Bella Wischik '23 - Introduction

Photo of Bella W Isabella Wischik ‘23

Hi everyone and welcome to my blog! My name is Bella (she/her) and I am a junior here at Amherst College (time here has been flying by!). I am originally from Queens, NY so the change of environment to Amherst, MA was definitely an adjustment. However, in my first few months, I witnessed just how beautiful our campus is and built friendships with some of the most genuine people I have ever met, who helped make this adjustment for me go so much smoother! Although it may sound cheesy, Amherst is now my second home. I am a current Biochemistry major and a prospective American Studies major, and have enjoyed taking courses in a wide array of subjects.

On campus I love to do many things and I usually like to separate them in my head by jobs versus my extracurriculars. So, here it they are:

 

On-campus jobs

Student Assistant at Robert Frost Library: During the week, you'll either see me behind bookshelves, with loads of books in hand or sitting and smiling at the front desk of our library here on campus, Robert Frost Library. I work side by side with library staff members (many of whom are actually alumni of our school) completing a wide array of tasks including shelving books, helping with incoming resources and manning the front desk! Please come say hi to me (or any desk attendant,) we love to see new faces on campus. 

Tour Guide: This one’s a little more self explanatory, but I am in fact a tour guide here on campus! Most of my tours of campus have been remote so far, but that will soon change. While I did enjoy my time sharing my many pictures of my time here at Amherst, I’m super excited to start giving in person tours soon!

 

Extracurriculars

Club Soccer Team: During my first semester of my first year at Amherst, I joined our Women’s Club Soccer team, and I’m so happy I did! From the group dinners at Val (Valentine Dining Hall, our dining hall on campus), to the fun late night practices, I’ve had a blast both playing soccer and making many friends along the way. 

Rotaract Club: I was encouraged to join this community service club by one of my best friends on campus (thank you stephanie!), and have enjoyed making “Candy Grams” to send to friends, designing cards for health care workers and “thank you’s” to staff members. One of my favorite parts of Rotaract is being able to enjoy some delicious snacks like candy, boba and Pocky during club meetings! 


I’m looking forward to sharing my Amherst journey with anyone who’s interested, and am excited to share little snapshots of my time at Amherst on this blog. If you have any questions, points of confusion or interest about Amherst please feel free to email me at iwischik23@amherst.edu. Looking forward to hearing from you all!

AC After Dark: Nighttime Social Activities!!

Amherst College After Dark (AC After Dark) is a program (a very cool program) within the Student Activities Office that provides consistent, late-night social options to Amherst College students every weekend while school is in session. AC After Dark offers a variety of programs throughout the semester such as live entertainment, film screenings, arts and crafts, off-campus excursions and many other social events catering to the interests of students like you.  Bingo poster with Disney logos

Many of these events offer FREE FOOD! My ultimate favorite thing. Some of the programming is formally arranged by the department, while other programs are a collaborative effort with student organizations or other campus offices. One of my all time favorite events was known as Disney Bingo and Burritos. We played 12 rounds of bingo on one Friday night, with tons of chips and guacamole and burritos from Chipotle! The bingo was Disney themed (of course). Each round had its own prize ranging from free Amherst shirts, keychains, to a ton of cool gift cards! The grand prize was also a ~mystery~ and was given to the winner of all 12 rounds. 


I personally love the events hosted and planned by AC After Dark, as they provide students like me with some great opportunities to get to know people outside of my own social circle and meet other upperclassmen and first years as People playing mini golf well!

Another AC After Dark event was a mini-golf event and ice cream-social! This event was actually the inaugural event part of the pilot program of AC After Dark, and was a great way for AC After Dark to start off. They actually rented out an entire ice cream truck and brought it to campus to serve students at the event! To many students’ delight, the ice cream truck was handing out free Ben & Jerry’s Peace Pops, Dove bars, Hoodsie Cups, Häagen Dazs bars and other assorted frozen goodies. After this, students headed over to O’Connor Commons, located in the Charles Pratt Basement, where a mini golf course had been set up for students to play some games! 

All Things Food!

This blog post will center around one of my favorite parts of life, food! The town of Amherst, which neighbors our college campus, is home to a variety of delicious and unique eateries! We have coffee shops, cafes, pizzeries, Chinese restaurants, taverns and pubs! (and a great donut place too!) I love that all of these eateries are just a short walk from campus, which really gives me the opportunity to venture out of our tightly knit Amherst community into the doors of these excellent restaurants. Usually on weekends, or after a particularly long day my friends and I enjoy heading into town for a sit down meal, side by side with Amherst community members and tourists. 

