Friday, December 5, 2014

Doing an Independent Study.

Do you ever wish you could just hang out with a professor and discuss feminist political thought over coffee? No, just me? Wait, I see you nerds out there! Well fear no longer, at Saint Mike's, students have the option to enroll in an independent study, which is a one-on-one (or very small) academic course for which students can receive either 2 or 4 credit hours.

Why should a student ever consider such an option? In my case, I'm pursuing an IS in the spring with a professor who had to cancel a course I was enrolled in to teach another one instead (so I'm taking a condensed version of the class I'd originally opted). Another example; one of my peers did an independent study on public health and maternity after becoming interested in the topic while abroad. Frequently when I've known students doing an independent study, it's because they're motivated to learn more about a specific topic, and usually they're topics that a professor has studied but for which a class is not offered regularly.

From the college's website:

"Independent research is encouraged by the College as a complement to regular coursework for qualified students. Independent Study courses are available in certain circumstances and require a 3.0 minimum quality point average during the academic year. Independent study must be approved by the Associate Dean of the College no later than the last day of the course change period."

Further, IS is not an opportunity to slack; after all it's like class, except you're the only student. Blowing off reading and papers isn't really an option, and I imagine successful students doing an IS need to be focused and self-motivated. 

What is this all to say? If you're really into learning, if you're very interested in a professor's work, if you're motivated to learn more about a certain topic, or if you'd like to develop more learning on a topic from another class, you should totally pursue an independent study. Obviously, it's not the case that IS courses can be offered to every student every semester, but it's an excellent idea if the opportunity presents itself. 

If you're curious about the process or my own motivation for pursuing an IS, feel free to shoot me an email. If you have more specific questions, you can visit the registrar in founders to have those answered.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 30, 2014


Just got back from Thanksgiving break, which means I'm up to my ears in stuffing and buckling down to face the home stretch of the semester. Two weeks until my second-to-last finals week, which is bittersweet in all the right ways.

Me and little bro.
After spending the weekend in Portland, ME with a good friend from school, I made my way back to the central part of New York State to touch base with family, relax, and watch lots of movies. Not only was it a restful week off, I also got to see a Syracuse basketball game and get out skiing for the first time this season at Gore Mtn.

For tonight and the rest of the week I've got thesis work and a large project to complete, but more likely than not I'll be able to get out to Smuggs this Saturday for some early December turns. If the weather's nice, pictures will follow!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Best Place You've Never Heard of at Saint Mike's: Center for Women and Gender

Center for Women and Gender in a bit of snow.
When you visit Saint Mike's, tours will frequently bring you by the academic quad, first-year quad, library, Tarrant/Ross athletic center, Alliot and Dion. Each of these are central to the SMC experience in their own way, but unfortunately you can't fit all the coolest places onto one tour.

The Center for Women and Gender, located right across the parking lot from Tarrant/Ross, is by far one of the coolest places on campus. Not only does the CWG host progressive speakers, events and student organizations, but the building itself is really cozy and has a full kitchen. Plus it feels homey, which can be a nice escape when classes get stressful.

Living room.
I first started visiting the CWG when I began attending Common Ground meetings my first year. Although now they meet in the Multicultural Student Affairs office, I've always appreciated venturing over for a variety of reasons: such as the pancake breakfast they do each semester, pre-trip India meetings, a workshop by Robyn Ochs on self-care for activists, and Common Ground coffee hours. At the moment, I'm sitting on a couch in the CWG living room for the hour before my 12.15 class.

Not only has the CWG been extremely functional in my experience, I've also learned quite a bit outside of class from events/groups/conversations related to things I've done, seen, or heard via the CWG. My understanding of gender, race, and class politics have hugely impacted the way I think about these systems of oppression in the context of politics and the economy. I wouldn't have learned all that I have without this place!

If you're a prospective student I highly recommend getting in contact with Julia ( so you can drop in and visit. And current students, if you've never been over this way it's well worth a visit!

Thanks to the CWG and the people who run it for all that they've given this campus. It's truly the coolest place you've (now) heard of at SMC!

Below: more photos!

One Billion Rising bulletin--a global campaign to end
violence against women.

Kitchen and front door.

I call this room the 'study'.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Why Autumn is a Wonderful Season at Saint Mike's

Campus on a late weekday morning.
I've grown up in the northeastern climate (born and raised in Syracuse, New York), so for a long time cold temperatures and changing seasons have been a given for me. To be honest, my plan is to pursue post-grad life in a climate much warmer than it is up here, but Fall still claims a special place in my heart (impossible to tell if this is a result of Stockholm syndrome or an actual affinity for the season). Not only are the changing colors beautiful (and very missed by graduates I know in places where Autumn doesn't exist), but as we get closer to winter there are different ways to have fun that just make more sense in the Fall.

Foster the People plays at Ross Sports Ctr., 10/23.
Pretty Founders.
  1. Shows are inside. Which is a great excuse to get to more shows. In the warmer months it feels less justified to stand around inside Higher Ground (or other indoor concert venues, cause usually there's something outside), but when it's chilly outside I have no qualms dancing around a loud and crowded ballroom to whatever band is playing that night. This probably feels like a cop-out reason why Fall is rad up here (cause I always talk about shows), and that doesn't bother me one bit. Because, once again, you don't even have to leave campus! On North (in Purtill Hall), there are frequently small band shows in the basement concert venue that we call Turtle Underground. Another reason to go to Turtle is that they frequently have complimentary food (e.g. wings, pizza), which is a great option for warming up away from the wind.
  2. This picture of Founders Hall is beautiful, because blue skies are always prettier in the fall. With the red and orange foliage that appears everywhere in VT around this time (I've met a lot of people who refer to this as the trees 'on fire', which is a term I never heard before SMC), the blue contrast of the sky on a clear day becomes more excellent than any other time. Also there are quite a few buildings on campus that are covered in ivy (check out Jeanmarie in ANY season), so all of them look 'on fire' around this time, as they say.
  3. You can still get a hike or two in before the wet weather. Hiking in the fall is nice because you can layer up and maintain an ideal body temperature throughout. Whereas hiking in the summer will probably leave you ultra sweaty and uncomfortable, hiking in the fall is all the fun/workout sans much of the sweaty back and armpits. But you gotta hurry, because sometimes there's not a huge interval between dry October days and their wetter, darker November counterparts.
  4. Obviously, skiing is right around the corner. And this season I plan to shred some backcountry with amigos in the Wilderness Program, as well as frequenting Smuggler's Notch and Mad River Glen where I have season passes. If you're not a winter person have no fear, take the CCTA bus into Winooski or Burlington for restaurants, coffee, shopping, movies, and performances of a wide variety. At Saint Mike's you're never far from a good time.
Thanks for reading! 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Economics? This post is more or less unrelated...

