Jenna Troop '13
Welcome to my blog! My name is Jenna Troop (and yes, that does make me a trooper) and I’m a junior (majoring in German and European Studies) from Sudbury, MA. Before coming to Amherst, I went to a small school named Concord Academy, home of the esteemed Chameleon (talk about a fierce mascot). Here at Amherst, I’ve been a RC (Residential Counselor), tour guide, peer tutor for the German department, played Rugby, tutored ESL at the local library to adult immigrants, and am about to start working with Girls Inc. in Holyoke. I'll be posting about my life once a week this semester from good ol' Amherst and next semester from Göttingen in Germany while studying abroad. If you have any questions feel free to shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I'll respond pronto.
Jenna's Blog Entries
First Day Jitters
A couple weeks later and I’ve been reunited with my Internet connection and blog on the eve of my first day of school. After the end of my intensive German course I went to Salzburg for a few days to experience the Sound of Music and the city of Mozart in all its grandeur. My mom came to visit and so we skipped through parks and climbed every mountain (well actually I almost fell off the side of the Unterberg, but that’s another story, let’s just say boat shoes are not appropriate attire) ate original Sacher Torte and visited monastery-run Biergartens. After another night in a small town on the Chimsee in Southern Barvaria and a night in Munich it was time to say goodbye. Or at least that originally had been the plan. Mom, however, had found a good deal on a flight for me to return home for the holiday weekend, so without telling anyone else, I came home for a few days. After a whirlwind, breadless week back home, I came back to Göttingen, where this past weekend I got to meet a whole new group of international and German students through an orientation weekend.
Now it’s time for class! My first classes are tomorrow, although for some odd reason only three of my classes are meeting this week (the rest begin next week). Tomorrow I’ve got a history seminar and a Literature lecture. I’m excited and a little nervous because both will be entirely in German. Technically the first week or so is a “shopping” period so I’m looking at eight classes of which I will probably take six.
In preparation for classes tomorrow, I just finished cooking and dinner and am about to watch an episode of The West Wing before going to bed. I wouldn’t want to fall off my bike on my way to class!
And, this weekend I’m going to Copenhagen to see Anna!
I know I’ve been on hiatus for quite sometime, but now I’M BACK and don’t think you’ll be able to get rid of me quite so easily again. My unbelievably long winter break has come to an end and I’ve just started my second week of classes for the Frühlingskurs (Spring Course) here in beautiful Göttingen, Germany. The Spring Course caters to international students who want to improve their German before starting university classes in April. There are people from all around the world- from Poland to Japan to South Africa- although most students come from Asia or Europe (through the ERASMUS exchange program). It’s been great getting to know different people both in and out of class. The program has lots of field trips and activities so we’re never at a loss for what to do. Today for example we went to a brewery in Einbeck that is, according to our guide, more than 800 years old (although the bottles say 600…long story). As one might expect most activities here revolve around bier und wurst. I’m in dire need of a trip to the gym.
Other than being completely exhausted from trying to speak German all day, I’m having a fabulous time. As one of two study abroad programs run by Amherst, I was lucky enough to have a little insight into what life here would be like before I got here. Every year the German language assistants come from the university here, so it was great to be able to meet up with them to get an idea of what to do around the city. Another perk is the housing. I live in a wonderful Studentenwohnheim (Student dorm) where I even have my own bathroom (the downside is that I have to clean it myself). The people in the dorm are really friendly and helpful. The RC-equivalent in Max-Kade-Haus is Jan, and going above and beyond the call of duty, he even volunteered to help fix up some old bikes in the basement so that Gabi (the other Amherst College student here this semester) and I wouldn’t have to go out and buy them. Bikes are a necessity here in Göttingen; unlike Amherst the closest academic building to my dorm is a five minute walk. However, there’s a mensa (dining hall/cafeteria) right outside my back door! It’s currently closed because we’re in between semesters, but I look forward to a smaller closer mensa once the semester starts. The Zentralmensa (central dining hall) is a 10 minute walk, but right by my language class. I’m also pretty close to the sports center and I’m looking forward to checking it out in more detail later this week.
