It's me!

Hi there! My name is Irisdelia Garcia from the Bronx, NY. I am a rising sophomore here at Amherst College and I’ll be blogging here for the summer! I am planning on double majoring in Theater and Dance and English. However, I am hoping to explore our other departments (I really want to try out a fun science course!). With my English major, I want to concentrate in digital humanities and the way technology affects culture, so if you want to talk to me about how I think Facebook is dying or about video game politics, I’m your gal.

On campus I’m involved in La Causa, our Latino and Hispanic organization, the African and Caribbean Student Union, and the Newman Club, our Catholic organization on campus.

I’ll be a Resident Counselor for a first-year dorm next year, so I’m excited to mom the new students and take good care of them! I am also employed by the Theater and Dance Department doing tech work and set design.

I’m interning in the Admission Office this summer, so please feel free to email me at imgarcia@amherst.edu if you have any questions or concerns about Amherst or my blog posts. Also email me to say hi and that you like what I write about, I’ll appreciate that too!

5 Things You Should Know When You’re New To College (A Work In Progress)

Holyoke Mountain Range So here you are. Your lanyard hangs off your neck with your nametag and your ID attached as you busily introduce yourself to other bright-eyed and bushy-tailed first-years. You try whispering a hello to that table of upperclassmen, but they saw you look over before you can even bring your hand up for a wave before they’re bombarding you with salutations and questions on “where you're from” and “what high school did you go to” and the usual “it’s going to be different here.”

First-year can be weird and confusing and you’ll feel very quickly that you’re the new kid. But don’t worry, here’s a handy guide to things you might need to know about being on the bottom of the food chain again.

1. You’re not on the bottom of the food chain, really.

Actually, you’re treated pretty well as the new kid on the block. You get a lot of chances from the people around you because you’re the “first-year that doesn’t know their way around yet.” Cool, great, I can get lost as many times as I want and it’ll be fine. You don’t get that card after first-year. I can’t be late to class and blame it on reading my schedule wrong. In college, at least in Amherst, first-years are still learning and that’s okay, take your time to learn the campus and the students and the values of the school.

2. You’re still a kid.

Age is but a number. You think the moment you turn eighteen that you’re ready to be an adult? Then do my taxes for me while you’re at it. It’s okay to embrace your kid because, technically, you still are. You literally just started college, you’re not ready yet to take on the real world by storm. You will, I promise. But you did just a year ago needed to raise your hand to use the bathroom. So maybe, just maybe, enjoy that wonderful transition into adulthood. Sled down the hills, ride your bike across the Quad, get ten dollars worth of ice cream at Bart’s. Just do it.

3. Be patient with yourself.

School is hard. You’re not the top of your class anymore in a place like Amherst, and that’s okay. No one is. Everyone is sitting in the same classroom as you, everyone is learning just like you, so be patient with yourself when learning. Things are going to be tougher to grasp, so the best way to move forward is to not get sidetracked with comparing yourself to others. You’re amazing just by being present on this campus, so don’t get caught up with trying to match your unique self with someone else’s. You’ll never be happy, and you want to be happy in college.

4. Skip the lanyard.

This isn’t amateur hour.

5. Just kidding about the lanyard.

Please wear it, I forget names often. Help me.

The Lost Girl (The One Where You Deal With Tragedy)

Top of Memorial Hill

I am still a kid in a lot of ways. Tragedy and loss and tears and staying under your covers late night waiting for miracles are kind of my reality check.

Going to college makes dealing with family emergencies very hard. There are two reasons why:

  1. You’re not home.
  2. You’re lonely.

And lonely in the way where you’re the only one who understands what you’re going through. Yes, there are those who are empathetic willing to invite you to watch TV or asking if you want to take a walk and talk, but no one gets the aching feelings right below your stomach when you feel so sad and helpless and you want to go home to be there but you can’t. You can’t.

Recently my family was hit with a very horrible event and we don’t know how we’re going to make it. This is why I am behind on my blog. But the saddest part of my whole situation is that this is not the last time where my chest will hurt and I will feel like I’m going to burst.

That’s why I’ll compile a list for you and me.

Here’s a to-do list when you get a loaded phone call at 1:37am and you’re states away.

  1. BREATHE! Count ten seconds then count backwards from that.
  2. Watch your favorite show, have some chocolate, soda, and other unhealthy things at hand.
  3. Cry. Cry until your eyes and heart hurt. Cry quietly. Cry loudly. Cry it all out.
  4. When you’re tired from crying, take a nap. You’ll need it.
  5. Take a warm shower or bath. Your body’s going to ache.
  6. Communicate. Knock on someone’s door or call someone. Talk it out.
  7. If you don’t want to talk quite yet, come back to breathing.
  8. Listen to lots of sad music. Cry some more.
  9. More chocolate.

And of course, if you have your own little ways to get yourself better, add them to the routine.

When bad things happen it can be really confusing and hurt really bad and your head and your soul are going to ache but you can do it, you can push through. You can do it. And it’s going to hurt. But you can do it.

