Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Cappella Season

For most college students, the last week of classes for the semester is a time of stress, exhaustion, and anticipation to go home - my congrats if only the last of those three applies to you. But at SMC, approximately Thursday of that week through Sunday of finals week is also home to a wonderful part of campus... a cappella concerts! We have four lovely groups that call Saint Mike's home - each of them with their own style and their own concert. I thought I would give you a rundown of who's who in the SMC a cappella world. 

McCarthy Recital Hall - where all the magic happens
In order of their concerts...

Sleepless Knights (@thesleeplessknights)
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend this concert - I was actually at a food/movie night with one of my classes! But I did make one Sleepless Knights performance this semester; they did a collaborative concert with UConn's a cappella group Extreme Measures. That was a dynamic experience. 

Sleepless Knights is one of our two mixed a cappella groups on campus. Some things you can always count on: their duets will always be perfectly in sync, and their harmonies will never miss a beat. 

Mike Check (@mikechecksmc)
You know a Mike Check concert is coming when they start singing everywhere. What better self- advertising is there than singing your way around campus? From an SMC dorm life perspective, few things are as cool as being able to push up your window and hear live music from the quad below. 

Our all-men a cappella group, Mike Check is always unpredictable, always entertaining, and always a good show. Case in point: among the features of their concert this year were a poetry slam, a Christmas medley, and some very unique dance moves. 

My two favorite songs from their concert: "Oh Shenandoah," because the harmonies are beautiful, and "God Only Knows," because I'm a Beach Boys person (and the harmonies are wonderful). 

Of course, I do have to give a shout-out to my fellow POW alum, Owen Freeman. Awesome job with "Wagon Wheel!"

Acabellas (@acabellas_smc)
The Acabellas are our beautiful ladies' acapella group! They do an awesome job at showcasing everyone's voices by having an eclectic variety of songs, from Sia's "Chandelier" to Ed Sheeran's "I See Fire" (from the 2013 Hobbit movie). My favorite song from this semester's concert? "Telescope," by Hayden Panettiere. To add another genre, a classic Acabellas song is Ingrid Michaelson's "The Chain." The Acabellas cover a lot of musical styles, and they cover them all well.

I must confess that I pay a little more attention to the Acabellas, because my wonderful friend and floormate Meghan is a proud member. For that reason, I can say that although the Acabellas do not have a beatboxer like the previous two groups, you would never notice - they are always in time and their singing is purely enchanting.

Soulful Harmony
Soulful Harmony is the other mixed a cappella group at Saint Mike's. For some reason, McCarthy was not as packed for Soulful Harmony - I have absolutely no idea why. With a smooth 50s-60s vibe, that 2pm concert the Sunday of finals week was a moment of calm before the week became chaotic. 

As the name might suggest, the group's best feature is their pitch perfect (see what I did there?) harmonies that stayed perfectly in tune the entire concert through a number of chord progressions. My favorite song of theirs, for that and other reasons, was James Taylor's "That Lonesome Road." 

Soulful Harmony had a slightly shorter concert than the other three groups - but considering their performance time slot was during finals week and not before, that's not exactly a bad thing. Especially if you consider quality over quantity.

Snowy campus pictures make good section breaks.
As you could tell, I give rather high reviews. I love a cappella music, and as someone who has sung in groups and played instruments, I have a lot of respect for what these singers do. They work extremely hard, and it shows; the least I can do is watch them perform and rave about them afterwards. 

This will most likely be my last post until classes resume in January - tragic, I know. I may post about break, I may not; we'll see. But regardless, enjoy the holidays, however you choose to spend them, and may your year end on a high note.*


*Couldn't help one last music reference!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Why a Double Major is Worth It

At any Saint Mike's admissions event, they will tell you that a double major is entirely doable - and it is! You may want to think twice (or even three times) about some combinations, but I definitely recommend considering it as the College's academic requirementst really make it an option. The planning is the most complicated part, and there's plenty of people who can help with that. At least in my experience, my two majors complement each other very well, and I feel like I learn more in each discipline because of what I have learned in the other.

I declared an Economics minor last semester; I officially became an International Relations and Economics double major in September. When I started at Saint Mike's, I knew what type of classes I wanted to take but had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do afterwards. I'm still not entirely sure, but supplementing International Relations with Economics (and vice versa) is getting me closer, even if only because I periodically learn what I do not want to spend my life doing.