There’s tons of paperwork to do, but I finally got my student ID today. Like at Amherst, you can put money on your card to pay for food in the mensas; unlike Amherst there is no meal plan so you pay every time you go to the mensas, but the food is good and relatively cheap (Lunch costs between 1.80 € and 3.75 € for students). We also can travel for free throughout all of Niedersachsen (Lower-Saxony) as well as parts of Hessen and Thüringen on regional train lines with our student IDs! Unfortunately the travel portion of the card isn’t activated until the official beginning of the summer semester which is April 1st.
Not having a meal plan means that I’m being forced to be more independent here than I ever had before. I go food shopping and cook dinner for myself every night. But, I must confess I make a mean scrambled egg and I’ve successfully made pasta with all types of sauces. It’s another great opportunity to meet people because everyone’s in the kitchen every night to cook. Similarly a couple of the guys in the dorm run out every morning to the bakery to pick up fresh bread and they are always willing to share. It’s a really congenial atmosphere and every day I’m becoming more comfortable speaking German.
All the best,
New Year's Traveling
Hope you’ve all had a wonderful holiday season. As you may know, I’m now on “educational leave” (study abroad) from Amherst College. I’ll be traveling to Germany, but not until March, because they are on a different academic calendar than we are here stateside. In the more immediate future (i.e. today) I’ll be heading to Israel for 10 days for Birthright. For those of you who don’t know, Birthright is a program for young Jews to learn more about Israel by traveling there on an all expenses paid trip. This particular trip is chock-full of students from not only Amherst (including my roommate Dylan!) but from other colleges in the Boston/New England are as well. While I’m done packing now, I was not as organized as my mother would have liked and I definitely received some “now don’t get mad at me, but maybe you should think about starting to pack for Germany earlier than the night before.” Thanks Mom! I’ll take your advice into consideration!
The end of the semester was really hectic. With finals and moving out of my room, I can honestly say I’m not sure if I’ve ever had a week with less sleep. Once I was home, I spent a few days catching up on sleep and refining my tv-watching skills which were sorely out of practice by the end of the semester. My brother got me Goldeneye for Hanukkah and has been trying to teach me how to shoot. I’m downright terrible, but we have a good time.
One thing that never ceases to amaze me is how close I’ve become to my friends here at Amherst. There’s something about living with your friends that makes you miss them that much more when they’re gone. Luckily one of my best friends, Hannah, lives not too far away, so we were able to grab lunch the other day. We met at 11:30am and didn’t realize how much time had passed until we look up to see that it was 3:15pm! Who knew that less than 10 days apart would give us so much to talk about?
I’m sure most of you are back in school by now (my brother just went back yesterday), so I want to wish you all the best of luck with the semester and remind you to keep the questions coming. I won’t have access to a computer until I return home, so my apologies in advance for the delayed response.
Last Week of Classes
I realize I’ve been mentioning my suitemates a lot but I haven’t shown you a picture of the group.
(The motely crew: Karen, me, Dylan, Anna, Mia, and Lucy)
The semester is starting to wind down, work is picking up, everyone is a little more sleep deprived than normal but that doesn’t mean we can’t all have some holiday spirit! In honor of a tradition we started our first year (when over half of our floor had December birthdays), we will be hosting the third annual December Birthday Bash this Saturday to celebrate Anna’s 20th birthday and Rebecca’s 21st! We’ve been told by the birthday girls that glitter is the preferred decoration and ice cream is more important than cake. We’ll do our best!
This will also be my last week of tutoring ESL at Jones (the local) Library. For the past year and a half, I have tutored a Bengali woman named Moon twice a week. We’ve worked on all aspects of communication including speaking and writing. Both of us enjoy watching How I Met Your Mother, so we’ve made discussing the show a staple of our conversations. Since last spring, when her daughter was born we’ve had an additional member of our meetings. Last Friday I was lucky enough to be able to have lunch with Moon and her husband after our normal meeting slot. It was great to finally meet Moon’s husband as I had heard a lot about him, but had never met him. We had a really fun lunch and I felt like I was able to learn a lot more about Moon. In preparation of my departure, we also met with Moon’s new tutor, Serena. The head of the ESL center, Lynne, was able to find Serena to substitute for me for next semester while I’m abroad. With any luck, when I come back next fall, I’ll be able to either continue tutoring Moon or be able to continue with tutoring in some other fashion.
