Hey Guys! My name is Grace Nash and I am a junior and a History major here at Profile Photo.jpg  Amherst. I’m from Kenilworth, IL, which is a suburb of the greatest city, Chicago (… sorry New York). At Amherst I tutor with Girls Inc., I am president of Homeless Connect (a group that send volunteers to the local homeless shelter), and I am a FOOT (First-Year Outdoor Orientation Trip) Leader. I have gone back and forth with what I want to do with my life post- Amherst but after my summer internship at Northwestern Law School I am almost positive I want to go to law school (ughh) and become a criminal lawyer. Entering Amherst I was convinced I was going to be a Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought major but during my first semester I absolutely fell in love with the history department and decided my legal studies could wait until law school.

This semester I have decided to take advantange of the open curriculum and take two courses outside my comfort zone, a music course, Music, Cultural and Human Rights, and an architecture course, Material Culture of American Homes, which should be interesting! I am also taking a history course, Childhood and Child Welfare, and am part of a Special Topics class on Homelessness in Amherst (I'll write a post about it for those of you who aren't sure what that is). Next semester I will be taking my studies to the University of Cape Town for study abroad!

  

I am completely obsessed with this school so please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions, comments or concerns you may have! You can reach me at gnash16@amherst.edu

Cape Town!!

Hi all!! 

I am the absolute worst for having not posted in forever but things have been so crazy this semester! I am officially in Cape Town and have been here for 6 weeks now (which is totally insane!!). It is probably the most amazing place I have ever been to. That being said though, I do miss Amherst all the time and it is such a strange feeling to be away for a semester. 

These first six weeks have been a whirlwind of emotions and adventures and of course, classes (I mean I am here to study!). I am living in an apartment complex with 5 others in my individual "flat" but 50 other students on my program in my building. The kitchens are communal by floor so there is 25 of us sharing one and it's the first time I am not on a meal plan! At first I thought I would love this, I mean being able to cook whatever you want sounds great, but as time goes on I am realizing that I actually do miss Val (Amherst dining hall) and having a meal plan (grocery shopping for one is a lot harder than it seems).

We are on week four of classes here so I feel like I am finally starting to get the hang of UCT (University of Cape Town). In order to get to campus/class everyday I have to walk about 10 minutes to a shutttle stop and then take the shuttle up to campus, it ends up taking me about 30 minutes every morning. This is already so different from Amherst. I am used to leaving my dorm five minutes before class and still arrivign early! I am taking three courses here, which is already so different from Amherst (a full course load is 4 classes). I am enrolled in Worlds in Contact (an intro history course, yay), South African Literature, and History and Film (so far this one is my favorite). Apparently taking three courses here is considered a full course load and transfers back at 16 US credits so yay! I can already tell that the South African Literature class is going to be my hardest and least favorite. This is 1. Because it is so out of my comfort zone (yes history and English are very different) and 2. We have seminars within the class where I was randomly chosen to give the first individual presentation, which is just terrifying. All of my classes here are 50 people or more. My Worlds in Contact class is like 300, which is crazy! I sometimes feel as though I really don’t need to go to class but I always get too guilty to skip. Each of the classes here have both lectures and tutorials. Tutorials are basically like small discussion groups. They are small, normally 20-25 people and led by graduate students (one of my "Tut" leaders is 22… so not much older than me). I try not to stress too much about school but it is definitely not a walk in the park here. I am still trying to figure out what exactly professors expect from you here, I feel like it’s a little different than Amherst in expectations. Also 50% of my grade in every class is the final exam so that’s totally terrifying and not at all like Amherst. 

Outside of classes I have been able to do sooo many different fun activities. I got to ride an elephant, walk with lions, bungee jump (I'm terrified of heights so still shocked I actually did this), zipline, hang at the beach (the weather here is incredible, we go like 1-2 times a week at least), hike up the mountains (I've done Lions Head and Devils Peak so far), visit Stellenbosch, go on a sunset boat cruise, and explore Cape Town and the surrounding areas! 

Studying abroad has already been an amazing experience and I can't wait for the next few months! I will try to keep you all updated as much as I can (wifi here is scarce and when it does exist it barely works so that has definitely been an adjustment -- yes that means there is no Netflix!). 

