I’m Elizabeth White and I’m a freshman this year. It will be awhile longer before I settle on a major, so for now I am enjoying the open curriculum. While my potential major changes daily, my top ideas are neuroscience or biophysics/ biochemistry. I am originally from New Hampshire, so New England winters don’t really faze me. 

At the beginning of the school year, I made an impulse decision to join the crew team. It takes up a lot of time, but I love learning how to row and improving with my team. I am also a mentor for the Reader to Reader program. For this program, I read a book along with a kid and we talk about it on an online forum every night. I am still trying to sort through all the emails from various clubs I receive, and decide which ones to stick with throughout the year. 

This time last year, I was in the middle of what seemed like an endless college search. Even while I was writing my college essays, I hadn’t finalized the elusive “college list”. For awhile, I wasn’t convinced that I should apply to Amherst. Needless to say, I am unbelievably happy and relieved that I did. I absolutely love Amherst College. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at edwhite17@amherst.edu. I’d be happy to talk with you!

Study Spots Around Amherst

Classes have officially ended, and finals are just around the corner. Studying in the library is getting harder and harder. My friends and I like sitting by the windows, but now we’re just constantly reminded of how gorgeous it is outside. We tried studying outside, but there were too many distractions. So, we started finding new places to study. 

View from Frost

Mead Art Museum has tables for people to come and study. Whenever you need a break from work, you can just look at the gorgeous paintings all around you. And for an added bonus, they have cookies every night at 10 pm for a study break. Just pick the area with the most interesting works of art and enjoy.  

The Cadigan Center the Center for Religious life. It has couches, a dining area, and kitchens. It’s across the street from the gym so it’s a bit of a trek, but it’s open all night during reading period and finals. Also, they provide baked goods and coffee. What could be better?

Beneski

My personal favorite place to study is Beneski Museum of Natural History. While it doesn’t offer free food, you get to study while surrounded with fossils and dinosaurs. My favorite place to study is one of the tables directly above the huge dinosaur skeleton. No matter where you sit, you’re surrounded by something new to see

.

TYPO

Amherst has a really cool program called Take Your Professor Out (TYPO). The college pays for students to go out to dinner with their professors. A group of seven students in my Religion class (about half of the class) got together and invited our two professors, Professor Heim and Professor Jaffer out to dinner this week. I didn’t know what to expect, but it was an incredible and fun evening. 

I go to both professor’s office hours, but those are mostly focused on the reading or essay at hand. Dinner was the first time I got to see them in a non-academic setting. Conversation ranged from family to favorite cities to what brought us to Amherst. My friend and classmate Victoria described it as “casually hanging out with the professors like I would hang out with anyone else whom I knew but was trying to get to know better.” Dinner was a really unique opportunity to get to know each our professors on a personally rather than intellectually. 

We also had the chance to get to know other students better. We have been in class together all semester, but I had never spoken to most of them about topics other than religion. It was fun to learn about what everyone does outside of class. Overall, dinner was an amazing experience. I got to know both professors and classmates in a way that I never would have simply from class. 

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me at edwhite17@amherst.edu!

 

Spring at Amherst

It’s finally spring time at Amherst! People have abandoned winter coats and boots for tank tops and flip flops. The snow has finally been replaced by grass. Most importantly, the lawn chairs have returned to the quad. Their return truly marked the beginning of spring.

The Quad

Now that it’s warm enough, the quad has truly returned to life. It is constantly filled with people playing frisbee or cricket. The lawn chairs are used for studying and avoiding studying. Every college has a quad, but each one has a different feel. It is impossible to describe the quad, but that intangible essence is the best part. 

This afternoon, a bunch of friends got together to enjoy the spring. My neighbor Sean invited us all to participate in an Egg Cracking competition. We each got a gorgeously decorated hard boiled egg and had to protect our own while breaking everyone’s around us. Cheating was encouraged. A half hour after we began, we were still laughing and we had our victor. Aleks won, but Bessie put up a good fight. We all agree that this is the start of a new tradition. 

Egg Cracking The winner!

Winning Egg

I hope everyone is enjoying the spring! If you have any questions, feel free to email me at edwhite17@amherst.edu!

Research at Amherst

It is incredibly strange to think that this time last year, I was one of the admitted students exploring campus trying to decide if this was the place for me. The entire weekend I was a little lost, constantly overwhelmed, and completely amazed. My parents were starting to get worried that I would never be able to choose between schools. My weekend here made the choice for me. 

Admitted students weekend had so many highlights, but one of my favorite academic memories of the weekend was going to a biology panel. At one point, the panelists talked about research at Amherst. The panelists told us about the Amherst Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (or SURF for short). The student panelist mentioned that he had participated in this program the summer after his freshman year. I was so excited to hear that there is an opportunity for freshman to research at Amherst. To be honest, it was one of the many reasons I decided to come here. 

