Victoria Foley '23 - Introduction

Welcome! My name is Victoria, and I am a senior 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!! I am majoring in Spanish and Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought (LJST).

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On campus, I'm part of the...

  • 3D: Difference for the Developmentally Disabled, a club that meets weekly to spend time with individuals who have developmental disabilities.
  • La Fe, a non-denominational Christian organization helping Latinx students explore the intersectionality between their faith and cultural background.
  • Equestrian Team

If you were on campus, you'd see me:

  • Grabbing a meal with someone at Val
  • At 3D on Sunday nights
  • Saying hello to you on the street or hallway!

If you ever have any questions, feel free to reach out! I would LOVE to tell you about my time here at Amherst! Amherst is the BEST college in the whole world. Email: vfoley23@amherst.edu.

Note: To enlarge the photos in my posts, click on the image! I also attach all the photo captions at the bottom of each post. 


 

Senior Assembly and Class Marshal Photos

Classes have ended, officially launching Amherst into reading period, a few days where students study for their finals and submit their final papers. As a humanities major, I do not have to take any finals. Instead, I get to submit papers, one of which I turned in on the last day of class, as requested by the professor. I have left one 25-page research paper for my LJST class and a 5-6 page paper for my philosophy class. I turned in my thesis back in April and officially submitted it to the registrar a few days ago. Now, I get to share my thesis with people who have expressed interest in reading it.

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As a tradition, the seniors always have a Senior Assembly on the last day of classes. It's an event where students get academic awards and also hear from two student speakers and a faculty member speak to the class of 2023. Notable staff also received honorary degrees (that come with a cane!). I got nominated to be one of three class marshals a few months ago by a faculty committee. We still don't know who exactly they are! I hope that on commencement someone will break the silence and let me and the other two students, Carley Daly and Haoran Tong, know who nominated us for the job. Essentially, class marshals help the special events team with any senior-related activities. A few weeks ago, we helped run a senior-speak-off event where people voted on our commencement speaker. We introduced the speakers at the Senior Assembly and led the procession for our classmates in the Johnson Chapel. On the day of commencement (graduation) and for the practice the day before, we will help the events team teach the seniors how to line up and where to walk. 

The day of Senior Assembly, Carley and I had to take our yearbook headshots, and lucky for us, Haoran is an amazing photographer who volunteered to take our portraits. For the thirty or so minutes that we went around campus taking photos (Haoran knows the best spots and can tell you all about the lighting), we got to talk more and learn about each other's plans post-Amherst. When the three of us meet, we are typically doing work with the events team, so we don't get much time to talk between us. This photoshoot gave us the chance to catch up. Carley is off to medical school at the University of Rochester in the fall. Haoran has an internship in Boston for the summer but will be returning home to China momentarily before coming back to the States. I myself will be headed up to Notre Dame for law school in August.

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The three of us each had such different Amherst experiences. We all have different majors (Carley: Chemistry. Haoran: English and Economics. Me: LJST and Spanish) and participated in our own clubs and worked different jobs. Yet, the three of us bonded over a lot of the same things that we love at Amherst. We appreciate the school for all of the opportunities that it has given us and are excited for the future ahead. Amherst was undeniably the best college that I could have chosen. 

I hope that my blog has helped you learn about Amherst and get a glimpse into student life. I love Amherst dearly and will miss it. Feel free to reach out with any questions at vfoley23@amherst.edu. It has been a pleasure writing for you all.

Go mammoths! Come to Amherst.

Photo captions (top to bottom): Carley and I laughing, photo taken by Haoran Tong; the three class marshals of 2023!

