Miu Suzuki '16
My name is Miu Suzuki, and I was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada (yes, people live there, but we can talk more about that later). At Amherst, I'm a rising sophomore planning on majoring in the humanities, and the majors that I am considering are Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought, English, or Women's and Genders Studies...which is another way to say that I'm very undecided. Good thing that I came to Amherst! **shameless plug
During the summer, I am a summer admission intern and a research assistant for a Women's and Gender Studies professor. During the school year, I am a tour guide and Diversity Intern (https://www.amherst.edu/admission/diversity) for the Admissions Office and a shop technician for the Theatre and Dance Department. I am also the co-chair and choreographer for Dance and Step at Amherst College, and during my free time, I tutor at a neighboring city called Holyoke through a program called Girls Inc.
If you have any questions, concerns, or even movie/book/music suggestions, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm not far removed from senior year and the application process (it's seared in my mind), so if you have any questions or concerns, let me know. I'd love to hear from you!
peter pan (bus) and otherlands
Although Amherst exposes me to different cultural and geographic diversity, I still can’t shake the desire to travel myself. I love the experiences that come with adventures, and they put my life into perspective.
Amherst’s location accommodates for my travel plans. Transportation services are available, such Peter Pan, Megabus, and Amtrak, which can take you wherever you’d like to go for a reasonable price. All of the pickup and drop-off points are located close to Amherst College, and the one for the Peter Pan is practically located on campus. This means that transportation is accessible and affordable.
I stay on campus for the most part since there’s always something to do whether it’s related to academics or social events. Students here are very active on campus and have something to do. However, if I want to go out of town, that option is available as well. So I’ve visited friends in NYC, Boston, and Providence whenever I get the chance. Whenever there’s a good concert over in NYC or whenever I want to visit my friends in the northeast, I can definitely go and visit them. I went to visit my friend Tyler at Boston during spring break, and earlier this summer I went to visit my boyfriend Matt over in NYC to go to a music festival.
Exploring cities with friends can be exciting as well. My friend and partner in crime Celine and I went to NYC together to see the Australian band Cat Empire perform, and we wandered in and out of places as well.
Coming to Amherst doesn’t mean that you’re going to be surrounded by cows (although you can if you’d like). Instead, it offers you the choice to use its resources and stay on campus or perhaps leave for the weekend.
city girl in rural MA
When I was deciding what college I wanted to go to, I was set on going to a large school. I imagined that a large school would give me more things to do and more people to meet. You might think that Amherst would be the wrong school for a person with my interests; however, Amherst accommodates this, especially in regards to events. There are 30,000 students within a ten-mile radius of Amherst, which makes it the third largest booking area within the northeast right behind New York City and Boston.
You might be thinking—how does this affect me? Well, during your time here, you’re going to be an Amherst College student but also a Five College student. That means that if one of the 130+ clubs doesn’t interest you and you don’t want to create your own club, you’ll have the chance to join any of the clubs here. Personally, I saw the Hampshire Circus practicing on the town green, and they were eating and dancing with fire. They told me that I could learn how if I signed up over at Hampshire College. I haven’t joined yet, but I’m definitely open to the idea of it.
Also, when it comes to events on one of the Five Colleges, you can go to any of them by being an Amherst student. During our spring 2013 concert, students were given free tickets to Macklemore. The year before that Ludacris was here, and Jay-Z, Big Sean, and Tyga have been in the area. If you’re into electronic dance or house music, we had Tiesto and Avicii down the street at UMass. Throwback music that has come here includes Alanis Morisette to Metallica. And if you’re interested in alternative music, Indigo Girls to Dirty Projectors and Youth Lagoon have played within the area.
If you want to go to a lecture, we have those too! On our campus we had the former Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz speak to us about national security and sovereignty in regards to the US and Pakistan, Rachel Maddow gave us a talk on topics related to her newest book, Kurt Vonnegut taught a class at Smith College, Anderson Cooper gave a lecture there as well, and Bill Cosby and Maya Angelou have given talks at UMass. Needless to say, there’s always something to do in the Pioneer Valley to keep you busy, and the events that are sponsored by schools have the tickets already paid for or discounted, which is great for a college student! Back in Vegas, I would go to music concerts, and I thought that coming to Amherst would be the end of that. But it turns out that I’m more inclined to go to these events because it’s conveniently located, friends who share similar interests want to go, and the tickets are easy to get!
