What a time to start writing my blog! I’m currently exhausted from finishing my first molecular genetics exam a few hours ago, hungry — at 11 p.m., go figure — and down with a cold that’s going around campus.

(I mean, I did promise an honest account of my life in my bio.)

Let’s back up to a few days ago, to happier days — to fall break.

Many colleges, including Amherst, have a short “fall break” sometime in first semester to allow students a chance to unwind, relax, or go explore someplace new! I had been looking forward to ours for a few weeks. I didn’t have any plans other than to catch up on sleep, spend some quality time with my friends, and study (can’t get away from good ol’ academics at Amherst). Thankfully, I managed to get all those things done, plus eat out with friends, have a “girls’ night in” with some of my Amherst Christian Fellowship sisters, and marathon a show. This all might sound mundane, but trust me, I was incredibly grateful to be able to just take time and do all that.

Girls' night in

(Photo: friends & I in Greenway at the start of our girls' night in!)

Originally, I had played around with the idea of travelling somewhere over fall break. Many people do; Amherst is accessible to many East Coast locations by bus (although taking Peter Pan bus lines isn’t exactly anyone’s favorite activity). My first year, a few friends and I took on Boston with a bit too much excitement — we ended up going to too many places and not spending enough time at any. This year, I was just happy with a chill couple of days, going no further than Northampton by PVTA (public transit) on Tuesday to café crawl and study.

northampton fall break

(Photo: taken at The Roost, Northampton. A little basic, but believe it or not, it was my first latte.)

As with all good things, fall break came to an end, and school resumed yesterday. On Wednesdays, I start the day early with Logic discussion at 9 a.m. (Unfortunately, I’m generally not at my most logical at 9 a.m.) After lunch, there’s lecture for Molecular Genetics, and then Regulating Citizenship.

This last class has an interesting structure — it’s an “inside-out” class, which means that we take this political science course inside the Hampshire County Jail in Northampton. There are about a dozen of us Amherst students from the “outside,” and slightly fewer inmates who are students from the “inside.” We take this class together, discuss readings together, and learn from one another. It’s actually a great opportunity, especially with this rather monumental election coming up, to have a group of students who bring very different viewpoints and experiences to the table. We’ve been exposed to views that are rarely ever expressed by students at Amherst, particularly conservative voices. While we certainly don’t always agree, this class brings us out of a rather sheltered space into a place where we can discuss our differences and the experiences that might have shaped them.

After that class, it was a whirlwind of meetings for newspaper, ACEMS (the campus’ student-run EMT squad), a piano lesson, and crazy studying for my biology midterm. Amherst students are often terribly busy, not just with classes and our generally high volume of coursework, but also with things outside of class. Overcommitment is a problem for many (including myself).

Today, I had 9 a.m. Logic again (I made the mistake of taking some cold-medicine before lecture, which induced drowsiness — bad, bad idea), followed by Intro to Econ with Environmental Applications — I had never taken econ in my life before this class, but decided to step outside of my comfort zone this semester. In the evening, I took my midterm, which was quite challenging.

STEM (except we don't really have engineering courses, so STM?) at Amherst is no joke. I’ve taken biology and quantitative classes at Ohio State in the past, and Amherst is many times more challenging than those experiences and actually gets you to think deeply about and understand what you’re learning. It can get very difficult! But on the flip side, a great benefit that I’ve experienced is that the professors generally love students, are passionate about their subjects, and make themselves pretty accessible to students wanting help outside of class — the low student-to-faculty ratio definitely helps.

So, with that exam out of the way, it’s time for me to knock out for a solid seven hours (a full night’s sleep for me). I’ll be back soon — and hopefully more refreshed and well-rested!