Being a double major will mean that your class schedule is more defined, as the number of required courses goes up. But course requirements can overlap, especially in my case as International Relations includes several departments outside political science. Topics will be repeated, but from different perspectives, which really helps define your interests. This intersection also means concepts are covered more in depth, which has made me much more interested in the material. That really enriches the learning experience - if you like that sort of thing, and I do!

Really, the benefits of being a double major come down to the classes you take, and the professors. The two disciplines can stay as separate or as interconnected as you want; likewise, what you discuss with professors can be strictly class-based or can pull in what you've learned from other subjects. Personally, I feel like I have made much better connections with my professors this semester - that may be a natural consequence of having spent more time on campus, but at least part of it is because I am more informed about what I'm studying, and have more specific interests this time around.

If you are willing to push yourself for that extra experience, and there is another subject calling to you, maybe it's time to have a conversation with a professor or two.

Good luck with exams; December break is almost here!


Picture credit:

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

How, Exactly, Does One Network?

This past Friday I had the amazing experience of going to the College's Career Symposium. Although we host one every year, this was the first time I attended. Read on to learn what the Symposium is, what I got out of it, and why you should go next time!

Upon arriving at the keynote address, everyone receives a program with panel descriptions and alumni bios.

What is it?
The Career Symposium is an amazing event that essentially brings our alumni network together with current students in order to educate them on directions a major can take them, what a particular career entails, and learn how to network with a wonderful group of people. 

How does it work?
Registration is in advance; dress is business attire. There is a keynote speaker - this year's, Chris Eldridge '12, spoke about his personal career path and the basics of networking a crowd. Following the keynote, there are a variety of panels hosted by alumni for two hours - each panel is an hour long, so I had the opportunity to attend two of them. After that, there is a networking reception, which places all the alumni and current students in attendance in the same room. For alumni, it looked like a spontaneous reunion; for current students, this is the opportunity to really talk to panelists you want to know more about after hearing them speak, or seek out others whose careers you're curious about. 

Do I have to be a senior business major?
Absolutely not! Although the majority of students seemed to be business majors, the panel variety makes the event welcoming to a wide spectrum of interests. Although this is a networking event, networking is not just limited to the job search. Internships, connections for future employment, career-specific advice - all of these apply to a Purple Knight at any point in his or her college career. As you can see from the panel selection, there is a wide range of choice. Also, a panel's title does not mean that every panelist has the correlating major. If you were wondering, I went to the Government and Business panels - and every Business panelist had a different major.

To be honest, when I walked into the keynote speech, I was extremely nervous. Speaking with new people is not my strong suit; neither is answering the loaded question of "What do you want to do?". But even if speaking with people made me nervous, the environment as a whole made me more comfortable to leave my comfort zone, so to speak. Regardless of a shared major or the lack thereof, every person was chosen for the symposium because of the many areas they could offer advice in; there was no "wrong" person to speak with. Everyone truly was there to help you; if they weren't, they would not have come to the symposium in the first place. 

What I Learned:
My biggest takeaway from this event? Your career path is a process, not a single destination. Staying in the same job your entire career can be perfect for some people, but if it's not, that does not mean you are a failure; you just haven't found the optimal combination of your interests yet. I also learned about networking, and about myself in general - the more people I spoke with, the more specific my list of key "about-me" points became.

Networking can be extremely daunting, but remember - conversation is easiest with people you have something in common with. Don't go for the biggest name if you are not at all interested in what he or she does; several "less important" (all connections are important, for what they have to offer and as people), but more genuine contacts will be much more interesting and beneficial.

In Sum:
I would wholeheartedly recommend every Saint Mike's student attend the Symposium. Even if there isn't a panel that is specifically your field of study, a panelist or two may be. Likewise, if you're not in the job market just yet, the experience itself can still be extremely rewarding. I walked out of the reception feeling better about myself, and more confident about what I have to offer. And that's what really matters, isn't it?


Questions about the panels I went to, people I spoke with, or any other part of the Symposium and the SMC life? Comment below, or shoot me an email!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Purple, Gold, and Green

As you know, Saint Mike's colors are purple and gold. But did you also know how green our campus is? I'm not just talking trees - and technically those are red and gold right now - but also in terms of energy consumption and environmental consciousness. 

A few things you might be interested to know about:

1. Geothermal Energy
As a Phonathon student caller, I mention this a lot when people ask what we're doing to stay up-to-date with energy consumption (which comes up more than you might think). Our two newest buildings on campus, the Dion Student Center and Residence Hall IV (still waiting on a name), both use geothermal energy, which is much more efficient in terms of our heating and cooling systems.