Dreams Are Gonna Find Me, But I Won't Feel Blue

The Summer Interns of 2015 I'm surrounded by some pretty awesome ladies this summer.

I'm the youngest of the intern group in the Admission Office, not necessarily the baby, but definitely taken care of by the older interns. However, the women of this office are the people I definitely look up to. They were my role models for my first year, so finding out they were in my same internship was like a preteen girl meeting her favorite boy band in person.

These girls are amazing, and I'm going to tell you why.

The song "Super Trouper" by ABBA comes to mind when I talk about Lola, Karen, and Karen (we have two Karens, so double the awesome). They are definitely go-getters and look out for not only themselves but one another. They’ve taken very good care of me while being here, always looking out for me and I am guaranteed their guidance for three months. They are also each amazingly accomplished. With two years under their belts, we have editor in chiefs, future ambassadors, and world travellers in our midst.

It’s times like this where I wonder if I’ll ever be as great as them.

Having only finished my first year, I do not have the wide array of experiences these girls have. Sometimes, and I speak honestly, my awe for them turns to something more desirable. Yeah, I have quite the résumé, but how often do you meet someone who’s gone to an international school in Wales, born in Nigeria, and wants to go into International Relations (Karen O.)? Or, how many people can say they are the editor in chief for a college’s main source of worldly information and would want to pursue journalism (Lola)? Or, how many people can say they are a track star and will be studying abroad in Madrid (Karen B.)? These girls are so amazing, so…

What am I?

Even with my doubts and my lack of experience, they have never, not once, made me feel left out, odd, or have diminished my worth in our team. They are truly the definition of a sisterhood, and I have the luxury to be taken care of by all three of them. As all three of them head into their junior year, I’m kinda the one straggling behind, but it’s okay, they are holding my hand along the way. They validate me everyday, whether it’s a “good job” to a “thanks” to a “please take care of yourself.” These wonderful women are my most tangible example of what makes the Amherst community so wonderful.

Silly photo of the girls

They are also absolutely hilarious, bringing their own types of energy to the office.

Lola, with her offbeat, dry wit, Karen O. with her off-the-wall hilarity, and Karen B. with the way she talks with her hands and her eyes. They are all outrageous and in spite of my insecurities and in spite of still growing into myself, they have been by my side for most of this summer. I couldn't think of a better way to spend my summer here.

Ride Hard

Having a bike on campus is the best and worst thing that could happen to you at Amherst College.

Some pros:

  • Get to places swiftly and efficiently
  • The Pioneer Valley is your oyster
  • 10 minute bike rides to Walmart
  • You can look really cool when you ride one-handed
  • People will move out of your way

But there are some cons:

  • Hills
  • hiLLS
  • Hillsssss
  • hilLLLLSSSSS
  • hills
  • Hills

Amherst College is known as the school “on the hill,” and for good reason; the campus is entirely made up of hills and winding paths and winding paths up hills. As someone who is not the most sporty individual, the hills are quite the workout for me. I’ll huff and puff on tours and ask for time outs mid-sentence as I get my breathing evened-out. It’s stressful for the less athletically-inclined of the community.

Now just add bikes.

Biking uphill is the most painstaking experience I’ve ever had, up there with stepping on Legos and that moment someone tells you they “need to talk.” I’ve never felt so sore before, and there are moments that I try to think why I ever needed a bike in the first place.

But I really love my bike. Let me tell you why.

My Alvin

I named my bike Alvin. It suits him. Also, on one of our first rides we almost ran over a chipmunk. It just clicked.

Alvin was left abandoned by Moore Dormitory about three months ago, unlocked, cold, and lonely. When I discovered him, I waited out a week and a half to see if anyone would claim him. Nobody stepped forward, no one released him of his stationary state in some wet, damp corner outside of Moore. No one wanted him.

But then I found him, and it was love at first bike.

He was the perfect size. I’m short and needed a bike to fit my particularly tiny stature. And he was fully functional, tires a little flat but nothing a pump couldn’t fix. He had six gears and each one locked into my heart.

He was my bike, a bike I owned. Something I finally owned all by myself.

You must be thinking why I would go on about loving an inanimate object I happened to name and how much I hate hills.

But the bike -- Alvin -- symbolized my newfound independence in college. In Amherst College, I’m an adult, an adult that can own a bike and travel by myself and it was this bike that made me realize that woah wait I am an adult. It doesn’t mean much, but you will find a moment where you realize you’re not small anymore, that you don’t need your hand held or need training wheels for the big-kid bikes.

Maybe it’s going out to dinner with friends, or travelling back home for the first time by yourself, or ordering a plane ticket without your Mom. It’s these small things that ease you into the adult world, it’s these small things at Amherst that eased me into the adult world.

And I’m still growing, you never stop growing and learning, but these small things end up getting bigger and bigger. My very own bike will become my very own car. My own car will become my own house and it goes on.

But that’s a long way down that winding path up. I can wait.

And let me tell, you can still be a kid riding down crazy hills on your bike and still be an adult. There’s no rush.