Dinner at oriental flavor

There is an “Amherst Town Common,” which is a lively outdoor space equipped with picnic tables, occasional live music and string lights that adorn the large trees scattered across this grassy area. It's a great spot for a picnic, photo shoots or to bring a quick bite from one of our pizzerias in town. 

Although I won't be covering all of my favorite restaurants in Amherst, I will do my best to capture how great some of the options are! Our first stop is Oriental Flavor, a Chinese restaurant town that offers amazing family style portions, delicious dim sum, and some of the best egg tarts around! My friend Autumn and I headed to Oriental Flavor one rainy Sunday evening and ordered some delicious dishes featured in the photo above. We ordered cumin beef, Mapo tofu, string beans, crystal shrimp dumplings, roast pork buns, and of course an order of egg tarts! We did happen to have a ton of leftovers, to our delight! The portion sizes are large, the staff is so friendly and helpful and the food (in my opinion) is life changing! My personal favorite items included the egg tart and the pork buns! If you’re looking for a warm, flavorful and welcoming meal, I would definitely recommend coming to this locally owned restaurant. 

 

The next stop on our list of Amherst treats is one of three bubble tea places that we have in town. This newest addition to our community called Moge Tee, offers up a wide variety of milk teas, yogurt fruit teas, fruit teas, foam teas, fresh fruit yakults and much more! After grabbing a slice of pizza from Antonio’s I headed over to Moge Tee one Wednesday afternoon and got a Brown Sugar Bubble Milk Tea which was served in an  adorable cat cup that was reusable! My friends tried the Dragon Fruit Yakult and absolutely loved it. This is a great spot for small treats, and the interior has some cute decor and a fish tank with some really vibrant and interesting species!  Bubble tea



The next and final stop on our list will be Antonio’s pizzeria! As a Queens, NY native I am a big fan of pizza and have some pretty high pizza standards. Antonio’s Pizzeria definitely hits the mark! They offer some unique flavors including a nachos pizza, steak burrito pizza, and BBQ chicken and tortellini. My personal favorite is their chicken, bacon-ranch pizza and their tomato basil pizza. At around 12 AM on weekends they offer something called “hot cheese,” where they offer $1 cheese pizza slices. I love getting “hot cheese,” with friends after a long night of studying or after spending some time with them that evening. There are so many more spots to eat that I haven’t covered yet, but I will cover them in future blog posts! Feel free to email me with any questions :) Antonio’s pizza

 

Amherst College HOMEcoming!

Homecoming Homecoming is a tradition of welcoming back former students, faculty members and staff members to celebrate an organization's existence. Here at Amherst, we take homecoming very seriously and take pride in welcoming back our alumni and chosen family members back “home!”. Throughout homecoming weekend, usually a chosen weekend in November, Anmehrst funds and holds a variety of campus wide events involving great food, music and even better people! 

You can come out to the annual homecoming bonfire located at the bottom of Memorial Hill. There’s usually cider, hot chocolate, donuts and Antonio's pizza, available paired with performances by the Choral Society and Purple Pride. And of course, there’s AMHERST T-SHIRT GIVEAWAYS. The picture of the infamous bonfire features one of my best friends here at Amherst, and also features members of our local fire department who are on call to monitor the bonfire. The blaze of the bonfire can be seen from various parts of campus!

Bonfire

Aside from the bonfire, the largest homecoming event centers around an annual football game, usually against Williams College, a neighboring small liberal arts college. A great majority of the student body attends the game, along with faculty, staff and other members of our community. There are tents equipped with food, beverages, and Amherst apparel for students to grab. Most students who attend are dressed in Amherst gear, and feature head to toe Amherst purple. In the photo below I am standing alongside my friends during the homecoming of my first year, which took place on a bright and sunny day, as the leaves on the trees had just started to change colors. We were all really excited to be a part of an Amhesrt annual tradition as large as this one. After the game we headed to our on campus dining hall, Valentine dining hall, where they were serving up some special treats during Homecoming. They even had cookies in the shape of a Mammoth with purple icing! Throughout that evening, there were various events on campus, some of which included some areas to make s'mores, live music and gatherings in town at local favorites. 

I really enjoyed my time throughout homecoming, and got to spend some quality time with my friends both on campus and off campus in the town of Amherst. I loved the bubbly and joyous atmosphere that reeked of positivity throughout the weekend, and greatly enjoyed the free food, many photo ops and Amherst decor set up by members of the Amherst facilities department.  It was heartwarming to see alumni return to campus, reunite with coaches, professors and old friends, something that I look forward to doing when homecoming comes around for me (when I’m an alumni of course). This event was so early on in the year and really captured my attention, and helped me to feel truly welcomed into the Amherst community, a community that I like to call home. 

