Welcome everyone! My name is Julie Keresztes. I'm a senior here at Amherst originally from Buffalo, NY and majoring in European History. I plan on writing an honors thesis on Holocaust atrocity photography in the fall. 

Feel free to email me at jkeresztes12@amherst.edu if you have any questions about Amherst and stay tuned for reflective posts, noteworthy links and town/college news! 

Notorious B.L.O.G


Well, kids. It's been a great summer filled with giggling, rockstars, walking backwards, and whipped cream/water balloon related pranks. While my reign over the Amherst blogosphere is finally coming to a close, I want all of you to know {if there are indeed any of you out there} that I'm still more than happy to answer any questions you have about life at Amherst. My figurative door is always open. 

Let jkeresztes12@amherst.edu be your portal to the Pioneer Valley, general wisdom, and probably a few jovial karaoke sessions to the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. 

Here's lookin' at you, and best of luck on your journey to whatever schools are undoubtedly to be graced by your presence. 


Love, your friendly neighborhood interns. 

Pride Rock, MA

The time has come, friends, for a post exclusively featuring coffee. But instead of coyly hinting at its greatness I'm pretty much going to illustrate everything about Amherst coffee shops that I love in order for you to be persuaded out of the air conditioned, corporate, syrupy cage of corporate coffeehouses (which may or may not rhyme with... barducks) with the help of Walt Disney.

Imagine, if you will, the plot of Disney's The Lion King. Allow me to put a different spin on the characters. 

Simba: Rao's Coffeehouse

Scar: Starbucks (Sadly corporate America does not have an actual scar on its face to help you distinguish between it and the nicer lions. The only exception to this rule is for Harry Potter- scars gone good.) 

Timon: Amherst Coffee (Because Timon is as close to a hipster as you're gonna get in The Lion King)

Pumba: Bruegger's Cafe

Nala: Black Sheep Cafe

Rao's is the champion of the struggle to brew the best coffee, despite the attempts by corporate Starbucks to overthrow good and replace it with poorly-brewed evil. Starbucks concocts its potions behind a giant wall in the hopes of you, the customer, being blind to the fact that your 12oz cup of iced coffee is really just ice and syrup and maybe some strategically placed shots of espresso. Crafty, manipulative, and above all, good-looking, Starbucks has hypnotized the Pride for years. 

Bruegger's, whose specialty is actually bagels and not coffee, is fearless. Bruegger's finds no tangible reason to dwell on the problems of the coffee industry when there are delicious bagels and breads to be sampled from every nook and cranny of the Pioneer Valley. Amherst Coffee, in flaunting its own sass and eccentricity, paves the way for Rao's to also prosper by setting a precedent of "being yourself" and gaining a large fan base for doing so, preferably all of whom will drink their coffee from Mason jars. By internalizing Amherst Coffee's success in crafting their own personal identity, Rao's too may rise above social norms and create its own identity. With the help of Bruegger's and Amherst Coffee, Rao's pairs fearlesness and creativity to form a sublime atmosphere, a "salon" if you will, for vibrant discussion, tasty coffee and a borderline Parisian location. 

Yet Rao's, like all establishments susceptible to the high-pitched cackle of capitalism, is not immune to the spoiled milk of corruption. Bringing Rao's back to earth requires help from Black Sheep, the wise and laid-back queen of coffee, soups, sandwiches and salads. Black Sheep wants no part of corporate America. Her warm carefree ways bring Rao's back to its true destiny. To find the one ring of power!  

Oops, wrong movie. 

With the help of his friends, Rao's achieves kingship in the Pride. He rules with grace, generosity and consideration. And above all, he brews the smoothest coffee, bringing peace to the Pride Lands. With great coffee, after all, comes great responsibility. 