May 10, 2023

 

Resources for Fitness and Wellness on Campus

Hi everyone! I hope you all are having a great week. Amherst students only have about a week left of class! As a senior, it feels bittersweet. I love Amherst, so I will miss it dearly; however, my next step awaits me at Notre Dame Law School, where I'll be starting off in the fall! I will write more about the steps after Amherst another time. Today, I'm diving into the various wellness resources that Amherst offers to its students for free! 

fitness center and classes

Our gym offers lots of fitness classes that range from yoga and pilates to cardio drumming and pickleball. We have a legendary Zumba instructor that offers classes twice a week! Lots of students enjoy weightlifting and recently, a senator from our student government started a class to teach students how to use the weights and gym equipment at Amherst. When I go to the gym, I tend to stick to cardio and light weights, so I'm not as familiar with all of the equipment that we have. In addition to our gym, we have various basketball courts, squash courts and a pool that has open swim hours. 

Mental well-being

In addition to our various student groups and club that have self-care events, we have a Counseling Center that offers therapy for free. It's an invaluable resource because many colleges only offer a limited amount of sessions for students. Our sessions at Amherst are free and both in-person and virtual with the therapists that Amherst has. I have used this resource during all my four years at Amherst and many of my friends enjoy it, too.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out at vfoley23@amherst.edu. Have a great day!

May 2, 2023

 

Different Study Spots Outside of Campus: Coffee Shops Around Amherst

Hello, everyone! I hope you all are doing well. We have two weeks left of classes before we head into our reading period and exams. For those unfamiliar with reading period, it's essentially a week or so for students to study before they take their tests. I have papers instead of exams, so I get a lot of time to write away. I turned in my thesis about three weeks ago and had my thesis defense last week, which means that I'm focusing on the three classes that I have left. 

While our campus has various study spots, I have recently started to study in coffee shops around town. An awesome perk about being an Amherst student is that the town next to us is walkable. We have restaurants, cafes, a few stores and a CVS within walking distance. As someone who comes from the suburbs of Northern Virginia, I appreciate not having to drive everywhere. Back at home, I always need a car or a ride every time that I want to leave my neighborhood.

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Within ten to fifteen minutes of campus, there are five coffee shops where students can work: Amherst Coffee, Share, Coronation Cafe, Black Sheep and The Works. I spend most of my coffee shop time at Coronation. They have the best French toast and hot chocolate. It's a local cafe as opposed to a chain, so everything that they make comes from their own recipes. I come often enough to Coronation that the baristas know my name and I know theirs. It's a cozy environment.

If you visit Amherst in the future, you might get hungry and want to grab a quick bite and grab a coffee before you hit the road. Check out one of these places and you most likely will see Amherst students reading, writing and typing away. I think the fact that the Amherst campus has places to work and eat outside of it has made a difference during my time at Amherst. It gives me the ability to change up my scenery and also study with my friends in a new location.

I hope you enjoyed this post! Feel free to email me at vfoley23@amherst.edu if you have any questions. Have a great week!

Photo caption: The French Toast at Coronation Cafe with an Iced Chai

April 26, 2023

 

Tags:  coffee shop 
Tags:  coffee shop 

Final Weeks of Class: What are exams like at Amherst?

Hi everyone! I will admit: I have never taken a multiple-choice test during my life here at Amherst. I've done a few in-class essays that counted as tests, but nothing else. The Open Curriculum allowed me to pursue the subjects that I wanted in the humanities realm, almost all of which required papers, presentations and other similar projects for end-of-semester grading. Classes end in two weeks. Absolutely crazy! It feels like I just started my second semester last week. 

Now that we are approaching graduation, taking place in a month (wow!), I'm starting to work on my end-of-year papers. For each of the three classes that I take, I will have to turn a paper in during our exam period. For me, since I do not have any exams, I use that week to write, edit and later turn in my essays. Many of my friends take many science and math classes and have to take sit-down exams. Amherst also does a few tests that are considered "take-home," which means that you do not have to take the test in front of a proctor. The professor trusts you to take it on your own and turn it in when the deadline approaches. This was a more common form of testing during COVID. 

Some professors, instead of tests or papers, prefer their students to do a presentation or project. In the past, I have turned in podcasts, powerpoints, websites, etc. for a final grade. I do not like tests, so I prefer any alternative to those. I appreciate when professors have required a project as a final assessment because it then lets me take on my creative side. Furthermore, I find that it creates less stress because I can enjoy the project more. 

