Tuesday, August 30

Video Clips from Whistle Week

O-leaders entertaining us during the Class of 2015 photo

Student flag bearers at convocation

Welcome dance party - sorry, you can't see much, but here you go

First day of class: I discovered a cool study cabin and left the library at half past midnight - it's open 'til one! 

SMC's very own radio station! Tune in here

Here are some other posts on orientation:

Wednesday, August 24

iPhone for College Life

Many of my friends have been debating which smartphone to buy for uni and which apps are the most useful for student life, so I decided to find the most loved iPhone apps for students and came up with a rather comprehensive list. Aside from the Facebook app here are some others you might want to consider...(and also check out Gabbi's list of iPhone essentials here - her blog is one of my favorite weekly reads)


Track This
Flashlight and iTorch very simply allow you to use your iPhone as a flashlight - great for the middle of the night when you're not quite ready to deal with lighting up the entire room yet, but need to look for a water bottle or go to the bathroom. Especially handy when you have roommates that are light sleepers. I prefer Flashlight for its simplicity, but iTorch gives you more options like different hues and modes.

TrackThis lets you track any FedEx or UPS packages. It saves a lot of hassle when you've ordered some used books off Amazon or had concert tickets sent over, since all you have to do is enter the package tracking number into the app and it'll give you instant updates on exactly where the package is.

SoundHound and Shazam identify any songs playing - anytime, anywhere. No more endlessly Googling lyrics in vain!

Stylebook is more of a fashionista app, but is still very practical. It's basically a portable closet that lets you log outfits for different occasions (work, class, night out, date, etc.), store looks that you love and plan outfits in advance - this way, I never have to spend time remembering which pieces to combine and I love not having to worry about this in the morning.

Mint.com Personal Finance is one your parents will love. It keeps track of your expenses, lets you create financial goals and warns you when your balance is low/you've exceeded your budget. My favourite feature is the visual breakdown of how you're spending your money, which makes it really easy to notice spending patterns (since we're all rather delusional - or in denial - about what we spend most of our money on).

QR Reader reads QR codes that normally gives you access to promotions or sneak peek videos for movies/music videos.

Find my iPhone is the app you've always wanted; it tells you where your iPhone is when you've misplaced or lost it. 

Around Me or Google Places locates cafés, ATMs, cinemas, restaurants, etc. nearby. It also provides you with an indicator of how far they are away from you, directions on how to get there, the telephone number of the store and ratings.

Tribune de Genève on iPhone
One way I keep homesickness at bay is by keeping up with the local news, so I'm always checking up on the Bangkok Post and Tribune de Genève while I'm away. I also use news apps to stay informed when I'm traveling, so this summer I was able to scroll through El Pais and The Guardian to find out about local events in Madrid and London, which was especially important since the unemployment protests (in Spain) and UK riots were happening during my stay. Some of my other favourite news sources that provide iPhone-formatted reads include the International Herald TribuneLe Monde and The Economist. There's also a Mashable news app - an absolute blessing for technology and social media geeks ;)

802theApp keeps you up to date on events in Burlington and gives you directions to event locations and local businesses. 

Pandora lets you create and personalise your own music channels according to your mood/taste. Spotify is a massive music database that lets you stream free any song you wish. The main difference between these two services is that Pandora will find music similar to the song you search, but not the specific song, while Spotify will let you play that song but doesn't allow you to create a 'channel' based on it.

Evernote allows you to quickly take notes, clip photos/links/songs/voicenotes and save entire webpages to a personal "cloud" that syncs to all your devices. It's the most efficient note-taking system I've ever encountered and allows me to capture a whole range of materials.

USB Disk turns your iPhone into digital storage space for any essays that need to be printed, files that need to be backed up, etc.

Dictionary & Thesaurus is a very simple app for quickly searching definitions and synonyms. I use the website (dictionary.com / thesaurus.com) on my web browser all the time.

 Tweetdeck shows you your Twitter timeline in an easy and sleek display and allows you to control multiple Twitter accounts.

Foursquare lets you check into locations (like Starbucks or your dorm building) and become "mayor" of the place if you show up often enough. You can earn discounts at businesses like Gap, Steve Madden and most chain restaurants as a reward for checking in frequently. I personally don't use this app, but lots of my friends have recommended it.

WhatsApp lets all smartphone users communicate via a common platform - no more BBM/Ping divide.

Instagram lets you snap photos, make funky edits and post it directly onto Facebook or Twitter.

Viber is absolute genius, but will only work if you have a group of friends connected to it. I've also heard that Skype and Google Voice are good options for free calls. 

Words with Friends is a virtual game of scrabble that you can play with your friends.

