Ah, Sunday mornings. Perfect for getting up early, grabbing coffee and a bagel in Alliot, getting some work done and having the rest of the day free to relax with friends. Unfortunately, I took some pictures while skiing at Smuggs yesterday that I just HAD to share with the world, so I guess the "getting work done" thing will have to wait a while. At least I got some coffee!
Taken from the Madonna II lift (it looks cold, but was pretty warm; 0C, 32F).
So far at St. Mike's I've been pretty involved in a few clubs and activities on campus, and I didn't think I was going to check out any new ones this semester; I'm pretty busy! But I've been hearing great things about Common Ground (the LGBT group on campus) and this past Monday decided to give it a go.
They meet on Monday nights in Eddie's Lounge at 5pm (shameless plug). Like I said, my first meeting was just this past week, and I was even late because of ski practice. That aside, it was a great experience! Definitely something I plan to be involved in this semester. While I was there I got to hear about stuff they've done as a group, as well as their plans for this coming semester; and they seem like a cool group of people!
One awesome part of going to this meeting was watching the SMC Athletics/Common Ground "It Gets Better" video. If you don't know what that is, check out the website here. But basically people have been posting videos on the internet under the title "It Gets Better" since the massive amount of gay teen suicides in the fall of 2010, with the objective of giving hope to anyone who might be having struggles; whether it be with gender/sexual identity, or any other issues that cause people to think about suicide. A variety of people have made them; tons of celebrities from Obama to Ke$ha, as well as people who just want to share their stories and help someone out who needs it. Check out the one SMC made below!
There are tons of these videos to browse on youtube and other websites, and I recommend it if this is an issue you care about. They can be really moving (this is my favorite one; it's long, but if you've got the time it's worth watching).
Last semester, I didn't know what to do for books. I was stressed enough about starting college and only having been back in the states for less than a month; I didn't want to think about what books I needed, how much they should cost me or when I should get them. As a result, I (a.k.a my dad) ended up dropping a few hundred. Now that I'm a big and important second-semester Freshman, I'm much older and wiser, and was able to do my books this Spring for; wait for it...
You read that right. Granted, the books required for me this semester are much cheaper than last semester. But, here are a few useful tips that my friends and I used to save some dough.
1. Listen to your older siblings.
If you have an older sibling in college and they try to give you advice on how to buy books, listen to them. They know what it's like to be poor/stuck with unwanted books and will probably know the most reliable sites online to buy and rent books from. My sister told me first semester that I should rent from Chegg, and had I done that, my wallet (my dad's wallet) would have been a little less empty last August.
Going off the last one; RENT. Especially for classes you know you're not going to continue with. For example, I rented my religion book because this semester is probably the only time I'll take a Religion class; whereas I bought my Calc book because I know I'm going to take more Calc in the future. It can cut the price significantly, and will get you more money than if you buy it and try to sell it back.
3. Buy used.
Used books are great, especially because sometimes they're barely used. I have a collection of E. B. White essays for my freshman seminar class that was "used", but it looks brand-new (seriously, I don't think it's ever been opened). The SMC bookstore is great, because if you order through them they'll get you as many used books as possible before selling you new books (plus they always have some classes with books for rent).
4. Borrow from / lend to friends.
This last one saved me a ton on my French books this semester. I was in French 101 in the fall, but I decided to skip 102 so I'm in 203 right now, and had to get new books (101 and 102 have the same books, 203 and 204 have the same books). My friend Bean took 204 last semester, so she had the textbook and had only used the second half of the workbook. My friend Harper is in 102 this semester, so I had that textbook and had only used the first part of the textbook. The result was a mega book swap in which we are saving green and saving trees by sharing workbooks! I also lent my Calc book to my friend August, who needs it for Calc II this semester, which I'm not taking until next year.
If you have any more tips, comment below, and if you're looking for more tips, look for comments below. Otherwise, feel free to shoot me a question on any of these fine social media sites (facebook, twitter, formspring) or send me an email (email@example.com)!
It's been a busy beginning of the semester. Sunday during the day I raced slalom at Snow Ridge in NY (had to hike), after which my dad drove me back to SMC and we arrived at 10 pm. Next day I had classes followed by training at Stowe. Today I woke up at 5 to do my skis before morning slalom practice at Smuggs, followed by a quick lunch and 3 hours of class... and then a nap til 7. I'm pretty tired.
