Victoria Foley '23 - Introduction

Welcome! My name is Victoria, and I am a first-year student here at Amherst College. Originally, I am from Northern Virginia and attended high school in Washington, D.C. I am beyond excited to share my experiences with you all on this blog! Currently, my major is undeclared, as I am a first-year student. Victoria Foley `23 at Welcome Orientation Day 2019 for Freshman

On campus, I'm part of the Amherst Symphony Orchestra (I play the viola!), Amherst Christian Fellowship, La Causa (Amherst's Latinx heritage group), and 3D: Difference for the Developmentally Disabled, a club that meets weekly to spend time with individuals who have developmental disabilities. Additionally, I love writing and journaling! You'll find tons of books, journals, and quotes scatted all over my dorm room.

If you ever have any questions, feel free to reach out! Email: vfoley23@amherst.edu. She/Her/Hers pronouns.

Note: To enlarge the photos in my posts, click on the image! 

The Real Deal: A Freshman Dorm Tour!

I hope you all are having a great week! Here at Amherst, the weather has officially moved into winter temperatures. Well, at least according to me, haha! I walked out of a piano concert last Friday night here at Amherst in 28 degree weather! Wow! While I do lament that the sunset now takes place around 4 P.M. and the darkness comes so early into the night, I must say that this season does bring me a ton of enjoy; the fall decorations, the orange and red leaves, and the pumpkin-spiced coffee and desserts at Valentine Hall, our one and only cafeteria, keep me happy and content.

My dorm 2019!

Speaking of the chilly climate, my dorm room has been through a large change in its decorations and miscellaneous winter items, such as my puffy winter coat now hung next to my door and all the blankets, pillows, and warm boots that lie around my closet. Despite the changing atmosphere of my room, a few decorations have obsviously remained, particularly one of my favorites: my banana plant! I bought it at a farmer's market here in the town of Amherst, only a five minute walk away from campus. Every Saturday, there's an amazing selection of homeade goods, food, plants, and accessories of the like at this market. If you ever tour Amherst on the weekend, check it out!

Now, let's move on to the dorm tour! This post provides more of a dorm assessment and a feel for what it's like to live here as a first-year. I live in Stearns, one of the residence halls on the first-year quad. In fact, the college has all first-year residence halls on the main quad, so this means that all first-years will live right next to each other. The first-year quad is the perfect location for getting to all the main buildings on campus. I love how I'm only a two-minute walk away from Frost Library, where I often study and print out my papers.

Currently, I reside in a two-room double. This means that technically my roomate and I each have our own mini dorms, except there's only one door to the outside hall. I'm on the inside room, meaning that I walk through my roomate's room to get outside of our dorm. Not all dorms are like this. Most are one room doubles. 

Personally, I believe that I have one of the best views from my dorm! It overlooks the entire first-year quad. I can see the sunrise, sunset, the trees and their leaves, even the library, and sometimes, I can even see the events that happen right inside of the quad. Also noteworthy: each dorm comes with a bed, a desk, a drawer, a closet space, and a full-length mirror right behind the door; however, the dorms of upperclassmen may come with different furniture depending on the building and its location. My dorm 2019!

From the pictures of my room, you can see the style of my room with its decorations, books, journals, and a few white boards—I love a good board where I can write out my activities, clubs, and events for the week. The accessories and decor of my room have developed overtime. For example, for Family Weekend, my mother and father came up and they brought me a ton of printed photos; hence, I now have several family vacation photos lining the walls of my room. When you begin packing up for your future dorm, do not stress about not having enough decorations. You'll be surprised how quickly you might decorate your room with posters, paintings, and free merchandise that your college may give you.

A view outside of my dorm! Amherst definitely spoiled me this year with my incredible room. My dorm room has so much great space and an awesome view of the quad that brings in a lot of natural light into my space. Oh! Did I forget to mention that Amherst provides a heater in all the dorm rooms? Now, with the start of winter, I can cozy up in my room with just the perfect warm temperature. As you can tell, I much prefer the heat to the cold, but even though Amherst has a brutally frigid winter, I know I made the right choice to come here.