Hey all!

So as I've alluded to and/or mentioned previously, I dig kitchen activities (such as cooking and baking... cleaning is fine, I guess). When I'm procrastinating it's usually while standing over a vat of black beans that I've been soaking since yesterday, or else trying to perfect my hummus (starting to sound like Rachel Ray I know). All I'm trying to say is it's a passion, and this week I've embarked on a new (mis?)adventure in the kitchen.

A friend of mine, Steph, who also is enthusiastic in the pursuit of food-creation made a sourdough bread a week or two back. See, over the summer she was given a copy of the book 'Wild Fermentation', which is a non-fiction novel/cookbook that offers tons of recipes for foods that require fermentation, such as kimchi, cheeses, wines, and sourdough bread. We have yet to prepare as many of them as we'd have liked, but for both of us the idea of fermented foods is exciting because it involves quite a bit of, well, nature. ALSO it's exciting because according to the book many fermented foods have added health benefits that their un-fermented counterparts don't... and while I'm not going to feign to know any specifics, that's pretty sweet (the author is a long-time survivor of HIV, and claims fermented foods have played a role in his good health).

Above: the sourdough starter. Currently
in our townhouse storage unit for warmth.
After Steph's overwhelming success with the sourdough bread, I had to give it a try. I'm actually not using the recipe in the book mentioned above (because I found an easier one, teehee), but as of today I've begun growing my own sourdough starter, which is the (hefty) step 1 in making the bread. After you ferment a flour-and-water mixture for about a week, you end up with a mixture that is the basis (starter, if you will) of the bread, and from there you add more flour, water, yeast, etc.

Obviously there's still a week or so to go, but I'm quite excited to see how this turns out. Either way, I'll do my best to post a picture of the end-product! At that point I'll probably need some time away from whatever paper I'll be writing, anyway.

Thanks for reading! And Happy Fermentation!

Monday, October 27, 2014

On the Air: WWPV

I've enjoyed having a radio station since my sophomore year at Saint Mike's. Primarily it was fun just to be on the air, but over the course of a few semesters I've also found a lot of joy in planning playlists/segments and thinking about themes for shows. It's an outlet for creativity, and the actual broadcast is satisfying because it's an output; having a radio show makes me feel productive.

Since my little brother is also at Saint Mike's this fall as a first-year, we decided to do a show together. Since we're at different stages in the college process, having a few hours (5-7PM on Saturdays!) to chill together helps us ensure that we'll hang out regularly (at least once a week, but it ends up being more). It's pretty frequent that students pair up for show slots, and I think it's a cool way of blending music tastes and trying to find themes that intersect with different styles.

Overall, the process of becoming a WWPV DJ isn't too hard, but that's not to say that everyone gets a spot. You're asked to fill out an application with some simple questions, and they ask you to talk about musical taste and plans for a show if you get one. The station is run by an executive board (e-board) of elected students, which is pretty cool because it speaks to the accountability and responsibility of that board of students.

Once accepted as a DJ, you're expected to play radio-appropriate music (including some new music, designated by the e-board), broadcast a certain number of public service announcements (PSA's), and identify the station ("You're listening to WWPV...") every so often. Other than that DJ's are allowed quite a bit of autonomy in terms of content, and are largely encouraged to be unique and thoughtful. Some people have talk-show segments, or play entirely music. Others offer advice, tips, stories, or something interesting that can't necessarily be found on mainstream radio. It may not be a booming
DJ's Rosey & Benja chillin in the station.
medium, but radio provides many Saint Mike's students with an avenue to pursue conversation, provoke thought, and also play great tunes.

If you're looking to tune in some time, turn the transistor to FM 88.7 in the Burlington/Colchester/Essex Jxn area. If you're elsewhere, find us via this link.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for supporting independent radio!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Cooking in College.

Most people who go to Saint Mike's live on-campus, with the exception of people who choose to live at home or have asked Res-Life for an exception to live off-campus. For the people who do live on campus their entire academic career, it's usually the case that years 1, 2 & 3 are spent living in dorms and/or suites, while year 4 (sometimes 3) is spent living in an apartment or townhouse (here's a link to short descriptions of all the living situations). And with that transition to apartment/townhouse comes a kitchen, and the opportunity to cook one's own meals instead of the all-inclusive meal plan that's given to students in the first few years.

I've always loved to cook, so for me this change wasn't and adverse change. I actually have been on the '40-swipe' plan (as it's so-called) since the beginning of my junior year when I lived in an apartment on North Campus, and I lived in Burlington both this past summer and the summer previously. Given these circumstances, making my own food all the time wasn't much of a change. But it's also true that active students don't often have much time to spare, and cooking becomes an obstacle rather than an opportunity. I like to use cooking as a time to reflect or unwind, and that's due in large part to my 'kitchen toolbox', or the skills and knowledge I've gained that allow me to plan meals and prepare them efficiently. These take a long time to acquire, but there are still a few things that college students in-crisis can use to make cooking work better in their lives. I propose five:
The text to rule them all.

  1. Always have pasta. Or rice, or quinoa, or something that takes little oversight, not too much time, that you can put anything on. Eating pasta all the time isn't necessarily the best option, but the idea is to identify some versatile, filling staple to have in your cupboard that you like to eat. If you have this staple, then all you need in addition is a sauce, maybe some veggies and maybe some protein. You'd be surprised how many times I've enjoyed eating white rice covered in some mix of peanut butter, soy sauce, spices, and veggies.
  2. Cereal and milk. It works for breakfast if you're someone who doesn't have much time in the morning, or if you don't wanna turn on any appliances. It also works as a late-night snack, or a lunch/dinner in a pinch. I'll also add plain instant oatmeal to this bullet point (and to number 1), because not only is it something you can eat plain with milk, or with maple syrup/cinnamon&sugar in the morning, but oatmeal can also be the quickest versatile filling staple for any meal. I didn't used to eat much oatmeal because I thought of it as something only eaten sweet, but a trick I learned from one of my mentors on campus is to add black beans, cheese and Sriracha (if you'd like) for a 5-minute dinner on the go. You can pretty much treat it like rice, and it's instant.
  3. Apples, bananas, oranges. These snacks are healthy and pre-wrapped by nature. Better than junk snacks you buy at the store, and about the same price. Plus apples give you energy.
  4. Use a cookbook. I have two cookbooks that I keep next to my bed in case of an emergency and/or if I'd just like something to read. My parents got me the Ultimate Vegetarian cookbook last Christmas (pictured), and it's nearly on-par with Harry Potter given the number of times I've read it. My obsessions aside, cookbooks are nice because you might find a recipe to tie together whatever you have in the kitchen, or you might use a few recipes to plan a grocery list. The latter is nice if you're someone who needs direction in a grocery store because, not only do you know exactly what you're cooking later, but you can also save time wandering the clockless aisles of cereal boxes and soup cans.
  5. Framily dinners. Framily (friend + family) dinners are great 'cause they can be done potluck-style, or in such a way that everyone chips in a few bucks, or in such a way that a group of friends rotate dinners at one-another's houses every so often. This is great because it takes pressure off when someone else is cooking, and one can look forward to cooking for everyone else because it's not something one has to do all the time. Plus, this is a great way to ensure spending time with friends that are otherwise busy, and everyone gets a meal out of it.
Don't let cooking scare you, food is one of the best ways to get together and be merry with the ones we love. And if we don't have that time, food can also be a moment of reflection in an otherwise busy day, and a way to repay the body for all the hard work it's done for us.