Sunday, August 21

Eating Animals / The Food Project

Every year, SMC assigns a book as summer reading to all incoming freshman in order to unite all students on at least one common topic and stimulate debate. This year's book is Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, who has also written the critically-acclaimed- book-turn-critically-acclaimed-film Everything is Illuminated. This book mainly deals with Foer's quest to find out where the meat on his plate came from (it's not an easy process to stomach) and how he sees society incorporating ethics into our diet choices. My fellow blogger and "knight", Sarah, has written all about her experience with the reading here. You can also read more about a previous summer reading assignment on the blog of recent SMC graduate Dan Ozimek here.

Every First Year Seminar will complete a project or discussion based on the summer reading. For my First Year Seminar, I'll be joining the honors section in the "Living Digital" class taught by Prof Kimberly Sultze. As part of our summer assignment, we were asked to document our own eating habits through 10-15 photographs (as a response to the reading). Here are some snaps I've taken over the summer...

Sampling Garrett's popcorn in Chicago - it's coated in cheddar cheese

A regular breakfast at the LSE residence in London

One of our London student pig-out nights, complete with Domino's pizza, soda, beer and Ben & Jerry's

Finally at home in Geneva and able to enjoy my father's brilliant cooking!

Saturday, August 20

Thai Cook-Off with Italians in London

So in a recent post on dining in London, I was talking about cooking in the student residence as a way to save a few (or many) pounds. Below, you can take a peek at one of our themed dinners: a Thai feast (with wine and the works) that only cost each of us 8 quid. 

Here's what the LSE residence kitchen looks like
And here are the men pretending to be useful ;)
My wacky cooks: Giulia, Fra and Giulia! 
Pending disaster...

Résultat! I present you with Phad Thai and Larb.

Here's (part of) our gang of 14, finally feasting at midnight after a tiresome evening in an overheated kitchen!

Friday, August 19

Soundtrack to: Packing for College

I've finally given in to my parents' multitudinous appeals for me to start packing (for the 8th time this summer (!) - so you can understand my resistance). Seeing as it's one of my least favourite tasks, I've decided that this job necessitates an energy-boosting playlist. I mainly pulled songs from this summer's Madrid/London club playlist and some of my favourite "old" dance tunes (like Destination Calabria).

The other Class of '15 bloggers are also gearing up for college (and you can click on their names to read posts about how their packing is going) ; Juliana and Sarah are good to go, Lauren has planned it and Ben and I seem to be begrudgingly piling up our suitcases with last-minute finds. Anyway - enjoy these clips and feel free to share some of your own favourites through the comment box ;)

Danza Kuduro - Don Omar

Alors on danse - Stromae

Far l'Amore - Bob Sinclar

Bailando por ahi - Juan Magan

Loca - Shakira

Saturday, August 13

Why SMC? - Part II

So since you've all had a good look into my experience making the big college choice, I thought I'd present you with the perspectives of other students from SMC's Class of 2015 on their decision to join the community. 

Emily Hagerty / Modern Languages / D.C
One of the greatest reasons I chose Saint Michael's was because it advocates the "Good Samaritan" philosophy of Catholicism above all else. This is apparent in the endless community service projects that the M.O.V.E office coordinates, and the student body that puts the plan into action. Every aspect of the community of Saint Michael's is equally devoted to helping others. I also chose Saint Michael's because it was most accomodating with my learning disability in Math. Toni Messuri, the director of the Academic Support Services, was deeply understanding of my weaknesses. At the same time, She was very supportive of my strengths, ambitions, and goals in life. I am endlessly grateful for her unwavering support and confidence in my direction and abilities in life. I'm ecstatic to be a part of Saint Michael's Class of 2015. I am so blessed to be a part of this loving, welcoming, community. 

Ben Rosbrook / Exploratory / Syracuse, NY 
I first thought about applying to SMC when I was something like 5 years old. My dad's an SMC grad, and one summer when I was young he brought me and my family up to Burlington to visit some of his college friends that had stayed in the area after graduating. While we were there, my dad showed us SMC, and since, at the time, I thought my dad was the coolest person in the entire world and I wanted to do everything that he did, I said that I was going to study there when I became a "college kid".

About 12 years later, it's the spring of my senior year of high school, and admissions letters start rolling in. I had applied to SMC, but not as a first choice. At the time, I was leaning more towards a big university, with lots of programs and classes and people, because I thought that the more choices I had, the more likely I would be to find exactly what I wanted to do and study in college.

