The crosswordians

February 7, 2014  |  The Experience, Marina Stuart '16

When I arrived at Conn, I ate most of my meals in the dining halls nearest to my dorm. As I expanded my horizons, at the urging of a friend, I ventured south to Freeman Dining Hall (in Freeman House.) It was there where I first discovered the joy of at the New York Times crossword puzzles.

Of course, I knew what the crossword was, but had never actually tried it before. What started as a simple lunch became a meeting of the minds. An architectural studies major/art minor with French language skills teamed up with this environmental studies major/English minor who knows Spanish. Together we managed our way through the Tuesday puzzle and -- on a good week -- even the Thursday crossword.

Since my friend graduated, I have continued doing the crossword almost every weekday. My group of crosswordians has grown to include two psychology majors and an East Asian studies major, all of us with varying language abilities. One time, our crossword attempts extended to an evening meal with my track team, and all of us worked together to complete a Wednesday crossword (which, for those who haven’t yet become familiar with the New York Times crossword, is kind of difficult.)

Doing the crossword is one of the new routines that I’ve developed at Conn. It is easy to pick up, because Conn students have access to free copies of the New York Times every school day. The daily challenge has also helped me keep up with current events beyond our small campus, and I’ve met some great new competitors in the process, too.

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Tags:  |  The Experience, Dining  |  The Experience, Miscellaneous

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Snow day!

February 6, 2014  |  The Experience, Laura Cianciolo '16

The dorms are especially cozy during snowstorms. I was heading to sled in the Arbo with some friends during yesterday’s snow day but the flurries outside made Smith, my dorm, almost too cozy to leave.


Tags:   |  The Experience, On Campus  |  The Experience, Photography

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Terraforming nightmare

February 6, 2014  |  The Experience, CJ Robinson '16

Think of your worst nightmare. Maybe it involves a dangerous, scary or intimidating situation you find yourself in.

I’m sorry for making you envision that, but I recently faced a similar fear in my new class, “The Soviet Union and its Legacies.”

In the first five minutes of class, my professor placed a blank map of the eastern hemisphere in front of us and asked us to fill in as many countries as we knew. When my face turned white, it was probably a dead giveaway that geography is my worst topic of study by far. I probably know more about quantum mechanics.

After the short quiz, in which I could only locate a few country names, my professor reassured us that we would learn this entire map in just a few weeks. Sometimes you have to start at the bottom to realize that there is somewhere to go and more to learn. Taking classes like Soviet Union excites me and gives my brain a welcome break from my usual science courses.

At the same time, I learn more about places I’ve never studied, and I learn to look beyond the cultural misconceptions about these foreign countries and their people. Pretty soon, I’ll know what the true history of the region was like, but for now, I’m comforted to know that my fears, fears of being put on-the-spot and fears of geography, aren’t always as bad as they seem in my nightmares.

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Tags:  |  The Experience, Academics

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New semester, new ideas

February 4, 2014  |  Sust Blog, Alexis Cheney '16  |  The Experience, Alexis Cheney '16

Second semester has kicked off! Gone are the multiple-hour-long meals of winter track camp. Back are rehearsals, volunteering, homework, club meetings, jobs and classes. Fortunately, I love my courses. Here are some interesting tidbits I have learned from them:

From my International Studies course, Perspectives of Modern Global Society:

Individuals raised bilingual are better at adapting to new rules than those raised mono-lingual. They are better at solving tasks that are confusing due to rules of the task changing unpredictably. “Monolinguals have much more difficulty than bilinguals at accommodating to a switch in rules.” — Jared Diamond in “The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?”

From my French course, Historicizing France:

The souls of true friends are so joined into one another that one cannot find the seam that joins them in the first place. “En l’amitié de quoi je parle, elles [leurs âmes] se mêlent et confondent l'une en l'autre, d'un mélange si universel qu'elles effacent et ne retrouvent plus la couture qui les a jointes.” — Michel de Montaigne (1580)

From my voice lesson instructor:

The vibration of vocal chords in the larynx produces sound. The speed at which vocal chords vibrate determines pitch. The amount of air one breathes determines volume.— Professor Jurate Svedaite-Waller

From my Logic course:

A tenuous argument gains strength by narrowing its conclusion, the statement that evidence (premises) claim to justify. Therefore, one sure-fire way to strengthen one’s argument in any field is to narrow the scope of one’s claim. — Professor Derek Turner

As much as I love the leisurely meals of vacation, nothing quite beats the wonders revealed through classes.

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Tags:  |  The Experience, Academics

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The 'basement party'

February 3, 2014  |  The Experience, Calli Reynolds '17

Do you remember in high school when you were finally old enough to understand what made the "big kids" so cool? Those secret after-school festivities and late-night parties…

Every spring, the annual student-directed, all-inclusive dance show, Eclipse, takes place at Conn. It is one of the highest attended dance events, and it showcases underrepresented art forms, specifically African American and Latino art. This year the theme is “Basement Party,” drawing from high school memories of those “big kids” and the music they listened to.

After my first rehearsal, I am more excited than ever to be a part of this annual production. My group is dancing to Katy Perry's Dark Horse, 23 by Mike Will Made It and Flawless by Beyonce, among other songs. Working with such an energetic group of Camels to produce something amazing has proven to be fun, but also challenging. Sometimes an hour and a half in the studio doesn't seem long enough. Once everyone starts dancing, you can't help but want to continue. I can already imagine the greatness to come, and I am thrilled to be a part of this tradition.