Until next time, 

Grace 

End of the Semester Emotions

No, I am not going to write about the stress of finals, I mean everyone knows finals are stressful. Instead, I am writing about my nervousness, excitement and fear that comes from the fact that I will be leaving Amherst and heading to Cape Town next semester.

Amherst has become my second home and while every year is different from the last, every year is also the same. I have gotten into the routine of arriving in August and leaving in December only to return again in January for the second semester. The goodbyes said in December really aren’t goodbyes because one month flies by and I am back here again. This year is different for me though. When I say goodbye to Amherst and my friends here I wont be returning until next September, which is eight months away. Not only that, but I will be a senior and heading into my last year here. (Super weird considering I feel like I was just a freshman).

I have always known I was going to study abroad. When I was looking at schools one of my biggest priorities was that a large amount of students did study abroad so that I wouldn’t be one of the few. And Amherst does have a large percentage of students who go abroad. The one thing I never considered then was the fact that going abroad meant I was going to have to miss a semester here. (Obviously I knew I was going to miss a semester, I just didn’t realize how weird it would feel to do that).

While I am going to miss Amherst and everything here immensely while I am abroad, I am also extremely excited. I get to travel to Africa by myself and live there for five months. How many people can say that they had the opportunity to do that? I am so eager to explore Cape Town, and hopefully a few other countries in Africa. I also think it will be interesting to study at a large university for a semester. Most of the classes at the University of Cape Town are huge lecture classes with 200-500 students, which is the opposite of Amherst. Also, your grade is based mainly on two exams instead of participation and smaller assignments. It will definitely be interesting to compare the different academic experiences.

download.jpeg

Here is a photo of UCT! (So Beautiful, I know)

I have been looking forward to this since high school and I can’t believe that the time is almost here! I know it’s going to push me way out of my comfort zone and my Amherst bubble but in the end I’m hoping it’ll be 100% worth it. 

Until next time,

Grace 

Energized at Energia

This semester staying (…or getting?) fit and working out has become a huge part of my life at Amherst. I always tried to make time to go to the gym in my past semesters but running on the treadmill or elliptical can get old really fast. This semester I discovered how much better it is to work out in classes and with others. One of the first days back on campus after summer my friend, Selena, asked if I wanted to go to a spin class at a local gym, Energia Fitness, with her; little did I know this would completely change my weekly schedule.

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 11.13.57 AM.png

After my first spin class I told myself that I was going to continue to go to spin classes at least three times a week. To my surprise, I have actually kept up with it! I also discovered the other classes that Energia has to offer. I’ve tried almost all of them by now. The classes range from Tabata Boot Camp, TRX, Barre Method, Regular Boot Camp, and of course, my favorite, Spinning. Two main trainers, Justin and Katie, run the gym and their energy and attitude is what makes every class even more fun. It’s a smaller gym so even after the first class they start to recognize you and individually motivate you. It’s also really nice to have a workout partner so on days where you don’t feel motivated to go they push you to.

Here is a link of Katie (one of the trainers) giving a talk on Barre method:       http://wwlp.com/2014/11/14/keep-the-holiday-pounds-off/

Another thing I’ve noticed is how much this has affected my academic work, and in a good way! I’m not going to lie to you, the work here is hard. It is so easy to get wrapped up in hours of reading and writing and realize that you haven’t left your room or the library all day. Having a pretty much set workout schedule means I am getting a break at least once a day. If any of you have ever been spinning you know that it is an amazing stress reliever. Once I get back to my dorm I am remotivated (or I like to think I am) to do my work.

Alright, I’ve got to go finish some work before Thanksgiving break! 

Until next time,

Grace 

We're #1!

Homecoming is probably my favorite weekend of the year, and yet another reason why I chose to go abroad in the spring. The campus is buzzing all weekend with students, alumni and parents who come in for the big game. I was lucky enough to have my mom, older sister, and younger brother come visit for the weekend! I hadn’t seen my mom and brother since I left for Amherst in August so it was very needed.

  IMG_5575-1.jpg

My Mom, Sister, Brother and I at the game! 

The day started off with brunch, my favorite meal, at High Horse with my family followed by lots of hot chocolate and the Amherst men’s soccer game.  After the soccer game it was time for the tailgates at the football field. Different groups on campus and alums have tents down by the field that have copious amounts of free food and drinks. My dad actually went here, class of ’86, so my mom, brother, sister and I walked around looking for some of his old college friends. We ventured from tent to tent until the game started. My aunt, uncle and cousins were on campus as well so we spent time with them too.