 

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at vfoley23@amherst.edu. Have an amazing day!

November 14th, 2019

P.S. The photos from top to bottom: My dorm, my desk, another view of my dorm, and my view from right outside my window! Cool, right?!

 

Beyond the Amherst Atmosphere: Using Service to Amplify My Experience in Amherst, MA

Wow, everyone! A little update on the weather at Amherst: it's officially freezing outside, with temperatures often in the twenties and thirties throughout the day. How does your weather currently compare to here? If you feel inclined to visit Amherst during this time of year, definitely pack your heaviest jacket! 

While you determine what type of college atmosphere most aligns with your hopes and values, I would like to mention the importance of attending a college where one does not feel constricted simply to the campus itself. Upon arriving to Amherst, I wondered why people would prefer to go study at a coffeeshop down the street instead of sitting in our Me and a pumpkin that my friend made for me at 3D! amazing science center; yet, I realized that leaving the Amherst College setting, even just for a few hours, lets me see the outside world, people of all ages, and merely observe the location around me. Just three months into my freshman year at this pictureresque school, I realize the importance of connecting with the community right outside campus.

Most of my friends at Amherst are students just around my age, working hard in school, and eager to pursue their passions, important causes, etc. I realized that I didn't spend that much time with younger children, as I used to when I tutored elementary school kids back at home. Furthermore, I don't typically interact with adults outside of my professors and the wonderful staff in our Valentine cafeteria. I noticed that I constantly surrounded myself with people strictly immersed in the world of academia. As I value diversity of thought, doing some volunteer work outside of campus gives me inspiration otherwise hidden from me and perspectives, thoughts, and stories that otherwise I would miss by just being around people with similar schedules and goals as mine.

What does service look like at Amherst?

On campus, several clubs host meetings where they complete service projects, like making stickers that eventually will raise money towards an important cause, like the Reproductive Justice club, of which I occassionally attend. Weekly, I participate in 3D: Difference for the Developmentally Disabled. This club meets on Sunday nights to hang out with disabled adults in the larger Amherst area. I would never miss a club if I could! The group of people that do it with me have such incredible personalities and the adults who come give me so much joy, laughter, and spark really interesting conversations. 

An organization called Not Bread Alone, providing warm meals to those in the area, has its location only three minutes away from our Valentine cafeteria! A sophomore on campus introduced me to the organization as we ate our dinner together one night before my orchestra practice. She described the organization so fondly that I knew I had to go one This is a board that I designed alongside another volunteer at Not Bread Alone! The food written down is what was served. I cook day and help out! Thus, I recently dedicated one of my Sunday mornings to cutting up enormous amounts of carrots and lentils and making a vegan lentil soup. Of course, as I am not a cook, I achieved this only with the help and guidance of a cook there named Dawn, who I became acquainted with while we worked alongside each other.

Additionally, although I get paid for this job, I assist an orchestra class at Wildwood Elementary School, about a ten minute drive away from Amherst College. Each Friday, I go with two friends to help the kids with their instruments and also give support to the teacher throughout class. The orchestra class I work in has a mixture of lively fourth, fifth, and sixth graders who often come to class eager to play their pieces. Currently, we are focusing on an assortment of Christmas music. 'Tis the season for me already!

How easy is to get involved in service?

In a daily email delievered to all faculty, staff, and students called the Daily Mammoth, everyone receives notifications I got to go a TedX Talk on campus! about events, speakers, clubs, and neat happenings on campus, as well as job openings, opportunities to serve, and much more. From my time here at Amherst, I feel the school makes it easy to get involved with clubs and let us know about cool openings for different jobs and events going on. In fact, I recently attended a Tedx Talk on campus, given by professors and even classmates here! To say the least, the talks changed my life, and I'm happy to elaborate more about it in another post!