2. Waste Not, Want Not
Saint Mike's is very conscious of our consumption patterns. We have recycling bins in all the buildings, which is fairly standard, and we have composted in Alliot for quite awhile. But because of the new Vermont law, we can now be proud to say that all of our campus is composting! Additionally, 100% of our copy paper (don't forget SMC students have free printing!) comes from recycled paper.

3. No Bottled Water 
Thanks to a student-led campaign in 2012, our campus is bottled-water free - we do not sell it, and bottle-filling stations all over campus make carrying your own bottle (Nalgenes and Camelbaks are currently on trend) ridiculously simple.

Rather than a picture of a waterbottle, this is my favorite tree on campus.
Founders Society may be a way for students to get involved with alumni and prospective students, but the meetings also go a long way in educating us about various parts of campus, from the Career Symposium to Athletics, to our Permaculture Farm - which I visited for the first time last week.

Before last week, I knew of the permaculture site but had never been there; I didn't even know where exactly it was on campus. I was very surprised to learn we have a fully functioning small farm on campus, complete with a young orchard. Although there is a program coordinator for the farm (who spoke with us at our meeting), the majority of the work put into our gardening - we also have an organic garden - comes from students. These are usually volunteers, but a good amount of hours are also put in by different classes and groups as well. 

As someone not involved in the farm, my favorite perk is our farmstand, held weekly outside Alliot. Although it just ended for the season, during the growing season expect to see a wide variety of flowers, tomatoes, leafy greens, and other produce that are much fresher than in a grocery store. If you're interested in learning more about the permaculture site, contact Kristyn Achilich, the program coordinator. 

There's nothing there right now - but this is where the farmstand is when it's open!
There are many more aspects of campus that promote sustainability and student involvement in the environment - these are just a few. Ask around, and I'm sure anyone could easily give you a few more ideas!

This isn't SMC - but a plane window view of Vermont is always worth sharing.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

It's Apple Season!

Ignoring the fact that it snowed briefly today, we are in the "official" apple-picking season! Obviously, now that the snow is starting, things are winding down, but there is still time to grab a bag and a cider donut. For next year, the best times to go are early September to late October. 

Shelburne Orchards
The two orchards I'll be talking about require access to a car to reach them, but apple-picking is a common club-bonding activity, so you'll probably go at least once, even if you don't have a car on campus. If you can't get to an orchard yourself, plenty of orchards (and cider mills!) have stands at the Burlington Farmers' Market, although this weekend is the last outdoor "summer" market. The winter market will start up again on November 12 at the Davis Center at UVM (590 Main Street, Burlington).

Without further ado...

1. Chapin Orchard 
If this name sounds familiar, it probably is! First-Year Apple-Picking, one of MOVE's earliest service events, goes to Chapin Orchard. All of the apples from First-Year Apple-Picking (and there are a lot) are donated to a local food bank. MOVE stands for Mobilization of Volunteer Efforts, and is Saint Mike's community service group on campus. The bulletin board outside the MOVE office in Alliot is always filled with a variety of service activities for students. 

In addition to apples, Chapin's barn contains a wealth of other delicious fall foods, and even has nice dorm-friendly small (not pictured below) jugs of delicious cider. If you did not go to First-Year Apple-Picking, definitely check Chapin out!

2. Shelburne Orchards 

I went to Shelburne Orchards with the Saint Mike's chapter of Love Your Melon, for a team-bonding activity. Shelburne was very suited to that, as they have different sized apple bags, so you don't get stuck with twenty apples for yourself. They have a wide variety of apples with different ripening times, so there is always something for everyone - call if there is a specific type you're hoping for. 

As might be expected, Shelburne Orchards has the standard cider and donuts, but we also saw signs for pick-your-own grapes, which isn't something I've ever seen before. Since we were also there during pumpkin season, there were plenty of pumpkins and unusually-colored gourds to choose from. Although we were there too late for this, they also sell fresh-baked pies that I am extremely tempted to go back for. 

