Monday, April 30

The Rockstar Toilets of Sloane

My friend Brendan took me to Sloane to check out the art building some time ago. I was thrilled to see how cool the bathrooms were and - as a North Campus tourist - snapped some photos of their rocker wall decor. Here's one of the amenities art majors enjoy... 

On a side note, a few of my friends have been wanting to be introduced to you readers - so here are Brendan (who brought me to Sloane), Dillon (who you might recognise from the fly-fishing interview) and Lhanzi. Lhanzi is in my macroeconomics class with Prof Natarajan and they all live in the first-year quad with me.

Saturday, April 28

100 Tips for Life at Saint Mike's : The Final 91 - 100

Here are 1-1011-2021-3031-4041-50, 51- 60, 61-70, 71-80 and 81-90

91. Don't be scared to pull an all-nighter in the academic buildings. I was hesitant at first, since I was scared I'd be alone in an empty building, but there are a surprising amount of people who need to work in a classroom at night. 

92. If you have clothes that need to be hand-washed, take them with you to the shower and hang them up on the notches to dry while you shower. 

Everyone on campus is super helpful and friendly; it's not like high school where freshman can be perceived to be nuisances so don't be scared for your first few days on campus! 

Though the official overnight stay programme has been cancelled, it's possible for prospective students to contact the admissions office to ask for an overnight stay. I'd really recommend this, as I wish that I had known what campus culture was like before I had arrived here as a first-year student. 

Don't overload yourself with too many sources when writing a research paper; limit yourself to 12-18 sources for a 10-page paper. I made the mistake of trying to read 35 sources in two weeks for a paper and got really frustrated with myself.

Buy fingerless gloves for the winter - this way you'll still be able to get a grip on things.

Always read assignment instructions and highlight requirements before starting on it - it helps you focus on what you need to get done. 

Make sure you narrow down your research topic before you start doing research or your search will be too vague. 

Request to live in Joyce Hall for your first year; the building has the mailroom in the basement and it's also the closest dorm to Alliot which has the dining hall, bookstore, MOVE office, the Knightcard office, Wilderness office and the campus ministry headquarters. 

All residence halls have representatives that attend weekly SA meetings - if you're having any problems that you think should be brought up, talk to them and they can represent your voice at the next SA meeting. Two other great resources are your RA and RD - they're usually super accessible and friendly. 

Thursday, April 26

Media Labs on Campus

As a journalism major - and a student of the Living Digital first-year seminar - I spend an exorbitant amount of time in media labs around campus. There are four media labs that I know of; two on the second floor of Jeanmarie and two in Bergeron. They're all equipped with Adobe Creative Suite 5 (which has programs like Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign) and colour printers. Here's one of the labs in Bergeron. The staff of the college newspaper, The Defender, spends their Sundays prepping the next edition here. 

Tuesday, April 24

100 Tips for Life at Saint Mike's : 81 - 90

Here are 1-1011-2021-3031-4041-50, 51- 60, 61-70 and 71-80.

81. You can request songs on the college radio station (88.7 WWPV The Mike) at 802.654.2887. I've requested a song on my friend's show - it's pretty cool hearing your name/song on air. You can also access the schedule of radio shows and playlist online

82. Get a miracle shirt from Brooks Brothers; they're button-up shirts that you can throw in the regular wash and dryer without worry and they come out perfectly pressed. A bit pricey for a student budget ($80-120) but they come with two spare buttons and you'll never have to worry about dry-cleaning your fancy clothes.

83. Learn to take notes with paper if you've been using your laptop a lot; most profs don't allow use of electronics in the classroom - I've never actually met one who let me use my laptop in class.

84. As part of the Consortium of Vermont Colleges, it's possible for students at Saint Michael's College to take courses at surrounding universities for SMC credit (meaning that your grades count and that they don't take away from your study abroad credits.) Apparently UVM isn't included in the selection because it's public, and there's been talk that Middlebury College has joined the list.

85. The Blendables yogurt parfaits at the Knightstand are delicious - they're yogurt mixed with blueberries or strawberries and granola bits. It's a bit difficult to eat (since the granola is stacked so high) so I wouldn't recommend going to class with it, but it's easy to grab for a snack or for a late breakfast if you miss out on the Alliot hours on the weekend.

86. If you need a recommendation from a professor, check in with them at least two months before your application is due. They might not be able to write it for a while since as professors, they're inherently incredibly busy. It's also useful to give them information on the programme/university you're applying to, what admissions officers are looking for and how you did in the professor's class (as well as one or two samples of your work.)

87. You can subscribe to receive repeated packages of shampoo, toothpaste, razor blades, etc. from Amazon in case you don't want to go into Burlington to buy these types of things in the middle of winter. It's also possibile to buy just one or two of them and shipping is free. I do it for make-up cleansing wipes, boxes of tissues, shampoo, conditioner and Q-tips.

88. There are a few mini hiking trails around campus - the walk to the quarry is a nice one to go on with friends. It'll take around an hour to walk around that area and back.