Amherst College has a Center for Community Engagement, located right in the Keefe Campus Center. Just as their tittle suggests, this center provides various resources for doing service and projects in the Amherst area. In addition, they provide support and grants for upperclassmen to conduct research concerning various topics.

I hope you all enjoyed this blog post! As always, reach out if you have any questions: vfoley23@amherst.edu. Keep doing amazing, and have a great start to your week.

P.S. My photos, top to bottom: A picture of me holding a pumpkin that my friend made me during 3D, a picture of the eating menu that I created with another volunteer at Not Bread Alone, the Tedx Talk stage

November 18th, 2019  

The Dealbreaker: How Truly Plentiful and Pretty Are the Study Spaces?

Aloha, everyone! I hope you all are having a great season and an amazing time for the holidays! How are you all? At this time, here at Amherst, finals week has just begun. As a humanities student, I actually have no finals but instead have final papers. I so appreciate that a whole lot more than taking tests!  Cute project my friend did!

Whereas everyone currently searches for their ideal study spaces around campus, I tend to move from different locations all around Amherst. For the first two months here, I only studied in the third floor of Frost Library, the library located right
on the main quad. One of the long tables in the smack center of third floor essentially became my assigned spot. If I saw someone sitting in my seat, I would literally feel so angered. Don't they know that's my spot? Now, I have decided to start finding other places around campus, especially within our science center, which feels incredibly modern and spacious. 

Me in the basement of the science center When I started my college search, I hopped around from several different types of institutions taking such diverse tours; while some were large, state universities, others resembled the small size of Amherst, and some were even overseas! Through it all, I loved checking out the libraries and student hub centers. Having a location outside of my dorm to study mattered a lot to me. In fact, I would even check out the town nearby to the university to see if I could study in the coffeeshops. To answer your presumably lingering question, yes, Amherst has a few coffeeshops in a walkable distant from campus!

Perhaps you may value a similar aspect of college: living life outside of your dorm and liking the study spaces. Amherst College has multiple buildings, even a museum known as Beneski, where you can find cute study spots. While some are three floors underground in Frost library, others have a ginormous view of the campus, like my hidden, one-chair location on the third floor of the Science Center. Futhermore, there are two coffeeshops on campus including a mini fast food place called Schwemms; click the links to investigate more about them!

Let's take a look at some of my favorite places to study on campus! If you choose to tour Amherst, you can check them out for yourself, too!

The Opposite Ends: The seclusion of the basement and third floor of the Science Center

The most gorgeous view of the Amherst comes from the balcony of the third floor. In a green, overlarged chair and mini coffee table, I often sit and finish my work, during the day and sometimes at night after orchestra practice. Here, I find the My hidden spot in the science center third floor perfect secluded space to admire the greenery of Amherst. When it had snowed, the view looked stunning with the tops of buildings covered in white and the trees coated with snow. I find this the ideal space to write blog posts, as well.

The basement of the science center also has multiple couches, high tops, and regular tables. An amazing fun-fact about the Science Center is that there exist so many whiteboards everywhere! Although I do not use them, many people study with them, doing their math problems on the board or drawing out a study guide for an upcoming test. 

The Hidden Levels of Frost

From the outside, the apperance of Frost tricks you. Would you have guessed that Frost actually has six floors?! I would not feel surprised if the school secretly has another one that they hide. I tend to study in the the second and third floors of Frost, often leaving the first floor to do group projects. Recently, my friends and I had to submit a final project together for our Keywords in American Culture First Year Seminar class, and we basically lived in the first floor Frost for about the two days that we hustled to turn our combined paper into perfection.

My table As you already know, the third floor has a great space to study in quiet. Some floors in Frost are designated quiet spaces while others are intended for brief conversation or group work. 

The Unexpected: The Valentine Dining Hall!

Not only does studying in Valentine, specifically during low-traffic hours, give you some rest from other traditional sorts of study spaces, but you also get to nibble on the snacks, fruit, and desserts of Val as you do so! I love sitting on the top floor of Valentine, where I can get work done, and often times, I find many of friends also sitting up there. Fun fact: Valentine is also a residence hall! On the very top floor, not accessible from within the cafeteria, there are a few rooms. 


