Wednesday, February 29

Completing Assignments During Vacation

Something that was particularly stressful for me last semester was typing up essays and completing long readings while traveling. Most professors will only acknowledge long vacations (winter and summer) as real breaks and since you have a limited amount of time to complete coursework, you'll naturally be assigned work to do over shorter breaks - visiting libraries unexplored to me has thus become a permanent fixture in my vacation schedule.

As you know, I'm a sucker all things involving books and so you'll understand when I couldn't resist bringing my seminar readings to the Mid-Manhattan Library near Union Square a couple weeks ago. It was incredible to see the Hogwarts-like grandeur and turn around to see rows upon rows of people studying in unison.

Sunday, February 26

Exploring West Village

I’ve decided that I’m very particular about which parts of NYC I like; Manhattan is at the same time too industrial, crowded, commercial and touristic. What I really enjoy, is exploring the Village. With Derek’s recommendation, I took the subway to West Village (where the famed the Magnolia Bakery is located) and spent last Saturday afternoon browsing boutiques and grabbing small bites of delicious appetizers.

Some interesting shops on 14th St. include Bookmarc (Marc Jacobs’ bookstore, lined with fashion coffee table books as well as Marc Jacobs tech accessories and stationary), Comptoir des Cottoniers (a French women’s wear brand that is rare to find in the U.S) and Murray’s – which I am irrevocably in love with. Derek also recommended visiting Rag & Bone and Jack Spade (for men’s wear.) But back to the subject of Murray’s cheese and sausages. As you see below, Murray’s offers a mouth-watering array of cold cut meats and allows customers to sample a variety of cheese and meats without any commitment. The catch is that you have to wait in line for about 20 minutes; it’s completely packed on weekends. It’s well worth the wait, though – and to prove it, I’ll admit to you that I bought a total of eight dried sausages.

For dining, a fellow meat lover recommended to me Buvette on Grover Street – which I visited on my last night in New York. It’s a thoroughly French restaurant, complete with French waiters and waitresses, a tremendously long wine list and incredible coq au vin. Besides, a full meal here only cost me $20. The same woman also told me to visit Traif in Williamsburg. Apparently this word, “traif”, means non-Kosher – fittingly, as the restaurant only serves pork and shellfish. Finally, for a cheap lunch, there’s always the deliciously sinful Five Guys burger on Grove Street, take a look:

Wednesday, February 22

A Brief Escape to the Big Apple

I decided to spend a few days in New York for the three-day break and will be chronicling my New Yorker adventures in the next two posts. It's the first time I've traveled alone for pleasure (mostly, I fly to study or intern) so it's been an interesting experience.

A note of utmost importance to anyone planning to travel during college breaks: if you don't have a car, you must book your taxi ride at least three days in advance. I called multiple taxi services the day before I was set to leave for the airport and they were all full at my desired time of 4.30 in the morning! Solution: ask my friend to borrow his car and be very grateful that (the incredible and most loyal) Ben offered to get up at 4 in the morning, hike up to North Campus with me and drive me to the airport. At the very least, we were able to have a nice chat while trekking up to North Campus and spend a bit of time together in spite of our hectic schedules. A few hours later, I arrive at Jetblue's sleek and convenient T5 and hopped into a cab, not having anticipated the long ride into the city during rush hour.

Later that evening, I attended a performance of The Road to Mecca by Athol Fugard - my absolute favourite playwright. I had originally intended on watching The Book of Mormon on Broadway, but got to the Eugene O'Neill Theatre in time to see that there was a long queue for the standing section and cancellation tickets were only available for $150 after a 2-hour wait - and off to The Road of Mecca for me!

If you have an iPhone, I highly recommend getting the NYC Subway App and using the regular 'map' app provided with the iPhone to get around. Urban Spoon is also a useful one to find good restaurants, although it did once lead me to a restaurant that had already been shut down. In anticipation of my travels this summer, I also downloaded a couple other public transport apps; TT BAires for Buenos Aires and London Tube.

Sunday, February 19

Turtle Underground

Turtle Underground is a relatively large student lounge in Purtil Hall on North Campus that is turned into a concert space every weekend or so. There's always some free food provided and students chill on the couches, mill around and dance (depending on what type of music is playing.) Last week I joined Lauren and a few other friends to see The Milkman's Union and Filip Deptula perform. Chicken tenders - spicy, BBQ and crispy - were served that night. Here are some photos of the concert...

Thursday, February 16

100 Tips for Life at Saint Mike's : 41 - 50

Here are 1-10, 11-20, 21-30 and 31-40.

41. Even if you're not an first-year-orientation-activities person (and really, not that many of us are), go to the Connections event. It's a something special you do for yourself that you'll look back on during your graduation ceremony.

