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!