Our summer interns talk about their experiences at Amherst. They discuss making Amherst a second home, orientation activities, first-year seminar & open curriculum, student support resources, and affinity groups and clubs.
Hi, everyone. Thank you so much for joining. We are all tour guides that have been giving tours this summer, and we're going to be talking about our favorite parts about Amherst. So a little bit about myself. My name is Lucheyla and I'm a rising sophomore class of 2023. I'm from Lynn, Massachusetts, and I am a prospective Spanish and anthropology major.
Hi everyone. Welcome. My name is Diego. I'm a rising junior at Amherst originally from Boston, Massachusetts. I'm a double major in history and computer science. I'm also a tour guide during the academic year, and I'm also on the men's club rugby team.
Hello, my name is Alexa and I'm also rising sophomore so I'm the class 2023. I don't know what I want to major in yet. Maybe biology, maybe psychology, maybe Asian civilizations. I'm not sure. But I am on the premed track and some stuff that I do outside of academics is I'm part of the equestrian club.
Hey everyone, I'm Blake, also 2023, rising sophomore. I'm a prospective Asian languages and civilizations major with a specialism in Japanese and an econ major as well. As you might be able to tell, I'm an international student and I'm coming at you live today from North Yorkshire in the UK.
Hello. Hey guys, I'm Fiona. I'm also a rising sophomore. I'm originally from Princeton, New Jersey and like Blake. I'm also a prospective econ and Asian language and civilization double major on campus and involved in our music programs, and like Diego, I'm also part of our student tour guides. So that's about all of us. I guess most of us are all rising sophomores. So we just made the transition to college life, except for Diego, sorry for leaving you out. And I was just wondering like how you guys made Amehrst your community and a second home,.I feel like everyone definitely had a very different experience, but at least for me, before the admitted students weekend, I didn't get to visit Amherst at all. And I didn't know where Amherst is exactly. And it was really scary cause I was just thinking imagining a small college in the middle of nowhere.
But during admitted students' weekend, I was finally able to visit the physical campus. And I was really happy to see that we have so many nice towns and malls around us. So we're not in the middle of nowhere and basically our college is in the middle of Amherst town, which is a really nice college town. And the benefit of living inside a college town is that you have so many different restaurants, stores, places to explore. And personally it was super reassuring for me to be able to find so many ethnic restaurants and Amherst, especially like Asian restaurants, just so I can get home dishes to prevent me from like homesick. And I'm originally from Princeton, New Jersey, which is also a pretty small college town and feels really similar to Amherst. So those all really made it feel a lot like home for me and made the transition a lot smoother.
I actually had the opposite sort of experience. So I'm from New York city and I was born in the city. I was raised in the city, I am pretty sure I'm going to stay in the city for the rest of my life. So I really wanted to go to college that was a little outside my comfort zone outside and get a different sort of environment. So I knew I didn't want to be really in the middle of nowhere where it was just a campus and nothing else was around. I am comforted that Amherst does have a nice, cool town where you can go out and eat, you can go out and get cool stuff, go to museums and movies. And so that made me feel good. And just to know that there's stuff outside of campus for students to do. And the other thing was that I was really impressed by how pretty the campus was and how involved in nature it was. There's a cool forest. There are lakes nearby, you know, fresh air and wide open spaces
isn't really a thing in New York city. So I was really happy about that, but even though it's a different sort of environment, it's a small town instead of a big city, it's really the people that made me feel really at home and made me feel welcome, especially because Amherst does so many activities when you first come in for orientation and for your first year to help build those relationships and build a foundation. So those first year experiences were really great for me. I know for my, one of my best first year experiences was the Leap trip. I went off campus and I know Diego also went off campus. How was your LEAP trip?
Yeah, so absolutely for me as well, I think being around other people at Amherst who were going through a sort of similar experience in this very new place altogether did help it feel a lot more like home very quickly. So my LEAP trip as you said was called Taking the Leap. So we went hiking on various hiking trails throughout like the Pioneer Valley region, which is the general geographic area around Amherst. And I was skeptical at first I'll admit, I thought it was going to be one of those things with like adults telling you, Oh, get off your device and get out into nature at the end of summer. So I was definitely skeptical at first. But it ended up being much more like, because we were all first years in an environment in Amherst that was very new to all of us
but also getting out into nature on these trails that were completely unfamiliar to any of us with like nature insights that would just blow your mind. Getting out of our comfort zones physically in that regard, helped us to get out of our comfort zones mentally and emotionally as well. And I think we were able to, because of that, we were able to develop much deeper bonds and relationships with other students. I think about probably 30 students in my LEAP trip that we all grew very, very close, very, very quickly, even in just the sort of three day span much more so because of this experience than we would have just from three days of hanging around campus. So yeah, absolutely the LEAP trip and the experiences
in that really made Amherst feel like a much more natural place for me to be.