42. The first six weeks set the tone for the rest of the semester. Try out what works for you and what doesn't and get into a schedule/your habits fast. 

43. There are study abroad programs and fairs that table in Alliot every month or so. Be on the look out for e-mails announcing those - it's a great chance to talk to a representative for a program you might be interested in!

44. The Knightstand operates like a Starbucks: you can ask for a sample of the soups and if you buy a soup that you don't like then you can return it the other one (there are two every day). 

45. There are lots of mosquitos by the end of September. Close your windows at night and bring some anti-mosquito spray. 

46. Don't get a Netflix account, there are a ton of DVDs to borrow from the library. Use, or (my personal favorite) to check out reviews and figure out what you're in the mood for. 

47. If you ever need to study on campus during a Friday or Saturday night then the head to one of the seminar classes in the St. Eds or Jeanmarie. 

48. There is no cell phone service in the basement of the library. 

49. All the study cabins are open-air at the top, so don't do math out loud or play music. 

50. Most professors will let you slide with two unexcused absences (as in they won't take off points from your grade, but if you miss a pop quiz then you might be a bit screwed). Use them wisely or not at all.

Monday, February 13

Free Film Screenings on Thursday Nights

The SMC Film Series is a new addition to the programme of evening activities on campus, which introduces students to influential films. It's hosted in Cheray 101 at 8pm every Thursday until April 26th. Last week, I attended the Dr. Strangelove screening, which was introduced by John Hughes from the Political Science department. It's a very cosy way to spend the evening - especially in the Vermont cold -and the needs of college students have been taken into account as there's free popcorn and soda to enjoy ;)

Here's the schedule for the rest of the semester:

Photo credit: IMDB
Feb 16 - Hotel Rwanda with an introduction by Laurie Gagne from the Peace & Justice Center

Feb 23 - Of Gods and Men with an introduction by Robert Brenneman from the Sociology department

March 1 - The Godfather with an introduction by George Dameron from the History department

March 29 - Amélie with an introduction by Peter Vantine from the modern languages department

April 12 - Born into Brothels with an introduction by Allison Cleary from the Media Studies, Journalism and Digital Arts department

April 19 - Koyaanisqatsi with an introduction by Alain Brizzard from the Chemistry and Physics department

April 26 - Blade Runner with an introduction by David T.Z Mindich     from the Media Studies, Journalism and Digital Arts department.

Friday, February 10

Revised Spring Schedule

A bit overdue...but I have an awesome spring schedule that I want to share with you guys!

I've revised my spring schedule a bit since my initial registration in November, switching from 'Investigative Journalism' to 'Democracy' and dropping my honors colloquium. This is because I'm switching majors and no longer aiming to graduate with the Honors Program. This semester will be quite busy for me, since I'll be taking two upper-level courses and three honours courses (as I turned Multicultural Theory & Practice into an honours course). As you can see, my Mondays and Wednesdays are quite busy -  but I'm able to sleep in until at least mid-morning every day and have a lot of free time on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Wednesday, February 8

Vermont beats Europe in weather

The following images will illustrate why I'm so happy to be in Vermont, and not at home, right now:

Saint Michael's College, Vermont: Sunny, warm enough to wear a peacoat and one layer of clothes

Photo credit: Tribune de Genève. 
Geneva: My mother's colleague took 4 hours to commute to work because of the ice. 

Monday, February 6

The Frozen Quarry

I'm quickly developing an obsession with nature's response to the Vermont cold. Last week, I pointed out how entire fields on campus have been frozen. Apparently the New England winter has more in store for us - I went down to the quarry with a few friends over the weekend to discover that it's entirely frozen! The surrounding rivers are iced up as well...

Friday, February 3

Lunch with President Neuhauser

Last semester, I read a Defender article on President Neuhauser and found out that he often has lunch with students in Alliot. I wanted to join him and contacted his secretary to find out if this would be possible. The response - as it usually is in the SMC community - was yes. I then rallied a small group of friends to join me for lunch with the college president in Alliot. 

We told him things we liked about the school (individual attention from professors, warm community, first-year bonding in the quad) and discussed things that we would like to see change. Other topics of conversation included the controversial new housing lottery system, how to reduce noise disturbances on weekends, the construction of the new student center and the transition between high school and college. He also told us quite a few stories about college pranks that he had experienced when he was a student.

This lunch is a great example of how accesible the SMC staff and faculty are - even the college president cares to hear about each student's opinion. 

Left to right: my tray of spicy stir-fry, Yan-Bin, Lhanzi, Lauren K., President Neuhauser, Greta, Brendan, Lauren M., Dillon