A big part of my Connecticut College experience for the past three years has been spent at the edge of the Thames River. As a captain of the Varsity Sailing Team, I’ve spent countless practices and competition weekends at the waterfront, a short walk from central campus.
Sometimes right before the weekend starts I realize that I don’t have much work to do. This usually happens in the first three weeks of the semester before all my papers are assigned at the same time. I have no doubt that many people face this dilemma. Hence I have brainstormed some fun activities people can do on-campus during their downtime!
My name is Joaquín Morales, and am a second-year student at Conn. I declared film studies early on because I knew that this was the field I wanted to continue to pursue during and after my time in college. What I have enjoyed most about being a part of the film studies program here so far is the ability to connect my passions to things that happen here on campus. For example, back in December, during the fall semester, I got the opportunity to film Trevor Daniel live for the first time on Conn’s campus. A good friend of mine inspired me to reach out to their management about a week before he was set to perform. I ended up getting an email back shortly after and was then able to coordinate with them and the College to be able to join their crew for the set. Looking back, this was a really awesome experience.
No human likes doing laundry. It’s cumbersome, time-consuming, and annoying but, once in a while, we must. To do laundry at Conn, Camels make the trek down to the laundry room in their residence hall. Doing laundry can sometimes be a struggle in a shared space. But there are a few ways we can make it smoother.
Although I have been living in the US for nearly three years, I generally go home during winter break so I have not had the opportunity to see an abundance of snow. But this February, New London received a large amount of snow so many international students, like me, had the chance to learn how to make a snowman.
We were still in onboarding quarantine at the time and COVID-19 protocols were in place so my friend and I masked and booted up to head outside and finally fulfill my wish of making Olaf. We walked to Tempel Green, which had accumulated a good amount of snow, and saw many students who had started to make their own snowmen. Growing up, I had seen children on TV making snowmen. Thus, I naively thought making Olaf would be quite easy. I was so wrong! I started telling my friend that we should have bought a carrot for Olaf’s nose from the dining hall when the ball I had been rolling started to disintegrate. I tried again and it broke again. On the third try, I had a semblance of a big ball of snow but I accidentally kicked it. The attempt at making Olaf was not going well.
So we improvised. We made a big blob and then made a smaller blob for its head. The blobs definitely weren’t representative of Olaf or a traditional snowman. When we made its face using twigs and leaves, he got further away from innocent Olaf. Our blob, affectionately named Snow Chucky, emanated some scary vibes especially as it was surrounded by happy snowmen. But Snow Chucky proved to be quite resilient as he lasted three days!
One lazy Sunday morning I woke up and pulled the metal cord attached to my blinds to let in a flood of sunshine through the giant double windows in my room in Larabee House. As I was lying in bed enjoying my free time my phone lit up. One of my friends had sent me a direct message on Instagram with a link to a funny video that showed a woman receiving a variety of popular snacks and foods for Valentine’s Day. Although everything in the video looked delicious, one item really caught my attention. It was a Mexican sweet bread called concha. I called my friend to discuss the video. I told her how badly I wanted to try concha. We realized our schedules were free for the day so we made an impulsive decision to travel to a restaurant that my friend had visited in Providence, R.I. Within 30 minutes of our phone call, we picked up another friend at her residence house and we were off to Tienda y Taqueria Puebla to grab lunch.
My favorite part about being a barista at The Coffee Closet in Harkness House is getting to experiment with different drinks. The good, the bad, the ugly—I will make it all. Aside from making my own drinks, I also love to support the other coffee shops on campus, such as the Blue Camel located in Shain Library and Coffee Grounds located a couple of steps away from my residence hall in the Katherine Blunt House. And sometimes when I have a little extra time I make coffee in my room. Needless to say, with all of these options I stay caffeinated. I get bored if I have the same drink every day so I like to order different things from each shop depending on my mood or needs for the day. And during my four years here I definitely have found favorite drinks at each shop.
