Hello to friends, family, prospective students, parents and others!
Hello to friends, family, prospective students, parents and others!
I hope you are back into gear, refreshed from break and various holiday celebrations. To those suffering from the snow & cold of this year's winter (I look out the window now to find the snow furiously piling up on the already high pile of snow) I hope you are keeping warm and cozy. I've been out of touch for so long and I apologise. If I can remember correctly about last semester, it was a mad rush to get things done, finish term papers and revise essays before my flight back to Korea for the break, so I never had a chance to wrap up fall semester. After I got back I spent the next three weeks in bed recovering from a mystery sickness (I aptly named it "post first-semester-of-college syndrome") and then visiting relatives around the country. And of course, eating lots and lots of good home food. Honestly, after a month of being spoiled by my parents I almost didn't want to come back. :-)
But here I am at Amherst, most of the time walking around very dazed because of my lingering jetlag, very glad to see missed faces, slightly less glad to see the five feet snow mounds--I had never thought I would see snow piled up to my height outside of a ski field--and really happy and scared about my course selections. I basically got everything I wanted, which I'm stoked about. I am signed up for another intro English course called Film & Writing, an English seminar with visiting writer Amity Gaige called Unreliabilities, Photography I and a venture into a new language, French I. I am also going to start drum lessons as well as continuing with jazz voice lessons, which will be a blast. I guess my subjects just written out like this won't seem too intimidating at all.The courses I have chosen all require a lot of extra work outside the class so I am a little scared of the logistics of this...but I am up for the challenge anyway (yeah, yeah, I'm only a freshman so I have time to take crazy risks :p ) and will love everything that I am to learn in the four classes that I have this semester.
I thought I would update you all on the life I have been leading for the past few weeks or so. My semester so far is CRAZY! I knew that I had taken a heavy load of courses (a combination of a foreign language, film, creative writing and photography) but I did not know that I would be this busy.
My semester is especially busy because 1) it is the busier semester for many a cappella groups, including the Bluestockings and 2) I am trying to get back on track with my personal projects. (And 2.5, I am trying to maintain an uber-healthy eating/sleeping pattern on top of that.
The Bluesox are busy recording some new songs in the studio. I hadn't expected recording sessions to run this long (five full hours for each session) but I guess all will lead to providing better quality music. We are also going on tour during Spring Break to NYC and Philly, so we are busy organising and practising for those gigs. The Bluesox spend a lot of time together; while in other situations, one may get sick of spending so much time with a single group of people, I love the mass amounts of time I spend with other sox. We've got a great group dynamic and a very entertaining and caring group of people. If any singers from the prospective Amherst class of '15 are reading this, do audition for the Bluesox! You won't regret it.
So yes, this was my little spiel of the day; and it doesn't only apply to college students, it applies to everyone who is under a fairly scheduled and systematic regimen, like work, business, high school or other. It is very tricky but rewarding to balance "what you have to do" and "what you want to do", not rebelling against the routine but finding your own space between its loose slots.
Well, now that I have my share of creative output here, it's about time I went back to finishing the work I have for tomorrow. Sleep tight!
The weather this week (for the most part) has been a godsend. Things are finally starting to look bright and sunny in Amherst, and people are finally out and about sunbathing, having picnics on the Freshman Quad and soaking in the great weather. April in Amherst is an interesting time. It is the time when many many seniors are doing all-nighters in Smudd, finishing their theses work due for evaluation. We just finished Room Draw, which is a big big deal for many people who are anxious to find out where they are living next year. (I was saved from the Room Draw as I am resident counseling for James next year. Very excited!) It's the time of the great a cappella madness, when all a cappella groups hold their biggest Spring Show. Our potential class of 2015 is also visiting the campus this weekend. Along with this weather comes the Spring Concert (held tonight, with Mike Posner and White Panda as performers) and the Asian Night Market where the school generously gives out free and delicious Asian food, hosts various cultural performances and activities related to Asian culture. In two weeks or so we will be enjoying Spring Formal and Spring Carnival, both very big events that always bring a lot of fun and drama into our busy lives. The finals period will creep upon us in midst of all this festivity, and before we know it, we will be packing our bags to go home!
This year has flown by so fast, I really cannot believe it. It seems like yesterday that I arrived here as a nervous freshman--and now we're getting ready to welcome new students into our community. It's really crazy, it really is. During my year I was able to figure out what I wanted from the education offered here, how to balance my time between so many activities and events along with schoolwork, and a new level of appreciation for home :P. I'm really excited to end the year on a good note and enjoy the summer that I am starting to feel in this lovely weather.