*End Credits*

Colleges, Concerts and Bands, Oh My

Today I'm going to make a list of some of the concerts I've seen in the Pioneer Valley. One of the most popular FAQs directed towards myself and fellow esteemed tour guides is "what is there to do here?" I can't really tackle this question in one blog post because there is, in fact, quite a lot to do here if you possess a creative imagination and a hefty dose of coffee, so for now I'll just focus on music. Concerts are the bubbles in the bathwater of my life- making an otherwise fairly routine existence that much more exciting. 

I was reminded of the relevance of this subject this morning at my favorite coffee place, Rao's (a place which, if you come to Amherst, I will point you directly to whether you like it or not) when I saw a bespectacled, flannel-clad blond man who was the spitting image of Kurt Kobain. 

Here's the list. I'm also including opening acts because they typically don't get enough credit. All of these performances were made possible by the 30,000 students in the area and the 5 College Student ticket discount.

1. Stars at Pearl Street, Northampton. My first ever concert in the PV and also the mythical setting for bonding with my current other half and lifelong friend, Andrea Park '12. This was my third time seeing Stars live. They are a Canadian band from Toronto and illuminate my life. [obligatory star pun] 

2. BellX1 at Pearl Street, Northampton. Irish alternative bands for the win. 

3. The Decemberists at Amherst College. 

4. Lupe Fiasco at UMass Amherst. Hands down one of the best concerts I've ever witnessed in all 21 years of my existence. 

5. Girl Talk at UMass Amherst. Mashups, toilet paper falling from the ceiling, balloons and silly string. Rave. 

6. The Roots at Amherst College. They have a giant tuba and are active members of PETA. 'Nuff said. 

7. Mike Posner at Amherst College. Site of Posner's infamous failed crowd surfing attempt. 

8. White Panda at Amherst College. 

8. Janelle Monae at Smith College, Northampton. Keep an eye on this one, she's five feet of pure talent and unadulterated dynamite.  

9. Jason Derulo at Amherst College. 

Planned for August-October 2011 (So far): 

1. Beats Antique at Northampton, MA

2. Mirah at Northampton, MA

BREAKING NEWS: Rachel Brickman '12 and I were just informed that a zombie movie will be shot at Rao's this afternoon at 1pm. Welcome to Amherst- where even the dead feel like living. 


I write to you this balmy summer evening sunburnt, probably dehydrated, and blissfully happy. 

If any of you have visited Amherst and/or done any research on our fair college you will come across a lot of numbers. The most popular of which relating to our small student body and even smaller student/faculty ratio. What often happens with numbers, though, is that their meaning gets lost on us. Americans in particular crave statistical data to support their life decisions. Choosing a college is no different. But it's worth asking whether or not we really know what the numbers mean and why their relevant, as well as how they will impact a life.

Jeffrey, Rachel and I are here to put fruit on the barren tree of statistics. The juicy apple I'll place on a branch today happens to resemble a bespectacled apathetic smiley on its side. 8:1.

Anyone know what 8:1 refers to? Anyone? Hint: I already mentioned it. 

That's right! Our student to faculty ratio, blah blah blah. Kindly allow me to illustrate it's awesomeness with real examples. 

One of the highlights of the past two summers at Amherst has included traversing Western Mass. On Amherst College's doorstep lies a completely different world. A world of endless fields, dark and sleepy forests, perpetual golden hours and front row seats to all-night stargazing. Hadley, MA contains all of these things. A good friend of mine (also a recent Amherst grad) is housesitting for an old IT boss and was invited to welcome his own friends over to enjoy a large above ground pool, several adorable animals and an enormous Weber grill. It hit 90 degrees this weekend, so needless to say we were pretty excited. 

It's amazing to think that my current tan and euphoria are all the product of a friendship between a student and faculty member. Such a simple human connection, sure. But one that is rarely found on a college or university campus in such a meaningful way. And it's not just this particular friend. I myself have housesat for my own boss and have also had access to a pool, adorable animals and porch-grown strawberries. I just received a nice visit from another friend who was en route to a professor's house to housesit for her and was told that she could not only spend nights at said abode but also had free reign of the Martha-Stewart-Living-esque kitchen, garden of home-grown vegetables, and air conditioning. Clearly it's contagious. 