It’s starting to hit me that I’m not going to be here next semester, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Mia is heading home in a week and the rest of us will file on out between the 16th and the 23rd. I’m really excited to be going to Germany, but I know I’m going to miss everyone here at Amherst. I’m a little luckier than most, however, because my program in Göttingen doesn’t start until March. This means that I’ll get to come back and visit Amherst before I head overseas! And then I’ll see Anna and Mia in Europe (I don't think I'm going to make it to East Africa to see Karen, although she's going to have a blast)! I can’t wait to see everyone who has been abroad the past semester. Skype is good, but it’s not quite the same thing. N.B. Coolidge 101: This does not change the earlier stipulation that weekly Skype/iChat/etc. sessions are mandatory.
I really should get back to that English paper I’ve been avoiding (sorry, Professor Berek!). Hope you’re all having a wonderful end to your semesters.
p.s. We’ve been having the weirdest weather here. It’s warm and rainy and my window is completely fogged up. I thought winter was supposed to be cold. Apparently I was mistaken.
The Biggest Little Game in America and the Beginning of Thanksgiving Break
Sorry for the delayed post, it’s been a pretty hectic week here in “the ‘herst”. People have been suffering through midterms, but on the bright side, now it’s Thanksgiving break! Now, I’m sure all of you watched the game on Saturday, but for those of you who didn’t, it was amazing! And, if by some chance you don’t know what I’m talking about, the 126th edition of the Amherst-Williams football game took place last weekend at Weston Field in Williamstown, MA, and our Jeffs won in style, 31-18 to complete their undefeated season. I think it’s time for a rousing chorus of J-E-F-F, Jeffs, Jeffs, Jeffs. Or, if you’re feeling musical you could try to sing along to this:
Last weekend I got a ride up to Williamstown with some friends. Once we were there a close friend of mine transformed into the Lord Jeff. I won’t ruin his cover, but let’s just say he does our mascot well. During the game I met up with my oldest friend (a misguided Williams student) and she too recognized the superiority of the purple and white on game day.
Our President, Biddy Martin also made the trip to the edge of the state prompting multiple cheers in her honor. After the game we all headed back to Amherst. Unfortunately, by that point I was pretty exhausted so I can’t comment on the revelry that undoubtedly ensued.
Now I’m home, catching up on sleep and work, watching Sunday Night Football with my brother. Last night I introduced him to the P90X ab workout that I told you all about earlier. I don’t think he believed me when I told him how hard it was until we started the video. Needless to say, his disillusionment quickly disappeared. And, tonight we went out to dinner to celebrate my grandmother’s birthday which was this past Wednesday. Happy Birthday, YAYA!!
Safe travels and happy Thanksgiving,
Wow! Two posts in one day. It’s like I have a lot to talk about! Can you say ZUMBA!?! So now as a fair warning I can NOT dance. I can NOT follow a beat. Actually, I’m not sure I know what a beat is. My dancing is somewhere between these two videos:
My friend (and suitemate) Anna has this second one perfected, but I think it really highlights the range of my abilities.
Now, we go with our friend (and another suitemate) Lucy who can actually dance. Case in point, she would totally fit into this video:
My favorite part of today’s class was at one point when the instructor turned around to face the class. The only problem was that Anna and I turned around too. When we realized our mistake and turned bashfully back around, the instructor made sure to console us with the fact that we were the only ones who turned… OOPS! Like I said, dancing (like following directions) is not a strong point.
