Lidia Gutu '20 --- Introduction

Lidia Gutu Hi,

I am absolutely positively surely excited to introduce myself to all you lovely readers checking out our blog: My name is Lidia Gutu, and I am a member of the class of 2020, interning with the Admission (no "s" in the end) Office for the summer. I am majoring in Economics and Psychology, and I come from Chisinau, Moldova (though I've spent the past three years at a boarding school in New England). For those of you who are curious, my favorite ice-cream flavors are coffee, mint and pistachio.

This year I've served as an Eco-Rep in my dorm (shout-out to James 4th floor), ushered with the Music Department, attended and participated in a couple of plays, worked at the Phonathon in the Alumni Office and ocasionally played badminton. This year was highlighted by events such as having a snow day at a college where almost everyone lives on campus, participating in research with the Economics and the Psychology departments, discovering how much I love edamame beans and making some great  friendships that hopefully will last even if fate and the Room Draw place us in different dorms. That being said, starting from the fall I will be an RC (residential counselor) in Greenway C for my sophomore year. 

Some of my personal interests include music, writing, questions about the meaning of life and obviously, languages! (if you speak Romanian, Russian, German, Spanish or French, I would love to talk to you! Just kidding, English speakers are welcome, too) On campus you can see me sprinting everywhere in my running shoes, working out at the gym every Thursday, attending Val lunches and dinners almost "religiously" and taking pictures of trees, chipmunks and the sky. 

 

If you need a person to ask questions about Amherst, follow these 3 easy steps:

1) Copy lgutu20@amherst.edu and paste it into your "To:" bar from your mailbox.

2)Ask me anything!

3)Hit "Send".

Yaaaay you've send me an email and I will get back to you soon!

Till future adventures!

 

Your Summer Intern,

Lidia

About the Rhymed Walking Tour of Amherst College: Part 2

If I remember, you were left at the museum’s entrance,

Follow me, and you’ll be hit with a mysterious fragrance,

The smell of history and bones: the meaning better to convey

Look at our mascot, the big, Columbian mammoth on display!

 

The skeleton was brought to Amherst by professor Loomis,

However, the mammoth had little hair: I find that humorous,

The Colombian specimen with red hairs was found in a swamp

Professor Loomis and the students brought it here in a lump.

 

It was assembled in Webster Hall, for the students to admire,

And even today in Beneski, it makes quite many aspire

For research opportunities and work with faculty,

Whether in English, Physics, French or Psychology.

 

To list a few programs, I will start with SURF,

Allowing many students  to explore the home turf

On campus they work for eight to ten weeks,

Some continue after, to reach more new peaks.

 

Or, take for example the Seminars called “Mellow”,

Just kidding, “Mellon”, and they’re not for any fellow!

Students do research, travel across the globe,

As many can get funding from the CCE or the Loeb.

 

These centers offer Amherst students the opportunity,

To dive into jobs and research, and fulfill  their destiny,

In the US and abroad, the center for community engagement

Will partner with Loeb career center for student betterment.

 

Excuse my big words, maybe they sound too grand,

On another note, at Amherst science is in big demand!

That’s why we are building a new science center,

To open in the Fall 2018, before the first year enter.

 

As we go up the hill, to the left it’s hard not to observe,

A large yellow building, Keefe, so we’ll have to swerve,

Take note of the cherry orchard and the new fire pit,

Please stay clear of the door, or else you’ll be hit.

 

Keefe has served as the Student center for more than a while.

As you pass through every day, you greet friends with a smile,

There are a movie theatre, a game room, and Grab and Go,

A fresh lunch with five items, if your energy is running low.

 

We also have resource centers, exactly four in number,

You walk inside any of them, like-minded people to encounter,

They do much student programing, make sure you are well,

They are nice places, and quite popular, it is not hard to tell.

 

I was a part of the Women and Gender’s Center book club,

It’s a space with smooth couches and a conversation hub.

In April we met for a dinner, we brought along our notes,

Faculty, students and staff joined; we ate and shared quotes.

 

Located on the ground level, you find the service of mail,

Long gone are days when you’d receive you letters in a pail

Students keep the same mailbox, it won’t be hard to remember,

Your AC number, you’ll have it memorized by your first December.

 

As we’re about to leave the building, one Office I should mention,

The Study Abroad office is on your left, and it deserves attention,

Forty-five percent of juniors go abroad, one semester or the other

Some go for a whole year a new place and culture to discover.

