Monday, September 26

Pretty Church Bells

I took this video as I was headed to the gym the other day - I'm not religious at all but I have to say that one thing that I like about being at a Catholic school are the church bells. Listen:

Wednesday, September 21

100 Tips for Life at Saint Mike's : 11 - 20

Here are numbers 1-10

11. The taxi services are rather unreliable. The only service that has worked for me is Greencab - a lot of the other ones keep you waiting for an hour if you're out in Colchester, or misrepresent how long it's going to take for them to get to you. The number for Greencab is 802.655.4222.

12. Buses don't run on Sundays and don't come on schedule - they're usually there 5 minutes beforehand or late. But if you call a cab to come to Colchester, you're probably better off waiting for a bus on a regular day. It takes around 20 minutes to get to Burlington on a bus from campus.

13. If you are not an American and need to get new cell phone plan, you will have to show them your passport and a letter from the school verifying your housing (you can use the letter sent to you that tells you where you live). With Verizon, you'll also have to make a $400 deposit because you won't be able to give them a social security number, which makes things rather complicated. Just be prepared to stay at the store for about an hour and deal with lots of confused customer service reps. every time you tell them that you don't have a social security number.

14. Practically nobody is awake on Saturday morning, which makes it a perfect time to study if you need to get stuff done.

15. Because the first shower cabin is the least private, less people will tend to use it which also makes it the cleanest. Use the first shower cabin and avoid hairballs.

16. Avoid plastic shower caddies because they will retain water. Instead, opt for a foldable shower caddy that keeps things in place with a net. These are available at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

17. You're going to need some time to organise yourself, your life and your room - otherwise you end up with fifty things on your mind, no graduation plan and a very dirty living space.

18. If you want to attend a performance at the Flynn, don't wait until the last minute to buy the ticket at the box office - you'll end up going in last, since their Cultural Pass system is faulty. The easiest option is to buy tickets through the phone (802-863-5996) which will take more or less ten minutes.

19. The Knightstand only serves wings after 21.00.

20. When using the dryer, if it's only 2/3 full (or less), your clothes will take 40 minutes to dry as opposed to the full 60 minutes. 

Thursday, September 15

100 Tips for Life at Saint Mike's : 1-10

1. The SMC beds are not extra-long twin. They are only twin, which makes it much, much, much easier to find mattress toppers (available at Bed, Bath and Beyond as well as all the department stores in U-Mall). 

2. The closet smells like mothballs. Bring Febreeze and be prepared to keep your closet door open for at least the next week. My friend put fan inside the closet, which helped a bit. 

3. The color scheme of your room will be medium blue, as dictated by your closet doors, your bookshelf and your door. Plan your decor accordingly! 

4. Don't buy expensive electronic appliances until the second week, when you know whether you will use them or not. I bought a television, a nespresso machine, a mini-fridge and a microwave and I almost never use any of them. If you bring silverware and cutlery, keep in mind that you'll have to walk to the bathroom (which may be at the other end of the hall) to clean them. 

5. Apparently it's really hot until mid-September and the heating in the winter will make some days rather warm as well - bring a fan! 

6. There's a poster fair in Alliot at the beginning of September, so don't worry about buying a ton before getting here.

7. A corkboard is really useful for posting up notes, flyers and hand-outs from your class so they're there to remind you of events or for reference. I've got a giant one in the middle of my room at it was filled two weeks into the year.

8. You'll want to wear flip flops in the showers. but they get soaked, so bring two pairs. 

9. There's a laundry service from E&R Cleaners that takes all your laundry on Wednesday morning and drops it off for you on Friday afternoon. It's quite pricey, but it takes away the pain of dealing with the dorm washers and (depending on your plan) washes things that would normally have to be taken to the dry cleaner's like blazers, knits, dress-shirts, pencil skirts, dresses, etc. Sometimes they'll leave lint in your laundry though - I've had one particularly bad experience, so you might be better off doing laundry yourself. 

10. Living in the first-year quad, you will want to bring ear-plugs for Friday and Saturday nights if you need to get some sleep during the first semester. The noise will die out before two in the morning, but if you have an early day then it's a must. 

    Friday, September 9

    Frisbee on the Library Lawn

    Here's a short video clip of frisbee on the Durick library lawn; I thought I'd give you a peek of what I pass on a daily basis - it really adds to the "college vibe" on campus. Many of my friends just rally a group together and start a pick-up game, but you can also join the Northern Knights Ultimate Frisbee Team and play at a club level.

    In other news, the South End Art Hop on Pine St. will open this evening - I'm especially excited to attend the glass-blowing workshop! Tomorrow is also a big day for SMC students since the Welcome Back Bash and the Highlighter Dance will be going on. What will you guys be doing this weekend?

