Thursday, March 29

Interview: Dan and Dom from Bad News Beards

If you live in the quad or have classes in Jeanmarie, you've seen their posters plastered everywhere - of course, I'm talking about Dan and Dom's radio show on the campus radio station, Bad New Beards. You can stream it online every Friday from noon-2pm and check out their playlist if a song strikes your fancy. Or, if you have a burning desire to hear a song of your choice (or to make a dedication), you can dial up the request line at 802.654.2887 and one of them will take your call.

Read on to enter the minds of the two radio show hosts...

How did you come up with the name "Bad News Beards"? Neither of you are particularly cynical or troublesome... 
Dan: Our friendship was basically founded on a love for Four Year Strong (the band), and they have a song called Bad News Bears - obviously a play on the classic film. We just sort of came up with the pun 'cause we both have beards.

How do you plan the playlist?
Dan: We just compile our own playlists and take turns playing what seems to come naturally. I works out well, we're a good time.
Dom: Along with Dan's answer, I also try to go through the music I have and find songs that I haven't played in a while.

What bands are you into at the moment?
Dan: Motion City Soundtrack, Foxy Shazam, Streetlight Manifesto and The Tower and the Fool are current loves of mine.
Dom: On Cue, Street Dogs and the Mountain Goats are some of the different types of music I've been into lately.

What's the most challenging aspect of hosting a radio show?
Dan: The learning curve, probably. Like when at the beginning of this semester, Dom and Idid an entire legal ID then realized the mic wasn't on...
Dom: Keeping things going smoothly. We have slowly been getting the hang of transitioning nicely between songs, PSAs and talking. It is important not to have "dead air."

Is there anything particular about being part of a college radio station versus a regular station?
Dom: I feel like this is probably a more relaxed situation. Plus, we do not have to play commercials or pre-set playlists because this is a non-commercial radio station.

What's the process for students interested in hosting a show?
Dan: Honestly the way it works is just to wait for that one single e-mail in a sea of millions that says, "apply to get a radio show."
Dom: Dan's answer rocks.

Tune in to Bad News Beards on WWPV 88.7 from noon-2pm on Fridays. 

Monday, March 26

Interview with a Fly Fisher

Dillon with a lake trout caught in the Presumpscot River in Windham, Maine

A curious thing about St. Mike's is the presence of fly-fishing on campus. First-year students can enrol in the fly-fishing seminar taught by Professor Bill Grover from the politics department and all students can join the fly-fishing club on campus. My friend Dillon Reno, an avid fly-fisher who has been practicing the art for a few years now, let me ask him a few questions about the club.

Why do you fly-fish?
I fly-fish because it's my connection with nature and clears my head. It puts me in a state of serenity and puts me in a place where problems are non-existent.

What sorts of activities does the fly-fishing club offer to its members?
Weekend fly-fishing trips and ice-fishing trips in the winter as well as two overnight trips; one in the fall and one in the spring at world renown fly-fishing destinations. We also do fly-tying on weekdays.

Can a novice join?
Yup. Novices can join and the club provides them with gear. We'll teach any beginners who don't know how to fish.

Do you have advice to anybody who is just starting to fly-fish?
Don't assume that you can figure it out all by yourself. It's what I did and it stunted my learning. It took me a few years to give it another try - when I did, I took lessons and fell in love with it.

Who do you have to contact to join the fly-fishing club and when do you meet? 
You can contact Louis Annino, Benjamin Gruner or Professor Bill Grover to get more information on the club. We don't have scheduled meetings; Louis just sends out e-mails to club members when he wants to set up a meeting.

You can contact Dillon with any fly-fishing questions at

Thursday, March 22

100 Tips for Life at Saint Mike's : 51 - 60

Here are 1-1011-20, 21-30, 31-40 and 41-50.

51. If you want to borrow foreign films, there are some in the library but you'll find a better selection in the language lab. 

52. If you're an international student, you'll need a visa to go to Canada which takes about a month to get. Plan ahead, since a few courses at SMC include field trips to Canada and you might want to head up there for a long week-end. 

53. There's a hotel across the street from campus if you have relatives visiting. They charge about $80/night on weekdays.

54. I've been in denial about this my whole life but in order to be fully (or in some cases, somewhat) functional, one needs to sleep. Nobody is functional after an all-nighter. Think about that before you procrastinate.  

55. Some professors won't be crazy about you (although most will be super passionate about what they're teaching). Sometimes it takes a while to establish a good relationship with a professor. 

56. Never throw away sticky things (especially drinks or food - even if they're wrapped/bottled) in your own garbage bin. Take the time to put it in a plastic bag and walk to the communal floor dump. You don't want to get into a situation where you have to wash your bin.

57. If you order take-out, keep the plastic bag so you can wrap the leftover food back into the bag when you dump it out in the big trash on your floor (if you're too lazy to go to a trash outside). This way, your floormates living near the trashroom (that's me, guys) won't suffer from the smell. 