 

We have more than a hundred and fifty programs anyone can explore,

Both financial aid and credits transfer over, two things you will adore

Amherst has two of its own programs: one with Doshisha University,

Which is in Kyoto, Japan, and another program in Gottingen, Germany.

 

Now that we’ve left Keefe, I will tell you about the student life,

Tune in, you don’t want to miss that part, to avoid any strife.

We have about a hundred and fifty organizations active online

And in real life, but if you start your own club, it works just fine.

 

You find friends, fill in an online form, likely funding will activate

Just go to student government, and in their meetings participate

From political unions to archery club, any dream may come true

Students can join outside clubs in the Consortium, if they want to.

 

As we approach the freshman squad, please look to the right,

Worth noting, Chapin and Barrett Hall are within your sight,

Chapin houses the Religion Department, as well as other spaces,

And in Barrett, students learn Modern Languages at different paces.

 

We’ll go again to the left, and take this beautiful stairwell,

I can already see Amherst has caught you in its spell,

As we enter this courtyard, be prepared for more names,

As here we have the Mead Art Museum, Stearns and James.

 

No rush, gather around, let’s start with Stearns Steeple first,

Back sixty years ago, it was a part of a church here in Amherst,

Later, the church came down, only the steeple remained intact

Next to it you find Mead, the second museum on campus, in fact.

 

It has nineteen thousand pieces of art, all gathered together,

Admiring every piece separately would probably take forever

About ten percent of works are displayed, so you’ll have to ask

A curator to bring a piece from storage, and they’ll do the task.

 

The Mead can hire any student to work as a tour guide,

It’s a similar job to this one, and comes with a nice aside,

While you walk different groups from one to another gallery,

You enchant them with stories, learning more about art history.

 

As of the dorms, Stearns and James, they are one sweet pair!

Spacious with large elevators, they bring in an exquisite flair,

If anything else worth noting, we are almost in Charles Pratt,

Yet another nice dorm, make sure you don’t turn into a brat.

 

As we slowly file in the door, it’s good to know that the school

Opened the building about a century ago, alongside with a pool

In its many decades, Charles Pratt saw more than one change

Along which a gym, a museum, a dorm; nothing is too strange!  

 

Pratt now serves as a freshman hall, so dear guests, don’t fret,

It meets your needs through common rooms and a kitchenette,

If for some reason you need a different cooking accomodation,

Find an upperclassmen kitchen, and throw a freshman invasion.

 

Dorms at Amherst are co-ed, with other options upon request,

If you know that for you, the single gender option is the best,

Please don’t hesitate, mention it in your housing questionnaire

And describe your daily habits, if you’ve got some time to spare.

 

Now we’ll move into the showroom, and please do not worry,

No one lives there, we decorated it for the sake of the story,

I’ll usher you swiftly inside the room, don’t appear surprised,

This is the average double size, and not just a lie disguised!

 

As we exit past the Writing center,I declare I don’t want to avoid,

The above named resource, helpful fighting an academic void.

It is staffed by professional writers, helping students to succeed,

Similarly, the Moss Quantitative Center is to be used when in need.

 

Next to Webster Hall, housing the Department of Theater and Dance,

One may find a beautiful view: Memorial Hill isn’t here by chance.

The mountains are so pretty, the Notch view is worth the hike,

And outside the athletic fields you’ll find the dream path for a bike.

 

We are a Division III school: about a third of students play varsity

But twice as many students do sports, in choices there’s no scarcity,

You will find three levels: varsity, club, intramural, which is quite nice

Because you pick whatever suits you, and won’t even think twice.

 

All facilities are open to any student, but they shall use their ID,

Just swipe in at the main entrance, and use the gym carefree,

We passed by a few fields, and if you’re wondering about lacrosse

And softball turfs, or the stadium - just one street you shall cross.

 

This marks the end of the tour, we’re back at the Office of Admission,

I hope you liked my tour, tell me if you noticed a mistake or omission.

I’m also available for more questions, if you want to ask them alone,

For the rest of the group I wish you good luck, and a safe trip back home!

 

 

Your Summer Intern,

Lidia

About the Rhymed Walking Tour of Amherst College: Part 1

I decided to write, inspired by a friend,

A Tour of the College from beginning to end,

Listen carefully, for every word you hear

A truthful image in your mind will appear.

 

Right next to Admission, Kirby we pass,

It’s the place hosting “Voices of the Class”

If you want to be famous, this is the place,

One punchline, and everyone will know your face

 

Amherst College was founded in 1821,

When  President Moore from Williams was gone

Surrounded by books, students and faculty,

He came to Pioneer Valley to fulfil his destiny.