And now to really illustrate my point. 



...With Jeffrey's angelic face. 





And an even more angelic cornfield. 

The Perks of Ruralism

On a regular basis, my fellow interns and I are constantly asked "I saw a lot of cows on my way here. Is that ever...I don't know, strange for you?"

Well. After three years of living in Amherst not only is it completely normal at this point, but the so-called Cow Question is really just a crafty way of asking students here if we ever get freaked out by the rural setting.

Cows are really cute. But before I get off track I'll introduce what I really wanted to talk about. And that is the weekly Farmer's Market in the center of the town of Amherst. 


My favorite thing about living in a rural area is the literally endless supply of local produce.  Every Saturday from early morning to afternoon, community farmers and sellers gather in the town center to sell their stuff. Veggies, fruits, flowers, bread, meats, cheeses, plants, pastries, homemade household items, and more. Amherst is very big on locally grown (and therefore eco-friendly) foods. One of the best restaurants in town, Tabella's, only serves vegetables, fruits, dairy and meat that have been locally grown and/or raised. They call it "farm to table dining" and it really does make a difference in terms of taste and consequent bliss. At this point I only have two words for you- maple. cream. 

Now being a Buffalonian, I am very picky about my maple syrup and other assorted maple products because I can, for lack of a better cultural reference, literally see Canada from my house. That means that I have experienced a lot of Canadian maple syrup goods. 



Maple cream. Maple syrup's rich yet humble cousin from Western Mass. The silky, sugary, sinfully decadent substance that imbues me with the need to shout "I love my best friend, maple cream" from a rooftop. Let me provide you with a real life example of its power. This week I was home in Buffalo and checked a bag I easily could have just carried onboard with me simply because I wanted to take maple cream home to my parents.  It's that good. 

So next time you visit Amherst, stick around until Saturday morning. You won't be sorry. Neither will your taste buds. 

The Diamond in the Ruff: Trivia

So a recently scrumptious musical find has been www.prettymuchamazing.com (courtesy of Chris Lim '12) which, despite the assumption that all music blogs only cater to the Indie crowd, targets music from across the board- hip hop, alternative, electronic, indie rock, etc. Check it out!

While I listen to Bon Iver's "I Can't Make You Love Me" (and it's also currently raining so this might come off as relatively angsty) I will share with you one of the greatest Amherst events known to man: Trivia Night at The Harp.

Trivia Night. Ah, Trivia Night. How does one begin to even describe Trivia Night? I've gone every week for the past month and I can definitively say that it's some of the highest quality entertainment this side of America. One might ask, "Julie, what is so entertaining about an aged bearded man named Harpo yelling trivia questions (often interspersed with various expletives) at a crowd of Amherst residents?"

Fear not. I will answer.

Trivia Night starts at 9PM every Tuesday and lasts for a few hours until around midnight.  At 12AM sharp The Harp wheels out trays on trays of delicious Irish pub food for the entire bar's consumption (sausage, potatoes, pasta, etc.) while they put their heads together and figure out the winner. Prior to the face-off, by the way, Harpo announces the non-profit organization to which all the proceeds from Trivia Night are given.

Why do I keep going back? I'm a vegetarian now so it's certainly not for the food (though that is a perk). As the bartenders kindly remind me via two giant green x's on the backs of my hands, I'm not 21 yet (August 1) so it's certainly not for the hearty Irish ale.  Pondering this question here in the back cubicle of the Admissions Office I've come to the conclusion that it's really not about the trivia at all. I watch a lot of Jeopardy, so I'm certainly not suffering from trivia deprivation whatsoever. No-it's about the atmosphere. Trivia brings people together much more effectively than Lady Gaga or Facebook can ever hope to accomplish, and even more importantly it grants students like myself the chance to get to know Amherst beyond the ivy covered buildings of our fair college campus.

I may not remember the topic of that final paper I wrote for my Trial class at the end of freshman year, but I can say with absolute certainty that I will remember Harpo for the rest of my life.