Although there are things to do at every moment here in the Pioneer Valley, you don’t need to leave the Amherst campus to have something to do. We have seasonal festivals to welcome the changing seasons with cider donuts, hayrides, and bonfires, and it’s a good way to relax and hang out with friends. During the winter festival we had an ice sculpture competition, and even our president Biddy Martin went sledding with us. Besides our festivals, we have events spearheaded by organizations and clubs on campus, so when you’re walking inside Valentine Hall or Keefe Campus Center, you’re going to see advertisements on the walls or people in their booths convincing you to come out and see their show. And in the end, you’re not going to an a cappella show because you love a cappella groups or a theatre performance because you love that particular musical (although you might). You’re going there to support your floormates, roommate, friends, classmates, and overall community that we have here at Amherst.
When it comes to this school, Amherst is as large or as small as you’d like it to be. It’s all up to you.
P.S. The (unfortunate) photos above are from a concert that my friends Kiko, Vera, Tyler, and I went to. We went to see Ra Ra Riots! with my handy dandy Urban Outfitters disposable camera.
liberal arts for the practical mind
Two years ago, I went through a program at Washington DC called Girls Nation through the American Legion Auxiliary, and for the past week, I was invited back as a counselor (above is a photo of me before I met Obama and almost cried after feeling his golden touch). After meeting legislators and debating resolutions, I was pretty convinced that I would be going to a college that specialized in political science or international relations. Although I am still passionate about constitutional law and social justice, I can’t imagine going to a college that concentrated in a field of study. I would feel too many limitations on myself as a student as well as an individual. That’s why the open curriculum is an aspect that I value here at Amherst College.
A typical college or university is going to force you to fulfill a distribution requirement. A distribution requirement or core curriculum is where a student must take a certain amount of courses within the natural sciences and humanities before pursuing his or her major. However, at Amherst you are the engineer to your education. You make the active choice of which classes that you’re going to take, and you only need to do three things to graduate Amherst College.
- Complete a major (which isn’t asking for too much)
- Take 32 courses (4 classes for 8 semesters)
- Take a first-year seminar
This means that you can do some personal soul-searching since you most likely will have over 16 classes to spend however you’d like. You can take calculated risks when it comes to what you’re taking, and there’s an extensive advising program that comes with this. So when I decided what classes I wanted to take, I chose classes that I would be excited to take. My interests in feminist theory, existential literature, and Buddhism translated into classes in the Women’s and Gender Studies, English, and Religion department. The way that it affects you is that you’re in a learning environment where everyone is engaged. You’re already going to be in a classroom where there are roughly 16 students in a roundtable discussion, but in addition to that, you will never be with a student who is not engaged in the course material. Everyone made the choice to be in the class and has something salient to add to the conversation.
I think that this is a good place to emphasize the practicality of a liberal arts education. I don’t think that I’m at a disadvantage for not being in a pre-professional or vocational program. If anything I think that it’s to my advantage. I know that regardless of what I study here at Amherst, I will gain the critical thinking, communication, and writing skills that I’ll need regardless of where I go in life. You can teach someone the rhetoric of a vocation, but you can’t teach someone how to think which is what Amherst does. And alongside the education that’s given, there are internship, research, and job opportunities for those who want it to gain work experience.
I’m still on the pre-law track, but I’m simultaneously finding myself in a larger context of the world. I can take the Women’s and Gender Studies or Buddhist ethics class that I would’ve never thought of taking because of the open curriculum. My interests become possible passions and analyze it from a context that I otherwise wouldn’t have imagined.
memorial hill and farmer's markets
For eighteen years, I lived in Las Vegas, Nevada. That means eighteen years of dry heat, 115 degree summers and 70 degree winters, and the occasional heatstroke at school. Coming to Amherst and its humidity took a bit of adjusting, but all was forgiven when I passed by Memorial Hill.The memorial took my breath away. Cliché, yes, especially if you're a student at Amherst, but there's still a reason for the general consensus.
The war memorial is for Amherst alumni who fought in the past World Wars, and it is a site that you should see when you come to Amherst regardless of the time of year. In the fall the view is a perfect place to see the leaves change, during the winter the hill is perfect for sledding (the hill tends to become a graveyard of Valentine Hall trays), and in the spring it's perfect for soaking up some sun or perhaps reading if you're willing to let your eyes burn a little.
Also during the spring and fall, the hill is great for having picnics! A few of my friends would go to the Amherst Farmer's Market that is available every Saturday in front of the Lord Jeff Inn (it's about three minutes away from the Freshman Quad), and we would bring treats back to eat on the hill. It would be a way for us to catch each other up on our lives if we ever got too busy, and even in our silence, we could enjoy the scenic view.