 

Right behind you there is Good Old College Row,

Can’t pause too much here, to the Quad we shall go,

That grassy green oasis for dorms of First-Years,

You’ll miss it before you know it, with big, capital Tears.

 

To ensure first-years develop a sense of community,

On every floor there is a friend, also known as RC,

These older students hold Tea Times with tasty food,

They are here to give hugs and bring up good mood.

  First Year-Quad

As we enter the library named after Robert Frost,

Don’t go up and down the stairs, for you can get lost,

Frost has six levels, and it’s your task to pick one:

If you want to study in silence, or do something fun!

 

If you yearn for more classes, more friends, look no more,

As a part of a Consortium, we have four schools next door

Smith, Mount Holoyoke, Hampshire and Umass,

Get to any of them by using your free bus pass.*

 

About half of our students take Consortium classes, it’s true,

And the average number of classes taken is two,

We attend each other’s plays and activities all the time,

But let me tell you: Umass has the best place to dine.

 

If there are no questions, I will move on with the tour,

This campus is charming, with the red-brick allure,

Flanking this quad are Morrow Dorm, and Mo Pratt,

These are upperclassmen dorms, make a note of that.

 

After your first year, you enter the Housing Lottery,

Where your luck is based on which grade you will be,

Sophomores get one, juniors - three, seniors-five,

Let the highest numbers be the first to thrive.

 

Don’t despair, sophomores don’t have it that tough,

You can still get a single, if you are lucky enough,

If luck wasn’t your friend, but you have a pretty voice,

Enter Lip-Synch, and win a high-ranking choice.

 

Every April students conglomerate into JChap,

The audience decides if your number is worth the clap,

Winners are the first ones in their class to pick a room,

But there is a second option; I will tell you about it soon.

 

The option is Theme Housing, and it won’t lead astray,

As the dorms have many singles, for a comfortable stay.

Twelve houses are split by interests, here are a few:

Porter, La Casa, King, Seligman and the Zu.

 

Speaking of interests, we are known for our singers,

Acapella, orchestra, chorus: here music often lingers,

Past Arms we walk, which has a recital hall,

Practice rooms with instruments to be used by all.

 

Right in front of us you see the dining facility,

Val is the best and only dining hall, if you ask me,

Here you can enjoy your favorite meal staples,

Be ready to greet friends and sit at different tables,

 

Valentine is open more than twelve hours a day,

And the meal plans reflect it, the least to say,

With the Unlimited, you come when you please,

Double dinner or breakfast is truly a breeze!

 

With the second plan, for dinner and lunch you swipe

But if you want some breakfast, or a snack at night

You receive money on your student account,

That you can spend on food all school year round.

 

Also to mention, for lunch we have Grab and Go,

A favorite among busy students who run to and fro.

You use your lunch swipe for items at no extra fee,

It could be sandwiches, salads, cookies or tea.

 

Our dining hall features a three-week rotation,

And we take allergies into special consideration,

You get an uncontaminated dish, if you want to try

Pasta, pizza, clam chowder and even stir-fry.

A view of Morrow Dormitory during spring

We are veering right and entering Fayweather

A home for those who pursue art with endeavor,

Also “Asian Languages and Civilizations” came to be

A department established on campus in 1983.  

 

But we will talk about more than two departments, indeed,

For the Open Curriculum is our beloved creed.

It gives some freedom mixed with liberal foundations,

As to graduate from Amherst, there are three obligations.

 

To take a first year seminar, a major to complete,

Enroll in thirty-two classes: it never gets obsolete!

Now, the term liberal doesn’t refer to politics alone,

Here, it’s the notion from Ancient Greece & Rome.

 

They wanted young people to be free and smart.

To have critical thinking, while they excel in art.

Liberal arts and sciences was the original term,

It’s really both these fields that students have to learn.

 

Take a first year seminar on anything you’re musing

Genes, Love, Secrets and Lies are up for choosing,

The seminar examines one topic in more than one way,

So you would get a chance with different words to play.

 

Was that a question? Yes, correct. The seminar,

Is the only class mandatory, but don’t take it this far,

You are ranking your choices, get what you asked for,

As you are guaranteed to get one from the top four.

 

To talk about majors now I will proceed,

We offer forty, but if you want to take a lead,

Create an interdisciplinary, the task isn’t light

Three advisors to find and a thesis to write.