Life here is perpetually exciting. Come join in!
There's the good news and the bad news. The good news is, I'M GOING HOME IN LESS THAN THREE WEEKS! And the bad news is, ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE DURING THESE THREE WEEKS. Wow. I am not going to list how many mountains of work I must conquer, but a final photography portfolio, a personal memoir, French songs and more. I am more excited than scared though, as what must be done always gets done...then it's time to enjoy the summer!
For the whole student body, things are looking very busy as well. Apart from the shared panic of the end-of-semester hell-week madness, we also have a lot of end-of-the-year events to take care of. We have a lot of senior dinners, speeches, awards and general nostalgia-inducing things for our Class of '11s. We have our last picnic with Tony Marx on May 3rd. For two of my classes I am having a small party during the last class to celebrate and remember the bits and pieces that formed a community this semester. Of course, there is the final exams. But I do keep looking at the more exciting events and overlooking the bad, which is both a good and a bad habit. ;-)
Yesterday during photo class I had the pleasure of viewing Bessie Young's (class of '11, amazing triple-major, multiple fellowship winner and really nice person in general) photo book that she spent over a year on. She did an interdisciplinary major that dealt with the subject of the elderly and how they are housed / living, both locally and internationally. She wrote and took photos for this project and combined the two media into a book that she self-published. The book was really impressive, and I only could marvel in respect and awe at the dedication she put into this project. The fact that many of her activities were geared towards her passion for the elderly certainly helped her achieve this wonderful thing. So I guess this is sort of the thing I am aiming for; to be really immersing in what I am interested in, and then making something wonderful from the process. I really can't wait what next year will bring me.:-)
To every high school senior who got good word on the d-day, CONGRATULATIONS! You made it through. You can call yourselves a part of (insert college name), Class of 2015. It took four years of hard work and effort to be at another stage of your life; you conquered challenges, sat through classes good and bad, started to worry about what you might like to do in the future, and started looking at the bigger picture of what is to come. You struggled through your essays, went through the awkward stage of asking for recommendation letters, stared at the CommonApp page too many times and most importantly, endured this rickety time of waiting, waiting and more waiting.
If you have gotten the results that you dreamed of, that's great! If you are slightly disappointed/worried about what you got and didn't get...don't worry. It's NOT the end of the world. In fact, it may be the beginning of a whole new set of opportunities, and you would have a blast wherever you end up. The places that chose you chose you for a reason; they saw something in you that would benefit them, and something about them that would be great for yourself. The only thing left for you now is to agonise over your acceptances and choose one you think would be best for you, and to enjoy the summer ahead!
The time after college acceptances for me was the 'golden period', a time where I could try anything and everything before college whisked me off to another realm of busyness. I traveled to Shanghai, Spain and London on a whim, volunteering, travelling and getting lost, went on road trips with friends, focused on my singing and worked out more frequently. I spent the time also relishing and appreciating my family because I knew this was the last time I could properly "spend time" with them. I said hello to new friends and goodbye to old as I moved out of high school and interacted with people in different social circles. I slept in, (did all nighters, not cramming for tests but partying till dawn, literally), explored parts of the city that I had never been, fell in love, found some work for myself and had a load of fun. Think long and hard, make a pre-college bucket list, and set out to do the things you've only briefly thought of doing, before college takes you on another crazy ride.
It seems like just yesterday that I laughed and cried over my acceptances, rejections and wait-lists. For me college admissions taught me a lot. It taught me to be thankful for what I had, to give my best effort in everything and move on from what I couldn't change and make the best of what I had. It also prepared me for having a passionate and focused mindset during my time at Amherst, something that I really appreciate from the whole process.
So all in all, congrats congrats congrats everyone! Give yourself a cheer...you've just reached a great milestone in your life (with many more to come!)
I'm finally back after days of spring break, slightly un-ready for this crazy Amherst life but going along with it nevertheless. I have been back from a very packed spring "break" (emphasis on the lack of an actual break) where I ran off to three different cities in a span of a week, seeing friends, shopping and most importantly, touring along with my a cappella group, The Bluestockings. While all was exciting and fun, I cannot stop wishing that I did have the full week to myself, to give myself time to really relax and recompose myself for the upcoming RUSH of post-spring-break.
So this was another Freshman moment--revelations that hit you a beat too late, or later than everyone else, leaving you to smack your own forehead and say "Oh boy", blaming yourself for being young and naive--when I found out that post-spring break is so, so crammed. I returned to find myself in a bind this week, with three French quizzes/assignments/compositions, one English essay, many English events and et cetera to attend and another photo portfolio due, as well as our a cappella spring show rehearsal plans. Conclusion? I don't think I'm going to be sleeping much this week.