I stood on a pile of grass to get this photo, but here's the view from the orchard!
Even if apples aren't necessarily your favorite fruit, there's always (always) donuts! Apple-picking is a good social activity, and it doesn't cost very much at all. Both of these orchards are between 20-30 minutes away, which is fairly close by Vermont standards. Plus, if you stay out late enough, you might get a crazy sunset-mountain view like this:

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Note: All of the pictures from Shelburne Orchards are my own; the two pictures for Chapin Orchard can be found at:

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Five Instagrams a Purple Knight Should Follow

Is your Instagram feed lacking in pictures of Saint Mike's foliage? Do you want photo evidence of what's going on on campus? If you're not a Facebook person (or if you are but also love Instagram), Instagram is a great way to know what our Purple Knights are up to and get some ideas of things to do for yourself. 

If you're a current Purple Knight, Saint Mike's alum(na), or debating joining our family (which you totally should - we're awesome), these are the Instagram accounts you should definitely look up.

1. Saint Michael's College - @saintmichaelscollege 

A photo posted by Saint Michael's College (@saintmichaelscollege) on

The official Saint Mike's account, this is your go-to account if you want gorgeous pictures of our wonderful campus. During our peak foliage season, this is a must. And if you use the #smcvt, your posts might make it on the account, like Jill's did!

2. SMC Adventure Sports Center - @smcadventure

If you're trying to become more outdoorsy, or just want to know more about the Adventure Sports Center (formerly the Wilderness Program), follow @smcadventure! There are photos from recent trips and excursions, as well as posts like this one, which gives a nice update about upcoming programs. Trying something new through the Adventure Sports Center is a must for a Purple Knight; see what interests you through Instagram, then visit them in Alumni Hall.

3. Knight Life - @knightlifevt 

Run by SMC students (which could be you), every week gives a different perspective on the Purple Knight life - see what I did there? This account is probably my favorite; not only does it give me ideas of what to do around campus and in Burlington, but Study Abroad students are also featured. This week, enjoy a trip to Switzerland in spirit with senior Jennifer Toner! 

4. Saint Mike's Her Campus - @hercampussmcvt 

A photo posted by Her Campus SMCVT (@hercampussmcvt) on

Just started last fall, Saint Mike's Her Campus chapter is a recent addition to the many groups on campus. An online magazine, check out Her Campus SMCVT for student interviews, articles about current events, and posts on college life in general. Their Instagram is will keep you updated on article publications and events they're hosting on campus, and is a great moodbooster if you need some positivity in your day. 

5. Saint Michael's Athletics - @smcpurpleknights

If you are not making it to as many SMC sports events as you'd like, this is a great account to follow. Besides posting featuring specific athletes, @smcpurpleknights also does an awesome job with videos, so you still catch that crucial goal in the latest soccer game even if you could not attend. This repost also features @hopehappensheresmcvt, which focuses on mental health advocacy for student-athletes. Also started last year, Hope Happens Here is already having a huge impact on campus. 

6, 7, 8...
Obviously, there are many more accounts on Instagram that are SMC-related. These are some of my personal favorites, but I left out a key source - your friends! On top of following the college itself and groups on campus, your friends and fellow students' accounts can provide the same things I have mentioned here, but on a more personal level. So do follow these accounts (if you want), but don't forget to find some personal accounts that speak to you!

As a small self-promo: you can follow my personal Instagram as well - @lauralinsanity.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Climbing Past my Fears

This past Sunday, I finally accomplished something I'd been trying to do since before freshman year: I went rock-climbing! As soon as I found out about the Wilderness Program (now the Adventure Sports Center in Alumni Hall), I decided that I wanted to try rock-climbing. New Jersey has plenty of good hiking spots, but to an unexperienced climber, nowhere to go to learn. Luckily for me, Vermont is very cliff-friendly. My plans did not work out last year, but this time around, I succeeded. By the end of the day, I was completely and utterly exhausted, but felt like my self-esteem had gone through that metaphorical roof.

The corner with the trees was my second climb route - just left of the edge of this picture was my first. 
My last climb - up a wet and mossy corner crack. Such an arm workout!
My last climb ended on a ledge; I then rappelled down 50 feet to the ground.
If you already are an outdoors person or want to be more of one, the Adventure Sports Center is the perfect place to do that. Plenty of day trips are offered throughout the seasons - rock-climb in the fall, then ice-climb in the winter - for everything from a beginner's hike to a kayaking trip on Lake Champlain. Trips are small; my rock-climbing trip only had six people, not counting the instructors, so don't worry about getting lost in a crowd. Any gear you don't already own is provided for free; most day trips cost $10-$15. Not bad for such an amazing experience!