Overall, so many other studies spaces exist! I like to study at Amherst Coffee, a coffeeshop about five to ten minutes away from campus, depending on your luck with the traffic lights. Amherst has a museum called Beneski, home to the infamous skeleton of a mammoth, where people often say is amazing to work in. Furthermore, Amherst also has its own art museum called the Mead; check it out while you are here!

I hope you all enjoyed this post. As always, feel free to reach out with any questions: vfoley23@amherst.edu.

Have a lovely week and happy holidays!

P.S. Photo captions, from top to bottom: a really cute project my friend is doing in Frost library to encourage students during finals week; me in the basement of the science center; my third floor science center hidden study spot; my table in the third floor of Frost

December 16, 2019  

Day in the Life of a Freshman’s Wednesday: Breakfast, Brain-Storming, and a Birthday Celebration

Welcome to this YouTube-vlog type of blog! Take a glance at what a typical Wednesday looks like for me. Since I only have one class on Wednesdays, I tend to float around the campus running errands, doing clubs, and completing much other stuff; thus, you get to experience campus life as opposed to class; however, I do include a blog post about my class below this post. 

Let’s dive into my most recent Wednesday! 

Breakfast

With only one class at two o’clock this Wednesday, I awoke around eight o’clock and began my day by heading straight to our Valentine dining hall. Routinely, I make my bed as soon as I get up and then dress myself. Today, I listened to a “Chill Playlist” created by Apple Music while I got ready. After a quick glance in the mirror, I grabbed my backpack and headed over to Valentine, just five minutes away.

Val, short for Valentine, has some of the best staff on campus. Swiping my ID card to enter the cafeteria, I greet Joan and Zaweeda, two of the sweetest people on campus who work at the entrace of Val. Through passing, we discuss the chilly weather and ask each other about our Thanksgivings.  A typical lunch/dinner

I set my things down at a table on the second floor, coincidentally also taken by my incredible friend named Helen. Right after our salutations, I grab my food from the breakfast selection. Another staff member Fatima, and I speak with her briefly. She always greets me with the biggest smile and asks me about how I currently handle this freezing weather. She knows that although I come from northern Virginia, I still detest these temperatures. 

While chatting with Helen and eating my daily eggs, kale, and banana, I accomplish a little bit of journaling and work. I would have sat at Val for a little longer, but I instead I hurried over to a professor’s office hours to ask some questions.

My time at Val always calls for running into amazing people like Helen and seeing the friendly staff. If I go to Val a few times a day, the staff and I ask each other how our days have progressed. It’s quite funny. Oh! I must mention that freshman get unlimited cafeteria swipes. 

Brainstorming

After office hours, I reunited with a classmate from my Spanish class to begin writing our joint essay. Currently, we are in the midst of writing an essay that speaks about the experience of Latinx students in Amherst College. We are drawing upon our own experiences, as well, while referring to the opinions and times of others.

We sat together in one of the thousands of common room spaces found in almost every dorm on campus. Since my friend lives in the James dormitory, I met her in the large lounge room, where there’s whiteboards, chalkboards, tables, and much more. In Amherst, there exist so many spaces to do homework and relax because the library and large science center. Even within those confined spaces, there are so many hidden floors and spots that often go unnoticed. 

Coincidentally, we had Spanish class right after we finished our essay. The rest of my afternoon was spent in class and later winding down in my dorm room.

A Birthday Celebration

My lovely friend Rachel had her birthday this Wednesday! About a week ago, she asked her friends and I to join her for dinner in the top floor in Val. In addition, she brought some kids she was babysitting to our dinner! No, it’s not common for anyone to babysit any children on campus, but my friend Rachel knew a couple in the area that just needed someone to watch their children for the night. They were adorable! We watched them attempt to eat their ice cream comes. We all ate our dinner and wished her a very happy birthday! 