Thanks for reading, and happy cooking!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Live Music: Dom Flemons at Higher Ground

If there's a theme to this semester, it's a healthy serving of live music. A few weeks back I saw Shovels and Rope in Montreal, Foster the People is playing at Saint Mike's next Thursday, and last night I saw Dom Flemons at Higher Ground (a concert venue in S. Burlington). I first saw Dom Flemons play when he was with Carolina Chocolate Drops at the Burlington waterfront two summers ago. Since then I've followed both CCD and Dom Flemons solo work since he's been pursuing that. 

When we first showed up to the venue it was just before show start time, 20 minutes or so after doors opened. But as I walk in Mr. Flemons himself is warming up on guitar, playing casual as can be before his opening band began their set. Grace and Tony, the opener, were also quite a good show. Also of a folky variety (drums, guitar, cello, banjo), their music choice was lyrically satirical and/or absurd. A great band to hear, for sure.

Grace and Tony played about 7-8 songs, then Dom Flemons came out again (this time on banjo). He played a few songs like that and then introduced his trio (the names of whom I can't recall, my apologies) on drums and stand up bass. He played a song or two that I'd also heard while he was with CCD, and quite a few folk songs that I hadn't heard him play before. Mr. Flemons and his trio have a stage presence that's engaging to the point of near hypnosis, and I enjoyed every strum.

I think it's worth it to go out for live music as regularly as one possibly can. If you're someone who likes live music and going to concert venues, seeing an artist live can be therapeutic and stress-relieving. Besides it's easy to see music around here. If you're not finding a show at Higher Ground or in downtown Burlington, you can always find one in Winooski and often on campus too. North Campus has a great music scene, and for many years has hosted the legendary Turtle Underground in the basement of Purtill Hall on the weekends.

Until the next show or sooner (neither of which can be too far off).

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Shovels and Rope in Montreal!

Juts about six days ago (sorry, it's been a busy week!) my friends Carlos, Bri and I drove over the border to see Shovels and Rope play a show at the Corona Theater in Montreal. I've been looking forward to this show since I found out they'd be playing in the area a few weeks ago, since they're not normally in in these parts. Needless to say it was a religious experience.

We rolled into the city in time for a quick (deep fried) meal at Frite Alors!, which was either a really cool Canadian chain, or sweet frite spot with a really cool sign. Veggie burgers, fries and poutine were enjoyed with earnest.

Following that we made our way to the venue, stood in line for a bit, and got inside in time for the opener. John Fullbright was on guitar and piano, I don't remember the name of the guy playing with him, but they were raddd. Check em out!

Then, obviously, was the piece de resistance. Shout out to Carlos Sian for the photos below, he gets full credit for their capture.

Some of the songs off their set list include: Hail Hail, Kembra, OBJ, Gasoline, and soooo many more. I couldn't stop dancing (ask Bri), and at the end of the show my voice was raw. The show was Sunday night, we got back around 1AM, and it was all worth it.

Lay Low.

Jammin (don't remember the song).

Pre-show noms.

Nights like these are a reminder that even though there's lots to do in Burlington, we're never too far from a big city.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

What to look for in a college.

Largely, my favorite experiences at Saint Mike's are outside the classroom. More often than sitting at a desk, I'm outside with Wilderness or planning an event or debating with peers about that reading last night. 

For example last week I attended the Onion River Review open reading, which happens periodically as a forum to share writing, art and music. People often read their own work, but it's common that attendees will share the works of other writers and artists as well. Not only are the stories, poems and songs incredible, but the atmosphere fostered in this environment is engaging and intoxicating. I watched a friend do slam poetry (which I'd never seen her do before) and for the rest of the night couldn't get her words out of my head. Connecting, not networking, but connecting with people on another level (insert: spiritual, intellectual, etc.) is something from which I've benefited invaluably at Saint Mike's, and this is also how I've learned the most alongside of and outside of my classes.

Saint Mike's is also beautiful in the snow.
I had no idea what I was looking for in a school as a high school student, but something about Saint Mike's caught my attention. I couldn't articulate it 5 years ago but now I think I can. At Saint Mike's, I found a school where I dig people not for what they do or who they are, but how those two things align. Part of being genuine is practicing what one preaches (I think), and by and large the people I like at Saint Mike's do just that. I think that at least one theme transcends academic discipline (at any school), and that's the problem of 'where is the world going?' We face a formidable set of very embedded, very global issues that are not easy to fix, and it is easy to fall into bleakness because of that. There is a word in Finnish for having guts in the face of adversity, and from what I understand many Finns like to identify strongly with this word, sisu. My intention is not to offend by borrowing it here, but sisu is a quality that I admire, and it's one that I find frequently in the people that I connect with intellectually at Saint Mike's. This is a virtue that I think will be part of the 'global solution,' to speak vaguely, and I believe I picked Saint Mikes (not necessarily cognizant of this at the time) because I was drawn to this quality in the people that come here (as faculty, staff and students).

Sisu, I imagine, takes many forms in day-to-day life. I think one of those forms is sharing slam poetry at an open reading and going rock climbing or whitewater paddling for the first time, When we graduate and the world is ours to solve (if it's not already), and the people I've connected with will connect with others and share their sisu, just as many people are already doing the world over. The future is challenging but that doesn't mean we have to submit to the intimidation of the unknown. The people I know at Saint Mike's are unwilling to submit, and thank god I knew enough to see that, even if I couldn't say it, four and a half years ago when I decided to attend.

If I can pass along any advice about what to look for in a college, I recommend you look for sisu. If you don't want to go all the way to Finland, then you might end up at Saint Mikes.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Rock Climbing in Vermont: Falls of Lana.