I was scrolling through Instagram to see what my friends were up to when my thumb immediately stopped on a photo of a giant coco de mer nut. Lola Pierson ’20 posted the image of the nut which was part of “Revisiting the Nut Museum: Visionary Art of Elizabeth Tashjian,” an art exhibit she was helping to construct. I didn't know much about this museum until a couple of days later when I walked into Shain Library and saw a poster that said the exhibit was going to be open to the public in the Cummings Arts Center. I texted my friends to tell them that we HAD to go. The week that it opened, I headed over to Cummings with my friend to see the museum. The first floor of Cummings is a rotating exhibit space curated by the art and art history departments. Sometimes the featured artist is a faculty member, outside artist or a student. It may shock you, but Connecticut College is actually not the birthplace of the Nut Museum. The original museum was created by artist Elizabeth Tashjian (1912 - 2007) who transformed the first floor of her mansion in Old Lyme, Connecticut, into an amazing eclectic ode to nuts. In 2002, Professor of Art History Chris Steiner saved Tashjian’s art/collection, which was then archived at the College. Now the museum has been brought back to life at Conn.
When I came to Conn, I was unsure about what I wanted to major in. I was considering biology as I had liked it in high school and had done well in it. But I was not ready to commit. I also knew that I loved Latin and classics, but I did not think that I wanted to major in those subjects because I thought I wouldn’t go into those fields after graduation. However, by the end of that semester, I changed my mind. I found myself leaning toward a biology and classics double major. The next semester I decided to officially declare those majors and made a plan to fit all the required courses into my next three years at Conn.
I start most days with an abrupt kick of caffeine and the wafting smells of fresh baked goods around me. I do not bake unless it’s in the microwave. But it turns out that you don’t need much baking experience to manage the baked goods schedule at a coffee shop, so long as you have a group of really talented bakers behind you. That’s one of my roles at The Coffee Closet, a student-run cafe on campus. I manage baking, as well as events and communications.
In the spring of my first year, I was hired as a barista at The Coffee Closet. Two years later, I applied for a manager position and was accepted. A lot has changed since my first days serving coffee. For one thing, I only recently learned how to brew hot coffee. When I was a barista, I worked three two-hour shifts a week. Now I work triple that amount. My new role has given me the opportunity to hone my skills in business management, and as part of that role, I thought it was important to understand the process of how every drink is made, inside and out. I can’t manage a coffee shop if I can’t brew coffee.
It’s hard to believe I am mere weeks away from being a rising senior at Conn. After a few more papers and classes, I will be entering my last year at this place I have called home for three years. One of the bittersweet parts of my transition from junior to senior is less about me and more about the people I spend my time with. I’m in a short-form improv group on campus called N20. We meet three times a week to practice our performances. Two members of the group are seniors and this month they will perform their last show at Conn. I will miss their energy and presence but am excited for them too.
The email came the Monday before my senior recital, as I began preparing in earnest to stage my Ammerman Senior Integrative Project in addition to rehearsing with piano instructor Patrice Newman, my accompanist. “Dear Saadya, I am wondering if you might play your Carl Stamitz: Reimagined concerto for Clarinet and Audience at the [Camel Day] Music Forum on April 22 at 9:15 a.m. in Oliva Hall?” Admitted students are invited to Camel Days each year to help them get better acquainted with the College.
One of the more time-consuming activities I’ve been engaged in as I prepare to graduate and move to Colorado for the summer has been changing banks. The last time I did this was four years ago as I was preparing to enter Connecticut College, when I switched my main account from a local bank in Northampton, Massachusetts, to Citizens Bank. Connecticut College has a Citizens Bank ATM. So it made sense for me to switch to this particular bank to avoid any potential ATM fees.
In June 2016, my mother and I went to the Citizens branch in Northampton to open a new checking account. After about an hour of work with a bank representative, I had a folder with details about my new checking account and other Citizens products, reminder card with my new bank account and routing numbers and receipt for a checkbook order that would arrive a week later. I was in business.
As I prepare to move to Colorado, I have realized I can’t keep banking with Citizens. The company’s westernmost branches are located in Michigan and Ohio, so withdrawing any cash while I’m in Colorado would incur needless ATM and bank fees. Before and during spring break, I started analyzing various online banking products as well as the benefits I have from bank accounts already open in my name, including one at Florence Bank, my local bank at home. I eventually settled on depositing my money with two different Internet-based financial institutions. I’ve mainly interacted with Citizens through Internet and phone-based services rather than going into any of their branches. So working with banks that do not have any public offices isn’t too concerning to me. All of these banks have little to no minimum funding requirements and usually allow me to withdraw money from anywhere in the nation without penalty. As someone who’s just getting out of College and trying to build a nest egg while also wanting easy access to my funds, this sort of set up is a relief.
I’ve also started to set up methods to save long-term including a small Roth IRA account, which allows me to start saving for buying a house and/or retirement while earning interest. One of the benefits of the Roth IRA plan over traditional IRAs is that I can withdraw money I initially put into the account (but not money earned in the account) tax-free anytime. While banking and making sure to save money can at times feel scary–knowing that I have a plan makes me feel secure about my future.