 

Most majors take ten to twelve courses to complete

That leaves you with twenty classes, let me repeat

Thirty-two minus freshman seminar minus ten

Equals twenty-one classes, do whatever with them.

 

40% of students double-major, just as many study abroad,

Other pick non-major courses to satisfy their load,

What matters is that students are the ones who command

Yet advising and the open curriculum go hand in hand.

 

When you come in, you get an advisor in the first week,

They introduce you to the offerings of Physics and Greek,

Yet never will they tell you which classes you should take

Browse the catalogue, for the decision is yours to make.

 

After you declare, your advisor is someone from the field,

An expert, so that good results your research will yield,

You have to meet with them when it’s registration time,

In days of sorrow and complaint, their office is your shrine.

 

Before we enter the museum, the story shall halt,

No worries, my readers, it is not your own fault,

I’m running out of words, I’m late, so I’ll dart,

Stay tuned, next week you’ll read the second part

Your Intern,

Lidia

______________________

  • Thanks for Aahnix for suggesting the idea. 

About Double Majoring

Alike 40% of students at Amherst, I am a double major. Students with two majors have a visible presence on this campus: One of my friends is thinking about Mathematics & Chemistry, two of my co-workers are planning to major in English & Environmental Studies, and Political Science and Black Studies respectively, and quite a few students on campus double-major in Theater & Dance paired up with Mathematics. Needless to say, combinations are limitless, especially when you add into the mix approximately a dozen or so of Five-College Certificates, which offer you an alternative with a lower commitment. My majors are Economics and Psychology, and I feel quite attached to both of them. In this blogpost I decided to explore some of the myths and facts that students wonder about both when visiting Amherst as a part of a tour, or when declaring their major. If you read this post and see some changes, believe THEM, not ME. Some departments have subtleties I do not know, and others will switch requirements at some point in the future. Let’s dive into this double adventure full of sweat and tears (just kidding, there are some laughs involved too).

  1. You have to know from ahead if you want to double-major.
    Answer: It Depends! I am one of the few students who picked her future majors shortly before getting her acceptance letter: i spent two nights looking at courses and putting together a rough schedule. Beware: this is not the case for everyone! I think most students decide to double-major at some point during sophomore year, but it can definitely happen earlier or later than that. For combined majors like Anthropology and Sociology, there is some room for exploration: I know a former student who decided at the end of her junior year, just because she already had most of the credits. Though double-majoring requires extra planning, it’s still very feasible.

    stir-fry pasta
    Yes, double-majors can do stir-fry too! Unfortunately, despite their many qualities, they have to wait in line like everyone else.

  2. You cannot study abroad if you want to double-major.
    Answer: Usually you can study abroad with most majors, but some caution is needed. For example, the Neuroscience major requires you 14 courses without / 17 courses with thesis, so double majoring with a different subject leaves you with about 5-7 classes to pick from. So, it would be fairly difficult to double-major and study abroad if you pursue Neuro & something else. For most other programs though, students are able to do it for a semester, usually with some extra planning. It is always good to mind the departmental requirements: if you are an Economics major and want to count abroad classes towards your Econ degree, taking more than 4 classes a semester may pose a problem. On the other side, the German majors are encouraged to study abroad for at least one semester, and the program in Gottingen is very popular.

  3. You can double count courses or skip courses!
    Answer: Usually, no. There are some exceptions to the rule, and I’ll list a few.  For the joint Mathematics & Statistics major, you need to complete only 19 courses, which is less than the courseload of these two taken separately. Also for Neuroscience, you can double count some courses in the Biology department. However, if you are doing a course in Psychology taught in German abroad, you cannot double count for both the Psych and German majors. Using AP credit and Placement Tests, you can skip specific classes, but you would still have complete the full course load for the major, so you end up replacing what you skipped with electives. As an example, I skipped both Intro to Economics and Intro to Psychology my first year, but still have to take the same number of classes as any major in these departments. Sometimes it is worth skipping, as you can explore more in-depth an area of your department, yet you really have to do some work to catch on, as Intro classes at Amherst are demanding. Sorry double-majors, you don’t get any preferential treatments. 