Saturday morning this past weekend Betsy and Lauren (fellow Wilderness Instructors) and I took a group of Saint Mike's students down to Falls of Lana for an intro to rock climbing day. Like most WP trips (hiking, paddling, biking, etc.) we met early in the morning around the fireplace in Alliot Hall, where we checked in, made sure gear was sorted, and then piled in the van for the drive down Route 7 (Falls of Lana is in the Middlebury area).

It was a bit of a cloudy day, but rain held off until the mid-to-late afternoon. We started the morning by setting a couple of routes to the right of the main wall (a short hike up from the state campground). After establishing belay and lowering techniques, everyone took turns climbing each route and belaying one another (don't ask me the names of these routes, not too sure about that).

We took a brief lunch at the top of the cliff (which had a great view of Lake Dunmore and the state park below), and then moved down the wall (climbers left) to set two more climbs for the afternoon. Since we were already at the top of the cliff, Betsy (our SPI-certified student instructor) set a releasable rappel and everyone took a turn descending back to the base of the climb (pictured). We climbed until it rained (and a little beyond that, actually) before taking down the climbs, coiling the rope, and trekking back to the van.

It was a solid group of participants that day, a memorable intro rock trip for sure! Some people are understandably shy their first few times out, but every participant on this excursion was engaged and excited to climb; we had a great time taking them out. If you'd like to sign up for a climbing program (or any program for that matter) visit the Wilderness program office on the second floor of Alliot Hall! It's right across the knight-card office.

Hopefully see you out in the field!

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I'm a Senior: Lesson One as an Undergrad.

More strange than actually uttering the 'S' word is being in a state of accepting this fact. I got my 'Intent to Graduate' form in my mail box the other day (still haven't filled it out), and the first thought that occurred to me was 'I hope I didn't leave the stove on this morning'. I'm not looking forward to graduating by any means, but I'm dreading nothing.

These first two weeks I've spent most (too much) of my time sitting in front of the townhouse with neighbors, chatting over grilled food and some combination of moon and stars framing the steamy shadow of our long exhales. If it's getting chilly in Vermont, I won't be surprised when it takes a while for us to notice.

Since I've been at Saint Mike's I've visited two countries, done summer research, had a favorite prof every semester, moved seven times, seen dozens of concerts, and passed too many nights without sleep. Nights spent skipping out on that last bit of reading for an impromptu gypsy punk show downtown have taught me just as much as disciplined study time has. I took five semesters to declare a major, and even still I'd change it again if I had more time. If a single thing I've learned, it's that I'll never know as much as I'd like to.

As a way of acknowledging my culminating year here as a student, I'll devote a certain amount of my posts these coming semesters to lessons I've learned as an undergrad. Numero Uno: Being Okay with the Fact that I Can't Do, or Think, Everything.

My first year here, I claimed to want to study two majors with two minors, while also ski racing, while also participating in clubs and completing liberal arts requirements and sleeping and eating (seriously, I blogged about it). Senior year that is not the case, and I'm a happy person for it.

Having changed majors from social sciences to natural sciences back to social sciences and everything in-between, I feel I learned most by struggling to eventually find my path. Being open to taking classes that don't necessarily fill requirements (that might even make next semester harder) has broadened my base of inquiry, and part of that has been growing to accept that I don't have to be an expert in every field that I'm interested in. I probably won't be a  biologist or a philosopher, but having exposure to those fields has given me a breadth of experience that I can't attempt to articulate. I realize that if  at any moment I think I know something, that's probably because I'm not thinking.

Ideally I'll have some semblance of job prospects when I leave this campus, and my econ professor assured our Macro class today that this is true. But even if I end up in a cabin in the woods or a van down by the river, I doubt I'll ever be at a loss for things to think about (mostly, how I'll miss the french fries in Alliot).

Thanks for reading ;)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Undergrad Research Opportunities: My Summer Learning About Prisons.

Happy August, undergrads, high-schoolers, and general public at-large. Soon school will be back in session, a few hundred incoming first-years will be joining us on campus, and in the mean time a few-dozen Saint Mike's undergraduates are wrapping up their summers of research.

Two organizations, the VPAA and SSRC, offer opportunities for undergraduates to pursue research on a topic of their choice during the summer months. These students receive a stipend, work one-on-one with a professor/adviser, and can present their findings at the symposium in the spring. Throughout the summer there are lunches that students can attend, a sort of forum for their experiences where they can exchange ideas and learning about others' projects.

Under the advising of professor Patrick Walsh in the econ department, this summer I set out to learn about how prison privatization interacts with other aspects of the justice system. Specifically, I asked how the growth of private prison populations have impacted the length of sentences served for certain crimes, and then I asked what variables predict both the level of private prison populations and the growth of those same populations.

At the moment, I'm working on analyzing the regressions of the data we collected, and finishing a first draft of the paper. In the next two weeks or so the paper should be done, and hopefully I'll present my findings at some point in the fall and maybe one other time (and I'll share my findings here, as well).

More than just learning about prisons, I've really enjoyed the pursuit of research, working one-on-one with a professor, and learning to appreciate the process of research in the field of economics. Based on this summer, my aspirations for the future have shifted more towards the pursuit of academia, because I've really found a passion for research and academic inquiry that I knew I had before, but hadn't necessarily considered could be my future (looks like I have to take the GRE's, after all).

Being on the brink of my final year as an undergrad, what I've learned this summer is both exciting and sobering. The world is a big place, and there are many students with lots of experience and many backgrounds competing to get into Masters and Ph.D. programs. I hope that I am able to pursue academia further, but I know that the future is plural and hard to predict; so, all I can say is lo que sera, sera, and cheers to the upcoming fall semester.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Kolkata Mutton, or Letter to a Goat (repost).

The following is a re-post from I had the opportunity to go to Kolkata, WB, India this spring with MOVE, and this is my follow-up reflection from the trip.

The first time I walked from our hostel to Mother Theresa was the morning Goat made me laugh. Goat was scratching back with head, neck impressively flexible as it moved side to side, soothing some invisible goat itch. I didn't know goats could do that, I thought, chuckling to myself and continuing along the rugged dirt-and-brick sidewalk.

For many mornings after, Goat and I continued to exchange friendly glances and nods. Most often I passed by in the mornings, other times on the way to a market or otherwise.

One morning while making my way by Goat’s post, I didn't nod ‘hello’ like previously. As I passed, I heard a voice bark my name, and whipped around to see who it was. I only saw Goat staring back at me. ‘Hello?’ I questioned, scanning the street to find the voice that summoned me.

