door. Plus it's open all night, unlike the library which closes at one in the morning. It's a great "ohmygosh I have a paper due in six hours and it's three in the morning" kind of room.

Vending Machine Room
I don't know the official name of this one ('cause I'm pretty sure there is one), but I call it the vending machine room; because it's the only room in the library where food is allowed, and it has vending machines (derp). It's a relaxed setting where you can talk at a normal volume and is often used for group projects. I like it because you don't have to be as quiet as in the rest of the library, and because of the comfy booth seating with huge tables; great for spreading out your work and getting organized. 

I mentioned in my last post that students have access to classrooms outside of class hours, but I don't know the official rules surrounding their use or times when they're open. Either way, if they're open, rooms in the academic building are motivating because it's where you have classes, so you might be more inclined to get real work done. Like I said, I used them a TON during finals week; the whiteboards are a great way to work out some long math or science problems, and we used the projector a few times to pull up online study guides and practice tests. I won't lie; I kind of felt like a math genius.

Dorm Hallway
I get lightly made fun of for this one sometimes, but I've seen other people do it, and my friends who make fun have joined in from time to time. If it's late at night, and you don't want to wake your room mate (although I think I do sometimes despite my best efforts), sitting in the hallway is a great way to get work done. I wouldn't recommend it on a Friday night or during the day, but on a Sunday night it's not the worst idea; especially if the library is closed or you just don't feel like leaving your dorm. This is more of a last resort for procrastinators; but hey, we all have out moments... Just some more than others. ;P

If any SMC students have additions to this list, or if anyone anywhere has questions/comments, feel free to comment below or contact me via email (brosbrook@mail.smcvt.edu), facebook, twitter or formspring.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

12 Unofficial/Official Weird/Awesome/Unexpected Things at SMC

I love Saint Mike's! But it's easy for me to say that, since I've been here for almost a year and have had time to soak in all that the college has to offer. Of course I'm talking about things like the $30 Smuggs Pass, the location, the academics; but all this is stuff you can learn on a tour. There's so much more beneath the surface that you can only learn from being a student here or talking to a student that goes here; and that's where I come in. I thought it would be cool to make a list of all the Weird/Awesome/Unexpected things that I've found here, so here goes nothing!

1. Secret Room 
I frequent Durick Library. It's where I get most of my work done, and a great resource (for obvious reasons). But one time, my friend and I were going there to meet for a group project, when we noticed from the outside a room we had never seen before (this was towards the end of last semester). We took a peek through the window, and this room looked NOTHING like the rest of the place; it was older, kind of creepy and looked like it belonged in a Scooby-Doo mansion. Intrigued, we walked inside and slyly made out way over to where the secret room should have been; but being the inexperienced freshmen we were; we hadn't anticipated the door to the room would be locked. Not being able to get inside, we drew the most obvious conclusion; that it was password-protected and most likely contained top-secret FBI material. But to this day we'll never know... 

(Just kidding, no FBI happenings here; but you do need permission and a key to get in, and we hear it contains rare/valuable/important documents and things like that).

2. Professors 
You hear that Professors are awesome at every college you visit, but SMC has its share of exceptional ones. For example, Prof. Delaney, who is currently doing fieldwork in south-east Asia (in fact, I hear the entire Anthropology/Sociology department is fantastic), Prof. Haloj, who speaks fluent Swiss French and dabbles in languages like Breton, and a few my friend Tarah mentioned to me, such as her "awesome Indian professors (Tara Natarajan, Reza Ramazani, Shefali Misra...)," as well as Professors Walsh (economics, who gives Harry Potter problems sets and invented products and kumquats) and Mindich (through his course, Tarah got to meet the 2012 Republican Candidates in NH). SMC Profs for the win!

3. Sex Survey 
Last Spring, SMC's newspaper, The Defender ran an article about Sex and Relationships with a survey of SMC students about sex and related topics. Check out the article here, definitely an interesting read and well-written; plus, it's been the subject of student debate on several occasions since it's been published, both inside the defender and out.

