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?
Oh it was bad. 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! Huzzah! 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.
Captain Candy: I have the sweetest tooth on earth, and I simply love this place. It is full of lollies new and old, from huge lollipops to chocolate covered raisins. Their handmade chocolates and sweet pieces are very nice too. It is pretty reasonably priced as well. The colourful decoration inside and outside makes me feel happy all over.
Antonio's: The best pizza place in town. It's the best place to get a midnight snack after a night of partying and such. (They have a special Friday Night deal of $1 cheese pizza slices, yay!) Maybe it's just me, but their variety of pizzas really amaze me. I had never seen avocados and nacho pieces put on pizzas. And the size of a slice is huge! Maybe it's an American thing, but I still can't get over pizza slices that are as big as your face!
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. :-)
Peace out and bon week-end!
It's Stella Honey here, on another hectic Sunday night. 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. I also didn't know that I had the capacity to pull through such a hectic schedule. I guess we all adjust, grow and improve in the most dire situations. ;-)
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 kids, it applies to everyone who is under a fairly scheduled and systematic regiment, 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, and ta ta for now!
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. This weekend is the Extravaganja, where the UMass CRC hosts a weekend devoted to "liberating" pot in the Amherst Commons. 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.:-)
Postscript: I have gotten into the habit of eating chocolate in the odd times of the morning. Must stop!
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.
Now onto more exciting things: my spiel on college admissions begins again as many of my senior friends in high school eagerly await for results.
A Tidbit About College Admissions #2: Drumroll...and BAM!
The last days before results rolling in are always the hardest to endure. You consistently question yourself about your applications, your essays and whether you've sent everything in right. You get scared that none of the colleges will accept you. You keep having random fantasies about your dream school accepting you as some super-special applicant. Trust me, we've all been down this path before, and here are some quick tips to make this process as easy as possible.
1. DON'T freak out. You will get into college.
As long as you've followed the rule of applying to a few safeties, a few targets and a few reaches, you will most likely get a handful of acceptances. Don't worry that a minor grammar mistake in your essay or a missing semi-colon in the Commonapp will fail you--while frequent mistakes will be noticed, occasional blunders are generously overlooked by most.
2. BE HAPPY about the acceptances, and don't linger too long on the rejections
I remember being one of those people who were really disappointed with some of my results; I felt as if I let myself down and sulked about my "major failures" instead of being happy that I got into some top notch schools. In hindsight, this disappointment gave me no time to celebrate all the college acceptances that I had--and I did have a handful--which doesn't do due justice to the colleges that loved you enough to pick you from the bunch of applicants. C'mon. The fact that they didn't accept you probably means they're the ones missing out, not the other way around. So go on and celebrate, not just your acceptances but the hard work and the time that paid off to get you here safely.
3. College is important, but not THAT important.
Right now, getting into your dream college may seem like your life's turning point. Well, un/fortunately, it's not. While getting into a particular college than another will have certain effects on your lifestyle or your academic path, the more important part of this lies in how you do in a certain environment, not in the environment itself. Plus, college does not go on forever. In the forest/tree perspective, the four years in college are only four little trees in your entire forest. This is not a life/death matter, but one of many life choices you will face throughout your years. In other words, success depends on how you set yourself up for it, not where you do so.
I guess I will end this spiel with a big GOOD LUCK and an early CONGRATULATIONS. You've gone through many things to come this far, and boy, you need a big pat on the back. Now relax, take things as they come and realise how awesome you have been to land wonderful opportunities. Remember the above tips for a smooth ride into transitioning into a new environs, and have fun!
Was the above overabundance of exclamations really necessary? Really?
I am more than ready for this spring break, I tell you. This absolutely needed to happen. The last few weeks realised the term "hell week(s)" in a way that I did not foresee, and frankly do not want to repeat again. 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. Hence the exclamation marks.