    Wednesday, September 7

    Campus Events

    Before entering uni, my friends who had already survived their first year would encourage me to attend as many campus events as possible while prioritising.  I didn't really understand the value of this advice until this week, when I realised how many interesting events there are every single day; I've only been in school for one and a half weeks and have already had the chance to attend a labour day speech by Senator Bernie Sanders, meet Burlington mayoral candidate Jason Lorber, enjoy a presentation by photographer Jonah Kessel (who has worked for the NY Times, Women's Wear Daily, China Daily, etc.) and see Paul Loeb speak at the McCarthy Arts Center on campus. I'll be writing individual posts on these exciting events and covering all the G.O.T SKILLS events this semester so stay tuned! For now, here's a quick peek at some upcoming events on and around campus:

    Sunday, September 4

    Cheese, Sausages and Rivella

    Warning: Reading this post will probably induce pangs of hunger. Get cooking or brace yourselves.

    From the moment that I decided to attend college in the US, I knew from past experience that I would be able to keep in touch with my friends and family through Skype, visit them during holidays and remain comforted by the fact that I will continue my life in Europe as of 2013. However, those who know me personally are aware that I am very decided on my favorite foods and enjoy them frequently (in class, on the tram, at gatherings, while studying...), with great pleasure. This tendance, naturally, makes home cooking/Swiss food the #1 thing for me to miss! So today, I will present to you a sample of the delicacies that I have been longing for since I have been introduced to the American college lifestyle:   

    • Flo epi - This delight occupies the very honorable position of being my go-to snack food. They are slices of delicious cheese without the acrid smell, which is replaced by a fruity aroma. This lack of a pungent odour is revolutionary - and if you've ever smelled your clothes after an evening of  fondue you will surely understand why. From my experience, flo epi is best enjoyed with a side of olives and cold cut meats, and washed down with a glass of red wine. I plan on checking out the Burlington farmer's market for cheeses since I hear Vermont has its specialties. There is even a life-sized model of a cow in downtown Burlington, so it seems that dairy products are valued here - encouraging news indeed!
    • Wine - The drinking age in the US is something that I must adjust to. As the age for drinking wine (and beer, but not hard liquor) in Switzerland is 16, I've always enjoyed my evening meals with a splash of red. Ironically, my favorite wine is actually Californian so it's a pity that I won't be able to enjoy it while I'm in the US. But for now, I'll substitute all of this with the heavenly pumpkin-scented latte from the WOW Café and Wingery on campus, seeing as flavoured coffee is rarely offered at home (save from the sugary Starbucks menu).
    • Bâtons de Berger, translated to "Berger's sticks", are thin, dried sausages that are really fun to eat because of the raw texture. They come in sachets small enough to fit in my handbag, so I'm always munching on them at school. Since the brand of this French snack is actually owned by an American corporation called Smithfield Foods, I'm hoping that I might be able to find these mini-sausages in some supermarkets. (Yes, I actually researched this - now you see the degree to which I am dedicated to my favorite foods.)
    • Rivella is a bottled drink sold only in Switzerland that walks a thin line between being flavoured water and a soda. Apart from its perfect level of bubbliness, the taste also sets Rivella apart from other drinks - it's possible to make a loose comparison between Rivella and alpine iced tea for the mildness of the flavour, but it's really quite indescribable. However, I hear that this particular product is an acquired taste - perhaps less than England's marmite but truly like no other soft drink on the market!

    So - voilà; a thorough analysis of what I miss most in Switzerland and my consequent plan of action!    
    What are your favorite foods from home? What do you miss most when traveling? Do you have any remedies? Comments are much appreciated! 

    Of course, if you have any questions feel free to enter them into the  Formspring box (on the right-hand sidebar) and I promise to answer you shortly! Later this year you can expect a post on my favorite Vermont platters...

    Friday, September 2

    "Things Every College Student Should Know"

    While grabbing some dorm furniture at Bed, Bath and Beyond, I came across 1001 Things Every College Student Needs to Know. At first, I thought the guide would be cheesy - which, some of it is - but I really ended up enjoying the tips Harry H. Harrison Jr had to give college students. Here are some of my favorite "things" that "every college student needs to know":

    238. You need to know about and See how other students from your school graded professors.

    467. You need to know to make a note card for each major theme and idea your professor covers in class. Transfer notes from class lectures and your textbook onto each card.

    640. You need to know that a typical night of college homework will look like this:
    - Review French vocabulary
    - Study seventy pages for International Relations midterm
    - Read sixty pages of literature
    - Study for humanities project
    - Research for science project
    - Study for science midterm

    723. You need to know that everything changes over time. Including people. And relationships.

    778. You need to know that the best cure for worrying in bed is getting up and studying. (It's also my cure for stress head aches and general academic panic.)

    796. You need to know a lot of problems get better after you've had a good night's sleep.

    178. You need to know that if a class is too full for you to get into, attend the first class anyway. The professor just might squeeze you in. (I did this to get into Media & American Politics with Professor David Mindich and it worked! Also, my fellow blogger Gabbi Hall is in this class with me.)