**Join us at Trivia Night or face the wrath of Jeffrey Moro '13. You have been warned. 


Welcome to the Admissions Intern 2011 summer blog!

First things first- let’s get some formalities out of the way.

My name is Julie Keresztes and I’m from Buffalo, New York. My last name is Hungarian and (according to ancestry.com) means "crusader." Despite the common misconceptions about Buffalo-that 1) our economy is in shambles, 2) we foster political scandal (ahem, Spitzer, ahem), 3) our population is fleeing the city and 4) we assassinated President McKinley-it’s actually a really wonderful place to grow up. We have, for example, invented the Buffalo style chicken wing, hosted the Pan-American Exposition in 1901, and paved the way for one of the world’s most dumbfounding (yet still grammatically correct) sentences, “Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.” We are the city of good neighbors. We have the country’s second largest free outdoor Shakespeare in the Park organization. We prefer the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. In fact, we pretend to hate Niagara Falls because it's so close to us and therefore "isn't a big deal." Ironically around 97% of us will end up getting our wedding portraits taken there. And you can trust me on this because I've been the photographer. 

The Queen City/City of Good Neighbors

Growing up in Buffalo led me directly to Amherst. The “good neighbor” feel that a true Buffalonian is accustomed to is not so easily shaken once he or she decides to fly the nest.  When I was 13 I visited Amherst with my family, originally bent on sending my older sister (who now lives in Uppsala, Sweden) to Amherst and planning on worrying about my college plans once I left the angst-ridden 8th grade. When people ask me why I ended up choosing Amherst, I can really only give them one answer. I chose Amherst out of instinct. I felt that I belonged there ( which is certainly saying something, seeing as 13 year olds rarely feel that they belong anywhere).  All of the things that made Amherst great on paper was just icing on the cake. That day, standing at the top of Memorial Hill, I made a decision (an early decision, bahaha) that would change my life in ways I couldn’t even begin to imagine.

I’ll be a senior in the fall, majoring in European history and beginning work for my honors thesis on Holocaust atrocity photography.  Throughout the course of this blog I’ll be sharing as many things about Amherst College and the Pioneer Valley as humanly possible.  Let me paint you a brief analogy as to the nature of the area. The Pioneer Valley is comparable with a candy bar. A gooey, succulent, chocolate candy bar filled with salted caramel and nougat. The Pioneer Valley is the chocolate. The town of Amherst, the caramel. Amherst College, the nougaty center. Apart from making your sweet tooth ache I also aim to make more tangible the extent to which this place has influenced my college experience.

The town of Amherst hosts some of the most friendly, warm and intellectually engaged people I have ever met.  Many such folks can be found at Rao’s Coffee House, where I spend my Sundays during the year doing reading, writing papers, or the occasional mad lib. Apart from having scrumptious iced vanilla lattes (apparently Rao's has an abnormally high bean:portion ratio which makes the coffee particularly strong and dense), Rao’s attracts the kind of people you see in romantic comedy movies but secretly hope to meet in real life. You know, the ones who have the power to change a life after one encounter.  Before going abroad to Paris I remember having a conversation with an elderly man who told me that if I choose to study anywhere it has to be Paris. Paris is addictive, he said. It will change your life. And clearly, exemplified by the authentic red Parisian beret hanging on my bedroom door, I listened to him.

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Rao's is super creative.

This past weekend the town of Amherst hosted the annual Taste of Amherst, where various restaurants set up food and drink stands on the town green and sell samples from their general menu in smaller portions for a few dollars. Taste of Amherst for college students is like the World Series for baseball fans. We get pretty into it. I, for example, hovered by the House of Teriyaki stand because *fun fact* Amherst has really awesome Korean food. Actually, the Amherst area has some of the best food I've ever tasted. Chez Albert, Black Sheep, Amanouz Cafe, Osaka, Mi Tierra, to name a few, will rock your world.

I'm off to download the rest of LCD Soundsystem's entire discography. Assalamu alaikum! 

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