When I saw the first two climbing routes our instructors (Trish, Lindsey, and Andrea - who also co-owns the Petra Cliffs climbing gym) set up, I had a minor, (hopefully) internal freakout. I knew we would be climbing on actual rocks - not those handily screwed-in, brightly colored "rocks" that I now know are called jugs - but subconsciously I think I was hoping for handholds to magically appear. Obviously, they didn't. Rocks don't do that. After putting off starting twice, I finally did it. I may not have gotten very high (cold rock = numb hands), but by my last climb, while I was far from an expert I was much more confident in what my body could really do. 

On my way up on my last climb - thanks for the picture, Andrea!
I am fine with the concept of heights and looking off high places, but the prospect of falling terrifies me. Not the best mindset for something where you are literally hanging on a cliff. But by my last climb, I was still scared to fall (even though I was roped in, so I couldn't, really), but was also able to more easily find handholds and trust my rope (and myself). I definitely owe that to my instructors. With the perfect balance of encouragement and the occasional boost with the rope, they helped me push my boundaries without making me feel like I was free-falling past them. I think that's a defining characteristic of our Adventure Sports instructors; I had the same experience on a snow hike last February. 

Rappelling off the ledge - behind that smile I was freaking out. Thank you, Andrea for the peptalk and the picture!
The last climbing-related activity I did was rappelling. To be honest, I found that harder mentally than the climbing itself. When you rappel, you are belaying yourself - that means you control the amount of slack in the rope and therefore how fast you descend the rock. When I was climbing, someone else belayed me; for rappelling, although Andrea had a belay rope attached as a safety measure, I was in full control of what was happening. 

As I said, I hate the idea of falling, so convincing myself that walking backwards off a ledge while secured only by a rope and harness was a good idea was more than a bit of a struggle. But I did it, and in the process, I learned to trust myself. Sensing a theme here?

We hiked to the top of the cliff for lunch - what a view!
Although three days later my muscles are still making themselves known, I have no regrets about having tried something new. I don't know if I'll ever be a hardcore climber, but this trip taught me that something "scary" can still be fun, even if you've never done it before - I'll definitely be climbing again in the future. I really encourage you to try something that pushes you out of your comfort zone - the benefits of overcoming that small fear are totally worth it.


Friday, September 23, 2016

Beyond a Burlington Bus Ride

Hello, readers! After a long and busy summer (and spring), my blog is back up and running. I really enjoyed writing about what I did, but since it is a new school year, I'm going to change things up a little to keep it interesting. Two of the changes you can (hopefully) look forward to:
  • Starting next week, I will be posting every other Wednesday. I may post on other days (like today), but unless I really feel like things aren't working, there will always be alternating Wednesday posts. 
  • I'm currently playing around with some new ideas for my material. I'm still going to focus on things to do on campus and in the surrounding area, but you might see some photo or SMC-oriented posts that are less centered on activities. Bear with me and we'll see how things go!
As many of you may know, last weekend was Family/Alumni Weekend. My family drove up all the way from New Jersey, wonderful people that they are, and we spent the weekend doing as many "Vermont" things as possible. Of course, I'm not a Vermonter, so I could be entirely wrong about that, but we still had fun.

Most of my posts focus on my on-campus adventures and Burlington outings, but this is going to be all about what you can do outside of Burlington - hence my somewhat creative title. So, when your parents come (or your aunt flies across the country) to visit you, here are a few ideas for a short road trip.

Shelburne Farms
Shelburne Farms was founded by Lila Vanderbilt Webb (yes, those Vanderbilts) and her husband as a farming estate - today it is a nonprofit run by their descendants. The farm is only a short drive from the Burlington-Colchester area and has a little something for everyone. With cows, cheese tastings, gorgeous views, and even a precocious chicken or two, what more could you ask for on a gorgeous fall day? (Nothing.)

By precocious chickens, I mean this one, who hung out under a table and watched me eat lunch. There is a food stand that sells awesome salads and hot sandwiches at the main barn - everything comes from the farm.
Brown Swiss cows are the source of Shelburne Farms' amazing cheese - try the smoked cheddar!
Shelburne Farms is certified humane - in addition to the legal requirements that they follow, their cows even come in for breaks in the air conditioning in the summer! A major part of the farm's efforts go to education about healthy living and the environment. They have camps in the summer, school programs throughout the year, and a host of other resources in what they call the Farm Barn - including a place to learn about cheesemaking and meet baby animals.
This cutie will grow up to join the milk herd eventually - but she's only a month old right now.
If you're wondering why I know all of this, Shelburne Farms offers wagon tours, which take you through most of the property. Tickets to the farm and tickets for tours are very inexpensive - $11 total for both. Definitely dress warmly - they gave us blankets in the wagon but the breeze was still a bit... brisk. The farm is open from about May to mid-October - October 16 this year, to be specific, so hurry on over and check things out! 

