Monday, April 13, 2015

Why I selected Saint Mike's

Hey everyone!

Library lawn, 13 April 2015.
Two blogs seven days apart? Ben must be done with his thesis!

I'm not, but I'm pretty darn close to it. Got about 20-30 pages left to write and I'm hoping to have that done in the very near future. Fingers crossed!

It's absolutely beautiful on campus right now, and seeing as the 'days til graduation' ticker is down to 27 (less than 648 hours but who's counting?), I'm feeling kinda nostalgic. It's not hard to believe that 4 years have gone by, because so much has happened in that time that it couldn't have been any less than 45 months or so. But since I'm leaving so soon, I find myself longing for the beginning. I miss that first Alliot swipe, and the wonderful realization that yes, I can eat french fries here all the time! I remember the overwhelming process of meeting the other students on my floor, and the mellower, longer process of getting to know them. I imagine the various moments that I decided to call them friends, and I recall the many other friends I've made in the years since that first semester.

Then I think back to my college selection process, and I wonder why I chose Saint Mike's in the first place. No matter how intentional I would have liked to think my decision process was at the time, in retrospect it was little more than a feeling that led me to SMC. During the college application process, I had no idea what I wanted. To give you context, my final decision came down to a large research university in a big east coast city, or a small liberal arts college buried in the Champlain Valley. I was at a crossroads; I had narrowed my options down to two extremes. Ultimately, I felt that Saint Mike's was right for me.

It must have had something to do with a beautiful view of the mountains. I grew up in Syracuse, NY skiing at a little hill outside the city, so memories of trips with my dad and siblings up to Smuggs, Sugarbush, Jay, Killington, etc. filled my consciousness with a romanticized notion of VT at the ultimate wintertime mecca. Part of my decision was probably shaped by the warm familiarity of people I know here. My dad is a Saint Mike's alum ('88), and friends of his from college have settled in the area. In my time here I've been hosted for home-cooked meals with them, instilling in me a broader notion of the idea of home. Some element of my decision must also have been impacted by the professors who teach here. My dad and I were walking around campus the spring of my college decision process, and we ran into a handful of professors walking across campus, all of whom knew my dad from his undergrad years. I remembered stories of my dad having coffee with professors, going to their houses for dinner, and developing friendly and intellectually stimulating repertoires with them. I've been a learner and a bookworm as long as I can remember, so the idea of intimate professor-student relationships must have appealed to me.

In these regards, I've not been disappointed. One can always ski more (in my opinion), but the quality of my skiing experiences here have been fun and fulfilling, as the snow-capped peaks of Camel's Hump are beautiful. Having the opportunity to go visit with close family friends for a meal has given me a sense of home away from home. It's easy to forget the value of dinner-table conversation, until you've been chatting for so long your coffee's cold and you have to go finish that econ paper. And perhaps most importantly, there are too many professors that I like a lot at Saint Mike's. If I and my professors had two weeks with nothing to do, I could spend hours in each of their offices talking about political theory, and the history of economic thought, and problems with development and the World Bank. I could shoot the breeze over a cup of coffee about why Islamophobia in the EU is so darn infuriating. I could write papers about multiculturalism every day for months if only I had the weekends to ski and nothing else to do.

I guess I don't have a very tangible why that drove my decision to choose SMC. But whatever it was, it has certainly served me well.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, April 6, 2015

I Decided to Come Back from Spring Break.

The SMC group lunching at Fort Sumter.
It's been an active few weeks for this student-blogger, so in the words of Lil Wayne, sorry for the wait.

Like I briefly mentioned last time, I spent my spring break week in Charleston, SC kayaking with other SMC students thanks to the Wilderness Program. At that point warm weather days for us had been few and far between, so even the buggy south was a nice reprieve from the frigid north. The weather was beautiful, the kayaking memorable, and it was a nice way to wave au revoir to my time as a student-instructor in the WP. As I write this now graduation day gets even closer, which is a source of relief (and just a bit of stress).

Since I presented my thesis research last Tuesday, March 31, the week after spring break was spent heavily on working out the remaining details of my project. I still have yet to write the paper, but once I do the rest of the semester will be (relatively) smoother sailing until the end.

A dragon statue in the desert near Anza Borrego.
More importantly, however, than spring break or my thesis is the voyage I took to LA for an extended Easter weekend. I got out here last Tuesday night (I flew out of BTV mere hours after presenting my thesis), and will board a plane to return tonight around 10.45. I spent the trip visiting with my boyfriend Trevor, who graduated from Saint Mike's last May. He's been out here doing a year of service with the LA EUIP program, through which he interns at an Environmental Charter School in the city. It's been a year of long distance, so a reunion was overdue to say the least.

We spent the week visiting the desert with Trevor's parents, who were still in town at the time. We've also been to the beach, spent time with people who've been part of Trevor's community this year, and eaten so much delicious food. Imagine a city filled with every 'Little [insert country name]' you can think of, and you're darn close to an accurate representation of Los Angeles' culinary scene.

Unfortunately, I return to the airport (and reality) this evening, but the last few weeks of my final semester have much to look forward to. P-Day, Saint Mikes' spring festival, is coming up, I plan to see Guster at Higher Ground with my friend Bri at the end of the month, and soon enough I'll be finished with homework and projects well into the foreseeable future. After graduation, I'm traveling to South Dakota for a final extended service trip with MOVE. After that, I'm moving to San Diego to work in a kayak shop. A spring of lasts, but with an eye on a summer of firsts.

Until next time, and thanks for reading.