The lesson I learnt from this is to make your spring break as "break-y" as possible; sleep-in, eat good food, relax, do little, give your body to recharge. Don't plan too much because it will wear you out. And as bad as it sounds, try to complete some work on the way. It will save you during the next few weeks when your professors are handing assignments out in armfuls the week after.
I am more than ready for this spring break. I know I had a lot to do this semester, but I never thought things would be this bad. I think the last two weeks was hard on me because I am not the strongest person around--I need a lot of sleep and rest to function because of my patchy immune system. Going to bed at 1 and then waking up at 5:30 to finish off mountains of work--essays, projects, portfolios, exams--for multiple days consecutively hit me hard. I passed the point of being tired and sleepy to not really registering the things that went on around me. I even was too tired to sing, something that I had never experienced before. I guess I learned a lesson from this semseter: DON'T OVERLOAD YOURSELF! YOU ARE NOT SUPERMAN! YOU ONLY GET 24 HOURS LIKE THE REST OF THE WORLD! BALANCE IS KEY! BEING HEALTHY & HAPPY IS BETTER THAN BEING BUSY AND EXHAUSTED!
Why did I ever think that I could finish mountains of work in a span of few hours? Who knows. But I know I've learned my lesson now (through the hard way) and I know to balance out courses and commitments better. Heck, I've got three more years to get better at this.
On a brighter note, I just finished my French oral exam (Mme. Uhden has a beautiful Beagle called Bailey. She occasionally grunted as I struggled to phrase my thoughts in le Francais. It made everything much more interesting.) and am off to Chicago in two or so hours. I am very, very excited as I am seeing a dear friend I haven't seen for nearly two years, and then meeting some other friends from my high school. I can't wait for the good food, good shopping and good sleep that I've been missing during my busy-as-hell school days. And after Chicago, I am flying to New York to spend some down-time with myself, taking some photos for my final portfolio for Photography I, and then meeting the Bluesox for a spring tour around NYC and Philadelphia.
Yes, break is jam-packed with love, excitement and a lot lot more.
I think I've had the toughest week in the short history of my year at Amherst. Oh man, where to start?
The week was busy as always, but extra busy in that I had three creative assignments--a film essay, a short story and a photo portfolio due one after another--as well as the usual French homework, short story critiques and movie showings. Because I had a 10 hour long recording session the weekend before that I virtually had to rush through all my work till very late at night (and staying up late is one of my prime weaknesses.) Stressed for time and stressed to produce good-quality work, I worked myself up like a zombie, eating "bad" food at nighttime and drinking too much coffee. (Too much for me is really, TOO MUCH for anyone, as I am a very heavy coffee drinker.)
The academic stress I could deal with, but what was worse was that this week, my hometown Christchurch (New Zealand) experienced one of the worst earthquakes in its history. The earthquake marked a 6.3 on the ritcher scale, destroyed our famous cathedral that had withstood years of wear and tear, crushed two big buildings in the city centre (one of which was an educational institution), drove thousands out of their homes into shelters, hundreds to escape the city for good, killed (up to now, the number only increases) at least 113 people as well as causing hundreds to be reported as missing. I sat there in stupor as I watched the news on my computer; the scenes of people running from collapsing buildings, families crying in front of a disaster scene, broken roads and phone lines--my city looked like a set of a horror movie. My friend who now goes to uni in Auckland (north island of New Zealand) e-mailed me about watching all this on telly: "It looked like the world was about to end," she said.
I have been going through a painful week, watching disaster unfold in what I always remember as a peaceful, happy, almost perfect place to live. The fact that I am physically so far away from what is happening while feeling the pain and agony very strongly is also hard to bear; I feel like I should be there with all my friends and family but I can't. I am in a faraway place called Amherst and there seems to be nothing I can do to change this.I really need a break from all this--as hard at it is, life must go on. I just have to find away to brace myself in midst of hardship.
Sorry I have been out of touch lately. I have been in bed, recovering from a flu attack that struck me over the weekend. Time passes so fast at Amherst; I swear it was Halloween only a few days ago, and now it's already Homecoming Weekend, and then Thanksgiving the week after!
I am very excited for my first homecoming ever at Amherst. I haven't seen many alums walking around the campus yet, but I did spot one having breakfast at Val this morning. Soon there will be more and more of them flooding the campus (hopefully!), reminiscing of old times and enjoying the new energy that is the present Amherst. On the schedule for tonight is the Bonfire, where we gather around a huge fire on the bottom of memorial hill and get our spirits up for the game tomorrow. Lots of food, including hot drinks, apple cider, cookies and the like will be served, just like any other Amherst event.