The tour takes visitors all the way up to the Inn at Shelburne Farms, which sits at the edge of Lake Champlain. Originally the family residence, as much as possible has been maintained in the original style. The view hasn't changed much, either.
Waterbury, VT
Just a half-hour away, there are plenty of good food opportunities in Waterbury. In addition to the main attraction - the Ben and Jerry's Factory - Green Mountain Coffee's headquarters is here, and there are also Cabot Cheese and Lake Champlain Chocolates outlets down the road. Lake Champlain Chocolates sells factory seconds (as well as everything else) there, and Cabot Cheese has samples of around twenty cheeses (that's a very rough estimate) to try. 

This is the original ice cream bus - no longer in service, it's a great picture spot.
Ben and Jerry's can take as much or as little time as you'd like. There is a factory tour - which includes samples - the old flavors graveyard, the souvenir shop, and of course, the scoop shop. There are also some truly interesting displays about the company and ice cream in general. I will caution and say that the wait for ice cream grows exponentially right after a tour lets out, but that's to be expected. I enjoyed visiting the factory at age five or six - that hasn't changed a bit, especially since there's now non-dairy ice cream for your lactose intolerant blogger!

There is obviously much more to do near Saint Mike's besides the few things I've mentioned here. But these are favorites of mine that will probably be repeated, and are proof that we've got way more than just ski mountains. Shelburne Farms may be closed during the winter, but there are other things in Shelburne and Waterbury is not a seasonal town. So when your non-skiing family makes the trek to visit you, fear not! They can't help but be entertained.

One last picture - Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains from the Inn
I already have my next post lined up - I'm just working some of the details out, so stay tuned! Did you like my pictures? Check out my Instagram under @lauralinsanity.

Until next time,

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Why I Love Being a Purple Knight

A year ago today, I committed to four years as a Purple Knight! I can't believe that this time last year, I was gearing up for AP tests and high school graduation - crazy. Regardless of the chaos and stress I was dealing with then, I am very glad I made the decision I did. That being said, I decided to break form this week and do a list post of some of my favorite parts of Saint Mike's. 

  • No-pressure community - First, for any parents reading this, I would like to emphasize that this does not mean that the classes are a breeze! Rather, I love that there isn't a Saint Mike's "type." Even though we're a little prone to wearing flannel, there isn't a mold you have to fit or a specific way you have to dress to be a part of the SMC community. I was a little skeptical when students would bring this up during tours and student panels (thank you, Founders Society!), but it's true. As a non-skiing first-year who isn't a huge partier, I can attest to that. So for all my fellow tea-loving homebodies out there, we have room for you!
  • Small classes - We may have some classes in a lecture hall, but I have never felt like I was just a number in a seat. This blends into my next point, but all of my professors knew my name within a few weeks, if not earlier. Some even had us do fact sheets so they could get to know us better! The class atmosphere is always whatever you make of it, but I like discussion-heavy classes, so it's perfect for me.
  • Awesome professors - Maybe this is part of the small school vibe, but I love my professors! I genuinely feel like they value me as a person rather than just a student in their classes. Office hours may start as assignment help but half the time turns into a discussion about something else - at least for me they do. Clearly, teaching is more than a job for them, and I definitely appreciate that.
  • Location - In case you haven't noticed from my other posts, there's a lot to do around here, on campus and off. Even though there are some weeks I love not having to leave the Saint Mike's world, I also like that I can go to Burlington any day and find something to do, be it dinner, a show, or just Ben and Jerry's. That's even leaving out all the outdoorsy opportunities we have; the potential is endless.
  • Friends - I've only been here about seven months, but I have connected with an amazing group of people that I'm glad I met so quickly. The majority of them are fellow first-years, but (going back to the no-pressure benefits) I know people in other grades through clubs and never feel talked down to. I may live in a single, but I'm certainly not by myself!

At some point, I'm going to have to spend some serious time contemplating why I hate finishing things on odd numbers but ending on five is perfectly acceptable. But for now, it's a convenient ending point, because although there are many other things I love about my school, those are definitely the highlights. At the risk of sounding cheesy, I'm extremely grateful for everything I've done so far and looking forward to everything I'm going to do. See you next week!