Over winter break, I started to think about what I wanted to do this summer. I immediately remembered learning about the SURF program. I knew it was a long shot, but I started to look at the program and the research going on at Amherst. Once I was back on campus, I emailed Professor Carter, a biophysics professor, asking her about her research. She invited me to come by and learn more. I ended up staying nearly an hour and visiting the labs her students work in. I applied for the SURF program and indicated that I would like to work with Professor Carter. This past week, I found out that I was accepted!

It is unbelievable to think that a year ago I heard about the SURF program, and now I am going to be a part of it. I am so grateful for the opportunities Amherst offers us, and beyond excited to research this summer!

I hope all the admitted students have a great weekend here! If you were not able to make it, or did not gain the clarity you were hoping for, email me at edwhite17@amherst.edu. I would love to help in any way I can!

Weekend Fun

This past Friday was my birthday. My roommate organized the entire floor and a bunch of friends for a surprise birthday party midnight Thursday night. We had two huge boxes of donuts from Glazed and it was tons of fun. It was a little strange to be away from home on my birthday, but all of my friends made it an amazing, memorable time.

  Sean and Henry

Golf Formal!

Friday night was the women’s golf team formal. There are only ten people on the team, so each member had an at large bid. My friend Jamie invited me, and we went with Sean and Henry who live next door to me. The golf team booked a common room in Hitchcock and decorated it with streamers and lights. 

This was my first time hanging out with the golf team, and it was a lot of fun. They were all nice and welcoming. I had seen a lot of the people at the party around campus, but this was my first time actually getting to know them. Jamie said that it was fun meeting her teammate’s friends. 

My weekend was incredibly busy but I enjoyed every moment of it. Congratulations to everyone who just got accepted! I remember how confused I was exactly a year ago, so if you have any questions, email me at edwhite17@amherst.edu!

 

Girls Inc

This semester, I became a tutor for Girls Inc. Girls Inc is a national nonprofit organization. Their motto is “inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold”. On Wednesday afternoons, six other tutors and I take a campus van to their building in Holyoke, which is about a half hour drive. 

When we first get there, we help all of the girls with their homework. Then, we work with our personal tutee for about an hour. It’s great to establish a relationship with the girls at the program. Academics are only part of our responsibilities. We have to help the girls have fun and enjoy learning. It’s fun to find new ways to get the girls involved and laughing. I’ve learned that crayons and colored pencils make math way more fun. 

As much as we help the girls, the girls help us. It’s easy to forget about life outside of campus. I’ve realized that it’s important to remember that life is still going on off campus. Tutoring at Girls Inc helps me with that. It’s nice to get off campus and see kids and adults other than professors. More than that, it’s important for me to remember that people still rely on you. I love having a break from thinking about my own school work each week. 

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at edwhite17@amherst.edu!

Weekend Visit

This weekend, my little sisters came to stay with me for the weekend. Emma and Tess are twin fourteen year olds. They only stayed Saturday until Sunday, and we had a lot of fun during their visit. 

Sisters!

In high school, you normally live in the same town as your friends, so chances are you know (or have at least met) their families. It’s completely different in college. I know my friends really well but for the most part I have never met their families. We talk about family, but unless they live close by we don’t get a chance to meet them. 

Whenever family comes to visit, it is equally exciting for the person who’s family is visiting and their friends. We are all from different lives. It’s really interesting to understand where my friends come from. Everyone was really excited to meet my sisters. We hung out with some friends all afternoon, and others would just stop by my room to say hi. My friend Jo said “It was really cool to be one of your ‘college friends. It made me feel older, and it made me remember what college visits were like (even though they weren’t here for that purpose).’”

The same is true for family. I tell my sisters about my friends, but this was their first time meeting most of them. Emma called them “the best people ever” and Tess said they were “smart, friendly, and welcoming.” It was a lot of fun for me to share my family with my friends and vice versa. 

The twins reminded me of how I felt first coming to Amherst. The campus seemed huge and I never thought I’d be able to find my way around. Tess kept going the wrong direction to find the water fountain, which I must have done for weeks before I figured it out. Everyone around me was unfamiliar. Having the twins here reminded me of the excitement in all the regular parts of life here at Amherst. 

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at edwhite17@amherst.edu!

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

Oh the weather outside is frightful... So let’s go out and make the most of it! If you have never experienced a New England winter, there’s no way to describe it. One day it's freezing, the next it's beautiful and sunny, and a week later there's a foot of snow. The weather forecasters have their work cut out for them, because each day is unique. 