End-of-semester events and tasks approach students and staff, but luckily, we still have a few more weeks before we must turn it all in. Before I came to Amherst as a freshman, I worried about what assessments looked like out here. It made me anxious even before I started orientation in August. Proudly, I can say that Amherst professors in the humanities routes embrace different ways to assess their students. 

April 22, 2023

 

Equestrian Update: I fell off, but I survived!

Hello, everyone! I hope you all are doing well. The temperatures out here have reached the night sixties, and we're even on the path to experiencing the eighties later in the week! This means that many students are now sunbathing on our First Year Quad, right where the Johnson Chapel sits. Yesterday, I walked to the gym and saw students playing music and playing frisbee outside. The weather means that riding horses will be a whole lot warmer!

I ride on the equestrian team here at Amherst, a club sport that anyone can join (so if you come to Amherst, feel free to come!). Our shows have finished for the season, which means that now we're strictly practicing. I love riding the horses, but I love grooming them and hanging out with them even more. In the cold, our hands would freeze as we brushed them, but now we get to enjoy each part of our time at the barn. The only downside is the bugs. As long we have bug spray, they'll leave us alone.

During our last practice, I was jumping a course when my horse spooked and I fell off. Spooking means that a horse got scared by something. One of the horses at the barn that we ride at, for example, spooks when he sees the wild turkeys that sometimes cross the pasture. The gray horse that I rode had never spooked with me before, but I guess he indeed did see something that freaked him out. We had come off of a cross-rail (a small jump) and were approaching a metal fence. It's unclear what exactly made the horse spook, but I guess he might have seen something that scared him across the fence, and I, unfortunately, fell off. I hit the fence and then the sandy ground. I'm okay! Nothing really happened except that I scraped my forearm. I hadn't fallen off a horse since my early days riding when I was around eight. I broke my running streak of fourteen years. But, I learned from my teammates yesterday: A rider isn't a good rider until they fall off.

One of my favorite parts of Amherst is the equestrian team. The community is wonderful, and I've met some of my closest friends through riding. Amherst funds the team's practices and shows, so if you come to Amherst and have no riding gear--fear not! We're able to supply boots and a helmet for the duration of your time on the team. Take advantage of the incredible opportunities that Amherst offers, including those outside of the classroom. You might embarrass yourself and fall (off), but trust me, it's worth it.

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out at vfoley23@amherst.edu. Have a wonderful week!

April 11, 2023

 

Easter at Amherst: Religious Traditions and Clubs

Hello friends! Happy Easter and Passover. At Amherst, we have a great diversity in religion and spirituality, so this past week was full of many different faith events. Our office of Religious and Spiritual Life has been doing events this week to ensure that students can celebrate their faith expressions in various ways. Since I come from a Catholic background, I'm used to celebrating Easter with mass and around family. This year, my Easter looked a little different: it started out with a mass in town, then a lunch with other Christian friends, then a nap (casually three hours), and finally, an easter egg scavenger hunt with one of the best clubs on campus!

Each Sunday, the Amherst Catholic group has mass in our Chapin Chapel, located right in front of the dining hall. This Easter, there was a shortage of priests in the area to give mass, so we walked over to a church called St. Brigid, just a five-minute walk away. The inside of the church reminds me of the many cathedrals that I saw in Spain. St. Brigid has a lot of crown molding and artwork. It's a hidden gem! After mass, I had lunch at Val, the nickname of our Valentine dining hall, with a group of friends who had come back from their own services. We have many denominations at Amherst, and so it's easy to find a church or place of worship to attend.

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After lunch, I made a very college-student move and decided to take nap. I was only supposed to nap for an hour but I ended up sleeping for three. My alarm clock actually made its way into my dream, so instead of turning the alarm off, I actually let it play and kept hitting snooze until eventually it stopped. I normally do not take three-hour naps, but I didn't get upset at myself because I reasoned it was Easter. I considered my sleep as a way to commemorate the holiday.