Monday, March 14, 2016

Dance the Night Away

Hello! Life is busy-busy as usual, hence my very delayed post. We're slowly getting ready for next year here on campus; housing selection has started (which is exactly as you would expect it to be), and we hosted prospective students the first weekend of March! Hopefully we'll be seeing them in the fall. The overnight host program is done through Founders Society; not only do the students get an awesome sleepover (plus ice cream!) with current students like me, but they also get to spend that Sunday afternoon in Burlington, so that they can experience Church Street. I was informed by my guest that they went bowling and had dinner at New Moon, with live music that was definitely appreciated. 

That weekend I also discovered the wonder that is a mac and cheese bar, courtesy of Residence Life!. I only have a picture of the mac and cheese table, but there was also another (much messier) table with at least four different kinds of toppings. Rest assured that this was not your Kraft mac and cheese from a box; it was the real deal, and I want more now that I'm writing about it. 

Last Friday night was the Dance Team's spring show, and man was I impressed! I wasn't really sure what to expect, but their performances surpassed all of my expectations. Everything is student-choreographed - not that I could tell - and they do a great job mixing new dancers with those girls who've been dancing since age two. You know the type. Although there were more serious contemporary dances, the team still clearly had fun, especially with their ending number: Sorry, by Justin Bieber! Overall, a great time and definitely something I look forward to going to again next year!

To close out my post, enjoy this picture of Friday's sunset, complete with a pink cloud:

Enjoy your week!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Melons, Mountains, and Music

I honestly make an effort to not do the cheesy titles too often, but sometimes you just need a little alliteration in your life! Besides, everything in that title is relevant.

Saturday I had the opportunity (with a few other people of course) to table for Love Your Melon at Jay Peak, a ski resort with an indoor water park. As I'm not a skier, this was my first time to a "mountain," so to speak, and I was very impressed. I also had not realized how close Jay Peak is - only an hour and a half away. Smuggler's Notch (or "Smugg's," to all you snowlovers) is even closer than that, and I'm sure there are other ski mountains around that I just haven't heard of yet. We are certainly not lacking in mountains up here!

Anyway, I think we had a very successful tabling session. We raised some money, talked with some really cool people, and spent a lot of time watching all of the cute ski-children so wrapped up you could only see their eyes. We also may or may not have consumed a number of lollipops that we'd brought for our table, but I'm pleading the fifth on that one.

That covers mountains and melons, leaving... music! Professors can sometimes get tickets to the Flynn (in a process unknown to me) and take their students to see productions, free of charge for the professor and the students. Wicked awesome! My philosophy professor got us tickets to hear the Ying Quartet, a string quartet, play Beethoven's Opus 131. We have been studying what truly makes up truth and beauty, so this was our firsthand experience of "the beautiful." Preceding the performance, Soovin Kim, a violinist who also founded the Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival, walked us (the audience) through the piece with the help of the Quartet. As a musician (fun fact: I play both the piano and the flute!), I found that really interesting. I don't know a lot about strings, so to have a string player explain certain aspects of the sound and dynamics of the piece, as well as other features, really helped me appreciate the piece more. Yet another amazing Burlington afternoon, this time courtesy of a professor.

I know this is a tad brief, but unfortunately I have a midterm tomorrow (no, they do not magically disappear in college), so I should probably concentrate on that. Next post: A Midsummer's Night Dream, courtesy of Saint Mike's theater program!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Food, Glorious Food

If anyone got that Oliver! reference, you are now my favorite reader. Not that I know who you are.

As you might have guessed from the title, most of this post will be about food, starting with last Wednesday. Saint Mike's hosted the first local food competition between eight colleges' chefs from Sodexo. Each chef (or team of them) had to make a dish from entirely locally-sourced ingredients. The event was meant to emphasize Sodexo's commitment (in Vermont) to buy Vermont ingredients before imported one, in keeping with Vermont First's Initiative. I (mistakenly) ate lunch first, so I was not able to try everything, but what I did eat was amazing. Fingers crossed some of it appears in Alliot on a regular basis! Saint Mike's won with maple bourbon ice cream... so good. I was impressed that Johnston State College had a vegan chef; I did not eat what she made, but my friend did and she said it was also really good. What I did try was amazing; even the elk sausage (courtesy of UVM), which I had never had before, and carrot cake (Norwich University), which I usually do not like.