‘What’s the matter?’ asked the voice.

My eyes fall back on Goat, and I saw one raised goat eyebrow staring into my soul.

‘Goat I’m shocked’ I say. ‘I had no idea you knew English.’

‘And Bengali and Polish,’ Goat replied, ‘but what’s the matter this morning?’

‘Well Goat,’ I began, ‘I feel frustrated by so many volunteers here. People who have taken months off from their respective lives to travel around the world and pass through here. All of us come from somewhere I suppose, but I've met so many people whose motivations for being here seem superficial at best. It all seems an act! If we’re so humble in servitude, why are we so uppity and superior?’

‘What makes you think volunteers find themselves superior?’ asked Goat.

‘I guess it’s the way some of them talk. One woman I overheard wouldn't stop yapping about having held the hands of God, having touched the face of God, while she was assisting an older patient at the hospital yesterday. Not once did she talk about the patient, only the God she supposedly touched.’


‘So I find it annoying that she can’t just hold the hand of another person! Why does she need the glove of religion to hold someone’s hand? It’s as if she’s choosing not to see the person in front of her. Do we need to erase the experiences of other people by focusing only on serving some elusive construction of a creator?’

‘You’re frustrated.’

‘They’re crazy!’

‘You’re talking to a Goat.’

‘That’s not the point,’ I blurted. ‘I just don’t see why people feel the need to pretend.’

‘Don’t you also pretend?’

Twenty to forty passengers disembarked a passing city bus, and we fell silent as the crowd passed.

‘I suppose I pretend in some ways,’ I conceded as the last passenger walked by.

Goat met my glance, nodding head with a tilt to the side in the fashion of West Bengal. I realized it was time to go.

‘Til next time Goat,’ I said, turning in the direction of the Mother House.

‘Til next time indeed,’ Goat agreed.


A day or two or three later, I approached goat as goat sorted through a pile of rubbish on the street. Goat heard me as I got closer, nodding head in a tilt as a gesture of greeting.

‘Hi goat. I've been thinking a lot about our conversation before.’ Goat stared at me, waiting for me to continue. Goat’s ear twitched to swat a fly away.

‘I realize it’s a waste of energy to criticize how other people decide to do service. It’s all to the same end, and individual experiences are the individual’s prerogative. At the end of the day, everyone’s just dishing out lunch or mopping or caretaking.'

I paused.

‘But as volunteers we don’t accomplish much anyway! How is volunteering like this not just poverty tourism?’

I think Goat laughed, but I may have imagined that.

‘If you only thought you were here to spectate poverty, would you have come?' Goat inquired. 'Before you came, did you not consider what might have motivated you to buy a plane ticket and a visa to a city half way around the world?'

‘Yes but I have all this privilege and—‘

‘But you already knew that. Why do you think it was important to you to choose Kolkata, above other places, to do service?’ Goat asked, locking my gaze.

I paused for a moment, keeping eye contact.

‘Goat, why are you the only one that talks to me? Why don’t other goats talk?’ I asked, not knowing what else to say.

Goat burped and said nothing, then finally turned back to the pile of rubbish. I chuckled, and turned back to the hostel for lunch.


It was the last day in Kolkata, and I made my way quickly toward the storefront where Goat sat.

‘Goat,’ I said, approaching the shop front briskly, ‘Goat, I think I know why I flew halfway around the world.’

Goat sat down, preparing to listen.

‘I think I’ve struggled most with the element of ego; there’s something narcissistic in thinking that one would be able to make positive change anywhere, especially a 14-hour plane ride away.

I pause, Goat nods.

‘But there’s also something valuable in the human exchange that necessarily becomes a part of service. Since I've been here, people have shared with me tremendously, shown me the places they've lived and struggled. At the same time, I've done my best to reciprocate. I've tried to listen, remember, and value these stories for what they are, not what I’d like them to be. How can I pity the successful student and full time worker who happens to live in a plywood home on the sidewalk? I see that she experiences hardship, I know that her life is in danger, but pity does no justice to explain neither her strength nor the beautiful smile she wears as she shows you her home. Corporate theft, unjust economies, and social systems of oppression are real, but in opposing these destructive institutions we should not forget to be human with other humans.’

I stopped talking, and Goat did nothing but nod his head in a tilt to the side. I smiled back.

‘It’d be wise not to miss breakfast today. It’s gonna be a hot one.’

‘Thanks, Goat.’

‘Any time human.’

‘This might be the last time, actually. I leave tomorrow.’

‘In any case; til next time. Best of luck, human.’ And Goat turned back to the pile of rubbish.

‘Goodbye Goat,’ I said, and turned to come back from whence I came.

-Ben Rosbrook, 2015

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Durick Library: Best College Library (Fact).

The library offers an obvious flavor of academic utility: academic literature, miles of novels and other books, online resources, computers, study spaces, etc. Not only do students have access to resources from our own library, but from other libraries (other universities, I believe) who participate in our inter-library loan. One might say that the library is endless in its offerings of academic resources; last semester when Common Ground asked a librarian if the club could co-purchase the rights to a film, they offered to pay for the whole thing (Intersexion is now available for rent from the DVD stacks), so you can pretty much get what you need. But there's more to the library than just academics, and those qualities are the ones that: (a) make it the special place that it is, and (b) will probably comprise the more significant aspects of my memories spending time there.

The Strangely Hidden History

Last semester, I got to tour the archives and "secret room" of the library, which are two of the only spaces not readily accessible by the student body (without permission). Not only was it wicked cool to see parts of the library I'd dreamed of seeing since freshman year (seriously, those windows into the secret room on the far right front of the library are mysterious!), but I also learned that our library houses some serious history and treasures. These include but are not limited to: an *alleged* piece of the cross (like THE cross), a relic from the body of Saint Edmund (his skin), and Sermones de patientia in Job, which was published in 1474 (like, before the Native Americans saved Chris Columbus and his crew after nearly drowning in the Ocean Blue). This tour was the first time I knew we had any of this, and my point in sharing is that Durick automatically become ten times cooler when you consider the mass of unique historic artifacts that rest beneath the chairs of these studious Purple Knights.

It's Like Our Living Room (Imagine Gryffindor House).