I actually had the opposite experience. I actually stayed on campus for my LEAP trip and I think Fiona did as well. But I went to an arts leap trip and we did a couple of community building activities and like theater activities and stuff like that. And it was really nice. We would just go to the dance studio and do a couple of things together. We did a lot of reflective activities and at the end we had sort of an open mic night to perform poems and songs and people playing instruments. So I feel like even if you did stay on campus, there was still so much to offer where you can build community with the people around you, other than the people you had just spent so much time with in your orientation groups. The leap trip happens on the weekend right after that week. So you have another group of people that you can sort of get to meet and lean on before going into your first week of classes. So I think the leap trips are great regardless of on campus or not. It's a great time to just meet more people in your class.
Absolutely My LEAP trip was called green buildings and we basically looked at some green architecture around the pioneer valley. Really cool, and really got to know my classmates very well. I really enjoyed it. I think as well as part of the first year experience that many students have, I think we also have,what's called a freshmen seminar Amherst. So pretty much after you come back for a LEAP trip, you're straight into classes and the freshman seminar is essentially essentially a class with the people you took your LEAP trip with. So you still get to build up those relationships. So it's literally a writing class taught by the college. The college knows that everyone's coming in from different parts of the world, of schools, et cetera, and really wants to make sure that you're in a sort of immersed, I guess, is a good way to say in college writing styles and techniques, as soon as you get here, like they're treating you like legitimate academic, which I think is amazing. A little bit about mine in particular.
I really loved it taught by the amazing Professor Ringer. If you guys are all are interested in Middle Eastern history, I really would recommend taking a class with her, but it was the class itself was called Progress. And we essentially looked at different authors and sort of contextualized different views and attitudes towards progress. Like a Marxist perspective, like a Native American one, like I guess, traditional Western liberal one. And it was a really interesting way to sort of start engaging at Amherst and look at things through a multidimensional liberal arts lens. I guess it sort of feeds in my love of academics at Amhearst. The open curriculum is amazing. You don't have any requirements apart from your freshman seminar that the only class you have to take. So you're never going to be stuck in like meeting a requirement that you hate.
I decided to take up Japanese. Obviously now you know that I'm an Asian languages and civilizations major. So probably wouldn't have been in fact, I wouldn't have been without the curriculum. So I guess that's a really good example of what you can do with it. But just because of the flexibility you're given the choice and ability to explore and develop interests, like you can literally start from the bottom. So I [inaudible] with no prior experience of Japanese. I sort of, I've worked my way through like the intro very basic intro class. Because we are such well resourced schools like we have a lot of office hours. Professors at Amherst for you guys, not familiar with the terminology, have to put, they're required to [inaudible] so many hours for students, but like every professor has more hours open to students.
And like office hours available than, you know, more than they're required to by contract. And you can really get a very personalized education here. Like the classes are small and the professors have always got time for you. I love Japanese department. They're amazing if you're at least interested in it a little bit, like the intro classes is there everyone to take and I really would recommend it. But I know in academics, I'm interested to hear what you guys, what experiences you've had, because I know that we're just so broad, I think it's hard to know about them all and experience them all. We literally that widely funded.
Yeah. I would definitely echo what Blake said about the open curriculum since we really have no required core classes. So you can really focus on what you're interested in. It was, you still have a lot of space to explore new things. So for me, I am also a double major like Blake, but I'm still able to take classes that are completely irrelevant to my majors that is just of my interests. So for me, I played flute in high school, but I stopped junior year since I was busy with all the college applications and everything. And when you stop playing an instrument, you just no longer can play the instrument anymore. But during my first semester here at Amherst one of my upperclassmen friends who was really involved in the music department told me that you can take private one-on-one lessons here with a scholarship.
So basically if you're on any sort of financial aid from the Amherst College, you can apply for a music scholarship that will cover the cost of private one-on-one lesson for all four years. And the only requirements they have, I guess, are you have to take it for credit. So all these lessons are half credit and you have to take one music course your freshman year. So it really doesn't take that much. And I really appreciate opportunities like this, to be able to learn a new thing from scratch, like what Blake said about Japanese and the private lessons really allow me to pick up my flute again and gain access to performances opportunities. And it also really connected me with other musicians here on campus who are now some of my best friends. And I definitely encourage everyone to take advantage of the open curriculum here to really explore new things, things that you don't get to really explore outside of college.