My friend Rachel and I! The rest of the day involved me returning to my room and chilling out while I completed some homework. Typically, I would go to an Amherst Christian Fellowship prayer meeting on Wednesday nights, but tonight, I had a workload to tackle through that required my full attention. My average Wednesday at Amherst gives me an incredible amount of freedom!

I hope you all enjoyed this post! As always, email me at vfoley23@amherst.edu with any questions. Have a great week!

P.S. Captions for the pictures: A typical dinner at Val, my friend Rachel and I! (She's also a Diversity Outreach Intern for the admissions office here at Amherst!)

What The Robert Frost Statue Means to Me: An Exhilarating Story About a Non-Poetry Lover

Hello, everyone! I hope you all are doing well and enjoying the holidays. Over Thanksgiving Break, I got my fill of the Washington, D.C. city vibes that had fallen ill throughout my time at Amherst. Just about two days into my week long break, I told my parents that although I missed them, I certainly missed Amherst. In fact, my two closest friends from Amherst and I started a group chat among us in the beginning of the school year. About three days into our break, one of my friends sends a text to the group chat saying that she missed us so much. Basically, it turned into a really cute group chat where we texted each other about how much we missed one another and wished everyone a happy Thanksgiving. I feel so blessed to have friends like them, and they make the workload of the school so worth it!

Me in the snow! When I walk over to my friends’ dorm in Charles Pratt, a freshman dormitory, I pass by the Robert Frost statue right next to Memorial Hill each time I go over. Robert Frost, a world-renowned poet, used to teach at Amherst. In fact, our library on the first year quad, Frost Library, takes after his name. His statue reminds me of how terribly I understand poetry. Amherst can never fall short of its poets. From statues of Robert Frost to Emily Dickinson’s home right down the street, the world of poetry feels inescapable. Perhaps from the title of this post, you may assume that I dislike poetry. That’s true; however, I adore writing, from journaling to hand-writing letters, and this love has certainly not died since my arrival here at Amherst. Journaling intrinsically fits into my everyday routine, and not a day goes by where I fail to write. 

So, if I love writing so much, how can I not love poetry? After a year of studying the subject back in high school, I would have thought that at least my poem deciphering skills would improve. Unfortunately, they certainly did not. Once, for an AP English Literature essay my senior year, I had to unravel the meaning of a Shakespeare poem. I could have sworn I had gotten the analysis correct; this poem had to have been about Shakespeare and his relationship with God. All the godly words like "heaven," "creator," and "spirit" stood within the poem. How could I have been incorrect? A few weeks later, I get the essay back. Turns out, it had nothing to do with God. Shakespeare actually wrote his poem about a lover. Robert Frost Statue

Evidently, I can neither write nor understand poetry, but I have no fear about feeling forced to write about Shakespeare’s poetry ever again. With the Open Curriculum, I can never take an English class ever again if I so desire, yet I do not foresee this. Will I never take a math class again? Probably. Yet, although I do not take any classes surrounding the topic of poetry, it always seems to find itself within my classes. In my Global Valley class, an American Studies class that learns the history behind the Amherst region, we read Emily Dickinson poems, visited her house and museum, and I even chose to write a small essay about one of her poems. My professor did leave some comments on that paper about how I misinterpreted a few lines. Once again, I cannot quite comprehend even the shortest and simplest of poems, but at least I interpreted some of Dickinson’s lines correctly.

Amherst has several charming features about it, from seasonal events with a lot of free festive food to traditions that perhaps may only feel understandable to an Amherst student. Amherst and its poetry certainly falls into one of its distinct staples. How can one leave Amherst without at least hearing about Robert Frost or Emily Dickinson? While I do not love poetry, I learn to love only its presence because it reminds me of Amherst, which reminds me of my friends and also about how incredible it is that I attend such a college where such revolutionary poets and authors have taught, lived, and been. While my Thanksgiving did not include my gratitude over poetry, it included gratitude over Amherst and its dedication to preserving the remarkable art of writing.