  4. It’s difficult to have fun when double majoring.
    Answer: THIS IS A LIE! Though double-majoring makes your schedule a bit more formulaic, no two Amherst students have the same path. We Amherstians are inquisitive beings, and sometime taking two majors means we are exploring a topic from different angles, as one of our Deans would say. Other times, we just have two equally captivating fields of interest (like Physics and Philosophy, that we pursue through our time here at the college. Double majoring lets you be “adopted” by two Departments, have two advisors, and even get two fancy badges that say “I declared” (Not yet sure about this one, will see when I declare Econ; I lost my first badge on an airplane so I need my second). For some of us, double-majoring means the perfect excuse to avoid social events on weekends: “Nah, can’t go out tonight, I have a test in Herbology on Monday and an essay for Transfiguration due.” Oh no, these are not real classes or majors at Amherst, but you can still prank your friends!

    amherst badge
    This is the emblematic badge that every student gets when they declare. I really hope I get a second one for my double-major - the one depicted above is long gone!

Until future blog posts!

 

Your Summer Intern,

Lidia

 

About Theater and Dance at Amherst College

The wagons of booty are coming!

The victory loaded with plunder,

To make Thebes forget the war!

These few lines will stay crisp in my memory for a long time, as I have said them too many times to forget them. This past fall, I was a part of the production “Antigone”, a tragedy that embodies the battle of the individual versus the state. 

Lines from Antigone

Isn't this image so artsy? Makes you want to read more of the play!

We interpreted Bertolt Brecht’s version, that contains a prologue with two sisters and their brother returning from the army as a deserter, into a play blurring the lines between the past and the present. Our prologue incorporated more modern day elements like McDonald’s meals, combined with a police shooting scene, and the two sisters were able to travel in time to Thebes, offering insights in Antigone’s story.  

Chorus from Antigone

Chorus from Antigone, photo taken from Amherst College Theater and Dance Department

I was a part of the chorus: six people that wore coordinated outfits and spoke in unison for the most time. Though our rehearsals involved a lot of balance exercises, voice warmups ( for example, the song  “Ten green bottles hanging on the wall”, that I mistook for “Tangarine bottles”) and mechanical memorization, in the end hearing us do the crescendo dialogue, with one person joining on every next line, was more than satisfying. My favorite moment of the Chorus was taking off our masks to challenge Kreon, the despotic king: over the course of the play, we served as judges between Kreon and his relatives, more often siding with him, because he corrupted us with gold. However, we slowly realized that his interest in bloodshed was too gruesome to be accepted, so we rebel against him, transforming from a faceless unit to individuals. Our costume designer attached long gold, orange and silver strips to our robes, to demonstrate the oxidation of metals, in other words, our dwindling riches obtained through bribes.

As much as I love acting and attending plays, watching dance concerts here at Amherst has always amazed me. It all started with the Admitted Student Open House in April, when I had a chance to watch DASAC (Dance and Step at Amherst College), a student-run club crafting anything from hip-hop to contemporary dance pieces. Since then, I have witnessed dance presented in a number of ways, from K-pop to musicals; the last show I attended was called “Note to Self”. The songs varied from chorus songs to covers of 90s classics, all performed in a black-box theater, with dancers never really leaving the stage. I watched in awe as one of my friends moved his muscular body with the grace of a ballet dancer, making long leap jumps across the stage. Or how one of the dancers tip-toed in dizzy circles, then rolled and collapsed on the floor, mimicking exhaustion.

Photo by Jane Ames: Girl dancing

 Girl Dancing, Photo by Jane Ames

Here at the college we are lucky to have very talented performers, that make every show a magic fairytale. One’s gaze remains focused on them as they raise their voices  and lift their feet in the air like butterflies that emerge from the cocoon, ready to dazzle the world with their beauty.        

Until later!


Your Summer Intern,

Lidia

About James

This summer, I am on campus.

If I am on campus, I need food.

If I need food, I go to Val*.

If I go to Val, I pass by Freshman Quad.

If I pass by  Freshman Quad, I sit down.

I sit down and look at the Freshman Dorms, remembering my dear James Hall. From the moment I visited its twin brother, Stearns Hall, during Admitted Students weekend, I knew James was the one. Stearns was a mirror image of him: all spacious, with a few two-room doubles (in one of which I was housed), wooden floors and fancy common rooms, yet something was missing. That night, by mistake I stopped in front of James, thinking it’s Stearns.

James in profile at sunset

James in profile at sunset

Little did I know that I will be assigned to James for my freshmen year, into one of the two-room doubles which also was a corner room. Little did I know that the first morning in James I would meet Kashmeera, one of my closest friends and my RC buddy** this coming year. Little did I know that my messenger chat would also be called James Squad, as we would meet up in the common room to go to Val. Little did I know how much would mean James to me: I took for granted the nice hallways, the proximity of my friends and classes, and the elevator that would bring me downstairs every morning, making me feel like a star walking out her penthouse.

