December 13, 2013
The Wednesday before final exams is usually pretty normal, but on Thursday, it all changes. Classes have ended and the library goes into 24-hour mode.
The dorms are empty; everyone retreats to their study space of choice. The library, the campus coffee shops (all five,) the student center and the common rooms are suddenly full of intently-studying students surrounded by stacks of books and papers.
Finals are a time when normal sleep, study, and eating patterns are thrown out the window. Everyone begins living off coffee, tea, soda, and their favorite snacking food (mine is almonds and cheese-its).
During next few days, your study schedule starts revolving around the times you decide to take your exams. The nice thing about Conn is that, as part of the Honor Code, we’re trusted to take our exams whenever we want during the exam week. Basically, there are three blocks of time each day you get can chose from from: 9am, 2pm, or 7pm.
Finally, even when you’re spending late nights in the library, there are moments of relaxation always available all around campus. The librarians bring out coloring books and board games, and staff members are known for walking the aisles giving out juice boxes and energy bars.
There’s also a moonlight breakfast, taking place from 10-12 p.m. the evening before exams. There’s nothing like a late-night snack of breakfast food and cupcakes. This year, a magician performed tricks, roaming through crowds of students.
December 11, 2013
About a week ago, I got to see an incredible performance. I knew the topic revolved around mental health, but I really didn’t know what I’d see that evening.
What I saw was extraordinarily powerful. Charlotte Weber '16, the writer, director and lone performer, put on a show that made me think about mental health in an entirely new light. Instead of simply telling, Weber brought to life the effects of mental health issues for her audience. She portrayed her personal connection the topic and connected with each audience member.
Finally, she asked for help. Charlotte asked for all those in the audience to look around them and realize that mental health issues are not closeted in one corner of society; they are all around us. Even on campus, there are many safe spaces and professionals available to help students.
From Charlotte’s performance, I realized I could do something. Charlotte took theater, a topic she loves, and used it to educate the world about a serious issue. I left an inspired activist.
December 9, 2013
Thanksgiving break is probably one of the most anticipated breaks of the academic year. While everyone's break is different, I'm sure we can all agree that it is still too short.
Before my train even pulled in to the station on my ride home, I had received more than 5 different text messages from friends asking me when I'd be arriving and when I’d be around for a meal or to catch up. These texts served as a pleasant reminder that I was "officially" home... and that my presence was missed. After squeezing in as many catch-up sessions as possible, Turkey-Day awaited. There is no better smell than that of dinner in the early afternoon.
On Thanksgiving, a blissful sleep ensues after dinner. No one in my house wakes up early to go to a hectic shopping center, instead we all sleep for as long as we wish. The sleep is fueled by satisfaction, drawn equally from the previous meal and from the friends I've reconnected with. Uninterrupted and stress-free is the best way to sleep.
December 5, 2013
I am an aspiring science writer, and since I know experience is everything, I write for The College Voice, Conn’s student newspaper.
My most recent article is about the faculty dance show taking place next week. Since my former roommate and my friend from chemistry are both in show, I interviewed them for my article. Since completing our short, spur of the moment interview during lunch, I’ve found that I act quite differently when I’m asking questions and conducting myself as a journalist, than when I’m hanging out as a friend. I found that my tone of voice changed, my questions were pointed and I included follow-up questions until I got the quotes necessary.
It was an eye-opening realization:even though I am one of the least confrontational people ever, when I’m trying to get quotes or an interview for my article, I can be very determined.
December 3, 2013
A few weeks ago, visiting artist Alex Rubio worked with my class of painting and drawing students on a collaborative three-panel mural project, being painted on site. The art department has been able to host Rubio through the support of the Dayton Artist-in-Residence Program, which allows students to interact and learn from artists who are not typically accessible in an academic setting. Rubio worked with us non-stop all weekend, teaching his technique, mentoring, and simply getting to know us. He says that to him, the most important part of the whole project is the process and getting the students to feel a great sense of ownership over the work. He told us from day one, “This is not my project, it is ours and all of your names will go on it.”