I haven't quite gotten into the swing of things yet, but I'm looking forward to a challenging and rewarding semester. I'm learning a lot from skiing with the ski team; it's a great group of people, the coach is awesome and, to be honest, it's kicking my butt (in a good way). The guys on the team are a lot better than me, but it's good because, like I said, I'm learning a ton from training with them.
But besides that, classes are good (I'm the only freshman in my Anthro class), I'm hoping to do a lot with Green Up (the sustainability club on campus), and winter in Vermont is just great in general. Apart from the skiing, I love when there's snow on the ground, even if it makes for undesirable driving conditions and potentially slipping on your way across campus.
Snow on the ground + blue skies = nothing better. Unless you're
on a mountain with skis on your feet.
Also, it's great to be back to school because, as you might have guessed, I miss my awesome college friends. I called them on my way to campus and asked if a few of them could help me grab some stuff from my dad's car (I came back with a lot of stuff), and so many of them came down that we did it all in one trip (not to shout out; but I love you guys!).
Below, just for fun's sake, is a picture of my friends Bean and Lauren rapping "Look at Me Now". They were working on their "swag".
Finally, my friend Tarah recently returned from her Winter Break world travels. I missed her so much over break and it was great to see her again! She also returned bearing gifts from Switzerland and Thailand.
That's all I've got right now. I'd love to answer any questions, all my contact info can be found here.
So, I didn't learn any guitar (although I totally gave it a shot... for about 20 min).
But otherwise, my first-ever college break was a great time to catch up with friends and family, be lazy and do some skiing (mostly the lazy and skiing parts). I got to train with the Lab Mtn Ski Team (my team from age 8-17) and do a slalom race at Gore Mtn in the Adirondacks (where, by the way, I discovered my USSA points had been reset to 990 from my year abroad; I then DNF'ed and DSQ'ed Sat. and Sun., respectively). It was good to get the jitters out, and this weekend I'm doing a slalom at Snow Ridge near Rome, NY (where I'll hopefully put 2 runs together and get rid of some points).
So now that break is coming to an end, here are a few pictures from my last few weeks at home!
Syracuse, NY; my hometown. Shot from 3rd floor of UO in Armory Sq.
Shackham Rd., Morgan Hill State Forest. On the way to Lab.
Labrador Mtn., my home hill.
Clubbing at Lava (at the Turning Stone Casino in Rome, NY) on 18+ night.
Letter from one of my SMC friends, Sophie.
My dog, Marcy.
It's been fun, but I can't wait to get back to SMC next week!
This edition of "Cool Stuff on Campus" (because apparently I'm making that a thing) is about the Language Learning Resource Center, or LLRC (website pictured above). The LLRC, located at 215 St. Edmund's Hall, is a lab that can be used for projects, training and other academic purposes, and it's managed by the SMC's IT department, so as well as offering technology and resources for language-learning, they also offer in-house technology and cameras, microphones, and things of that nature for circulation.
I've never been to the language lab myself, but I discovered LLRC online this past week. I'd remembered hearing about it at some point during the few months since I've been at school, so I started poking around the SMC website to see what I could find.
Now, I wouldn't say I'm a language freak, but I speak a few and enjoy dabbling. So you can imagine my excitement at discovering the sizable collection of online resources offered to SMC students for free from the LLRC. Here's a snapshot of what I found on the website:
Pretty cool, amiright?
As you can see, that's not all of them. And in some cases, there isn't much (all I could find for Bosnian was an English-Bosnian dictionary), but I'm sure that's only because certain languages don't have an overwhelming demand (Bosnian, for example). By any means, there's no way I can say I was disappointed by what I found. All the "big-name" languages (for lack of a better phrase) are covered; they offer Rosetta Stone in Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Spanish, as well as an awesome program called Mango, which has a TON of languages. Feast your eyes:
Already counted; there are 37.
Mango has been a treat for me, because like I said, I enjoy dabbling. Ever since I found this I've basically tried out every language they have just for fun, but I've had a great time learning some Dutch, and can now say 'Hallo, Ik heet Ben. Leuk je te ontmoeten!' That's, 'Hello, my name's Ben. Nice to meet you!'
Also, the lay out of Mango as a program is pretty sweet. It's set up like online flashcards, and you run through lessons at your own pace, plus there's audio and you can compare a recording of your pronunciation to the Mango recordings. Another screen shot:
Didn't mean to go image-crazy there; sorry about that. But it's so much cooler if you can see it all!
Students here should definitely check these resources out if they have any interest in a language! Or if you're a prospective student, I'd be happy to answer or direct any questions on twitter, formspring, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org! I'm also on the facebook!