At first, James was empty for a while. In early June the windows were dark, blinds were off: so different than the James I knew throughout the year. My new dorm was located on another side of the campus, so I had to adapt to a new walking distance. Later, James had the fate of others: artists, middle-schoolers, high-school students and young members of the Doshisha program inhabit the Quad while school is not in session. I watched in silence as the windowblinds went up, and the rooms, inhabited with new life, became brighter. Teenagers were running in the hallways, rushing down the stairs and exiting the front door in frenzy: I bet for them, James was a short-term summer residence. For me, James was the place where I would return after a long day of classes, burst out of laughter with my friends after a long night of studying and pop bubble-wrap next to the door of my RC.      

A view of the First-Year Quad

A view of the First-Year Quad

Yes, I was longing for James. Freshman year passes so fast, that before you know it you call yourself a rising sophomore.

If I sat down, I passed by Freshman Quad

If I passed by Freshman Quad, I went to Val.

If I went to Val, I needed food.

If I needed food, I am on campus.

If I’m on campus, there is another Freshman Class coming soon.

James belongs to them now.  

 

Until future poems!

Your Summer Intern,

 

Lidia



_______________________________

*Val- Valentine Hall - dinning hall

**RC buddy: when you get to be a residential counselor (RC) in an upperclassmen dorm, you may pick a friend to come live in that hall as well.

 

About Amherst, MA: Part 2

 

Similarly to the post next week, I will provide some general information about activities in the area that I enjoy. Though we study a lot here at Amherst, we know how to have fun as well!

 

3. Winter

Winter is by far my favorite season! This winter, my friend went skating at Umass with a campus-wide activity for free, though their rink is open multiple times a week. Some of the all-time favorite activities of students would be to start a snow-fight on the freshmen quad, or to slide down Memorial Hill on Valentine Hall trays. If it’s cold and you prefer the warmth of a building, my suggestion would be to visit the Mead Art Museum, which in addition to containing more than 19,000 pieces of art, is also an excellent study space in the evenings for students. For example, during Valentine’s Day last year, Mead had an exhibition opening,  debuting 13 recreations of stolen paintings from the Isabela Gardner Museum, worth over $500 million. I’ve heard the desserts were amazing, as is any free campus food, but the art was nonetheless priceless, as those paintings are not yet found. In addition to that, if you want to take a look at the mammoth, our new mascot, the the Beneski Natural History Museum is the place to be.

The museum has more than 1700 on display on its three floors, and contains one of the larger dinosaur footprints in the US, all collected within 20 min distance from the college.  Finally, one of my favorite winter food activities was attending Valentine Dinning Hall midnight breakfast: it’s 10:30 am and you really crave that chicken and waffle, so you fight bravely the cold and the 6 feet of snow that stand in the way of you and the desired price. You step in the dining hall, all covered in snow, and join the other students sipping hot chocolate, listening to music and eating crepes. Who said that breakfast food is only for breakfast?

First-Year Quad during Winter

A view of the First-Year Quad during Winter

 

4. Spring

Winter is my favorite season (see above), but at Amherst, many students rejoice when the snow is away and the First-Year Quad fills with frisbee, picnic blankets, dogs and flip-flops. Being lazy on the Quad is the top spring activity and the most popular procrastination method that Amherst Students currently employ. Speaking of procrastination, one of the most exciting spring all-campus events is Admitted Students weekend, when prospective pre-froshes come to see for themselves the bounty of Amherst. And we, current students, remember the old times when we were just like them while enjoying the large culinary variety on the Valentine Quad, from tacos to dolmas to ice-cream, and take a look at the fireshow offered at night. Also be on the look of many cookouts, Departamental End-Of-the-Year parties and professors inviting you over for dinner.

If all this delicious free food is not enough, end-of-the-semester is also a popular time for TYPOs, an Amherst tradition cherished by many generations of students. You are able to invite your professor and a group of students over for lunch or dinner, and the school pays for the costs. I got invited by a friend to the dinner with my Social Psych professor at the end of the first semester, and I enjoyed the conversation as much as the grilled cheese and fries. If you’re looking for a social outing in town, know that the Emily Dickinson Museum organizes Open Mic nights, where you can either read or listen to poetry. The museum itself is worth a visit as well, and is free for 5 College Students! (Umass, Amherst, Hampshire, Smith, Mt. Holyoke)

A view of Morrow Dormitory during spring

A view of Morrow Dormitory during spring

I hope I gave you plenty of ideas of seasonal activities: ultimately, Amherst is what you make of it!