Around 6 PM, I went to 3D: Difference for the Developmentally Disabled, one of my favorite clubs! We build community with adults with developmental disabilities. I've been part of it since freshman year, and we meet every Sunday night, which is a great way to kick off the week. We have an annual Easter celebration, and this year, we had an Easter egg hunt right outside of the gymnasium where we always meet! We teamed up with the adults and then had a great time collecting the eggs. Everyone left the day with a goody bag to celebrate the day. My day ended perfectly! I love hanging out with the adults and other students. 

Easter looked different for many people on campus. Some celebrate while others do not. The week leading up to Easter is a great way to see the diversity of faith expressions. I hope you enjoyed this post! If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email at vfoley23@amherst.edu. Have a great week!

April 10, 2023

Photo caption: Our Easter 3D!


 

 

What do Amherst Students do Over the Summer?

Spring has arrived at Amherst, although the flowers have not yet bloomed and the weather still gets chilly. We have had days that rise to the high fifties, and for us, that's very optimistic during this time of year. I come from Northern Virginia, where we have all four seasons, from heat waves to feet of snow. I get asked if Amherst is any colder. I find that the temperature is at least five degrees colder up north, but I don't find that big of a difference. Amherst experiences all four seasons as well, so be prepared to have very hot summer days and super cold winter temperatures. A well-rounded wardrobe will do the trick.

In high school, I did not do any internships, much less anything prestigious. My summers were typically full of sporadic volunteer work and easy jobs like being a desk receptionist or babysitting. When I hit freshman year of college, I started to apply for internships for the summer. It's very unusual for students to do any type of part-time internship during the school year, as all of our students at Amherst are full-time. Student employment is common and doing research for professors is, too. The summer is different because Amherst does not offer any classes during that time, so students have the liberty of doing what they would like. Like any other college student, we apply for internships through sites like Handshake, Indeed, LinkedIn, and other similar ones; however, the Amherst career center offers opportunities unique to its students. Amherst alums love hiring Amherst students, so the career center organizes a program called the Charles Houston Program for people to apply for jobs that are only offered to Amherst students. This means that the competition pool is a lot smaller for internships. All students are welcome to be part of the program. All it requires is going to a few mandatory sessions such as "Cover Letting Writing 101" and "How to Ace Your Interview." Once you get your resume approved by the program--this means that your resume is formatted nicely and presentable to employers--you can begin applying for the Houston jobs. Each of these jobs is either funded by the employer or the college, so you're guaranteed a paycheck if you secure one of the jobs.

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Aside from internships, many students do research over the summer with professors. Amherst offers on-campus housing for all students that chose to stay in the area for the summer to do work. People also do regular jobs back at home that they had before college, such as working at an ice cream shop or helping out a family business. The older you are at Amherst, the more likely that the students will start taking on more serious internships that require living in another city or doing a commute. My internships have all been remote, mainly because of the virus. The Houston program also offers internships abroad. Before COVID hit, I was going to intern for an organization created by an Amherst alum in Costa Rica. Sadly, the pandemic stopped the program, but I was able to find another internship later.

As an Amherst student, the summer is your oyster! Depending on the industry you choose, the deadlines for internships vary. For example, if you are interested in finance or consulting, those job opportunities start their applications in the fall. For non-profits and research opportunities, these start to open up in the spring. Some internships might even open up space just a month before their start date. The trick is to keep an eye on the internship openings every now and then, especially during the spring.  

Thank you for reading this post! If you have any questions, feel free to email me at vfoley23@amherst.edu. Have a great week!

Photo caption: Me in Spain (lol I didn't really have any cool internship photos since mine happened to be remote!)

March 29, 2023

 

FAQ: Amherst in a Nutshell

Hi friends! Today, I'm going to run a blog post on some of the most frequently asked questions that I get from students that contact me over email. I hope I can answer some of the questions that you might have about life and academics at Amherst. As a last-semester senior, I can confidently say that if I had to choose a college over again, it would undoubtedly be Amherst. I have loved my time here!