The 38th annual Eclipse takes place April 26 at 7 p.m.

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Tags:  |  The Experience, Clubs & Orgs  |  The Experience, Traditions

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Creative writing in the community

January 30, 2014  |  Sust Blog, Alexis Cheney '16  |  The Experience, Alexis Cheney '16

With my love of creative writing and my interest in serving the community, I have begun volunteering at Sound Community Services, a non-profit organization that helps individuals with behavioral needs gain independence. It’s a place where I continue to learn about New London and individuals with behavioral health needs.

The College’s OVCS (the Office of Volunteering and Community Services) helps match students with volunteer opportunities and arranges for vans to transport volunteers to and from their sites. For the first time last semester, the van dropped me off at Sound Community Services. Cynthia, the program director, greeted me warmly. Having told her I intend to major in English, she suggested that I help out with Friday morning creative writing workshops.

I had no idea that, only one week later, I would lead the workshop single-handedly. Fortunately, I had arrived prepared, and I handed out a poem, “Where I’m From” by George Ella Lyon, to the five participants. We read the poem aloud, then we each wrote poems describing where we come from, both literally and figuratively. These poems conveniently helped the group get to know one another. As much as I love learning about the backgrounds of the patients, I also enjoy hearing their fiction pieces.

On Halloween, I copied an exercise that Professor Boyd (an author and professor of English at Conn) uses in her creative writing courses. I prompted my students to invent the age, profession, and gender of an imaginary person, to write these traits on the page, and to share the page with a partner who would then write a story about the fictive person.

The stories that came out of the exercise were out of this world. Outer space, God, free weights, after-work rituals and, yes, a few ghosts all came into the mix.

The workshop took another festive turn with the approach of Thanksgiving. I prompted participants to make a list of what they were thankful for. Friday mornings at Sound Community Services made the top of my list.

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Tags:  |  The Experience, Career & Internships  |  The Experience, New London

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Camaraderie from across the street

January 28, 2014  |  The Experience, Marina Stuart '16

I’ll forever remember March 16, 2013: It was the first time I pole-vaulted competitively. It was about 30 degrees, and snow started falling halfway through the meet. When I cleared the first height, I was surprised to see that among those cheering for me were two pole-vaulters from the Coast Guard Academy.

Our team practices at the Coast Guard Academy’s indoor track. The Academy is just across the street from campus, only a few hundred feet away. Sharing their track gives us a sense of camaraderie, even though we’re also hometown rivals.

Those of us who practice at the Academy get to know a side of the Cadets that many Conn students don’t see. At track meets, our Coast Guard rivals are also our supporters and friends with whom we chat with while warming up. As a first-time pole vaulter (and as last semester’s only female vaulter from Conn,) I especially appreciate the new friendships I have found with our neighbors across the street.

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Tags:  |  The Experience, Athletics  |  The Experience, New London

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Organic!

January 23, 2014  |  The Experience, Laura Cianciolo '16

Every Friday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Fiddlehead’s, New London’s organic food co-op, sets up a booth in Cro, our student center. They sell all sorts of fresh and organic fruits, vegetables and sweets. (I’m known to buy their raspberries, apples and mangos.) Having Fiddleheads and other groups visit campus is perfect for stocking up on healthy food before finals or late-night study sessions.


Tags:   |  The Experience, New London  |  The Experience, On Campus

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Shabbat dinners

January 21, 2014  |  Sust Blog, Alexis Cheney '16  |  The Experience, Alexis Cheney '16

Often on Fridays, my friend Joanna will invite me to a Shabbat dinner, hosted by Hillel, the Jewish organization on campus.

Although I am not Jewish, these dinners have become one of my favorite weekly traditions. A group of about 15 people (often including “Coasties,” our affectionate name for students from the Coast Guard Academy,) gather around tables pushed together in the Jane Addams dining hall.

One of Hillel’s leaders guides us in song and, once we’ve finished singing, we pass around challah and share snippets of our week with one another.

I am grateful to Hillel for providing me a calming space to reflect on my week, catch up with friends, and meet new ones. With the new Hillel House opening this month, I’m excited to be part of more Jewish cultural events.

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Tags:  |  The Experience, Clubs & Orgs  |  The Experience, Dining  |  The Experience, On Campus

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Bed vs. bed

January 17, 2014  |  The Experience, Marina Stuart '16

While I’m here at school, guests occasionally stay in my room at home. Almost everyone tells me how great the room is and how much they enjoy the bed. When I’m home during break, however, it doesn’t really feel like my room anymore. It’s not that I don’t feel at comfortable there, but I long for my dorm room.

People forget that going to college nowadays involves bringing more than just clothes. We bring posters, knickknacks and pictures to make our dorm become our home.

To me, my little dorm room at Conn is my bedroom, study, kitchen and living room. My bed is covered with pillows and blankets I’ve had since childhood. (My purple striped duvet cover is hiding a Little Mermaid comforter.) It is strange, yet oddly comforting, that overtime, my dorm room has begun to feel a little more like home than where I grew up.

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Tags:  |  The Experience, On Campus

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