Yeah. I would echo that as well. I think part of what makes taking full advantage of the open curriculum so accessible and so doable is how supportive the professors at Amherst are. Like math has really never been my thing, but I've taken a math course almost every semester that I've been at Amherst because the faculty members are just like absolutely incredible and take so much time out of their own schedules to help me whenever I am having trouble to just check in on me and see how I'm doing both in the class and also just like as a human being. And so I think taking advantage of like the office hours that Blake was talking about that every professor has several times a week is really just invaluable in terms of the relationships that you develop, because we're such a small school, you can get very close to your professors and you'll get so much more out of the class by having that sort of rapport
but, but also you can start to develop professional connections cause they know people in their industries that they can give you, they can put you in touch with for internships and even like full time jobs after college. You can develop opportunities even, even for during the academic year, during your summers, like research on campus, which I know is a really popular thing for students to do throughout the four years. In all academic departments, not just like the hard sciences. And that was actually something that I've been able to take advantage of because of these relationships with faculty members. One of my professors for a course I took over the interterm between the fall and spring semesters, put me in touch with an economics professor who was looking for someone with skill in a particular piece of software that I had experience with just because me and the professor who put us in touch had this relationship and he was able to connect me with that.
And so in summary, because of this, I was able to become a history and computer science major working for an economics professor, studying meteorology, which are all completely distinct topics. But because I think also it's a credit to the liberal arts, which makes you a much more dynamic thinker that you can apply lessons learned from history, computer science classes, to economics and to meteorology. So I think the professors at Amherst really contribute far more than their frankly paid to do. And really the Amherst campus wouldn't be the same without them.
Yeah, definitely. Aside from professors just being great advisors and really helping you out, there's also really good opportunity for help and resources in the Loeb Center. So for career advising in particular. So like I said, I'm on the premed track. And one of the first things that students who are interested in the pre med track do is have a group introductory meeting just with other premed students and at the Loeb Center. And we just talk, we get to know each other and they give us a general overview about what's required for the premed track and why we're interested in the track as a whole. And we have a one-on-one meeting with Dean Aronson, which is the health professions advisor at the Loeb center. And so I was a little nervous. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was really surprised because it wasn't something that made me feel uncomfortable or uncertain
if this track was really for me. He just sat down with me, asked me questions about myself, just to get to know me, but then also made it clear that the track, especially at Amherst, isn't meant to be something that's limiting. Isn't meant to be something that you are permanently in forever. And so it's really there if you're interested in it. And then you have all the freedom you can, especially with the open curriculum to major in something that's non STEM. Take whatever courses you want, do study abroad, which are all something that I'm interested in. So that was really nice. And the Loeb center as a whole is a great resource to have because they have advisors that can cater to specific needs, a specific industry. So there's the pre health advisor, there's law, there's entertainment, education, business, and finance. So the Loeb center is really a great place to go to for advising in careers where they can point you in the right directions for internships and for other job opportunities. There's also general advisors if you have no idea what you're interested in. I met with one just to see what it was like. And it was very, very nice and it gives you a sense of things to try out and to do if you don't really have a general direction just yet. So that was, that was a really nice opportunity for me. I know there's lots of resources also on campus that's not specifically, you know, between student and adult. And I know Lucheyla knows all about that. Take it away.
Yeah, sure. So I don't know if I mentioned it in the beginning, but I work at the queer resource center and that's part of the five resource centers that are available to students that have student employees in them. So in this building right here, the Keefe campus center. We have all of our resource centers, so we have the queer resource center for LGBTQ and trans folk. We have the women and gender center. We have the multicultural resource center. We have the center for international student engagement and we have the center for diversity and student leadership and that resource center specifically caters to first generation and low income students as well as undocumented and DACA students. So whenever I'm not working in the QRC I always head over to the center for diversity in student leadership because I feel like I can get a lot of advice.
I, myself, identify as first generation low income, and I just love being in the resource centers in general. These spaces provide, you know, safe spaces for people. You don't have to necessarily identify as queer to be in the queer resource center. It's open to everyone. There are always programs that are organized and also just open hours from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM for students to come in and do homework, hang out. There will usually be like music playing or like Netflix on the TV. There are couches to hang out, free snacks, free printing and free coffee, free tea and free like sexual health resources. So I think the resource centers are just a great space to hang out and, and find the things that you need. You don't necessarily have to feel embarrassed. There are always people coming into the resource centers to ask for help, especially because there are student employees there. It might feel a little bit more easy to talk to a student than an adult. So I definitely would recommend checking out the resource centers if you ever get a chance to come onto campus.
Yeah, absolutely. Like the resource centers are a really amazing space that Amherst has. Like they're fairly recent, but I think they've really been embraced by students. Students love them. If you guys ever in Keefe, ever on campus, you got to go see the [inudible] and the QRC. I think that's an obligation now. Like they'll always have [inaudible] people. I guess my biggest experience has been with CISE thought I am pretty active in the sphere of the CDSL as well. I'm a Micklejohn fellow, which is like a cool careers program run with the CDSL. You can find out more on the Amherst website. CISE, I guess, is really close to my heart as an international student. I guess many of you guys will have seen in the news, all the different things that are happening for international students. If things are developing really quickly, I think that CISE being that sort of help us advice us through how best to approach these things, what we need to do, has been like a godsend.