I hope everyone had an amazing Thanksgiving! To make clear, Amherst has an Open Curriculum, which means that it has no course requirements. To learn more about this and to see my classes and my fall 2019 semester, check out my posts below! If you dislike poetry, like me, no worries about having to take any Shakespeare poetry classes if you wish not to; however, I have many friends who do and they say they love it!

 Have a great week. As always, feel free to reach out with any questions.

P.S. Photo captions, top to bottom: me in the snow, a frosty Robert Frost (my friend made that pun; I cannot take credit), haha!

P.S.S. It currently snowed more than a few inches here. In fact, on Monday, December 2nd, the whole school had a snow day!

December 2nd, 2019

The Open Curriculum Magic: My Fall Semester Classes

I hope you all are doing well! Now that the fall semester comes to a close, I reflect on my experience with classes and the open curriculum. The open curriculum means that Amherst College has no required or core classes. Essentially, if you wish to never take math again, you truly never have to! If you always wanted to take in a class in geology but you also want to maintain mostly humanities based classes, you can do this! The open curriculum truly has the most flexibility imaginable. As someone who did not arrive at Amherst with a specific major in mind, the open curriculum truly helped me explore so much already! Personally, I do not like stem classes, so I was happy that I could completely drop math! My fall 2019 Semester

As someone looking into a field concerning human rights, I wondered how I could start taking classes surrounding that career path. The broad subject of human rights can practically mean anything, I know! Yet, I feel as though my classes have allowed me to comprehend that topic a little better, and taking a look at my classes and schedule this past semester may help you see the uniqueness of Amherst's academics, too.

Note: For each class and major, I include links to each class description that includes its professor, level, etc. You can also view the Course Catalog online. 

1. Law and Disorder

In the Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought (LJST) major, the class Law and Disorder straightforwardly centers its material around its title. In this class, we explore the relationship between law, culture, and order, while reading books, watching films, and viewing documentaries that revolve around the complexity of law within different types of society.

Memorial Hill Located in the Cole Assembly Room of Converse Hall, this class relies on deep discussions surrouding our readings. The professor always welcomes student's commentaries, thought-provoking questions, and I love how easily I can book an appointment to meet with her during office hours. Professors at Amherst offer many times to meet with them outside of class, and it makes it so easy to ask questions and get a better grasp of the material. 

2. Global Valley

This class almost spends an equal amount of time outside of the classroom as it does within our room in Chapin Hall. Focusing on the history surrounding the town of Amherst and its surrouding cities, Global Valley, a class within the American Studies major, often takes field trips both in and outside of class to see the places, people, and historical sites we study. Beavertial

Perhaps the coolest thing about this class revolves around the fact that we often meet the authors we read from! For example, we read Spider in a Tree by Susan Stinson, who then came to talk to us more about her vision surrounding the book and to answer our questions! Furthermore, we often read research done by our very own professors here at Amherst. It blows my mind how incredibly priviledged I am to meet with the people who compose the material we read in class. Amazing!

3. Owning the Bilingual Self

As someone who grew up biculturally in a Latinx and American household, I spoke English and Spanish at home and still continue to do so. Some of my family members speak both languages, while some only speak one. Thus, I have always felt intertwined between my Latinx, specifically Dominican and Colombian culture, and my American identity, often causing me confusion as to what racial and cultural identity I fully embody. This class has helped me unravel what it means to speak two languages in this country and the complexities of being bilingual, although it does have its advantages, as well. 

Conducted in only Spanish, Owning the Bilingual Self has not only improved my Spanish and expanded its vocabulary within the academic realm but it has also allowed me to come to peace with my bicultural identity. Whereas I felt obliged to pick one or other, I see how my English and Speak can coexist, even within my everday conversations. 