89. Don't be afraid to ask your profs for extensions; the worst they can say is no but most of the time, they're very understanding and accommodating as long as you put in a decent effort throughout the semester.

90. Applications for most study abroad programmes are on March 15. Make sure you book an appointment with Peggy Imai, the study abroad co-ordinator, at least two months before the application is due. Also look out for e-mails from her regarding deadlines in your SMC inbox. 

Sunday, April 22

Missing Madrid

Beth's 'Things I miss from abroad' post from a few months ago made me realise that I'm also feelings pangs of "homesickness" for my summer "home" in Madrid. Here's my list of things Spanish wonders that I long for...
  • Tortillas
  • The ubiquity of good coffee
  • The metro (except for the 'circular' line that is six flights underground)
  • My pain au chocolat breakfast
  • Red wine
  • The design on iron entrances
  • Shabby lifts
  • Zara
  • Late dinners - even by European standards
  • My incredibly passionate astronomy professors, who are also twin brothers
  • The pedestrian-friendly structuring of the entire city
  • Sliced dry sausages
  • The food market
  • The incredible architecture
  • Going out for expressos with my Guatemalan roommates/"sisters"
  • Wooden floors
  • Fried pork intestines (which sounds terrible, but is really good and can be eaten like popcorn)
  • My household of women
  • Lively dinner debates
  • Dancing until sunrise
  • The heat
  • My Mandarin-speaking Spanish mother
  • Crazy football matches

    Thursday, April 19

    Edgy Texting Technology

    Apart from being able to print from any printer/scanner/fax machine on campus, one of my favorite technologies is the library book search's "Text it!" feature. It allows anyone on campus to get a book's call number texted to them so that nobody with a cell phone will ever have to write down a book ID such as "PS3505.R167fa" again. (It's also eco-friendly!) So, how do you do it? Once you find the result for your desired book, you can scroll down to the "Text it!" link under the "Holdings Information" section (as seen in the photo.) A new tab will pop up that asks for your service provider (there's a list that includes AT&T, Alltel, Nextel, Spring, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Verizon and Virgin - it's really all-inclusive), your phone number and if you'd like - you can add a little reminder for yourself. Once you hit "send text message", it takes a couple minutes to arrive but wait a bit and presto - you'll be ready to go hunt for your book of desire!

    Funny story: one morning I woke up and decided that I wasn't going to have breakfast with my friends at half past seven after all, and in my groggy haze, texted "too sleepy, not coming to breakfast" to the library by accident! 

    Tuesday, April 17

    100 Tips for Life at Saint Mike's : 71 - 80

    Here are 1-1011-2021-30, 31-40, 41-50, 51- 60 and 61-70

    71. A great way to buy textbooks is to put up a message on your graduating class' Facebook page with your required textbooks for the next semester. People are willing to sell some at an astonishingly low price if they can't return it to the bookstore. A macroeconomics textbook that's usually sold for $80 at the bookstore can be sold for $15 on the Facebook page.

    72. Bring a small battery-run lamp or large flashlight for power outages. There's only been one this year, but it's useful when you really need to get work done.

    73. If you're buying coffee at the Knightstand, get a cappucino; you can get regular coffee in Alliot for free with the first-year meal plan and the cappucino tastes much better.

    74. Alliot gets really busy at 8am - get there at before 7.50 or after 9am!

    75. You're not allowed to bring containers into Alliot. I was trying to bring back fried eggs and bagels to serve breakfast in bed to a friend who had fallen ill one day and get scolded by Rosemary (one of the canteen ladies.) Don't do it!

    76. If you really need to concentrate on studying/writing a paper, go to an isolated space without anything but your study materials - no cell phone, no agenda, no other reading materials! And don't tell your friends where you are or commit to activities shortly after your study time. This way, you won't feel rushed and give your studies your full attention.

    77. Allow for a bit of flexibility when you're planning your weekly schedule - professors don't always stick to their syllabi because sometimes the class is lagging a bit behind or advancing very fast.

    78. One of the benefits of being a journalism major: free colour printing. Colour printing isn't even an option on the Pharos printing system for other majors.

    79. Get a desk lamp as soon as possible. The regular dorm lights are a bit harsh, so students tend to buy warmer standing lights but it won't be bright enough to fill the whole room.

    80. If you're taking an economics class, you'll normally need 5-8 coloured pens for graphs - especially in Principles of Microeconomics.