Tomorrow at Pratt Field, 12am, is the drumroll-worthy Amherst v Williams football game. There will be a LOT of school spirit, many many t-shirts that say "Williams college is a horrible college" (my favourite Amherst College shirt so far) and festivities around the tailgate area. I have my fingers crossed that our football team will show em who's boss--I've already got my competitive spirits up against a few high-school friends from Williams...so our victory will be a personal one as well as a school-wide one. Later that night is a choral society concert as well as the Bluesox alum-included pre-game, where we get to meet and greet our old alums from near and far. Like many other groups on campus, The Bluestockings boasts its history and the masses of supportive alumni that we can connect to. The weekend will finish with a big Homecoming TAP Party held at the TAP houses, where both students and alumni will enjoy good music, dancing, screaming wildly and fun-in-general.
After a busy week, I am more than ready to switch to an uplifting Homecoming spirit.
This week I have witnessed the worst(best?) snow ever. I have never in my life seen snow pile up past my height. Never in my life. So this is Massachusetts saying "why hello" to my face. My rendezvous with the Amherst snowstorms began with my roommate telling me that there was a snowstorm warning issued out to the local areas for the next few days. I didn't think much of it. How bad could snow ever be?
Never had I seen snow pelting down like rain during a flood. Never had I seen the snow-shovelling machine (is there a particular American term for this? Where I come from we have NO need for such things. Which accounts for some of the shock in my encounter with snow this week.) helplessly do one round of the road, come back, and then found that a thick fresh coat of snow had easily undone the work it struggled to do.
And never had I seen Amherst professors cancelling classes! While trudging out through the fearful snowstorm was possibly the most terrifying thing, getting cancellation emails from professors made my morning sleep-ins that much sweeter. So, snowstorms aren't as bad as they seem to be, huh? (Though I am NOT asking for another snowstorm. Not in a very long time.)
All in all, (after the panic and hurrah of the unofficial snow day), I must say I'm learning the most valuable lessons from this winter and this snowstorm.
1. Layer up.
2. Cover your head, your neck and your fingertips.
3. Drink warm tea and wear sleep socks.
4.Don't go out after dark. The temperature really drops to something unbearable.
5. Ditch pretty gear, wear strong weatherproof boots, how ugly they may be!
Hope you all are having a warm winter all cuddled up in winter gear and ready to go. As much as the snow has prettified our campus, I can't stop wishing for spring and summer to come. I am an August baby, after all!
Friday's a great day to write up a blog post (as is the weekend) because it gives me an opportunity to look back at my own week, reflect, plan and refresh for the next week. Today I want to talk about Amherst Center, my ultimate sanctuary and what keeps me going through the challenges of Amherst life.
I had a pretty tough week this week because of various projects, tests et cetera due for my courses as well as some personal issues that I had to sort out. During times like these I like to take my "time-out session" exploring and enjoying the town centre we have right in front of the college. One of the only worries I had before coming to Amherst was, what if I run out of things to do at Amherst because it's in the middle of nowhere? (I've been a city person all my life.) The answer I discovered soon after arriving was, Amherst may be tiny but it has everything you need!
From cafés to restaurants, gift stores to cinemas, the little streets of Amherst are packed with goodies. It is impossible to share all the joys, but let me share a few of my favourite spots in town.
The Black Sheep Café: DELICIOUS, DELICIOUS, DELICIOUS desserts! I think I go there at least twice a week, usually in the early mornings for my morning tea. I almost always order a carrot cake cupcake and a medium coffee, sit at one of the windowsill seats and write about silly things. (Sometimes I do homework when I feel guilty that I'm enjoying whiling away the time too much.) It is a small cafe, where all the bread, cakes and pastries are baked daily. Their coffee is pretty good too. It's a great local hangout place so you get a real variety of Amherst locals coming in, if you're into people-watching at all.
Amherst Coffee: Where I go to do actual work. The spots fill up pretty quick in the morning of people like me who want a nice, quiet place to do work and drink great coffee. The baristas there really know what they are doing. I love that they also have a wine bar section and little platter menus. It's quieter than Black Sheep and Rao's (another great café further down the road) and is very convenient for laptop users. I love that they play good jazz music in the background.