4. Holy Shif
(Disclaimer, this publication has no affiliation with the college) This independent student-run publication has caused a bit of a stir since it's debut at the end of last semester. Under the title, the magazine claims,"The f is silent; you shouldn't be," and its mission is the open discussion of social justice issues and related topics. Anyone on campus is invited to submit work, and I hope to by the end of the semester. For anyone into social justice, activism or the like, Holy Shift is definitely something worth checking out; and if you're not interested in these things, reading this magazine might lead you to be.

5. Dragon Slayer 
In February, during the wikipedia blackout, the SMC Twitter account tweeted that "St. Michael originally founded #smcvt as a training center for dragon slayers. It was converted to a college in 1904. #factswithoutwikipedia." Whether this is true or not... I hope so.

6. Ghosts 
This isn't something I tend to buy into, but a few of my friends do, and it's at least interesting. Apparently, there are certain parts of campus that are haunted by ghosts. The only two I know of are Joyce 4th (J4) floor, which is where I live, and Founder's Hall. Like I said, I'm not into the supernatural, but I have a friend who lives down the hall and claims to hear noises in his single at night that he can't explain, and another who claims he actually saw the J4 ghost walking down the hall. Pretty creepy :p

7. Egg Station at Breakfast 
This just goes to show you how awesome the people are who work in the dining hall. I'm a regular at the Egg Station in the morning, and so is my friend Carlos. We each get the same thing every morning, and at the end of last semester, all I had to do was walk up to the counter and they would start on my order without me saying it (so awesome!). Even better, my friend Carlos got his egg whites so often, that they would start making his order when they saw him walk in the dining hall. 

As an aside, another reason why the people who work in the dining hall rock, is that they're super accommodating.  Some people worry about dietary restrictions when they make their college choice, so this is for you guys! They keep a fridge stocked with vegan/gluten-free products, and are good about labeling things as vegetarian or not. And I've replaced meat with tofu at the stir-fry station so many times. If you need it, they'll get it; seriously!

8. Fair Trade 
This is another awesome fact; SMC recently became the 6th Fair-Trade University in the country! I knew that Vermont was kind of crunchy, but this is outstanding (especially since we did it before UVM). Basically being Fair Trade means that we pledge to use Fair Trade products (which are also organic) as much as we can on campus and in the dining hall (and we already had things like local VT soy milk). Also, this resolution goes hand-in-hand with the social justice crowd on campus. Yay activism!

9. Open Academic Buildings 
You'd expect the library to be a good place to concentrate when you need to get work done, but I was surprised when, during finals week, my friends and I discovered that the classrooms in the academic buildings are open for student use outside of class hours. So far I've only used them to study when we first found them during finals week, and on a few weekends since then, so I don't know the official times when they're open for student access. But they're great for group projects, or if you need lots of whiteboard to work out a calc problem; and there's projectors in the rooms if you need them. Definitely another great resource.

10. Alliot Crush 
Any current SMC student knows what I'm talking about. Online, there's a formspring account called Alliot Crush where students go to post about their crushes, or unnamed someones they saw and found attractive while at Alliot (Alliot is the building where the Green Mountain Dining Room is). It can be entertaining and distracting; posts are often funny, sometimes sweet (sometimes suggestive), and rarely boring. On campus, it's notorious as a go-to website for two-minute study breaks.

11. Crosses 
At least in the freshman quad (Joyce, Lyons, Ryan and Alumni halls), each dorm room has either a crucifix, or the outline of where a crucifix used to be above the doorway. I don't know why some rooms have them and others don't, but I've heard plenty of outrageous and unlikely reasons why people think so; most of them supernatural (like we need more ghosts).

12. Massive DVD Collection 
Finally, one last awesome fact to wrap up this twelve-part list; Durick Library has a MASSIVE movie collection. Favorites of mine are the Scream movies and other horrors. These movies can be a great way to unwind on the weekends, as well as useful (i.e documentaries and foreign-language films). It's basically like Blockbuster on campus; except it's free and still exists.

Twelve things, there you have it! Thanks for reading!