Do people come into Amherst already with a major in mind?

No, in fact, many people admit that they do not have any major in mind and end up discovering what they want to specialize in during their first two years. Amherst has its student declare their majors at least by the end of their second year. I declared Spanish and Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought (LJST) during the first semester of my sophomore year. I took a few classes in each department and enjoyed my professors.

What do students do outside of class?

Our diverse student body brings a diverse array of activities, events, clubs and weekend outings. The clubs at Amherst always have a bunch of things happening on and off campus. For example, I'm part of a volunteer club called 3D that has events on campus. On the other hand, I'm also part of the equestrian team, and we ride in Granby, a town about 20 minutes away from campus. If you are interested in getting off campus, there are opportunities to do hiking, to visit a museum, to see a movie, to go to an amusement park, etc. From Monday to Thursday, students are typically studying, but once Friday night hits, our weekend begins.

Does being in a small town affect your college experience?

I went to school in Washington, D.C. and I live in the suburbs of the city in Northern Virginia. I definitely can attest to living in a traffic-filled city and having every type of food cuisine at every corner. UMass Amherst, about 30,000 students, is a fifteen-minute walk from Amherst College, and because of the massive student population, the city of Amherst and its surrounding towns do have a lot of people, shops, and places to eat. Whereas in a city everything is walkable, or at least located close by, Amherst tends to have its main shops about a thirty-minute walk away. By bus, it would be about 20 minutes because of all of the stops it has, but by car, I would say that the grocery store, shops and fast food are only a 5-minute drive. Right next to the college, we have a row of restaurants, coffee shops, a bookstore, and a CVS that is not even a five-minute walk if you live in some of the dorms right next to town. For small errands, walking in the town is totally doable. I've noticed that for me, the Amherst town and surrounding areas have enough going on that I don't find myself itching for a city. Most students do not have a car on campus, me included! We have Zip Cars for rent in one of the school's parking lots, and if you ever need a car, you can check out one of those. I do it often for equestrian practices.

How intense is the workload?

I went to a very rigorous high school where I found myself spending hours a night studying. Amherst has students that come from all different types of high schools, so we each come into Amherst with different expectations. If you got into Amherst, that means you can definitely handle the workload! I had major imposter syndrome when I arrived at Amherst up until my second year and thought that I wasn't ready for the work. Turns out, I not only like my Amherst classes a lot more than high school but also don't spend too many hours a day stressing. Since your classes are not every day (they tend to happen either twice or three times a week), you can space out your work. 

I hope these questions helped. Feel free to email me at vfoley23@amherst.edu with any questions. Have a great day!

March 20, 2023

 

A Key Part of the Amherst Experience: The Staff!

Hello everyone! This weekend, my parents came up to visit me. I showed them around campus in the snow, taking them to the Mead Museum (our legendary art museum), the Science Center and other spots around campus. Along the journey, I ran into some of my favorite staff members that work in these buildings. At Amherst, the small community means that you not only get to know the students and professors around you but also those that work the cafeteria, work as custodial staff, work as receptionists, and do other similar jobs. 

Despite that I have only had two classes in the Science Center (SCCE) during my time at Amherst, I have spent a lot of time in there studying. The modern touch of the SCCE provides a nice contrast to my days at Frost Library found on the opposite end of campus. As I showed my parents around the second floor this past Saturday, I ran into Mike, one of my favorite staff workers! I met him during my freshman year when I studied in SCCE on the first floor. He's super friendly and well-known by many students. When I go to the SCCE, if I do not find him around where I'm studying, I try to stop by his office on the second floor to say hi.