Tuesday night, there was a Fire and Ice themed Winter Carnival on campus. We got to take a break from studying and enjoy hot apple cider and desserts while watching flame throwers. My favorite part (besides the apple crisp) was admiring the ice sculptures. There were also horse drawn carriages! 

The next day, a snow storm shut down campus. This may sound like a snow day, but it is nothing like snow days during high school. Professors had the option of still holding class. All three of mine did (although most of my friends’ professors did not). It was actually a really nice day. Walking through snow in between classes made the normally boring trip fun. Luckily, most of the buildings are at most a five minute walk from my dorm. 

I am from New Hampshire so I’m used to snow, but a lot of my friends are not. It has been a lot of fun getting to see them experience snow for the first time. We also have the perfect reason for sledding on trays from Val, building snowmen, and having snow ball fights. The wonder of snow is wearing off for some of my friends from California, but I still love it. Classes are getting harder, but all you have to do is step outside to have some fun.

If you have any questions, please contact me at edwhite17@amherst.edu!

Sports at Amherst

One of the best things about Amherst is that there is always something happening on campus. There are always lectures hosted by different academic departments, food and talks at the Women’s and Gender Studies Office of the Multicultural Resource Center, and club meetings. One of my favorite things on the weekends is to go to the sports games. 

It’s hard to identify what makes the games fun. Most people I talked to said “there’s just something about it”. While the games are the center of attention, there’s so much more going on. DASAC (Dancing and Stepping at Amherst College) performs during half time at some basketball games. Games are a perfect opportunity to see friends you don’t see very often. 

   Hockey Game Hockey Game

My favorite part of the games is that we don’t cheer on the athletes - we cheer on our friends. When I’m at a women’s basketball, I’m cheering for Meredith who lives on my floor, not number thirteen. I know at least one person on each team. Knowing the players makes all the fans more engaged with the game. Athletics are a big part of Amherst. Even if you’re not an athlete, you can have fun watching. 

Any juniors (or sophomores) starting to look at colleges, feel free to email me if you have any questions! Any seniors waiting anxiously to hear back from schools, let me know if you have any last minute questions! My email edwhite17@amherst.edu

Class Choices

In high school, classes were basically chosen for me. Junior and senior year I had a little more freedom, but all four years had the same basic structure. I would take English, Social Studies, Math, Science, Language, and an elective (usually band). This semester, it finally hit me that there isn’t a standard anymore. 

Do you hate math? That’s fine, leave it behind in high school. This is my first semester without math and to be honest, I miss it. Mandatory gym class is over. Are you sick of learning a foreign language? That’s fine. Even better than not being forced to take classes you hate is the ability to take classes you love. 

Have you always wanted to learn Japanese? Go ahead! Astronomy? Sure! Architecture? No problem. Amherst has an open curriculum, which basically means that you can take any and every class that you’re interested in. Since we have the Five College Consortium, you can pretty much take any class imaginable. 

I started the semester knowing that I wanted to take Chemistry and Physics. I wanted to balance my schedule, but I had no idea what I should take. Thanks to shopping period, I didn’t have to know right away. The first two weeks of classes everyone can sit in on different classes and decide which ones they like. 

The first day of classes, I went to four different classes: Race and American Politics, Sonic Architecture: Sound as an Anthropogenic Medium, Nature of Religion, and Greek Mythology. I ended up liking Nature of Religion, and I fell in love with Survey of Russian Literature the next day. It was a lot of fun to try out all the different classes, but I love the four I chose. 

If you have any questions, email me! I’d love to help however I can!

It's Good to be Back

One of the first nights I was back on campus, I got together with a bunch of friends to play Banana Grams. In between games, I asked everyone what their favorite part about being back. I have about a page (single spaced, lacking all punctuation) about why people are glad to be back. Here are some of my favorite answers.

Winning Board Banana Grams

Robyn came back a few weeks early to take a non credit class over Interterm. She said “There were a lot of people I’d never seen before. Then there were others who I had seen around but didn’t really know. It was a lot of fun to get to know them.”

Sarah is on the track team and came back early for training. She described “[my friends and I] saw Philomena at Amherst Cinema with free tickets we got in Keefe Campus Center. The outing club gave us skates and we went skating at Orr Rink... It was like college without the classes.”

Other answers included “Val’s desserts”, “my bed is really comfy”, and “the freedom. I don’t have to ask permission anymore!”. However, the number one answer was seeing friends. It was the first thing the majority of the people said, and everyone mentioned it. It still seems insane that we only met each other five moths ago. We went  from seeing the same people every day to not seeing them for a month. 