Anyway, the letter from SMC was the first one I got. I wasn't really nervous about getting in, but it was still a nice feeling; and it was the nicest acceptance letter I got! It was in a purple envelope with a gold seal, and although it's not REALLY important, I thought it was more personal than the other acceptances I got. Some time later, when I had gotten all my letters, I decided on SMC. I had gotten into some of the bigger universities that I had applied to, but I found myself really drawn to SMC for the location, tight community, engaging professors, and the ability to ski for really freaking cheap. Since then, I've continued to learn more about all the stuff that happens at SMC, and I've realized that it's not all about the big schools, and I'm excited to take advantage of some of the amazing opportunities SMC has to offer!

Jessyl Zavala Muñiz / Undeclared / San Juan, Puerto Rico               

Hey beautiful people! My name is Jessy and I'm from the little island of Puerto Rico. Yeah...it's pretty far from Vermont  (1.855 miles to be exact) and really different. In PR, people are really loud and hyper and in Vermont, most people seem chill. In the PR, the main hang out is the beach whereas in VT, it's skiing. 70° in PR is cold and in VT 70° is hot. Not to mention the language different - well,you get the point. But you know what? Saint Michael's convinced me to leave everything I know behind and take a chance to try something completely different.  

I had a list of 5 schools that I applied to in order of preference. SMC was number 5, not because it was the worst one, but because I knew very little about the school. When my second semester of my high school senior year hit, I learned the hidden ugly truth of some colleges and visited others. By late April, I was so convinced that I was going to a school in Indiana that I even gave in the deposit! But there was one school that I had left catching dust on the shelves: Saint Michael's College. I was about to make my final decision, but my mom told me to give SMC a chance. So I did.
Honestly, giving SMC a visit has been the best decision I have ever made in my academic life. Not only did I fall in love with Vermont from the plane view, but when I arrived, the people were super courteous and nice. I couldn't stop admiring Vermont's beauty on my way to campus. When I got there, for some reason it felt homey. I felt comfortable. I spent 4 days and 3 nights on campus. I sat in on classes, ate at Alliot, hung out with other students - pretty much what a normal student's life would be like. And that's where I felt the difference. I was like a normal student; I wasn't an outsider. I felt comfortable being from Boricua. At the other colleges, it felt OK, but it didn't feel right.

Yes, SMC has an amazing curriculum, and the fact that it's a liberal arts curriculum makes it even more interesting for me, because you get to learn about everything! Yes, The campus is beautiful as well, and the library is amazing! Yes, The people are always willing to help you and the professors are always willing to hear you. But what makes Saint Michael's special is that it makes you want to wonder, question, mingle, learn and actually get out there without being scared of being alone. What makes SMC is the fact that despite the wide and obvious differences from where I come from and college town, I feel like I'll never have to leave my island behind. Because I can be who I am, happily and comfortably, and I know that the community at Saint Michael's will support me. It's the fact that everybody has their arms open to receive you, help you and support you. Above all, the fact that no other college could make me feel the same way.

Wednesday, August 10

Travel Preparation Guide

This summer, I traveled to Madrid, Barcelona, the Canaries, Paris, Chicago and London with one days' rest between each time zone change- which, being very Swiss, all makes me painfully aware of my numerous travel slip-ups and lack of preparation (and let me assure you - we are a prepared people, we have bomb shelters in our houses even though there hasn't been a war since the 18th century - it's a law). My body is thanking me for ending this adventure (since continuously coping with jet lag is never healthy) but my mind is not yet at rest without a plan for my next journey which - of course - is my move onto the SMC campus in Colchester, Vermont. I suppose that this trip will be a little different since, after all, I am moving - but here are some tips I'd like to share with you with regards to a stay abroad between one week and a few months.

1. Find a nearby supermarket, pharmacy, dry cleaner, café, restaurant, newsstand and note the hours of operation. You will thank yourself when you need a quick caffeine fix in the morning / your dress trousers are splashed with tomato sauce / you're craving your daily read. The hours of operation are especially important, since in London I had to rush to buy all my groceries before 18.00 as the shops all close early on Sundays (imagine - in a global city like London!) and in Madrid, some stores closed in the afternoon for a siesta. In Chicago, everything was open all the time - one of America's best qualities ;)

2. Figure out the public transport system - or at least get a general overview of how it works and where your nearest metro/tube/railway/bus/subway/tram station is. Normally, I tend to locate myself in relation to the nearest transport station and when asking for directions, people will refer you to these points, so it's useful to know them - or at least a few main ones.

3. BYOP: Bring your own pillow. It's a huge pain and sometimes not necessary, but it's much better than being stuck with a hard, flat pillow and enduring sleepless nights. You can just stick it in your carry-on luggage if you're traveling by plane and it's an added comfort for over-night flights.