Definitely Gryffindor (Dailey Room).
You know how some witch or wizard always happens to be lounging in the Gryffindor common room when Hermione, Ron and Harry stumble in post-plotting or post-delinquency? You don't? OK: well it's this magical space filled with fluffy chairs, pictures on the wall, and what I imagine to be the warm scent of magic. In these ways, I find Gryffindor house to be like Durick (if we had a fireplace that would be BOMB). Walking into the library is like entering a hybrid world of studiousness and napping (we really do nap in there), with the occasional social exchange between stressing classmates or busy friends. Someone's always reading some book, and more often than not you'll see a student without their shoes. It is the most comfortable place on campus to bust out a paper, cram some studying, or even plan out an organized academic schedule if that's what you're into. Either way, I and most of the people I know get most of our homework done there, and I'm unconvinced that this can be explained by anything but library magic (which probably comes from the archives downstairs!).

Everyone Has their own spot (because there are so many).

Different people find comfort in different spots; whereas I'm more of a table-and-chair kind of person, my boyfriend Trevor can read dozens-of-pages articles in armchairs that put me to sleep. So depending on the type of student/type of homework, one can seek out: independent study cubicles, computer labs, a food-friendly study room downstairs, group project tables, individual tables in the bird's nest, or, like I've mentioned, fluffy armchairs. The library-goers with whom I often associate are frequent fliers in the Dailey Room, which also houses the Global Eyes photo exhibition (which showcases student photography from around the world). My personal favorite, though, are the two most secluded study cubicles at the end of the rolling stacks in the basement (you kinda have to find them). I'll be happy to consult with anyone looking to find a Durick study spot that best suits them, just shoot me an email ;) (sort of kidding but I'll actually help you if you want).

Lollipops and Other Comforts

Durick's Den--the location of much snacking and finals
coffee breaks.
I think I've called Durick comfortable more than once, and that's due to more than just the sleep-inducing armchairs. Next time you're in the library, take a left at the top of the stairs and head for the encyclopedias. Across the aisle from the research desks you will likely find a large pink bowl of purple and gold lollipops, supplied courtesy of the library for nothing more than pure happiness and study calmness. During finals, there are cookies, coffee and hot chocolate in the food-friendly Durick's Den (in the basement), because the library knows we're stressed and wants us to be happy. It is the plurality of possible study spaces, wonderful librarians and college staff, plus amenities such as these that make Durick the truly welcoming place that it is, and for this I don't hesitate to call it my favorite building on campus.

If you have any questions about the library or want a personal tour, I will be more than happy to oblige at any time.

Thanks for reading, and happy studies!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Summer Research On-Campus.

Each year, the Social Science Research Center at Saint Mike's accepts applications from students looking to pursue summer research with professors. I'm pleased to say that my application was accepted, and I'll be doing research on private prisons with Professor Walsh in the Economics department this summer!

The SSRC, as well as the Office of the Vice President of Academic Affairs, which also gives students awards for independent research, offer unique opportunities in that the students selected have quite a bit of autonomy in determining the question, hypotheses, and methods of their research. So while my professor will advise me in the process of gathering data and crunching numbers, the direction of my research is largely up to me, At the end of the summer, I'll have a final paper written as the culmination of the investigation, which I'll be able to present at the academic symposium at the end of my senior year.

There are also students who do research through organizations like EPSCoR, which works with Saint Michael's faculty and students, but is an external organization. My best friend and room mate Carlos Sian just did his final presentation on the research he did last summer (pictured), which was about the levels of ammonium and nitrate in Vermont streams and watersheds.

This availability of such opportunities really speaks to the culture of academia on campus, because many students are actively engaged in research during the summer and also throughout the academic year. Obtaining such a position often requires extra work and motivation, but the students who take advantage of them are learning invaluable skills in their various fields that will translate well in other long-term pursuits. And these researchers are no joke--a student in the chemistry department was recently the first Saint Michael's student to be named a Goldwater scholar, which is a very prestigious award.

I'm very grateful and humbled to be selected for such an opportunity, and I look forward to beginning my research this June! If you have any questions about research opportunities, my research, or anything in general, don't hesitate to shoot me an email (

Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Spring Break in Mexico.

El rancho de La Bufadora.
In terms of atypical-typical spring breaks, mine was everything you might expect, and not. The Wilderness Program often runs extended excursions over winter and spring breaks, having visited locations far-flung as Kenya and Scotland. Over break, I participated in a trip to Baja California, Mexico, with a group of 9 other paddlers, including our program director, student leader, and local instructor from San Diego.

We flew from Burlington to San Diego on the first Saturday, spending the night at Jen's house (our west-coast contact, and a peer of SMC's own Todd Wright's in the world of prestigious paddling instruction). That night we slept on her back porch under the stars; a nice and sudden departure from the cold and snowy of our beloved Vermont.

Our not-so-minivan and boats.
We spent Sunday traveling from San Diego to La Bufadora, Mexico, boats in tow behind our beautiful boxy not-so-minivan (the rack on top is my favorite part). On our way we crossed through Tijuana, Ensenada (where we stopped for fish tacos and quesadillas at the market), and finally out to La Bufadora, only after picking up some tamales for dinner. The area was jaw-droppingly beautiful; geographically, it's a desert on the ocean. As you can imagine, the weather here was nice like San Diego ;)

Our first  day on the water consisted of crossing from the peninsula to La Isla de Todos Santos, which was about a 7 nautical mile crossing. Being our first day out, many of us spent some time finding our sea legs (or since we were sitting, sea bums?). The swell (waves) on the coast that day were pretty big, so the crossing took some time. When we finally arrived to the islands, though, there were seals and other aquatic amigos who saluted our arrival (seriously, they were super friendly). However it had been a long day, so hard ground was a much-celebrated accomplishment when we finally made it ashore. Also, our camp was a bunkroom built inside an old lighthouse, next to the newer one built to replace it (pictured). It was a wicked cool experience camping out in such a unique place.

Our second day out we paddled the features around the island. In coastal conditions, there are often rocks and other geological formations that allow for white-water-esqe boating in the swell. This week was my first time being exposed to conditions like that, and the playtime we found in the islands was like something in a dream. After circumventing the larger island and looping back to camp, we posted up for a good nights sleep before our 7nm trek home.

After our excursion to the islands, we spent Thursday and Friday paddling around La Bufadora. We paddled through everything from caves to 'slots' (wave runs that will form between two rocks as a swell comes in from the ocean), and even a couple blowholes (La Bufadora actually means 'the blowhole', and we paddled i the blowhole that the town is famous for). I found myself exponentially more comfortable in a boat from the instruction I received from our own Todd Wright, as well as our west-coast amiga Jen Kleck. While I had a ton of fun all week, it felt great to develop my paddling skills and learn some techniques that I had never learned. By far, the most enjoyable and productive Spring Break I've experienced in my young life.

While my words can't do justice to the beauty we encountered on this trip, these photos from the Wilderness Program might be more successful:

Here's to more adventures in the future, and thanks for reading!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Paddling in Baja: a preview.