Really, I could go on with this, but there are so many endless little things that make it a blast to live in Amherst. (FRESH SIDE TEA ROLLS! I could really go on with this...) For my end of the week chillout session I am just about to head down to Antonio's for good soul food and then to pick up some groceries, people-watching and taking candids for my photography course.
Sounds like a baller wind-down Friday afternoon? Come on down and check out the little wonders yourself. :-)
I hope you had a wonderful thanksgiving with great food, lots of sleep and family love. I am still dazed from the excess of sleep and laziness and am trying hard to adjust back into Amherst's crazy schedule. Thanksgiving in terms of our semester schedule is like a mini-break before the final lap of finals, projects, papers and concerts we must plough through before the real break. While I am lucky enough to have no final exams for my classes, I still have a handful of assignments and furthermore extra-curricular commitments to squeeze in between those things.
As a freshman, I quickly found out that the key to surviving college is essentially time management. Every single one of the items on your agenda runs a separate schedule; each of your classes will have different due-dates for assignments, slightly varying levels of difficulty or workload, and independent midterms schedules, save perhaps the more concentrated final exams period. While in high-school much of the classes and departments were integrated enough to provide me a single organised timeline I could follow, in college I found I had to construct my own timeline according to my individual schedule. Classes aren't the end of the troubles, though. There are club meetings, practices and concerts that run according to their own plans as well that need to fit into the 24-hour slot. And what about the basic necessities of food, sleep, workout sessions and the occasional parties? The list of to-dos are endless.
Surprisingly, students at Amherst become very adept jugglers. They learn to consider the million and one commitments and compile their plans into a somewhat coherent schedule they can follow; they learn to look ahead and be aware of various deadlines. They work hard to achieve their self-set goals but also give themselves time to relax and de-stress from time to time. I think this is what I love about this community. Everyone is ambitious, but they also know how to maintain a healthy balance in practice and attitude. I am learning from the Amherst lifestyle and the many examples around me to balance out my life as much as possible. Although I am slightly scared of my five concerts this week (five in seven days? crazy!), a term paper prospectus, theatre rehearsals and more, I know I will get through this and become better at it at the end of the challenges. The skills of balance and time management I find is a set of skills as useful as the academics that we are taught here, as they are so applicable in every day life and in many situations. I already can imagine myself in twenty years, adeptly juggling work, running after overexcited children, conjuring fresh-cooked dinners and managing to squeeze in some reading and writing while lying in bed. Sounds like a hectic life? I will only shrug and say, I'm from Amherst. It's no big deal.
I simply cannot believe that it is already November! (And it's already Wednesday already...I swear it was Sunday afternoon just a while ago...) Time has whizzed past me since I first arrived here with a gigantic suitcase and jetlag in late August. I've gone through the awkward but fun orientation week, adjusted into classes and already had my first fall break. I was surprised to find myself (shopaholic and city-girl-at-heart) missing Amherst so much when I spent a night in Boston visiting a friend and then being so happy when I finally came "home" after the trip. I guess this place grows on you very rapidly. But enough sentimental rumblings. Today I want to talk a little about how the three-day Halloween weekend is done, Amherst style.
This year, halloween coincided with Family Weekend, which meant for many people balancing social life and hanging with the family. (I feel that Amherst students quickly become accustomed to juggling a million and more things into their schedule...but that's for another day) My family was/is, unfortunately a continent or a two away from Amherst so couldn't make the occasion, but I was busy enough singing in the choir and the Bluestockings that I didn't miss them toooooo much. After the friday choral society concert I set myself off with some mates to Hampshire Halloween, the biggest halloween event in the Five Colleges. (For those of you who don't know, Amherst is part of the Five Colleges consortium along with UMass, Smith, Mount Holyoke and Hampshire College. I will also talk about this at a later time.) Hampshire Halloween was crazy good, with live music, great DJing, midnight breakfasts, the night truck, and a lot of happy costumed people.
While I and many others were exhausted on Saturday night and had to lie in bed for a while, there still was quite a crowd at the unofficial Amherst halloween party at one of the dorms. I had heard from my excited and glitter-speckled friends that there were two male Tinkerbells, a banana, three Britney Spears and a whole lot more. Sunday was much of the same but better, as Tony Marx hosted a Halloween party at the Natural History Museum, and there were more costumes, craziness and fun on full display. As for myself I enjoyed a very small but sweet halloween party hosted by my RC Kaytee for our floor (Chuck Pratt attic, represent!) as it was full of cookies, apple cider and a lottttt of chocolate. Gotta love that.
Halloween doesn't disappear just because you're at college. It becomes longer, crazier and unforgettable. I can't wait till the next one already!