December 2, 2013
Ever notice that you're never really "normal" when hanging out with friends? Your inside jokes and secret ways of communicating set you apart. People might give you confused looks if you all randomly burst into laughter when nothing really happened. I'd like to call this “comfortable strangeness.” Once you reach this with a group of people, you'll find that it is difficult to be anything but a little weird.
I always eat late breakfast/early lunch in Smith with two classmates — very close friends — before my 11:50 class. We share a comfortable strangeness over sandwiches and bagels. We recently sat with a friend we don't often see and shared the same realization; we were struggling to be normal. It actually made lunch even more hilariously awkward. Our friend departed before we did and we laughed about how we never realized how strange we were. It wasn't until we were around other people that we felt the need to tone down our overly-excited interactions. It's a nice connection to have with friends; this comfortable strangeness.
November 30, 2013
How to describe the third floor of Shain Library in a word or two? “Creepily quiet.”
Each of the four floors in Shain Library have their own personality, I’ve come to learn. The basement contains the Blue Camel Café, serving such wonderful pick-me-ups as red velvet cupcakes and chai lattes. People gather in the booths surrounding the Blue Camel to study in groups. That is, to read — then reread — a few lines of an assignment while catching up with friends.
The main floor is where that confident junior goes to show his friends — and whomever else — that he’s got everything under control. In fact, he’s so in control, he can afford to look up from his studies at the passer-bys printing their assignments and to wave to his many acquaintances. Near him, study groups gather to prepare for biology or chemistry tests and classmates discuss their essays when using the desktop computer stations.
In spite of all the action on the first floor, the second floor beats them. It’s home to wooden tables tucked into bookshelf alcoves, cozy window-side cubicles, movie-viewing rooms, and a spacious Apple computer lab. All perks of the library are available with the freedom of speech. The freedom, that is, to brainstorm verbally or just plain laugh. It’s ok to make a little bit of noise on the second floor.
The third floor is where laughter goes to die, along with other noise. Brace yourself for evil glares if the music from your headphones plays too loudly or if, god forbid, you tread too heavily towards the water fountain. The silence does, however, create a haven for those needing to write that seven-page French cinema paper or read an entire book...by tomorrow. Noise-makers should just leave. Or, better, switch floors.
November 29, 2013
Artful Resistance was an event hosted by the education department in the Harris Atrium in response to contemporary issues in education. Students stopped by to make art and express their creativity. In their art, they asked questions including, “what do you love about education, and what have you lost?” and “What does your dream school look like?” Some of the works produced at the event will be displayed at a gallery in downtown New London.
November 28, 2013
I’ve got some tutors at the Academic Resource Center that I definitely have to thank. Organic chemistry has been quite the ride thus far and tutors have been there along the way. From them, I find myself learning new and even faster techniques to solve problems I thought I was doing efficiently. They take time out of their schedules to help us in calm, group settings... something all of us desperately need.
Orgo can be pretty stressful. Every student is welcome at the Academic Resource Center where tutors are available from most academic departments. I find myself enjoying the group tutoring sessions. It’s better for me to have access to a place where I don’t have to know all the answers and I don’t have to come prepared with questions. I can just see what types of questions others have and use those to hone areas and techniques that need improvement.
These groups help me realize that not all learning has to happen within the classroom. Other students also have the key: whether they are in front of the class teaching you that the electrons from double bonds can be electron dense areas or they’re in the seat next to you teaching you that same thing, listening is just as important as individual thinking. Group tutoring definitely has it’s perks.
November 27, 2013
A few days ago, professors Tristan Borer and Afshan Jafar hosted a discussion about Saudi Arabian human rights issues. Both professors are experts on the topic and, at the invitation of the Women’s Center, Think SAFE Project and Yalla Bina Arabic Club, led a conversation that was sparked by a viral video about female drivers in Saudi Arabia. I was one of 40 students who joined the chat while enjoying some free coffee and pastries from Coffee Grounds.