Over spring break I'll be traveling to Baja, Mexico for a week of kayaking in the pacific waters. Our group will fly out to San Diego where we'll meet with Jenn K., a contact of Todd Wright's and a fellow of his in paddling certification. After that, we'll pack the van, and drive to the region north of Ensenada, where we'll begin our adventures.

While there, we'll spend full days paddling along the coast, and at least one (if not two nights) exploring around and camping on small islands off the coast. I'm looking forward to both developing my paddling skills in a different environment, and spending time in Mexico; a country whose politics, social welfare and culture are heavily present in the U.S. I had the opportunity to travel to Mexico once before while in high school, but I was much farther south and I imagine the experience will be somewhat different.

I'm looking forward to sharing stories about the trip when I return, but first I've got a week of class and some last-minute gear sorting and overall planning to do ;)

Happy Spring Break, and thanks for reading!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Can I Work in College?

Many students wonder whether they'll be able to hold a part-time job. Like a true economist, I'll tell you that the answer to that depends entirely on individual circumstances.

Obviously, both school and work require commitment and follow-through. Just like you need to take tests and fulfill certain course expectations, you have to show up to work and do your job well. So adding a part-time job to the school equation certainly adds another dimension to the busy student paradigm, which is incredibly prevalent on this campus.

Speaking from my own experience, I would only recommend working a part-time job off campus if it's not to the detriment of academic and extracurricular expectations. For example, I work at a deli down the road from campus; I can take the CCTA Route 2 from my apartment on North Campus to work, and then to class. The commute is short and straightforward, so my concessions are minimal. Further, I work the lunch shift on the days of the week that I don't have class during that time. Basically, work fits into my day like classes would if I had them at that time, so there's very little trade-off (except that I have long days every day).

Not having a car, I wouldn't be able to work if my job required a substantial commute because of the commitments I have on campus. It would also be more challenging if I had to schedule evening work hours, since that time frame is when I'm doing most of my extracurricular stuff. I've struck a lucky balance, but a balance  nonetheless, and that's what's important.

That being said, it's also possible to hold a work-study if your financial package allows, and there are on-campus employment options (Sodexo, Einsteins, or even Cumby's, Simon's or Tilley's, but those three aren't technically on-campus).

So happy job-hunting/class-scheduling! As always, hit me up at with questions/comments.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Dining in College: The Importance of Creativity.

Turn this...
As a vegetarian especially, cafeteria-type dining arrangements can present a certain set of challenges in terms of trying to stay healthy and enjoy what you eat. In my experience, the dining hall at SMC has been pretty accommodating: there are tofu and seitan at the stir-fry option, every dinner offers a vegan entree, and if you really can't find what you need, the gluten-free and vegan fridge might have something for you.

And with all these options, there's a lot of room for creativity. Maybe the vegan option one night is black beans, rice and vegetables, but you're not really in the mood for veggies. You can grab a wrap, throw the beans and rice in it, grab some cheese from the sandwich/salad bar, add lettuce and hot sauce: BOOM, burrito.

...into this!
Another example: last night at dinner, they were offering roasted butternut squash with the meat option. Grabbing that, cheese, hummus, veggies and some condiments in a wrap made this veg-head a happy camper. Plus, you can reward your creative job well done with a side of fries, because we all know (I know) those are a force more tempting than Shmeagle's precious ring.

If I've learned anything the past couple years, it's that different foods are not separate entities. Sometimes breakfast sandwiches involve hummus, tomato soup and mayo. Or maybe you ask the omelette cook to throw some spinach in your order. When you look at all the food as a spectrum of options rather than concrete dishes, the possibilities become endless.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Jay Peak: walking the walk (or skiing the ski?).

I've talked a lot about the wonders of the ski world and the premier terrain to be found in our beloved state of Vermont. Since I've finally managed to make the trek up to Jay Peak as of this last weekend, I figured I might share a couple snapshots of my adventures in the great northeast kingdom.

My friend Chyleigh and I on the lift; she was visiting
from Boston where she goes to school, and
we used to ski race together.

Shot from the Jet Triple.

The beautiful peak in all it's glory.
Here's to a first offering from the snow gods unto the spring semester!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, January 20, 2014

That's so SMC: 5 Unique Qualities of Student Life at Saint Mike's.

In general, Saint Mike's adheres to certain generalities of small school-ship: liberal arts, small classes, personable professors (I love when I can sneak alliteration into a blog post!!!). And on top of all these great things, I find that SMC manages to retain a significant autonomy of identity in the way students "do college" here.

1. Dinnertime? Entire first-year floor descends upon the dining hall.
In my experience, it was more of a challenge to try eating dinner alone than with the whole of my first-year floor (that's men and women--another reason why Joyce 4th was one of the cooler floors my year ;P). It may be the proximity of the dining hall to the first-year quad, or the closeness and excitement of one's first year of school, or maybe first-years at SMC just can't stand to eat without 25 of their closest friends sitting around them in close quarters. Causation aside, it's not a rare thing to see the "long tables" (10-ish people) of the dining hall jam-packed with bright-eyed and bushy-tailed first year compadres. They're easy to spot, because about four people will be eating salad or something healthy, and everyone else will have french fries on their plate no matter the main dish they've chosen. I'm kidding, sorta, but it is a heart-warming and nostalgic experience any time I do happen to glimpse this sort of thing in action.
My best friend and room mate Carlos
during an extended Alliot sit.

2. "Alliot sitting."
Ask me or any of my friends, and I guarantee we'd all agree that Alliot Sitting it a top-ten favorite hobby. The art of Alliot sitting might be pursued in any of the following ways: 
  • Extended homework sessions, to which we usually commit 2.5-5 hours of sitting (sometimes across 2 meals or more); drinking coffee, snacking, and chiseling away at our schoolwork. This lasts until we feel satisfied with our accomplishments, or until our pores carry the familiar smell of dining hall and success.
  • People-watching and socializing, especially on the weekends. While this bit is more popular on Saturday and Sunday brunch, it is not uncommon to spot the Procrastinon peoplewatchus during the school week as well.
  • Finally, upperclassmen who live in housing with kitchens (i.e. housing that has a reduced meal plan, unless the student opts-in) might also engage in the extended alliot sit to obtain the most bang-for-buck out of one's restricted (40/semester) swipes. Often, such an upperclassmen might use the above tactics as a guise for such an escapade.
Otherwise, sometimes people just sit in Alliot for a really long time because: (1) there's always food there, and (2) you usually run into more people than you can sit down for a meal with. It's just a really great place to sit.