4. Read up on the culture & customs. There's a great series of booklets that I'm obsessed with called The Xenophobe's Guide that generally does the trick - of course, it's meant to be humorous so it's very generalised but gives a good insight into expected behaviour and customs.

5. You will need tennis shoes. I didn't bring trainers to Madrid and - oups! - found out that I would in fact be hiking the (3715 m) Teide Volcano in leather ballerina flats. I did it (and here's proof in the photo below), but I would advise bringing a pair just in case. Besides, running around a new area is a great way to discover it. 

6. Figure out your daily rituals and bring what you need for them. For example, I like to use facial wipes at the end of the day to clean off any city grime - so I bring a pack of facial wipes (or two). Of course, I'm not telling you to bring absolutely everything but if there is something that you won't feel good in your skin without, then don't risk it - because when you arrive in a new region, you want to feel fresh, everything is foreign and you might not have time to go shopping / be able to find the things you want. 

7. Pack nail clippers. 

8. Bring a pair of thick ski socks - for the long flight, cold nights (trust me, even in the Chicago summer heat I needed them) and days when you're ill in bed. 

Tuesday, August 9

A British Affair: Nightlife in London

Dancing at Crush 
Since the first thing that fell out of my LSE summer student welcome package was an invitation to a clubbing event, I'm going to dedicate this post to London nightlife. It's one of the fun aspects of the program if you choose to participate (which most students who live in the LSE residences do). Every Friday, the Three Tuns pub and Garrick cafeteria on the LSE campus are converted into a lounge and dance floor for an event called CrushIt's a night out for students at the LSE Student Union from ten in the evening 'til two in the morning and a convenient place to meet up as it's near the Holborn residence and also close to many London clubs if you plan to go out later. There's also a vibrant nightlife for students on weekdays, as on Mondays there are VIP nights at Tiger Tiger and on Thursdays there's a Full Moon Party (with lots of neon paint!) - though, I must admit that I've never attended the week-day events since I need a full night's rest to be even mildly functional the next day. 

One thing that I learned is that when you're living somewhere with a vibrant nightlife is that it's really important to consider your own rhythm (how much sleep you need, how long you take to finish the readings for lectures, whether you will even be able to get up in the morning after a night of dancing, when you need to go home to be fresh for the next day) so that you don't show up unprepared to classes (especially since in the program I'm in, they are very fast-paced and intensive). Normally, I tend to just go out for drinks & debate after dinner at one of the regular haunts, since it's much easier to conserve energy this way. Some good pubs around our area include White Hart (two paces away from our residence) and Prince of Wales (in Covent Garden, about five minutes away by foot) - the latter is quite fun to visit, as the entire bar is covered in neon star post-its with messages from guests all over. It costs one pound to post a star, and this amount goes to charity. Below is a photo of another spot for an easy night out; Roadhouse in Covent Garden is a disco-pub with live rock and pop music every night. 

(Left) One of the stars we posted at Prince of Wales (Right) Taking the tube to club Movida.

Monday, August 8

A British Affair: Dining in London

Do you know what London's most popular dish is? It's not bangers and mash or shepard's pie, but in fact chicken tikka masala! This really represents the diversity of ethnicities and cultures in London; the city is jam-packed with ethnic restaurants and it's very common not to understand the languages being spoken on the streets.

Some easy dining options that you will find all over town include Prêt à Manger, Eat and Costa, which all have a variety of fresh sandwiches, soups, wraps and salads to go. Some ethnic chains include Wasabi (Japanese) and Nero Café (Italian). Then, if you're willing to sacrifice your health, there are always the global comforts that are Starbucks, Burger King and McDonald's (though ironically enough, McDo owns Prêt which prides itself on the freshness of its food). I also eat quite a lot at Café 54, which offers a wonderful hommous and yogurt salad and is conveniently located inside the LSE's New Academic Building (where I have all my lectures and seminars). There's a nice picnic space behind the NAB, so students normally pick up food to eat on the concrete tables or the steps, and it's great to hang about there when you've only got an hour between the lecture and the seminar. Another one of my favourite restaurants near both the residence and the campus is Belgo, which is Belgian and known for "moules, frites, bières" (mussels, fries, beers) - if you go on week days, you can get a lunch special and nab a delicious meal and a decent price.