 

Until future endeavors!

 

Your Summer Intern, 

Lidia   

 

About Amherst, MA: Part 1

I have lived in a city for the larger part of my whole life: rush hours and traffic are no news to me, and I enjoy going to museums and concerts all year round. Yet, I’ve decided to come to Western Massachusetts for college.

Why so?

Because I love fall colors, and life at Amherst College is almost as busy as in a city. I’m also staying on campus for the whole summer!

And again you may ask: why so?

And my answer would be: because staying here over three months with no school is a great experience. Despite the obvious traits of rurality as cornfields and farmland surrounding Amherst, it doesn’t mean that there is nothing to do on evenings and weekends for the three months of June, July and August. Moreover, this extends for the whole time you are here for college: Amherst is a vibrant spot in the Pioneer Valley. Here, I would give some advice on how to enjoy Amherst during the summer and the winter alike.

 

1. Summer

The campus is quieter than usual, which means there are no lunch lines, plenty of lounge chairs that are unoccupied on the First-Year Quad, more parking spots around town and even less waiting time while ordering your pizza! This summer, I got to do more things in town like volunteering with the ESL program at the Jones Library , taking a stroll through the Amherst Crafts and Amherst Taste Festivals on the Green, going on a hike on the Robert Frost trail and eating out downtown. I also plan to walk along the trails in the Wildlife Sanctuary, go taste the donuts at the Atkins Farm and maybe see a movie at the Amherst Cinema. The campus is also hosting lots of interesting events, such as the Community Day at Mead, workshops on programs like Mathematica or Adobe Photoshop, barbeques and trivia nights. Aside from these activities, one can also play beach volleyball next to the Greenway Dorms, go downtown for ice-cream or coffee or lay on the grass reading a book on one of the Quads.

  Memorial Hill during the Summer

A view from Memorial Hill during the summer

 

2. Fall

The fall is a busy time for everyone: there are new classes to attend, new clubs to join and an entire freshman class coming in! In the beginning of the year especially, lots of businesses hand in coupons to students, and there is even a day to get free frozen yogurt at GoBerry (http://www.go-berry.com/) Amherst College holds fun events as Fall Fest, Clothing Swap, Acapella Concerts and the annual fall play. Typically, during the academic year, most students are more involved with activities on campus, such as sports or club meetings, but rest assured that many of us still work or volunteer in the larger community, with programs like Reader to Reader. If the weather is still warm, many Amherst students would take the bus or drive to Puffer’s Pond, a recreational spot popular during summer as well. More importantly, during the academic year the PVTA buses are free, meaning that you can go for free to the Hampshire Mall, Northampton, South Hadley and other nearby places. You can also reach further destinations like Boston or New York by driving or riding the Peter Pan buses. If you are like many of the Amherst students though, rest and relaxation are valuable weekly moments: catch a breath hanging out on Merril Beach, which is connected to the Merril Science Building and enjoy the view on Mt. Holoyoke Range.


Turtle Hill in the Fall

A view from Turtle Hill in the fall

More advice to come next week!

 

Until then!

Your Summer Intern,

Lidia

 

About hiking the Holyoke Range

Once springs starts, the season for hiking is declared open: there are ways to hike in the winter as well, but it’s far easier to do it when there are not 6 feet of snow around you. Amherst students love to hike in the nearby Holyoke Range, as it offers both wonderful views, immortalized in breath-taking pictures on social media, but also fun things to do on the way, like exploring the Horse Caves. Last weekend, me and some friends went up the Notch, which is a 45 minutes - 1 hour hike, only a few miles away from Amherst.

We got there using an AAS van: the Association of Amherst Students (AAS)  allows students to rent vans for slots of 6 hours, with the condition that the students are registered drivers with Campus Police, are older than 18 years of age and have at drove at least of one year in the US.  We submitted our online request and my friend got the keys at 9am on Saturday morning: rising early is the way to go for hikes. Unfortunately, the clouded sky gave us some fears of rain, but before it was too late, we jumped into the van and off we went.