Also! If you’re looking to sport some Amherst apparel, like the one’s seen in the photograph of my friends and I, there is a small business called “A.J. Hastings” located on South Pleasant Street (nearby to campus) that offers a great selection of Amherst apparel, cute knick knacks and the best personalized gifts. It's a must stop store if you come to visit sometime soon!



Student Employment: Working at the Front Desk of Frost With Me!

Amherst College offers a wide array of student employment opportunities, something that I really appreciated when I first started out my journey here. I work with a few other departments and organizations on campus, but with this blog post I will be describing my time as a Front Desk assistant and shelving assistant at Frost Library. 

 

Inside of library I first started out my employment at FrostLibrary as a first semester sophomore, and found out about the job opportunity through our “Amherst Daily Mammoth.” The Daily Mammoth is a daily newsletter sent out to us through our emails, which tells us about on campus events, speakers, off campus opportunities, jobs and volunteer opportunities. On a whim I decided to apply to work with Frost Library, and I’m so grateful that I did! You can usually find me working at the desk in the picture above. I love working this job at the desk because I’m able to see a lot of my friends, professors and classmates as they filter in and out of the library. The floors of the library are designated by noise level, the first floor being the loudest is equipped with white boards, large tables, computers and excellent collaborative spaces. The second floor (my personal favorite floor,) is a great balance of noise and silence and has some great views of our upperclassmen dorms. 

I love working at Frost for the comfortable environment, and also for being able to meet the welcoming and supportive staff members. The staff members at Frost are usually locals of the Amherst community who bring in snacks and come with great small business recommendations. Each staff member has a speciality either in research, particular resources, accessing services and much more! In terms of the research faculty at our library there are readily available to assist with research papers, presentations and general course questions and points of confusion. I welcome everyone to come visit the library and come say hi if I’m working at the front desk. I also get to spend some time with members of our archives department and have gotten to explore many of the great exhibits and off campus speakers the library has invited.

Best Campus Study Spots!

A big part of Amherst life, and well college life in general is studying. And the most important aspect of studying, to me at least, is location. Location, location, location. In my first blog post I will be taking us around to some of my favorite study spots, with pictures of the spots and stressed friends included. On some days I do really enjoy the peace and solace that my room offers for studying, but a lot of the time I enjoy venturing out into one of many study spots that Amherst College Offers. 


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Our first study spot location will be the science center. The architecture and the design of our brand new science center makes it a great building for studying, group projects, grabbing a meal with friends and much more. The exterior of the building is equipped with just windows so you're able to have a clear view of the mountain landscapes, the blue skies and sunsets. To pass the time studying and completing assignments, my best friend Omisha (in the photo on the left) and I love to take time lapses of the moving clouds and have actually been left with some stunning videos. The photo on the right overlooks the view that the back of the science center faces and also has a spiral staircase nearby (which I think is a great place to take some cute pictures with friends!). What’s great about the science center (aside from the views) is that many of the walls are actually made of the same material as white boards, allowing us to write out problem sets, work through problems as a group or just jot down some solo ideas at any time while we’re studying. I personally love this facet of a study space as it allows me to clear through the thoughts and ideas in my head.

Library stacks and shelves Friend studying in library

Our second study spot will be at the library! I also work at our library on campus so I always love to talk about the building. The library’s six floors are divided based on noise level, with the 1st floor being the noisiest and the 3rd floor and C level (basement) being the quietest. My personal favorite place to study in the library is on the 2nd floor, a great spot for group collaboration, and spending time with friends. The 2nd floor is equipped with both tables and chairs, sofas and foot rests. I love the level of comfort you feel when studying on this floor, and have enjoyed long nights here studying with friends as seen in the above photo on the right featuring my friend Stephanie!

Outdoor study space under tent The best part of this next “study spot” is that it isn’t an indoor one. Featured in this photo is my best friend Autumn, equipped with her laptop, headphones and the most essential item of almonds. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our college set up quite a few tents around campus like the one pictured. These tents were a welcome surprise. They served as a place to eat outside with friends and also as a place to study. The tents are a great option if you’re looking to get outside, get some air while also checking things off of your to-do list. The tents are also furnished with outlets, power cords, some with whiteboards and cute string light

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, my personal favorite place to study on campus (that I recently discovered this past semester) is in our natural Beneski Museum (natural history museum) study space history museum on campus, known as the Beneski Museum. When you first step into the building you are immediately greeted by a larger than life mammoth fossil, that we like to call Bebo! Throughout Beneski there are a variety of exhibits with fossils, rocks and geodes open for the public and students alike to gawk at. Beneski is actually one of two museums located on campus, with the other being our art museum, the Mead Art Museum. I love studying in Beneski for the cool scenery, the perfect lighting and the super comfortable chairs!