58. Come armed with a vacuum cleaner, cleaning wipes and some cleaning spray. You don't want to live in a dusty, germ-filled room. 

59. The office hours for Jerome Allen (an IT technician) are Monday through Friday in the Bergeron computer lab from 16.00 - 21.00. If you need to work with the scanner or any design programs (like Photoshop), he's your man. 

60. Check your syllabus every week. You might have a quiz or an exam coming up, and some profs will only remind you about it one or two days before the test. 

Monday, March 19

Go Global

Exploring Tenerife with my Spanish astronomy class 
Studying abroad is an experience that is being increasingly stressed by Saint Michael's College; the Media, Journalism and Digital Arts department recently integrated a required semester abroad for their majors and I've even talked to pre-med students who are looking to spend a semester in Africa. Seeing as searching for the perfect study abroad program has been my obsession since I was 13 (when I began to study outside of Thailand/Switzerland over the summer), I thought I'd share a few tips. First, there's SMC's study abroad website which has a comprehensive list of approved programs that you can sort by language, semester and location. 

On the streets of London with my friend
Lodo after a long day of lectures

There are three other sections on the site that I love: a list of global news sources so you can see what's going on in your study abroad region, an album displaying 2011's Global Eyes study abroad photography competition winners and links to SMC study abroad bloggers. I also found the and to be really great databases for program searches - although not all of them listed will be SMC-approved ,you can petition for approval. My favorite study abroad programme pages that are sponsored by other universities include Boston University, Syracuse, NYU and Middlebury

Finally, your number one resource will ultimately be SMC's study abroad director, Peggy Imai. You can schedule an appointment with her online or by calling 802-654-2222. She also has office hours between 13.00 - 17.00 on weekdays, and her office is located inside the same building as the Career Development Center next to the word garden (between Jeanmarie and the McCarthy Arts Center). 

Friday, March 16

Spring Break in Malta

For spring break (March 9 -19), I returned to Switzerland to see my family for a few days and went to Malta for some relaxation. As Malta is right under Italy and at the tip of Africa, I had expected it to be quite warm but it's in fact so windy that I had to wear a heavy scarf on most days! From the touring I've done, it seems to be a largely agricultural country in which religion is ubiquitous. There are exactly 365 churches on this tiny island and quite a few houses contain window displays of the Virgin Mary. I also visited Gozo island, which is a half hour boat ride away from Malta - the views there are beautiful (it includes the famous Azure Window) though most restaurants only serve microwave meals.

Here are some photographs from the sunny days so far...I'm headed back to Geneva for the weekend before flying back to campus on Sunday!

Monday, March 12

Summer Preview: Politics at Cambridge University

It's official! I'll be spending six weeks at Cambridge University this summer at their Interdisciplinary Summer School.  I'm incredibly excited, as the subjects that I'll be studying sound very interesting and I've yet to travel outside of London and Windsor in England. In the mean time, I'll have a lot of reading to do as I'm required to read 14 books before the start of June. Because my schedule is already quite hectic, I've arranged to see an academic counselor to help me figure out how to be more productive given the limited amount of time I can dedicate to preparation for my summer courses. 

Here are the courses I'll be taking at Cambridge:
1. Crises in world politics since 1945
2. Third world revolutions: Cuba, Chile, Angola, Ethiopia
3. Power and politics in Britain today
4. Economics of public policy

It's possible to take three courses per session, but I'll only be taking two since they're very intensive and I'll want time to be able to attend the plenary lectures.

Below is the typical schedule of a Cambridge summer session student.

Wednesday, March 7

Summer Preview: Healthcare Policy in Copenhagen

This summer I'll be taking a course in 'Health Delivery and Prioritization in Northern Europe' in Copenhagen through the Danish Institute for Study Abroad. A fellow journalism major and blogger, Lisa, will also be studying there next year.
My course lasts a month and is taught by two Danish researchers, Jakob Hansen and Morten Eierstad. During this time, I'll also be participating in the Visiting Family Program - which pairs me with a Danish family for cultural immersion - while living in a Kollegium, a student residence that typical Danish university students are independently housed in. During a weekend, I'll also be able to explore Denmark by going on a biking trip in Bornholm arranged by DIS.

Take a look at this tongue-in-cheek guide to Danish society - I was reading it on the DIS site in preparation for my summer travels and found out that Danes are paid by the government to attend university - clearly a very different approach from the American way.
Bike trails in Bornholm. Photo credit: DIS website

Saturday, March 3

My Op-ed in The Defender

One of the great things about being at a small college is that if you write something into the student newspaper, they're very likely to publish it - and sometimes you'll even get e-mail responses from fellow students. A few weeks ago, I wrote an op-ed for The Defender on how the course evaluations students fill out at the end of the semester should be open for the student body to access - you can read it online here!