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Valentine Hall, our cafeteria (known as Val by the students), has a lot of awesome staff who work hard. I know some of their work schedules by heart now, so I'll know whether some of my favorite workers are at Val when I stop by. Amherst only has one cafeteria, so it becomes easy to see familiar faces, from students to workers, all the time. Renee, one of the Val workers that I've been able to become friends with, always greets students with the best smile! I met her my sophomore year just as I came back to campus during COVID. We've been able to grab coffee at a local shop nearby, and when I see her at Val, I try to hang out a bit and catch up on life with her. She's awesome! There are also staff members there that I always see serving and refilling our beverage stations. I've bonded with a few of them over our shared Latin American heritage too, and I invited them to come to a Latinx History conference that Amherst sponsored back in September! In addition to Val, we also have an option called Grab-and-go during the weekdays where students can grab lunch to go between 11 AM and 2:30 PM. I get my lunch there almost every day, so I'm well acquainted with the staff there. We always say hi! 

There are so many other awesome and kind staff workers that I see all around campus. This year I live in the Lipton dorm, situated right in front of the Arms Music Building. Our custodial staff, Johanna, is amazing and we say hi to each other as I head out the door for class. Since Amherst has about 2,000 students, we get to not only see many of our friends around campus but also those that work alongside us as staff members. There are so many other workers that I love saying hi to and catching up with them. If you end up coming to Amherst, you'll get to experience a similar thing. The staff have been a meaningful part of my time at Amherst. I love them a lot!

If you have any questions about Amherst, feel free to reach out: vfoley23@amherst.edu. Have a wonderful day, and we'll talk soon!

Photo caption: Renee and I!

March 8, 2023

 

A Successful Horse Show Amid Snow!

Hi everyone! This Saturday, the Amherst Equestrian team went to Mount Holyoke College for a horse show. We competed at their facility against them and also six other colleges. Although two of our members could not make it, we still had a super successful show and finished in third! Since we're a small team, it's always a big win for us when we place in the top three.

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In Western Massachusetts, we have seen a lot of snow these past couple of days and this Saturday was no exception. Luckily our show took place indoors so we did not have to worry about the snow interrupting our event. Horse shows tend to last about eight hours or so. We start the day around 7 A.M. by arriving early. Depending on whether our team has been asked to help out with preparing the horses, we feed, groom and tack them. This Saturday, we helped out with registration, which basically is checking in with each team. The horses warm up and then we start off with the jumping! Each competitor gets assigned a random horse for each of their rides. The IHSA assigned this rule to make sure that everyone has a fair chance of getting a good horse. I got lucky and was assigned a super awesome horse for my jumping round. His name was Bubbles, a cute appaloosa. I placed second in my category because of him! A real cutie.

After the jumping finishes, we move on to the flat. In this event, riders are graded on their ability to communicate with the horse by adjusting and moving between walk, trot and canter (for those unfamiliar with the horse world: think of canter like a step down from a gallop). Each rider gets a new horse for their flat ride. I got a new horse named Tobie, who was a tall, dark bay paint. We ended up getting fifth in our class and with that, I finished my showing! We left the facility around 3 PM with a bunch of snow flurries following us back home. Horse shows are longggg days, but with great company and good horses, they can be a lot of fun!

I hope you enjoyed the post! If you have any questions, feel free to email me at vfoley23@amherst.edu.

Photo caption: Me jumping on Bubbles!

February 28, 2023

 

Cooking and Cleaning with Friends: Serving at Soup Kitchen

Hello, everyone! This past Saturday, I went to a soup kitchen called Not Bread Alone, just two minutes from our cafeteria, with the Newman Catholic Association on campus and other people who wanted to join us. Since it didn't have a religious component, one could even call it an interfaith event. Not Bread Alone operates out of a church that does much for the Amherst community. I went during my freshman year a few times, prior to COVID, and upon searching for ideas to do a service day, I remembered that Not Bread Alone has a huge kitchen that welcomes anyone to help out.

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The season of Lent approaches for Catholics, which is about a two-month period in which the Church observes certain traditions in preparation for Easter. Since I am part of the Newman student leader group (we called them E-Boards at Amherst, short for Executive Boards), my friends and I were thinking of how to kick off the lenten season with an event that anyone could join. Therefore, we thought about a cool service project, and lo and behold, Not Bread Alone was a great choice. 