4. Keywords in American Culture

The college requires each freshman to take a First Year Seminar, a class comprised only of freshman and centers around writing in some variation. Freshman pick this seminar over the summer, and these seminars range in all different subjects, from English to understanding language, to even one purely about olive oil! My Keywords in American Culture seminar practically epitomizes what I hope to study here at Amherst. We talk about keywords, such as guns, LGBTQIA+, race, prisons, etc. within the United States history, and read interesting books and discuss them. I love the books we read for this class! Check them out right now!

Me studying in Amherst Coffee
At the very end of the semester, the members of the class present research surrouding one keyword within American history. I currently work with two other group members; we research various topics surrouding the word citizenship. Although this research will not be published, in the sense that this research is merely for class, we get to investigate and consult primary sources, such as the Amherst Achives located in Frost Library, which truly makes me feel like such an official researcher. Although it admittedly brings a rather large workload, I feel excited and optimistic about this project!

 

I hope this post gave you some background and a glimpse of the Open Curriculum and Amherst's amazing academics and professors. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out! My email: vfoley23@amherst.edu.

Have a great week!

Pictures, top to bottom: my fall 2019 schedule, a view from Memorial Hill, one of my Global Valley fieldtrips to Mount Sugarloaf, and me studying at Amherst Coffee!

November 25th, 2019

 

 

Anything But Remote: The Lively College Campus

H

ello, everyone! My name is Victoria, and I am a first year student here at Amherst College. I am beyond excited to join this community, and I can’t wait to share my experiences with you all! If you ever have any questions, feel free to reach out! I would love to elaborate on any of my posts or time spent here at Amherst.

These past two months, between discovering the location of clubs and classrooms and being on a quest to see which floor of Frost Library will become my next study hub (so far, it’s the third floor), I have found the atmosphere at Amherst to an extremely active and lively place! It’s amazing, because I can attend all sorts of distinct talks and happenings, meeting people with a complete different set of interests than mine. 

Victoria Foley `23 at Welcome Orientation Day 2019 for Freshman Of all the adjusting a first-year student undergoes, I think the most exhilarating one of all must be the variety of events, concerts, speakers, activities, and free food that this campus has to offer. Seriously, there is a ton of free food at so many different events here! As I navigated the college-choosing process, I pondered about whether Amherst’s fairly remote and natural location would work well with my previous hustle-and-bustle D.C. lifestyle. Take note: Amherst is neither remote nor separated from the outer world. Picture Amherst as this location that acts like a medium to exploring all different sectors of the globe, whether that be with speakers, talks, food, events, and most importantly, the incredible and diverse group of people. In fact, I got to see Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speak at Amherst only a few weeks ago! It was an incredible talk and to learn more about, see the Amherst website

As a person who often finds herself in a music practice room alone with her viola, or perhaps journaling about a new fleeting thought, I often enjoy sticking to the things that I am used to attending and in the ritual of doing; however, since I have been at Amherst, with the extraordinary diversity of people and interests, I have decided to steer out of my comfort zone by attending various events. For example, I had never seen an acapella group live before until I went to a performance by Amherst’s legendary Acapella groups. To say only the least, I was blown away by the talent and dedication of each performer. If you love to sing, we have ton of groups for you to join!

Victoria Foley '23 petting an alumni's dog at the 2019 Homecoming football game!

Recently, I also tried out a weekly Creative Writing group on campus that has definitely caused me to write about topics I wouldn't have thought about doing before. For instance, I showed up to Amherst College, legendary for its poets, hating poetry myself. This creative writing club asked me to try the thing I had once dreaded most: poetry-writing! I never pictured myself writing more than beyond my journals, but this club has gotten me to do just that. What's even cooler about this club is that all its participants get to share a little bit of their writing if they desire, and it's thought-provoking to hear what they have to say. While admiring the skills of fellow classmates and learning about the passions of my friends, I felt like I was not only exploring Amherst’s plethora of events but that I was also tapping into some hidden interests within me. 