Never trust Google Maps on some things: the directions we got for the Mount Holoyoke State Park pointed us to a private driveway, which we avoided for obvious reasons. 10 minutes and one mile later, we reached our destination safely, put lots of bug spray on and wandered into the woods. Though the temperatures were rather high during the week, I felt cold as I was stepping on piles of dead leaves. The walk soon transformed into a climb, as the Robert Frost path that we took had plenty of rocks and hills. The cold was now gone: I was sweating as the mosquitos swarmed around me, but I kept my hoodie on because I was afraid of their bites.

After many damp rocks, we were on the top of the summit, but we could barely see anything because of the clouds. “Wait a minute!” peeped one of my close friends, “this is not the view I remember from the fall!”. And she was right, we were a bit off track. A small hill later, we reached the bedrock overlooking a large part of the Pioneer Valley.

 

View from the Notch

Real View from the Notch

Unfortunately, it was all very cloudy, so I could not see Amherst College from the top of the hill. However, being at such a high altitude gave us excitement: in spite of the sweat and the mosquitoes, we made it! Descending was easier than going uphill, and soon we reached a very rocky zone otherwise known as the Horse Caves.

Horse Caves

Myself at the Horse Caves, photo credit to Emily Ma

I do not know too much about the history of the caves, but they have an unexpected surprize inside! (I won’t ruin it for you, you’ll have to come and see for yourself!) Despite their small size, three of my friends entered at the same time and fit in there!  I did not venture deeply inside, but instead kept an eye on the red woodpecker from a nearby tree. When we returned to the car our sneakers were filled with mud, but I sense that we became better friends and will stick together from now on (unlike the mud to the shoes: it washed off quickly).

I apologize if this post was sentimental at times: I am a urban girl totally in love with the wonders of nature, and it’s very rewarding to explore the surrounding Amherst area. Ultimately, this quest taught me that the journey matters more than the destination, especially if hiking to a summit surrounded by clouds.  

 

See you later!

 

 

Your Summer Intern,

Lidia

About the Weather

Though this is my fourth year of going to school in New England, the weather still surprises me frequently. Only this week I have deemed the temperature to be too hot for staying outside, and then too cold for staying inside with the heater off, within only two days. My first year it snowed in early October, then snow melted in early January and the temperature went above sixties in one winter day, followed by a February snowstorm and a very cold spring. And here at Amherst, often times the weather sets the mood: if a warm day found its way in the middle of the winter, the First-Year Quad* would fill instantly with picnic blankets and students playing frisbee. Similarly, a cold spring weekend can mean that more people choose to study in the library instead of going for a walk in town, and the campus may look quite empty even with a few rays of sunshine. However, I believe that fun can be found in both good and bad weather, and here are some recommendations:  

  • Find a new study space! Aside from libraries like Keefe (Merril)** or Frost***, Amherst offers a multitude of nooks and crannies for every taste. Did you know that you can study in one of the Resource Centers? On the top floor Seeley Mudd? Or at the Mead or in Beneski? If weather permits, the back patio in Keefe or the bird sanctuary are also excellent spots.  

  • Play a game! This year the class senators have brought some table games to two of the first year halls as a pilot project, and the Greenway Dorms**** offer a variety of entertainment ranging from Bananagrams, Scrabble, Foosball to a music jukebox. If your common room lacks the games above, you can also browse online for more inspiration. What can be more distressing than attempting to learn a new game with 64 “easy” rules?

  • Go work out! Though bad weather is the perfect excuse to hang out in your room, others think the same way, which means that the gym is definitely not packed right now. Grab your sneakers and you can skip the warm up run if you move fast enough through the rain. Also working out releases endorphins that make you happy, but don’t quote me on that.

  • Stay outside! Especially if the weather is nice, laying down on a picnic blanket on one of the Quads, chilling in the back terrace of Frost or playing volleyball next to the Greenway Dorms are guaranteed stress-relievers. Often we pay little attention to the beauty that surrounds us on campus because it’s so ubiquitous (it means: everywhere).

First Year Quad Evening

A picture of the First-Year Quad taken by myself while daydreaming (or evening dreaming?) 

Though there is plenty of good advice I can offer, I decided to take advantage of the rainy afternoon and attempt to create an environment for new ideas… in other words, take a nap.

Till later!

 

Your Summer Intern,

Lidia

 

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*First Year Quad: quad with all the first year dorms, located in the central part of the campus.

**Keefe (Merril): the science library, located in the Merril Science Center, hence called Merril.

***Frost: the main library, located near the First-Year Quad.

****Greenway Dorms: dorms completed in fall of 2016, providers of lots of social spaces and cool nooks