When we arrived at the kitchen, the staff members working there gave us all aprons and assigned us our tasks. Not Bread Alone prepares a big meal at lunchtime where anyone can come in and eat a nutritious meal. They also give out food, like bread and vegetables, for people to take home with them. For people who are unable to come into the soup kitchen to get a meal, some members of Not Bread Alone go and drop it off at their houses.

Our Amherst group was divided up into chores. A few people cut up vegetables and roasted them. Others, like me, did the washing and cleaning. Some prepared the drinks and got the coffeepot ready. I volunteered for the special privilege of writing out the menu of the meal on a whiteboard. As you can tell from the top image, I enjoyed color-coding the menu, practicing my cursive and drawing cartoon horses. 

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We spent our morning between 9 AM - 12 PM in the kitchen, and once we had finished cleaning our cooking utensils, some of us were craving bubble tea and we walked over to a store within three minutes. For those of us who had done the cleaning and drying, we had water sprayed all over us. We laughed about it over tea and got to know others that we typically do not get to see. One of the best parts about this event was that most of the people who came to serve weren't affiliated with the Newman team. Our group was composed of people from all different years, faiths and backgrounds, but we came together over our interest in giving back to our local Amherst community. 

The rest of my weekend was spent hanging out with friends, eating some Insomnia cookies, and doing some work. I hope you all enjoyed this blog post, and if you have any questions, feel free to reach out at vfoley23@amherst.edu Have a great week!

Photo captions (top to bottom): The menu that I drew in the kitchen; some of the people who went to the kitchen to help out


 

Classes in Religion, Philosophy, LJST, Spanish

In the second week of school, I finalized my classes for the semester. At Amherst, we have a week of Add/Drop, meaning that you can "shop" classes and see if you want to take them. I got lucky and liked all of my classes this semester, so registration went very straightforward. My Spanish thesis counts as a class by itself, so I only take three classes. Typically, students take four classes at Amherst. Until my senior year, when I started writing my thesis, I stuck to that type of semesterly order. I decided to take classes in philosophy and religion, two departments that I hadn't quite taken a class in before (btw! To learn more about my thesis, scroll below). Technically, I once took an American Sanctuary class that cross-listed as American Studies, Latinx and Latin American Studies (LLAS) and Religion. One could argue that I have taken a religion class before, but I have never taken a class solely from the Religion department.

Take a look at my three classes! I really enjoy them so far. Since I just started them, I do not have too much info, but I can definitely update you all soon. Each class header includes a link to the official description of the class.

1. Judging Genocide 

This Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought (LJST) course meets once a week for two and a half hours. This type of timing happens in most advanced-level courses. We study the holocaust at the moment and later we will look at other instances of genocide. As a class in the LJST department, we focus in on the legal aspects of genocides, understanding how legal structures permitted or abetted this process. 

2. Folklore and the Bible

Coming from the Religion department, this course challenges how people view the Bible as having folklore. We have read from scholars so far that illuminate how the stories of the Bible were orally spoken as opposed to having them written down. The professor wants to speak more about the role of women in the Bible throughout the semester, so I'm super excited about that.

3. The Problem of Evil

This course is cross-listed as a Religion and Philosophy course. The class primarily focuses on this question: If God is good, why is there evil? We currently discuss the way that St. Augustine argues that human free will comes from God and that this free will demonstrates the choice that people have between good and evil. More cool readings are in the queue!

I have really enjoyed these classes so far. Amherst has a wide array of classes that explore super interesting topics with a very discussion-based approach. It's been easy going to my professors' office hours and asking them about the material. It's one of the things that I value most about Amherst.

Thank you for reading this post! If you have any questions, feel free to email me at vfoley23@amherst.edu. Have a great week!