All in all, it was great coming back a few days early to settle in. My room is clean (for once) and I got the chance to catch up with friends and relax before the semester starts. If you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to email me at edwhite17@amherst.edu

 

Enjoying Reading Period

My first semester of classes is officially over! I have exams all week next week, and then I’m headed home for winter break. This was my first time having a lot of major exams all at once here, so I was a little worried. I was stressed, but luckily my professors helped me through. All of my professors extended office hours this week. They provided plenty of opportunities to ask last minute questions. Two of my professors went even further and invited their students to their homes to relax. 

Professor Frank, my First-year Seminar professor, invited us all over to watch a movie on Thursday. Since we were the seminar Illness and Meaning, Contagion seemed like the obvious choice for a movie. While I personally don’t recommend the movie, the night was perfect. We got the chance to enjoy popcorn and cookies and take a break from studying. It was nice to get to know Professor Frank a little better and meet her family. Before, I wondered if it would be strange to see Professor Frank outside of the classroom. She made the night natural, relaxing, and so much fun. 

Movie Night

My Calculus professor had an open house for all of her students Saturday night. A group and friends and I made our way through the storm to Professor Benedetto’s house. It was packed! She had food in the kitchen, Wii in the living room with her kids, and a raffle for two sleds. My friend, Kim, won a sled. After studying all day, it was the perfect break. Everyone was too busy having fun to worry about studying. 

Math Study Break

I knew that my professors would help me prepare academically for finals, but I never expected them to help me take a break and put the exam in perspective. I am so thankful for their support. 

This winter break is the first time in years that I have had nothing to work on or study. Last year, it was my chance to finish my applications and start worrying about hearing back. I know that it can be stressful, so if you have any questions, please email me at edwhite17@amherst.edu!

Monday Night Study Break

Monday nights from ten to eleven, the Freidman room in the Keefe Campus Center is an alternate universe, where homework doesn’t exist and stress is replaced with laughter. Every Monday night, Mr. Gad’s House of Improv performs. I was never a big fan of improv, but Mr. Gad’s changed my mind. 

I discovered Mr. Gad’s the first week of classes with two friends, Jo and Kiana, from my First-year Outdoor Orientation Trip. Two or three of us have gone nearly every week since. It provides the perfect chance to catch up with friends. Last night, I met up with Jo. We’ve all been busy the past couple weeks. It was great to hang out without worrying about studying.

Mr. Gad’s plays a mix of the same games every week, but it is never repetitive. Their skits include Sex With Me is Like, New Choices, and Panel of Experts. Last night’s panel was made up of different made up publications, decided by the audience. We had Fat Man’s Gazette, Twilight Fanfiction, Knitting Weekly, and Elmo Time. Last night, they also played Customer Service. Three people leave the room, and the audience comes up with three objects for each person to return. The audience then calls them back, and two people acting as store employees have to prompt them to figure out what they are returning. This week, they had to return a Snowcone Machine, a hammer, and men’s lingerie.

This Monday, I was stressed after realizing that my Chem final was in seven days. Mr. Gad’s gave me the perfect chance to hang out with friends and laugh. It’s the perfect weekly break from work. As always, please email me with all your questions! This time last year, I was still deciding on where to apply as I wrote my essays. If there's anything you want to know, I'd be happy to help! My email is edwhite17@amherst.edu. 

 

Better Know James 2nd Floor

It’s time for the first post in Better Know a Freshman Dorm! For all of you wondering, yes, this is inspired by Stephen Colbert’s segment Better Know a District. The first floor to make the blog is James Second Floor! It is by far the best freshman floor, and I’m sure that living here doesn’t make me biased at all. 

Common Room

 There are twenty four people lucky enough to live on James Second. Other people hang out so much they have become honorary residents. While we do have a common room, it isn’t uncommon to hang out in the hallways with half the floor, talking and putting off studying.

Our doors are decorated by minions in different movies, courtesy of our Resident Counselor Symone. Symone says her doors are open so we can tell her all of our problems, but we also tell her when things are going well. The endless supply of chocolate in her room is yet another reason to hang out with her. She wouldn’t admit who her favorite resident is, but she did say “I like the open environment on the floor.” 

RC's Door

Main Minion


My door

Like all freshman dorms, we have weekly tea time so we can eat good food and relax as a floor. Tea time is 8 pm Sundays here. It’s optional, but almost everyone comes and enjoys cookies, hot chocolate or tea, and a chance to relax before another busy week. As Sophie Delfeus said, “We take our floor bonding very seriously.” 

No one was able to pin down their favorite thing about the floor, but I think Beselot Birhanu said it best. “We’re all from such different places but for some reason we all get along so well. We share the late nights studying, but we also share the fun and the successes. It’s nice to have a group of people to share everything with. Coming back to the floor feels like coming home.”