Friday, February 10, 2012

How We Do: Friday Nights at SMC

I've noticed as a representative of SMC, my peers and I often are asked questions like "What do students do on the weekends?" I can remember hearing kids ask this as well back when I was looking at colleges. So this past week, I asked people across various social networking sites what they like to do on Friday nights, and here are few responses:

"Go to Mosque" - Kirsten

"Ben and Jerry's" - Aidan

"Play Pranks, Amazing food in Burlington, Turtle Underground**" - Dan
(**Turtle Underground is a lounge on North Campus where bands/DJ's play on the weekends, Tarah posted about it on her blog)

"Catch up on some TV, read a new play, skype my family back home" - Zach

"Laundry, really long dinner with friends, sometimes get started on Monday's homework, movie marathon" - Tarah Srethwatanakul

"Things to do on a Friday night: plan to take a nap and then pass out 'till Saturday, catch up on homework, hit the gym (so empty around 5 o'clock!), do some art, go sober dancing-so much fun because you can be as ridiculous as you want and no one notices." - Posted anonymously on Formspring.

I got a diverse sample of activities, as you can see; and some were more serious than others (playing pranks isn't the most common student activity at SMC). But a couple people mentioned going to out to dinner, and I'll second that! Burlington and Winooski have some AMAZING restaurants. Tonight I'm going out to Burlington for vegetarian food to catch up with friends who I don't have classes with this semester. Some other things I like to do on Friday nights; tune/wax my skis, have dance parties in the dorm, make vegan dogs on a George Forman grill in my room (in lieu of the Friday/Saturday night grill -post by Sarah Murray), play video games; always in the company of friends!

There's a lot to do at and around SMC; especially if you're willing to make your own fun. Students have access to transportation from the CCTA public buses, to SMC'c weekend Smugg's shuttle, and the occasional taxi if you need it. Plus, you can always find a friend or an upperclassmen with a car. Skiers and Snowboarders will have EXTRA fun, as well as people who want to learn (which they totally should, cause the Wilderness Program offers $15 lessons/rentals **CHEAP**)!

Thanks for reading, and if you have anything to add / have any questions, feel free to hit me up! brosbrook@mail.smcvt.edu, facebook, twitterformspring =)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Writing a Resume

I'm an awful person for not posting for 9 days, and even worse for being that guy who apologizes on his blog!
But here goes.

One thing that has been occupying my time since I've been back at school; my resume. It's not the most complicated thing in the world, but definitely one of those things you want to do right. It's your first impression to potential employers/internships! So thank God for SMC's career counseling services. I was able to bring in my resume, have it looked over, and get help writing a proposal for the internship I want this summer at MVRCR; an outreach center for refugees in Utica, NY. This is my first internship (fingers crossed), so I'm really hoping I'll be picked, because working with Refugees is something I see myself doing after undergrad. Exciting stuff!

And I said that it's not the most complicated thing in the world, but it's definitely a process. Some things you have to do in the process of compiling a resume are:

Remember What You've Done

Especially after having taken a gap year, it was difficult for me to remember things I could put on a resume. For example, while a job that I held for a year until my last semester of high school seemed applicable, summer jobs from the year before did not. Also, I wanted to work my experience abroad into my resume, but I wasn't sure how. Thankfully, with guidance from my dad as well as a career counselor here at SMC, I was able to make it pretty clear what I had done and why this was relevant to the internship. 

Learn to Brag

For most people, it's pretty awkward at first to write clearly and confidently about yourself. You don't want people to overestimate your abilities; but at the same time it would be worse if you talked yourself down. That's why it helps to have a third party (I had my parents, siblings, grandparents, friends and career counselors read it before I was satisfied). But even so, learn to brag! It's ok to tell people what you can do, just as long as you're not exaggerating. It's a good skill to have.

Collect References

This may be the most important thing, because you want to make sure that your references know your abilities as well as your personality. If contacted, these people will give your employer a sense of who you are, in addition to how you come off on your resume. Professors, former employers, mentors and advisers are possibilities.

Be Concise

You can't ramble in a resume. In fact, you're encouraged not to write in full sentences. Rather than, "I was a dishwasher, helped the cook and cleaned the kitchen", you would write, "washed dishes, helped cook, cleaned kitchen, etc.", or something to that effect. Usually, your resume has to be only one page, so the shorter your descriptions are, the better.

If all goes as planned, I'll be sending my completed resume as well as my internship proposal and application off within the next few days! Here's a *small* (sorry) snapshot of the finished product!

Thanks for reading!