My non-food related event was Thursday - Love Your Melon tabled at the Burlington Paint and Sip, where you can pay to get walked through creating a painting and imbibe various beverages (which may or may not be alcoholic, depending on your age). The overall vibe of the place was really cool. I definitely want to sign up for a painting session when I get a chance. We were able to get the word out about Love Your Melon, and did get some donations - I do not know the exact amount. I am very glad I went.
Our display at Paint and Sip
We did not have class Monday, which was also (conveniently) my birthday, so my parents came up with our dogs! I may have been slightly more excited to see the furry members of my family, and the non-furry members may or may not have noticed... but oh well. 

Friday night I had dinner at the always-wonderful Vermont Tap House, and got to sit near the wood-fires they bake the pizzas in, which was pretty cool. I like going there because the food is awesome, the prices are reasonable, the atmosphere is always friendly, and as far as I know, all of the pizza ingredients are local.
One of the two wood-fires they keep going at the Tap House
Saturday was shopping day! If you have not yet explored the paradise that is the Gardeners Supply Company store in Williston, you should definitely go. The entire place smells amazing because they have a cafe, there is a really cool conservatory, and (although it is too cold for anything to be growing yet) a massive irrigation set-up outside that I am curious to see what they are using it for. I bought one of the mysterious air plants, which supposedly just need to be sprayed with water and do not need anything else. We shall see - I have not named it yet as a precaution.

I also spent some time wandering Church Street with my mom, which (happily) included decadent dark hot chocolate from Lake Champlain Chocolates. They can be a little pricey, but everything is so delicious that doesn't even matter. Sunday's dinner was at Sweetwater's, one of the many restaurants on Church Street. If I have not talked about it before, Sweetwater's is a sweet spot (pun slightly intended) to get dinner if you're out with your friends or family. The service is great and the building is really cool - it used to be the Burlington Trust Company way back when and the owners have kept the original architecture. I also love that the food is always just out of my comfort zone; there's always one part of my dish that I haven't tried before or don't usually eat and Sweetwater's is a great place to try new things, because it's all good.

If you don't have time to devote a whole day to Church Street, definitely give it a shot just for dinner. Church Street at night is beautiful (see below), and really has the feel of what I consider "my Vermont," besides Saint Mike's of course!
Church Street
I'll be going to a concert at the Flynn with my Philosophy class on Sunday, so stay tuned!

PS: That pun was entirely intentional.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Snowshoes and Romcoms

After much delay (thank you, homework), your deepest desire to know how my weekend went can finally be satisfied! Just kidding - you should really aim higher than that.

Snowshoeing with the Wilderness Program was a roaring success; although it was cold, we warmed up as soon as we started moving, and the two students leading the trip were well-equipped to deal with our lack of knowledge. According to my phone, we hiked about 6.3 miles, round trip - not bad for a Saturday! We went to Mount Belvidere, which is near Lowell, Vermont, and is about an hour and a half northeast of Saint Mike's.

We wound up using microspikes on our overboots instead of the snowshoes, but that may have actually made it easier. The highlight of the trek for me was definitely seeing moose tracks! You don't realize how big an animal is until each footprint is the size of your hand and each print is a foot and a half apart. Whoa. I also thought it was cool to see the leaf-buds on the trees, courtesy of the previous week's warm weather, although they're at least a month ahead of schedule. 

On the drive back (and don't worry, you don't need a car to go on a wilderness trip - they drive you), I saw a house surrounded by maple trees that had been tapped for syrup! I have no idea if that is the correct terminology (never having made maple syrup myself), but I thought that was pretty cool. I also experienced the "purple mountains' majesty" in America, The Beautiful. I don't know which mountains the song actually refers to, but be it because of the weather or otherwise, the mountains actually looked tinged purple on the way back. Quirk of Vermont, I suppose.

In honor of the upcoming Valentine's Day, Her Campus SMC hosted its very first event with Galentine's Day on Thursday, as a sort of "holiday" for those of us who are single pringles. We hosted in McCarthy Recital Hall, and featured a cheesy movie, hot cocoa, popcorn, and Valentine's themed candy. Due to technical difficulties, we got off to a rough start, but once that was resolved, everything proceeded swimmingly! I saw a lot of people who are not active in Her Campus, so hopefully more people are finding out about us. 

Today's temperature has a high of ZERO, so I doubt I will be doing anything particularly exciting today, but that just provides an excuse to make hot chocolate, so things could be worse. Happy Valentine's Day to all my readers, single pringles or otherwise!