@me

I've really been into Instagram lately. And not for indulgent selfies (which I do take) and the occasional meme (which I do enjoy), but I've been taking a lot of pictures of Amherst.

Amherst College is absolutely gorgeous over the summer months. In spite of the muggy weather and the merciless Sun, summer days at Amherst are generally carefree. And pictures definitely speak more than a thousand words.

There are days, however, where the weather can be a little cloudy and a little rainy and all around sad. So, what I like to say is that with days like that you have to bring your own sunshine to brighten things up.

Today is kinda one of those days. But do not fret, beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

A cloudy sky

The sky is beautiful now, the clouds making this really sweet folded pattern up there. I also snapped this picture five minutes ago for just this blog entry. As I took out my phone to take the picture, some kids from the summer camp across the street looked at me with a cautious eye. I kinda looked like your typical millenial, phone in the air taking a picture of some nature.

But I don't care, I wanted a picture for you guys to see!

And again, cloudy days aren't your average days at Amherst. The sun is out, the kids are playing, and I can be a shameless millenial without the fuss.

Here are some photos from my shameless Instagram as I document my adventure at Amherst.

View from my dorm

Here is a beautiful view right outside my room in Hitchcock Dormitory. The sun set just right and the sky was nothing I've ever seen before. I'm from New York City, so skies like this are rare to non-existent.

Marsh Dormotory

Amherst, as you might already know, is a particularly hilly place. I've mentioned it before in great detail and my dislike for said hills, but no other hill can get me such a great view of good ol' Marsh Dormitory atop the appropriately named "The Hill." We have a set of dorms on top of here, secluded in a little alcove off-ways on campus.

The trek may be tulmutous, the body weak and the sun too much, but that view of Marsh is so worth it. So, if you ever make the journey to Marsh, look up and ahead.

So, in spite of some recent bad weather, look at the positives. And it goes beyond the weather, sometimes when we're having a bad day we have to keep in mind the good. It's okay to look at the world in filters (like these obviously edited photos here) once in a while, because when you do go back to reality, you can face it with a smile.

A bit of a plug, but Amherst College has an amazing Instagram that you should definitely see! You can definitely get a taste of Amherst life through there!

They call me Stacy, they call me Jane...

My name.

My nickname is Iris. But it doesn’t sound like Iris.

The ‘r’ rolls so fast it sounds like a ‘d’ sometimes. Sometimes I tell them, the people who try harder than others to roll their ‘r’s’, to say it like the ice cream. Edy’s Ice Cream.

But I never understood that, because I always pronounced ‘Edy’s’ Ice Cream like ‘Eddie’s’ Ice Cream and people told me I was wrong and I would tell them “tomato, tomato” so then they would tell me they’ll just pronounce my name like someone who couldn’t roll their ‘r’s’ like the grandma who loves me and I would just stay quiet.

But Iris is not my name. Irisdelia is my name. But no, that’s not my name either.

I was named after my grandmother. There is no long winded story of what my name means or how my parents fought for a name that meant something. I was named after my grandmother, that was enough for Ma and enough for me.

I found throughout my time in high school that I was letting people pronounce my name wrong because I was tired. People didn’t want to learn the beauty of my name, the accent you had to have in order to pronounce it just right. I didn’t want to correct them, because I knew they didn’t want to learn.

“I’ll just call you Iris,” the sound of that hard ‘r’, the name of that purple flower that grows in bunches I think, that colorful part in your eye, the name of some Greek goddess that can travel by rainbows, I’ve gotten it all. I even had one teacher in 6th grade call me “Cornea” because he wanted to be witty but that was before I knew how to voice my discomfort.

But that’s not my name. My name was dumbed-down for others to understand, but I am not someone to be dumbed down for anyone’s understanding.

E-rees-dee-lee-a. I-rees-dee-lee-a. Er-ees-dee-lia. There is always something new most weeks, and once in a blue moon I get my name by a practiced tongue or from someone who wants to learn.

This is where Amherst comes in, and where my love for Amherst explodes on this computer screen.

Because people wanted to learn my name. The intricacies in the ‘r’ and the ‘d’ and how the ‘s’ sound is a little long. People here wanted to learn a culture and a language and an identity I’ve kept relatively tame and mostly hidden throughout my entire life. I can say my name right without the puzzled look, without the side glance of over-complicating a something that didn’t need to be complicated.

The moment I stepped on campus, I felt I was loved for who I was and who I always wanted to be. I am no longer the quiet Brown girl, I’m something more complex and more faceted than any name, and Amherst is gradually teaching me how to embrace that.

There is a persona I’ve kept hidden, all because of the mispronunciation of a name, all because I didn’t want to bother others. In turn, I hurt myself in that process. I now know to embrace the red squiggle the is under my name in every Word Document, or when friends here on campus have that starry-eyed look for the love of learning when I go through my journey with those nine letters.

Amherst is teaching me not only to accept myself and my culture, but to embrace them with open arms without having to rationalize or justify the way I pronounce my name.

People care here, people love that I care, and if anyone ever asks me “why Amherst,” I would just tell them that. Amherst cares about me, down to the way I roll my “r.”