My legs swing up as I try to move the top half of my body in a completely different motion than my legs. As I dance, I am listening carefully to the drums, waiting for the moment when the drummers play the break, which cues that the dance will transition to the next step. After an hour and 15 minutes of movement, our teacher Associate Professor of Dance Shani Collins-Achille tells us that class is over. We make our way over to the drummers and thank them by tapping the ground with our hands. Each day I leave class sweating, a little confused and smiling.
New London Hall This has become my favorite day-time studying nook. Whether I have journaling to do for my Pathway course or I need to outline a paper, it’s the perfect spot to do some work while also enjoying the view of everyone walking between classes. For me, it’s a good thinking spot where I can brainstorm and look around. It’s also usually quite easy to find a quiet spot as classes are not always taking place on each floor.
Mondays are THE BEST. Actually, Mondays are generally the worst, but my Mondays this semester are always a highlight of my week. My schedule on Mondays is definitely hectic. The day starts at 9 a.m. with a lecture and then I have obligations with short breaks throughout the day until 8 p.m., when I finally get to rest. You may be wondering, “Daniella, what is so great about having a Monday that's packed with things to do?” Well, like every good story this one involves a dog.
On a beautiful, sunny day in Sydney, Australia, I met some of my greatest friends. While I was studying abroad at the University of Sydney, my friend Isaac from my program knew other Americans studying abroad nearby and we made plans to converge at Watson’s Bay, a popular island near the University. It was the first warm day we had seen in a while and we felt there would be no better place to spend it than at the beach. The crisp water, fish and chips by the shore and breezy ferry ride to and from the island made it was one of my favorite days abroad.
The LGBTQIA Center has always been a space at Conn where I feel comfortable and at home. As a first-year student, when I went to the Center’s annual ice cream social at the beginning of the fall semester, I walked in as a shy new student who knew no one and did not really know who he was yet. The Center’s orange walls made me feel warm inside and, while I met many new people that night, the thing I remember most was the community bond that came out of that orange space. I felt welcome. Even though I was not out at the time it did not matter. I still felt like a part of the community tightly gathered in the room. That feeling drove me to get involved with the Center more and more during my time at Conn. As a senior, I am still involved. I am in the peer mentorship program where first-years and sophomores are matched with juniors and seniors to help guide them through their college experience and answer questions. Being able to help other queer students through their college experience and being able to answer questions that I wish I could have asked someone has been rewarding, to say the least.
Tuesday, February 12, was a snow day at Connecticut College; the campus closed at 11 a.m. I do not have morning classes on Tuesdays, so it was in effect a full snow day for me. I was still in my room in Jane Addams House when I heard the good news and was elated. I soon got a message from my friends asking if I wanted to do an early soup and bread lunch, a Tuesday and Thursday lunch tradition in Jane Addams Dining Hall. I was able to walk down the hall to the dining hall without having to step outside at all, which is a blessing on a snowy day. After a warm soup and bread meal, we went to the Walk-In Coffee Closet, my personal favorite coffee shop on campus conveniently located next to my residence hall. We sat down on the comfy couches and did homework. I find rotating my working locations between Shain Library and the various coffee shops on campus to be helpful—it provides a change of scenery. As we were doing homework we began to talk and time flew by. Later, we smelled an intoxicating aroma coming out of the bakery: someone was making cinnamon buns. The sweet cinnamon smell filled up the small coffee shop and soon I was really craving one. It felt like forever before they were ready but, eventually, I and almost everyone else in the Walk-In indulged. The sweet treat was a perfect complement to the cold day outside. I did not get a lot of my homework done but having a midweek day off and enjoying time with friends was definitely worth it.
The end of the semester is always a busy time for me, and, as I’ve previously written, one of the highlights of this period are the various music department end-of-semester concerts and recitals that I participate in. No matter how intense it gets, the end of semester orchestra concert is still a great highlight and culmination of my hard work. This past semester’s performance was particularly special for me as it presented an impromptu opportunity to play with some of the best musicians in the country—three members of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Band’s trombone section led by Sean Nelson, who is the music department’s trombone professor, in addition to Connecticut College’s own Gary Buttery on tuba, who served as the Band’s principal tubist from 1976-1998. The group constituted our orchestra’s low brass section for our performance of Antonin Dvorak’s Eighth Symphony.