This year we were playing our rivals, Williams College, which makes for an even more exhilarating game. It was a night game, which meant for the first time the game was starting at 4pm and would be an under the lights game. What I did not anticipate though was how cold it was going to get! Once the sun set it was freezing and I definitely did not have enough layers for that, oh well! 

FullSizeRender.jpg

The Jeffs were victorious with the final score being 17-9. It was crazy around campus after the win which made for a really fun night.

After the game my entire family, cousins and all, came back to my suite to hang out and eat Antonio’s pizza. My brother, unfortunately, had been really sick all week so he decided to stay in and rest after the game. I wish he would’ve been able to go out with us but luckily I still had my sister around!

All in all it was a pretty crazy weekend and I feel as though I need another weekend just to recover from it! I absolutely loved being able to see part of my family and am counting down the days until I get to see them again!

Until next time,

 Grace 

Halloweekend

Yes I know that name is super cheesy but I couldn’t come up with any better title..... Anyways, Halloween on campus is always a blast. This year Halloween fell on a Friday, which meant people were dressing up all weekend. I always hate trying to be creative and thinking of a “unique” costume. I also tend to go for the costumes that are easy to make and cost very little. This year I came up with two different ideas., Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy (from SpongeBob) and the dancing girl emoji (which we thought was super original but it turned out so many other people did this costume). Both of these involved dressing up with one of my friends, which is always more fun. I don’t really like to do solo costumes, mostly because I can never think of any good ideas. 

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 8.34.47 PM.png

Here we are as Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy!  

The first night of Halloween was spent at the Spanish/French house, Newport. They throw an all school party every Halloween that is a change of pace from the usual nightlife here. There is usually one room with a DJ designated for dancing and another room that is meant more for mingling. I definitely realized that people are way more creative than me (and also put in more effort than me) when it comes to thinking of costume ideas. There were some crazy costumes ranging from corn (??) to the usual black cat outfit. 

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 8.35.07 PM.png

The next night, our new (and incredible) venue, The Powerhouse, hosted an all school Halloween party as well. There was a DJ, hundreds of people, all still in costumes, and sooo much free pizza. The powerhouse has transformed the social scene here in the best way possible. Every Saturday of the semester there is some sort of all school event, usually a DJ or live band, and tons of free food. It has definitely been one of the greatest additions to Amherst this year. The Halloween party did not disappoint.

This weekend was a great break from my usual business but it couldn’t last forever (unfortunately). So now I must get back to my readings and writings for this week.

Until next time,

Grace 

 

   

      This is my friend and I as the dancing girl emoji! 

Special Topics!

Talk about a crazy week. I have barely had any free time so far and it doesn’t look like I really will until this weekend. My week has been filled with interviews and meetings for my special topics class (on top of my usual work load). I will have conducted 7 interviews by the time this week is over. Along with the multitude of classes that Amherst provides, Amherst offers students the chance to work one on one (or in a small group) with a professor on a topic of their choosing as a Special Topics, or Independent Study. This study can count as one of your four classes for the semester, which is great. This semester I have chosen to take advantage of this opportunity. I took on the issue of homelessness in Amherst and am conducting a study of the Amherst seasonal shelter under the auspices of the Town Housing and Sheltering Committee. 

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 12.42.42 PM.png

A little background on how this ended up becoming one of my classes:

Last year I worked as a Resource Advocate for the seasonal shelter in Amherst, Craig’s Place. My role as a resource advocate was, along with two other students, to work with shelter guests in order to help them find more permanent housing. Through this work I became very aware of the issue of homelessness in Amherst. Once at Amherst it is easy to get lost in what is known as the “Amherst Bubble” and to forget about the world outside of the campus. Towards the end of shelter season another Amherst student who works as an employee for the shelter approached me and asked if I would be interested in participating in a study of the shelter. She had found a retired Hampshire professor, and member of the Housing and Sheltering Committee, to be the adult supervisor for the project so all we needed was an Amherst professor the be the liaison with the college.