Overall, do not be fooled into thinking that Amherst lacks the opportunities of what a city might have. As a person who previously went to school in Washington, D.C., typically used to sit in at least an hour of traffic everyday, and greatly desired to be in a booming place, Amherst College is definitely the place to go. The best part? There's no traffic around campus. 

Now, it's time for me to continue exploring! Until next time. 

P.S. The first picture of me was taken on the first day of orientation right after I moved in! The second one was taken at the Homecoming 2019 Football game; an alumni let me pet their dog!

October 31st, 2019

The Tchaikovsky-Filled Weekend: Orchestra at Amherst College!

Good day, everyone! I hope you all are doing well. Currently, the weather on Amherst’s campus feels incredibly chilly. In fact, it may even snow next week! My winter closet has officially come out and all my jackets are being put to great use. If you currently experience any similar weather, keep warm!

Along my college search journey, I dreamed of a campus where my interests would not crumble under my academic work. For example, since fourth grade, I have played the viola. Reluctant to abandoning my instrument, I came to Amherst hoping that I would join the orchestra. Within the first week of classes, I auditioned, and to my luck, I made it! Truthfully, my fingers shook as I performed for my audition, and no, they did not shake in that rich vibrato way. In fact, when I finished my piece, I could feel my cheeks blushing ridiculously hard and I thought I had made a complete fool out of myself. To my surprise, the orchestra director kindly let me know I did a good job and started talking about rehearsing schedules and the repertoire for the year. In my mind, I had made a catastrophe out of my less-than-five-minute audition. Perhaps, during your college search, you may be very hard on yourself, especially with balancing schoolwork and applications. Remember that you are your own worst critic; I bet you those essays are so much better than you think! 

Concert try number 3!

Nonetheless, orchestra at Amherst has been a wonderful experience. As someone who has always played for fun, I felt so incredibly nervous for my first rehearsal because I thought I had to come in as a professional. Note: I am no professional and you absolutely do not have to be one to join! Trust me! With my negative frame of mind, which, of course, you should not have, I expected extremely complex music that would leave me looking like a total fool, but actually, that first rehearsal was not only a great learning experience but also where I met some amazing people! In case you were curious, our first concert consisted of pieces by Shostakovich.

Jumping to this past weekend, the orchestra held its second concert (Saturday, November 2nd) during Family Weekend. After countless hours spent in rehearsals and in practice rooms, I felt more than ready to perform our repertoire. Furthermore, the day of the concert, we had nearly a two hour dress rehearsal. My back felt ready to pass out! However, this concert brought such spectacular energy into the auditorium; each instrument felt so incredibly alive. The audience cheered joyfully at the closing, and I felt like the hours dwelling in practice paid off perfectly.

To hear our concert and learn more about the Amherst Symphony Orchestra, click here to visit its website! Amherst College has an incredible orchestra, one where I have made a ton of friends and have loved my experience so far! The orchestra members often catch dinners together before rehearsal, play fun bonding games, and ultimately, it’s one big family.

Me and my viola! Today, it’s so hilarious to think back to my first audition, where I practically convinced myself that I would never get in, that I would never make friends, never catch up, never be able to contribute to the sound of the orchestra…

Now, it’s been two months in and I’ve not (yet) been asked to leave the orchestra (haha!). My biggest take away: Do not take yourself too seriously in life! You’ll definitely surprise yourself. Trust me, I literally just learned how to tune my own instrument last year. For anyone whose ever played an instrument, yes, that is very concerning, and please, do not tell the orchestra director. 

I also tutor in an orchestra class at a local elementary school in the town of Amherst with some orchestra friends. I love how I can take my love of music outside the classroom. I’ll definitely talk more about this and my other service work in another blog post. 

One more note! For logistical information, the orchestra here practices twice a week for two and a half hours. Orchestra can count as a class credit if one would like; for right now, I just do orchestra as an extra-curricular. 

As always, feel free to reach out with any questions you may have!  

Wishing you all the best!

P.S. Photos top to bottom: A snapshot of the November 2019 Orchestra Concert, Me and my viola!

November 8th, 2019