And it really important for us. The two directors of the center, Hannah and Gabe, are amazing people. Anyone who's sort of interested in issues pertaining to the international student experience should definitely get in touch. And also, I think outside of the sort of professional legal side, they put on really cool events throughout the year for not just international students, but for all students. So we had a global kitchen in November, which was basically the students came and started cooking food from their cultures and countries, which was amazing. Like if you're a foodie, I really couldn't recommend anything better. For students over the holidays as well, it's kind of common that international students stay. So they put on dinners, community events, made it so students didn't really feel isolated being on campus by themselves. I know let's of students do end up staying. So CISE is there to support everyone on campus. They're really amazing.
Yeah. I definitely agree with what everyone else said. We have a lot of wonderful resources here on campus and some of them are run by the college, like the resource centers,
which Lucheyla passionately talked about. But there are also a lot of student organizations that support students. For example, I'm involved in ASA, which is the Asian Student Association. It's one of the affinity groups here on campus. So from my personal experience, I really value the Asian community here at Amherst. It's not like I need to be in the Asian community all the time, but it would be really awkward for me if there is not a space provided for me to interact with other Asian students like me from similar cultures. So I really appreciated that space and looking back on freshman year so many of my, really the best memories from Amherst come from these ASA events. So the social events like the parties or the weekly meetings really give me the chance to interact with people that I would not have interacted with otherwise who are now some of my best friends. And even though we're no longer on campus, we still have these online events that provide a space of support for Asian and Asian American community here at Amherst. And ASA is just one of the many wonderful groups and clubs here that support students and provide students with a sense of community here on campus. And I'm just curious to hear you guys, if you have any personal experience, was that I know Diego is in one of our clubs sports. So if you want to talk about your experience and take it away.
Yeah, so, so my probably biggest time commitment for extracurriculars at Amherst is being on the club rugby team which although on its face is very different from like the ASA and many other of these student, sort of student-run support organizations, rugby has still been an incredibly valuable experience for me in terms of supporting me academically and personally which you wouldn't really expect from a sport. And if you ask me, when I, the day I arrived on the Amherst campus, if I thought I would be speaking this highly of rugby two years later, I would've told you, you were out of your mind. But basically there was a, there was a club fair at the beginning of my first semester where all the student organizations lined up and were trying to talk to the new students and a couple of guys on the rugby teams, basically just like yelled and hollered and waved at me until I went over and decided to talk to them a little bit.
And after that, basically they started emailing me every day until I relented and showed up to one practice. But at that practice, despite having no clue what I was doing, I had so much fun, but I decided to on a whim pretty much join rugby at Amherst. And in the two years since then, I have been winded after big hits, I've been cold, muddy, bloody, bruised, sore but I've not once regretted that decision, even though it was made in pretty much a split second. Rugby has been incredibly valuable as an experience in terms of me being physically active. We are good enough that we smoked our rival school Williams 24, nothing last spring, which I have to mention for the rivalry. We came second in our championship last fall, but it's helped me socially as well.
It's just an incredible, wonderful bunch of guys on the team who welcomed me really with open arms, despite as I said, I had no experience with rugby before. And I didn't know anyone because I was new at Amherst when I joined. It's even helped me academically and professionally as well because of developing these relationships with upperclassmen through extracurriculars gives you so much more insight into how Amherst works an an institution, tips and tricks to start to build your resume, what classes you should and shouldn't take for what you're interested in and how to get internships and opportunities like that. So yeah, even though you wouldn't expect, you know, club sport on its face to be something that has helped me through every aspect of my Amherst experience, rugby absolutely has.
So unfortunately, I'm looking at the time. I think this is all we've got time for. I hope this gives you guys a well rounded view of Amherst, some of our experiences. If you're interested in hearing more we're going to be in the office all summer. So please get in touch. Likewise, admissions are always happy to hear from you guys. And yeah. Thanks for tuning in. And hopefully we'll see some of you guys, if not this fall, then maybe the next, so take care.
In addition to the virtual information sessions, we encourage you to explore Amherst through the College website. You can also learn more about student life at Amherst by reading our student blogs and the profiles of our tour guides and diversity outreach interns. You might find someone from your home state, or from the other side of the world. Your interests might be similar, or very different. Amherst students inhabit many worlds -- academic, artistic, athletic, political, social and much, much more. Many of their interest overlap and intersect. It's typical at Amherst to meet an English major who’s fascinated by physics. Or a basketball player who loves philosophy. Or a computer whiz who plays saxophone and flute and has decided to try piano. Amherst students come in lots of varieties!
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