 

All of the organizing and planning worked out and so it became one of my classes for the semester. I am also working with an UMass student who worked with me as a resource advocate last year. The study is taking up a crazy amount of my time but everything I am doing is hands-on and super interesting. Our goal is to write a progress report for the town by the end of the semester and give a presentation on our findings. In order to fully understand the role the shelter plays in the town we have had to interview a variety of different “key stakeholders.” These people range from Craig’s Place staff members to town officials to the Amherst police chief to the director of the Survival Center and several other important people. We will have conducted almost two-dozen interviews by the time the progress report is written. Most of these interviews happen in the morning, which means I am waking up even earlier in order to make it to them ughh. They usually don’t last longer than an hour though, thank goodness.

 

Along with the interviews I have weekly meetings with John, the adult supervisor, and Sakshi, the UMass student researcher. These meetings happen Friday mornings and can last anywhere from 2-4 hours…. Not exactly how I want to be spending my Friday mornings but oh well! We are also starting to analyze the statistical data we received from the shelter in order to include it in the report. Every so often we meet as an entire group with the Amherst and UMass professors who are sponsoring this study in order to keep them in the loop about what we are doing. I also meet individually with the Amherst professor every two weeks just to check in so he can make sure the study is going well. He has been extremely helpful in this process and helping me stay de-stressed during the craziness. While it is a lot of work I really do enjoy doing it.

 

Anywho, it is getting late and I have to finish up finalizing some questions for my interview with the Amherst Police tomorrow morning before I head to bed. I hope you all are having a less stressful week than me!

 

Until next time,

Grace 

Fall in love with Fall

FALL2.jpg

Fall on the East Coast is by far my favorite season and also my favorite time at Amherst! It’s one of the main reasons I chose to go abroad in the spring (as much as I love this school the weather in January, Febraury and even March can be brutal). The leaves are changing colors, its cooling down (but not too cold), its time to bring out the boots (my favorite), and the apple cider donuts from Atkins are amazing. Fall is also an incredible time on campus. Saturdays are filled with sporting events and its super fun to go around and support your fellow Jeffs. You’ll walk around campus and see almost every student in some sort of Amherst gear. Even though we are a D3 school, we have so much school pride and it is part of the reason I love this place so much. From football, to soccer, to field hockey, to rugby, to tennis*, to any other fall sport (because I probably forgot a few) there is always something to watch on a Saturday. It’s a great homework break and a fun opportunity to get outside and enjoy the fall weather. It’s always a bonus when one of teams is playing Williams. It's really fun to play up the rivalry and cheer about how much better we are than them (which is true).

Sports.jpg  Some friends and I at the homecoming game!  

Fall is also my favorite time to go for walks/runs/or bike rides on the bike path behind the tennis court. The path is completely surrounded by trees and when the leaves change it is breath taking. There are other small paths that lead off it and onto a field, the bird sanctuary, that you can also walk around. Being from the Midwest, I am not used to hills or mountains of any sort and so I try to also take advantage of all the hiking available. Doing a sunrise hike up Mount Sugarloaf is probably one of a few things worth waking up at the crack of dawn for. Hiking or even just walking outside is a great way to take a break from studying and get some exercise. Although really no matter where you walk around campus it is always beautiful this time of year.  

Fall on campus also means Fall Break, which is amazing! Amherst gives you one weekend in October where you get Monday and Tuesday off from classes. I have taken advantange of this weekend each year by getting off campus, although a lot of students stay on campus and catch up on sleep. Freshman year I went home and visited my family, sophomore year I went to my friends home in Maine, and this year I went to New York City to stay with my friend (and roommate), Gabby, and visit my sister who now lives there. It was a great weekend in the big city (although it did really make me miss chicago). I got to hang out with my older sister, who I haven't seen since the 4th of July, and I watched wayyy too many episodes of Gilmore Girls. Gabby's older sister is a sea lion trainer (I know, super cool) at the New York Aquarium so we actually got to do a meet and greet with sea lions. It was crazy! 

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 11.27.38 AM.png

 Here I am petting the sea lion! 

As I am writing this post all I want to do is get outside (even though its raining today) but instead I must get back to studying for my mid-term this Thursday.... Wish me luck! 

Until next time,

Grace 

*In my original post I forgot to mention tennis and my suite mate is on the team, she was not too happy haha.... oops