February 8, 2023

 

Returning from Research in Spain: Thesis Work

Hi everyone! I recently returned from a two-week trip to Spain where I conducted research on my thesis topic. In the Spanish department, I write my thesis about the Francoist prison camps that existed during the Spanish Civil War in the town of Córdoba between 1936-1939. My current advisor, Sara J. Brenneis, introduced me to the topic during a class I took with her during my sophomore year called Art as Protest. I took another class with her later about the Spanish Civil War and it prompted me to write my thesis about a topic within that realm. Seniors at Amherst have the option of writing a thesis if they would like to. I chose to do one because I like the subject that I chose and it affords me a chance to produce a really big piece of work. Each department at Amherst organizes its thesis requirements differently. For Spanish, the thesis has to be between 80-120 pages.

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Amherst has generous funding for research, so I applied to one of their scholarships called the Gregory S. Call fund. I found out in October that I had been approved to go to Córdoba, Spain! In my application, I had to give a detailed itinerary of how to use the money I requested. My objective was to see the places that applied to my thesis, to analyze the way that they had been memorialized, and to also interview activists and professors on this topic. During my trip, I visited the locations of mass graves that had been found in cemeteries where several thousands of remains had been found from the Spanish Civil War and the violence that followed after. Additionally, I visited the sites of former prison camps and consulted archives that showed the documents about the prisoners. I had a really rewarding experience and it gave me a lot of material for my thesis. I'm incredibly grateful for the trip and the opportunity to have gone.

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Now that I have returned, I can write up all of my research and finish the thesis. The Spanish department has its students turn in their thesis in April. Most departments have the same deadline, but it can vary. I meet with my advisor about every two weeks to check in and have her give me feedback on my work. I love how the professors at Amherst take a lot of time to read my work in depth and give me a lot of commentaries. I chose Amherst because of the inclusive and diverse academic environment, primarily because of its Open Curriculum and the way that students could dive right into research. If you are searching for a similar place, consider Amherst as a possibility. Deciding on Amherst among my other options was one of the best choices I've made. If you cannot make it to campus for a tour, consider doing a virtual one or reaching out to the many student bloggers, tour guides, and admission office folks. We love talking about Amherst!

Have a great rest of your week! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out at vfoley23@amherst.edu. 

Photo captions (top to bottom): A site where a former camp used to be; a place where remains from the Spanish Civil War have been found

January 30, 2023

 

Are you an Admitted Student? Three things to do for the weekend!

Hi friends! CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL ADMITTED STUDENTS! I love Amherst, and I'm stoked for you all to say yes to Amherst... Because you definitely should! I recently received an email from an admitted student who asked me what are some key things to do while at Amherst for the admitted students weekend happening in April. If you are unable to make it to campus, no worries! See my blog post below this one to check out ways to get to know Amherst without visting. 

1. Check out the Classes

Getting to see the classes convinced me of the academics at Amherst, and just by looking at the titles of the classes, I saw how interesting and very timely each of the classes are. They're all so awesome. In fact, you can even start to take a look at the courses that are being offered right now! I think that going to class is the most important thing you can do, because chances are, you're interested in Amherst because you're looking for a challenging yet eye-opening experience.

2. Ask Students About the Things You're Intersted in

When I came to campus, I stayed overnight with a freshman who answered all my questions about life at Amherst beyodn academics and extracurriculars. For example, I asked her about the student climate, the tea (lol), and how she's liked her experience. When she couldn't answer a question or speak to something that I asked about, she put me in contact with her friends who could. 

3. Take in the view

Amherst is gorgeous. The iconic spot is the very top of Memorial Hill, which is located on the freshman quad where Johnson Chapel is. It's hard to miss and any student on campus would tell you where it is. Even when it's sunny or rainy or snowy, the mountains in the distance look beautiful. Memorial Hill is on my way to the gym and I like to stop at the top and take a picture, especially when the sky is changing colors in the afternoon. When life is tough, it's nice to see something beautiful, and I think that a lot of places at Amherst are a work of art in itself.

Thank you for reading, and as always, feel free to send me an email with any questions! My email is vfoley23@amherst.edu. Have a great day... and if you haven't already... apply to Amherst and say yes!

March 25, 2022