Over and Out,
When Fall Dressed Up as Winter
As I'm sure many of you have heard or experienced by now, we were hit by a pretty legit snowstorm this past weekend. The school and town lost power (but most places on campus have it back now!), trees fell everywhere, transformers exploded, and it looked like Armageddon the next morning. After the power went out around 11pm, the police came around to make sure that everyone was fine and knew what was going on. The next morning (Sunday) there were trees everywhere and the power was still out. But the Val workers were amazing and came in to set up the generators so that we could still have warm food and heat somewhere. I think a lot of the campus spent a majority of the day in there. Our rugged suite, however, luckily has huge windows in the common room so we could easily read and do work (no computers though) in there. Can you imagine a room of college students with no computers for more than a few hours? I know, me neither. It’s a scary image. That’s probably why most people spent the day in Val. Heat was really a secondary factor.
With limited heat and power returned to campus by Sunday afternoon, the Deans decided to close school on Monday. In turn there was a volunteer effort to clean up campus in the morning. My suitemates and I joined in with many other students, faculty, and staff to clear away the debris that had fallen from basically every single tree on campus. Luckily with all the great work, the campus looked in significantly better shape just over an hour later, and we all returned to the suite relax for the rest of the day. And, by “relax” I mean do all the work I couldn’t do in the dark. Ch-ch-check out some awesome pictures of Val and campus in the aftermath of the storm: http://www.flickr.com/photos/amherstcollege/sets/72157627891462431/
Homecoming Weekend (posted 10/23/11)
It’s definitely fall here in the valley now! The leaves are changing and the view from Memorial Hill is gorgeous. Yesterday was homecoming which was tons of fun. It was a beautiful day and another victorious one for the Lord Jeffs. We were lucky enough to have three wonderful alums staying in our suite (Shout out to Mike, Matt, and Marissa!). There was a tense version of Bananagrams, involving letter thieving and lots of yelling. Then I turned in relatively early in preparation for a day trip to Cambridge to see some old friends compete in the Head of the Charles. All in all a pretty fabulous weekend to follow a great week.
Luckily Saturday wasn’t the only beautiful day we’ve had this week. Thursday was another impeccable Fall day. When I went to my first class, the fog hadn’t yet blown off, so there was no way to see how great it would be. Then about half way through my second class (Shakespeare), I had this unbelievably rare urge to go for a run. Ab Ripper X aside, let’s just say I’ve been skimping on the working out. But, before we get to the bizarre athletic urge, let’s talk about Shakespeare.
An English class that takes place in Merrill (that’s the science building), Shakespeare might be my favorite class this semester. It’s always interactive (there are 17 of us in the class) and Professor Berek is engaging and fun, but just to make sure everyone gets even more in touch with the bard, one of our assignments is to act out a scene from one of the plays. This week’s group did a really interesting take on the Mousetrap scene from Hamlet, where they recorded their voices during the play within the play so that the audience (the rest of the class) would focus on the idea of performance and who was watching whom during the scene. I did my own scene a couple weeks ago (from Henry IV, Part 1), and let’s just say that my acting certainly hasn’t improved since those mandatory middle school plays. But, on the bright side I really think I’ve been able to get a lot more out of the plays by performing and seeing others perform because it truly makes you focus on the process of acting and what it means to see a play live as opposed to just reading about it.
So after class, I decided that before starting my homework I should take a run on the bike path. Off I went, thinking it would be a short run (remember this is the first form of cardio in way too long) but the sun was shining, there was a light breeze, and I just kept going. Well, by ”I just kept going,” I mean about thirty minutes into the run, I was still about ten minutes or so away from campus and I hit a wall. Not a “oh, I’m tired; let’s push through it” sort of wall but a “oh, my legs have to move for me too keep running?” sort of wall. It was pretty pathetic. I guess I overestimated my ability… The true extent of my hubris came to light the next morning as I walked into town to tutor ESL at Jones Library (that’s the local town library). Now, let me tell you, it gave me a whole new appreciation for the hills on this campus. And, if you ask me, which I guess you are by reading this blog, after giving my fair share of tours, I not only appreciate but respect those hills.
Until next time,