    Sunday, April 15

    Proactiv Dispenser

    Normally, you see candy or soda dispensers - and in some metro stations, magazine dispensers. In the Burlington Town Center Mall, you'll come across a Proactiv acne treatment dispenser. One of the quirky things you encounter living in Vermont ;) 

    Wednesday, April 11

    Personalising a Dorm Room

    Some tips on personalising a dorm room...
    • Add custom carpets. If your room has weird angles, The Perfect Rug makes custom-order rugs and they're delivered within a month. 
    • Figure out your habits and tailor your spaces to them. I put my boot tray in front of my dresser for a month, until I got so annoyed that I couldn't pull out my drawers properly that I moved it behind my desk. On that note, get a boot tray - you'll need it for the winter and rainy season. 
    • You can make plain surfaces more attractive by draping pashimas over them.
    • Paper laterns are a great way to bring some personality into a room.
    • Etsy, eBay and the Wisteria e-shop have a lot of funky furniture that you can order online. If you're looking for ideas for different pieces, you can also check out sites for small living spaces like Dwell and Apartment Therapy. Pintrest will also have a lot of posts in the home decor section
    My friends Lhanzi and Alex taped up paper laterns to make the ceiling more colourful.
    My funky bed-side table from Wisteria
    and a vintage alarm clock from Etsy
    A flexible standing lamp I ordered from Bed, Bath and Beyond.
    Most of the girls on my floor have some variation of this lamp.

    Sunday, April 8

    Faculty Spotlights

    One of the tools that really helped me get to know Saint Michael's College better before deciding to visit was the spotlight archive. This online archive is filled with interviews with professors, current students and alumni so that you're able to get to know the specific departments and your future professors better. This also helped me choose which professors I wanted to meet with during my campus visit and I really recommend doing this because it'll help you get a better feel for the department you'll be involved with during your collegiate experience if you choose to come to SMC.

    Here's what a faculty spotlight looks like - this is Professor Clary, the honors program coordinator and an English professor. The first time I chatted with him during my campus visit, we ended up talking for an hour and a half and then he gave me a comic strip. Meet with him when you visit!

    Thursday, April 5

    Dude, where's my bus? - The CCTA and the SMC shuttle

    For those of us who don't have a car (that is, all first-year students), the CCTA is our main mode of transportation - it's clean, free with the knightcard and runs generally at least every hour. The only catch is that it often doesn't come on time and it doesn't run on Sundays. Below is a full Mon-Sat schedule; note that we're stop #4 and if you're leaving from campus then you'll be looking at the 'Essex Junction to Burlington times'. The most convenient stop to get off at in Burlington is Church St., but there are a few stops around the area if you forget to get off.

    Saint Michael's College bus stop

    That's our bus!

    Headed to Church Street

    Also available is the SMC shuttle onto North Campus for upperclassmen who live in the Ethan Allen apartments, Hamel Hall, Purtill Hall, Linnehan Hall, Dupont Hall or need access to the Sloane Art Center, the Elley-Long Music Center, the Early Learning Center (for education majors) and the Herrouet Theater. There are also concerts at the Turtle Underground on weekends. The shuttle schedule is here

    Monday, April 2

    100 Tips for Life at Saint Mike's : 61 - 70

    Here are 1-1011-20, 21-30, 31-40, 41-50 and 51- 60

    61. Generally, the registration process should be quite smooth (albeit a bit stressful). But take the extra step to confirm with your academic advisor that he/she has cleared you for registration. I've had two friends whose advisors have forgotten to do this and they had an extremely stressful first week back. That being said, if you don't get into some courses there are lots of good courses with extra space during the add/drop session - I chose two of my classes this way. 

    The add/drop period is nine days long. Try to get everything done within the first few days, because you might need access to the course on eCollege in order to complete readings and coursework. Once you hand in the add/drop form to the registrar, your courses should show up on eCollege within a few hours. 

    63. If you have wool sweaters that need to be hand-washed, you can put them in a 'woolens' cycle in the dorm washing machine which will wash it with cold water with a gentle spin. You can then hang it up to dry, and it won't get ruined. 

    64. Go through your syllabi at the beginning of the semester and mark down all the major dates for homework, quizzes, projects, papers and exams that you have for the rest of the semester in your planner. It'll only take 10-15 minutes and you'll never be caught off-guard. It's really essential to see these deadlines and test days coming up; sometimes you'll have three major papers due in one week and you'll need to prepare yourself accordingly.

    65. Eddie's Lounge is a great place to get work done on weekday mornings and it's not usually occupied on Friday nights if you want to watch a movie with friends in a larger space.

    66. If you pull on a door handle too quickly after swiping your Knightcard, it won't let you in and you'll have to wait around 30 seconds until you can re-swipe.

    67. The college health centre is currently unable to prescribe pills for women for birth control reasons, but they will prescribe it for health reasons or refer women to other clinics.

    68. If you lose your Knight card (and somebody finds it) or you lock yourself out, you'll normally have to go to the Student Life office on the first floor of Alliot.

    69. It's really important to check with your academic advisor if your academic plan is feasible. They'll let you know, for example, that students are not able to double major in Psychology and Education because there are too many overlapping courses. But they can also provide you with alternatives like self-designing a major or fulfilling certain courses abroad or during the summer.

    70. Students are able to submit writing pieces for three publications: The Holy Shift (the social justice magazine), The Onion River Review (the literary journal) and The Defender (the news publication).