3. We sleep in the library.
Ideally, not in the middle of studying (but sometimes). There are some days when you've been up since 6, have had class/work/placements/internships/clubs all day, and are sitting in the library at 10pm trying to get some work done. Or, it's finals, and you've simply been in the library since the crack of dawn (or 8am). In any case, Saint Mike's kids sometimes use the Library for catnaps, and it's not a weird thing. I myself find that a post-dinner coffee and 15-20 min library snooze is a great way to perk up for study time after a full day of [insert responsibilities here]. But take caution: it's best to pursue study snoozes when accompanied by a friend/phone alarm (on vibrate!) to wake you back up, lest ye snooze til the lib hath closed.

4. We don't do it by ourselves, and we know it.
My freshman and sophomore year, I have Hida and Harvey to thank for making me breakfast every morning; I owe Dragan, Jim and Gary for driving me to and fro North and Main Campuses every day as a Junior; I couldn't do anything without the support and advice of my peers; and if not for my professors and mentors in a multiplicity of capacities at this school, I'd not have learned nearly as much as I have as a student thus far. My point is that the close relationships I, and many of my peers, make with staff, faculty, and fellow students on campus carry us throughout our college experiences; there's no denying it makes our days brighter when our eggs are ready two minutes after entering the dining hall, or when we have friendly conversation on the bus ride home to North in the evenings. If asked to describe the strong community we claim to have here, I would cite these relationships and experiences as evidence of this phenomenon in my own life.

5. More often than not, we're doing something.
Although the "involved student" stereotype falls into the paradigm of "small liberal arts school", it's a quality I love about SMC, and I feel that we put our own spin on it. In any given circle of friends, there's probably a club president or an SA representative present, and about 70% of students volunteer with MOVE in some capacity before graduating. If nothing else, we know how to take advantage of our time on campus, and since 99% of us live here, that's quite a bit of time.

If you think something should be added to this list, feel free to shoot me an email ( or hit me up on twitter (@benrosbrook). Or for those potential lib-nappers (prospective students), feel free to contact me with any questions, comments or conversations!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

6 Fun Things To Do In The Winter If You Don't Ski or Ride.

Saint Michael's is certainly a popular school for people who, at any given moment, would rather be on a snowy slope (as evident in the $65 Smugg's season pass that's subsidized for students by the Wilderness Program). But there are still many student who don't ski or ride, and winter can be fun for them too!

1. Burlington Arts and Music

The Flynn Center, Higher Ground, and tons of smaller venues in Burlington and Winooski offer music, touring Broadway musicals, plays, and entertainment all year (American Idiot will be at the Flynn in February!), for most of which one can find reduced student pricing. Otherwise, Burlington is a magnet of sorts for local, creative and delicious restaurants (like Bueno, Henry's, Flatbread, The Farmhouse...)

2. Ice Climbing (seriously)

The WP offers ice climbing excursions throughout the spring semester, and the trips are accessible for any level of climber. Also, the program will provide all the gear, guiding, and expertise of a professional guiding company, at a small cost to participants. But, let's be real, the WP is a viable option during any season.

3. Indoor Climbing at Petra Cliffs

Students can also go indoor rock climbing at the local gym, Petra Cliffs. Saint Mike's students can get a schoolyear pass for $45, also through the WP. Especially for those who like to be active in warmer temperatures, Petra is a fun way to break a sweat and stay in shape for summer climbing. Saint Mike's also has a small climbing wall in the Athletic Center (Ross/Tarrant).

4. Boston

Megabus and Amtrak offer bus and train service to Boston from Burlington every day of the week, so if you want to escape to a city for the weekend, it's a short (3h18m) and inexpensive ride away. Montreal is another option, and a little closer too (1h45m); an obvious caveat being that a passport is required for travel. While Burlington's a lively place, super urban environments are not far away.

5. Intramural Sports

Varsity sports are a huge commitment, but you can still play gym sports like basketball and volleyball in Saint Mike's intramural sports leagues. They're low-intensity and lots of fun, and winning teams get t-shirts ;p

6. MOVE 

MOVE offers volunteer opportunities all year, from weekly local programs to extended service trips. Extended service happen over winter and spring break, and following the end of the spring semester; going everywhere from Kolkata to Kentucky. The latter involves an application process, but anyone can sign up for weekly programs if there's space available.

So even if you're not a boarder/skier, Saint Mike's offers enough to keep even the least-wintry of us busy. That being said, you can learn to ski if you'd like! Subsidized lessons are offered through the WP, as well :D

Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Starting off the New Year Right!

So last year, my spring semester started like this.

I'm hoping the second time around, that won't be the case. After coincidentally having spend NYE in New York City with some of the same friends from last year, I'm headed back to SMC this weekend to give the Wilderness Program's Backcountry program and AIARE training another go. I need to complete this training in order to officially become a Backcountry ski instructor in the program, so here's to hoping all my bones remain intact.

Because this would be problematic (source).
In other news, I've also decided to change my class schedule slightly. As of my last post, I had been signed up for Calc II this semester. I switched back to third-semester Spanish though, because while Calc might be useful and even enjoyable, I'm someone who has a knack for languages and haven't even taken a foreign language class since freshman year. So, while this decision doesn't explicitly relate to my Econ major, I think that taking Spanish will be fun for me, and useful in other ways.

Finally, in honor of the new year, I've decided to tack on a couple of my intended resolutions for 2014. Resolutions are pretty cliche and notoriously short-lived, but I don't see the harm in setting goals for oneself, and doing the best to see those goals through.

1. Using a language when I hear it. More often than one might think, I'll be walking down the street, hear a conversation, and think to myself, "Was that Polish?!" And, more often than not, I don't even make an attempt to figure it out. It's really easy to become shy when trying to practice another language, and I want to change that in my own life. So in 2014, I want to use my language skills whenever possible.

2. Going indoor climbing at least twice a week. As a climbing instructor, one of the more valuable certifications one can have in the program is the Single-Pitch Instructor, because that certification allows one to lead a trip independently of a superior, which makes the trip scheduling more flexible, and gives the program a stronger staff. This winter, I'm looking forward to working on the skills I need to know so that I might be able to complete that certification this summer. This is a more challenging and ambitious goal, and I'll be psyched if I'm able to attain that certification this summer.

3. Continue journaling. I've started journaling a bit this past semester and over the break, and as someone who likes to write I've found it enjoyable and therapeutic. Here's to continuing a productive habit.

4. Skiing whenever I can. I'm throwing this in for fun, I don't think it should be that hard.

Cause, like, this is where I'll be skiing (source).
So there they are, and here's to a new year! Hopefully I'll see some of your fine selves up at Jay some time.

Thanks for reading!