There are few things in life that are as satisfying as being in good company and eating great local food in a scenic place, all of which give me great vibes on any day! It's definitely a sight for sore eyes, and the perfect place to have lunch, do reading before class. Someday I plan on flying a kite there, but until then, I'll settle for some coffee and baked goods.
A couple minutes beyond the baseball fields is our bird sanctuary, agricultural farm (it has chickens that are surrounded by an electric fence so beware!), and a ten mile bike path that goes to Northampton! My friends have always told me that I should check it out, but I always hesitated since I was "too busy". If you know me well enough, I am entirely against the term since it typically means that you aren't making the time for whatever the activity may be. So one day, I decided to make time. It wasn't as scenic since it was at 2 a.m. on the last day/night/morning that my friends were here during finals week. It was dark and incredibly scary but a fun adventure nonetheless! Although my friend Celine has a high threshold for fear when it comes to movies (we watch movies together; however, it's taking a while to transition to thrillers like Hitchcock because I get scared easily), it's a little lower when it comes to the dark wilderness where people could not hear bloodcurdling screams. Above is a photo of her dancing towards our Keefe Campus Center. It was closed (of course), but we tried going in anyway since it's sometimes open to play billiards late at night.
More adventures to come. More buildings to climb. More places to see.
Until then, I leave you with a song that my friend Thomas showed me and a photo of us during that late night at the bird sanctuary. Easy listening to greet the early morning with. It's a song by Kimbie called "Home Recording," which is off their album called Cold Spring Fault Less Youth. Their entire album is fantastic. Thomas and I have a fun rivalry when it comes to music, but I give him credit where credit is due. This entire album is great. Check it out ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbIt7zoq0BE)!
My first year at Amherst College can be described in one word:
It's a generally accepted fact that college will be full of surprises, but some of my experiences came unexpectedly like my leg that's currently asleep (so. much. pain.) While I was applying for colleges, I thought that a small school would be reminiscent of high school and there wouldn't be much to do...I was completely wrong. There are over 30,000 students in the Pioneer Valley, and everyone isn't sitting around waiting for college and events to come to them.
From my past and future (stay tuned!) experiences, I'll give you a student perspective of life here in the valley. I'm open to suggestions as long as they're not putting me in danger, which I think is reasonable. For now, here are some escapades from my first year at Amherst!
FOOT (first-year outdoor orientation trip) was a trip that I took during my first week at Amherst. We canoed on the Connecticut River for three days and camped for three days!
If you've ever been to Amherst, one of the places that you probably saw was Memorial Hill. On a foggy day where there's 97% humidity (yes, it happens more frequently than you can imagine), you can't see beyond your hand. This is me stepping off into the abyss.
Montague Bookmill is a place I'll visit again during the summer. It's a great bookstore that has multiple floors ranging from philosophy all the way to children's books. Around the bookmill, they have a restaurant, art gallery, and music/video store that you should check out!
Weather is a very sensitive topic for me. When it gets too cold, I get sad, and when it gets too hot, I become easily irritable. Amherst gets hot during the summer even for a person who lived in the dry desert heat all her life, but it's nothing that you can't get used to. More importantly, I couldn't handle the winter's in California before I came to Amherst, so I was terrified of the Northeastern weather. Although there were days where I felt as though the wind would pierce through my heart and into my soul, it was never an issue. I was hesitant to believe this before, but they have clothes for cold weather, and the weather eases you into the changing seasons. It won't go from shorts to jacket weather, and it really IS easy to get acclimated-- I promise.
These are my two friends on campus, Cristian Navarro and Daniel Law, and they both happen to be international students. Cristian's from Costa Rica, and Dan is from Britain.
After visiting Montague, we headed on over to Cooke Farm, which is a dairy farm nearby Amherst. They have such fantastic ice cream, and the local area has many choices to choose from. The maple flavor is a must if you're in western Massachusetts, but regardless, you can never go wrong! Also, you can touch the cows, but be warned
After a long recovery, he's okay.
(Not so) fun facts:
- Ever since I've watched Amelie, I've made more of an effort to enjoy small pleasures. Ex: touching warm clothes right after they come out of the dryer, smelling recently ground coffee beans and various soaps, listening to silence
- If my life could be turned into one video, it would be Girls' "Lust for Life" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SuoTjYYqe4c)
- I enjoy climbing trees, buildings, and anything else that'll get me to a higher elevation. I think that it puts things in perspective, and adventures are always fun. Safety first, of course.
- I've watched 500 Days of Summer over thirty times (it's a guilty pleasure), and sometimes I listen to it instead of music while I do work.
- I'll be working at Admissions throughout the entire summer! That means that if you're visiting the campus, make sure that you drop by and say hi!