Dining out does get quite pricey though - especially in London - so my friends and I make use of our resident kitchens to cook and hang about, eating and arguing about whatever strikes our fancy (with lots and lots of hand gestures, since my main gang of friends are Italian). We get all our ingredients from the Sainsbury's down the street so dinner doesn't normally cost us more than two pounds each - a bargain, considering that we normally average out at about fifteen pounds each when dining out. In the photo, we're cooking chicken and vegetable curry with couscous - the specialty of the night's cook, Lodovica (centre photo) and we've also made lots of pasta on previous evenings. This Wednesday, I'll be serving up some Thai dishes for our gang - wish me luck ;)

Sunday, August 7

A British Affair: Media Studies at the LSE

I’ve been studying abroad for the past three months, so I thought I’d give you a little peek inside my current 3-week program at the London School of Economics. Tomorrow, I'll be starting the final week of my course in “Global Communications, Citizens and Cultural Politics” with professors Shakuntala Banaji and Myria Georgiou (who, by the way, are incredibly passionate and friendly).

This course has been really useful in reaffirming my choice to major in Media Studies, Journalism and Digital Arts at SMC, as well as in helping me decide if I want to pursue my graduate studies at the LSE - but the most valuable thing that I have taken away from this course (since I have encountered a fair deal of opposition to studying media) is the conviction that despite what some critics may say, media is an important field of study that is very much worth researching and discussing. Gabbi Hall, a media major at SMC and one of my blogger role models, also talks about the usefulness and intensity of the major here and here

But back to the session in London! Most days, I have lectures from 10.00 - 13.00 which consists of introductions to new topics (for example, "Politicians, Politics and the Media in a Time of Global Communication"), guest lecturers and sometimes videos. In the afternoon, we attend a seminar to discuss the day's assigned reading for an hour and engage in practical activities that relate to the lecture. My favorite activity followed a lecture on how young people use the internet to promote social or political campaigns, and the task we were given during the seminar was to choose a real cause to promote, determine our target audience and devise a strategy integrating online and offline tactics in order to achieve our objectives with regards to the cause. 

A great aspect of this program is the fantastically diverse range of educational/cultural backgrounds and ages amongst the students - for example, I normally sit between an Italian and an Austrian during my lectures, and though there are some undergraduates, most students have already completed their first degree and are either working on their masters or have established themselves as a professionals. This diversity really adds to the variety of perspectives during our debates. 

In my next post, I'll be writing more about the social aspects of my time in London and all of the fun/cultural events I've been able to attend - and I absolutely promise to upload some photos! 

Wednesday, August 3

Why SMC?

Hello ! My name is Tarah Srethwatanakul (hence the title of this blog) and this is my very first post as a blogger for Saint Michael’s College ! You can click here to find out more about me or dive straight into the story of why I decided to join the community of Knights at SMC !

Part I. Europe or America ?
Being from Switzerland and Thailand, my decision to enroll at Saint Mike’s has always attracted two questions ; many of the students, faculty and even admissions staff ask me "How did you find us?" and the most frequent response I face from my friends is "Why are you leaving Europe?".

Since the beginning of the college search, I was very determined to find a vibrant and supportive learning environment – my top requirements were : engaging professors, a high level of student-professor interaction, a diverse array of student-initiated activities and - since moods are highly contagious – a happy student body. I also realised that I longed to participate in many (if not only) seminar-style classes, which led me to nix Europe off my list of possibilities (with a great deal of sadness, of course). The reason for this is because European universities are generally characterised by large lectures, and quite honestly – and perhaps selfishly ;) – I wasn’t prepared to share my professor with three hundred other students.

After reviewing the requirements of my "dream college", my college counselor suggested that I add Saint Mike’s to my growing list of considered universities. Her advice compounded with my subsequent research on SMC (which revealed that it made the Princeton Review's list of happiest students and best student lifestyle) convinced me to fly out for a quick campus visit in October – a visit that essentially became the deciding factor in my choice of college.

Part II. The Campus Visit
Since I was staying for a few days, I really had the time to get a full Saint Mike’s experience by sitting in on various classes (Cognitive Psychology, Media Law & Ethics, Honors Freshman Seminar: The Examined Life, Literature for Children and Adolescents), chatting with professors and students, touring the campus and of course, enjoying the Skinny Pancake's wonderful crêpes! During the visit, I was particularly impressed by the professors’ generosity in dedicating such large amounts of time to chat with students and also by their honesty, as I never felt like they were simply selling the school but actually putting my best interests first.

In the end, my decision to attend SMC was very sudden as although I had a significant interest in the college, I knew that I hadn’t intended on attending a university outside of a metropolis or one affiliated with a religion. It was in fact my experience sitting in on Professor Griffith's "Media Law & Ethics" class that made me decide to apply early decision to SMC, since I knew from that moment that I wanted to study Media, Journalism and Digital Arts under her tutelage - and I'm very lucky, as I recently found out that I'm actually enrolled in her Media Revolutions class this fall!