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Joaquín Morales ’23

Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Major: Film Studies
Center: Ammerman Center
Activities: POCA (cinematographer), MOCA, Genesis (Big-Sib Program)

Favorite aspect of Connecticut College: 
The ability to connect with my peers and teachers in an intimate way given the smaller size of the school.

Favorite memory at Connecticut College:
My favorite memory at Conn is when I started filming this passion series early on during my first semester on campus. We got to feature different students and what they enjoy doing. It was a great way to meet new people, and to continue filming.

Favorite activity in New London or the region:
I love going to Jake’s Diner right on State Street by the train station. It was the first diner I visited when I got to campus, and have built a cool relationship with the owners.

Four Years with the Experience

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

I have been dreading but also looking forward to this day. After four years, this is my last blog post for The Experience. I joined The Experience on my second day at Connecticut College and coincidentally, it was my birthday! The primary goal for this blog is to give prospective students a small glimpse into what life at Conn feels like.

In my selfish way, I have used this platform to reflect on some of my most monumental moments at Conn. I had many firsts here. There was my first snowman, my first time at the beach, and my first time trying lobster! I documented some major milestones: my CISLA internship, my All-College Symposium experience, and declaring my majors! I also had the opportunity to talk about more overarching experiences that heavily influenced my time here, the most notable being my journey as a student leader. I also tried to give prospective international students some tips to acclimate themselves to the US and Conn. Many have had the same experience as me — they did not visit Conn or the U.S. before starting the semester. Hence, blogs written by international students was one of the best ways they could get some practical advice before they arrived. I spoke about what I pack, what I like to eat in the dining halls, and how annoying long plane rides can be when they are delayed. 

 

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Last Camel Day

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

Samirah and two students pose for a photo with the camel mascot
Camel Day 2019 as a student advisor!

As an international student, I never had a chance to do in-person visits to any college. I think being able to see the place where I would live for four years would have helped calm my nerves. Although I did not get this chance, Camel Days, days in which admitted students are invited to campus, are still one of my favorite times of the year. The sense of community on Camel Days is different. There is something energizing in the air. In the spring of my first year, I had the chance to interact with numerous accepted students as a student adviser during Camel Days. Unfortunately, the 2019 Camel Days were the last in-person ones due to COVID-19. So when the Office of Admissions announced that in 2022 Conn would be welcoming accepted students from the Class of 2026 to in-person Camel Days, I was thrilled; and, when they asked me to speak to students in the morning, I was honored.

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Training for the Dream Job

- The Experience, Joaquín Morales ’23

A shot of the crowd at the Flo Rida concert
Backstage at the concert

I ended up declaring film studies as my major early on in my time here at Conn which has inspired me to pursue some memorable experiences. For example, a couple weeks ago I was asked to document Flo Rida’s set at the Hartford HealthCare Amphitheater in Bridgeport, CT, on behalf of Respective Collective, an NYC-based production company. My friend MJ, who coincidently lives in the same residence hall as I do, was also brought on because of her experience in concert photography–something that Respective also needed for the event. This ended up being one of my favorite concert cinematography gigs because of the energy that Flo and his team brought to the venue, as well as having grown up listening to a lot of his music. The venue was about an hour away from campus which called for a nice drive. MJ and I caught a nice sunset during the trip. We both agreed that it was really cool to have been able to do this because of our passion for both live concert photography and cinematography; it truly felt like we were living our dream careers for a day.

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Hacking JA

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

As a senior, I have come to appreciate any customizable food experience Conn can offer me. This year, I have particularly enjoyed Jane Addams (JA) Dining’s lunches where you can make your own panini.

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Top 5 Things to Do on a Weekend at Conn

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

The arboretum pond mid-summer
Look for turtles in the Arboretum!

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!

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CCEmpower Show

Samirah Jaigirdar ’22 - The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

Students pose for a group photo at CCEmpower
Group shot by MJ Peters

In my first spring semester at Conn, I went to Palmer Auditorium to watch CCEmpower’s annual show. The purpose of CCEmpower is to perform a show that represents women and non-binary students across varying identities through unique, but unifying voices. CCEmpower's show involves Conn students submitting monologues that showcase their lived experiences. The goal of this organization is to create an inclusive space to bring students together and reflect on their lived experiences, while also raising money and awareness for Safe Futures, an essential service in Southeastern Connecticut that provides support for survivors of domestic abuse.

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International Student Hacks: Packing Edition

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

As an international student, it can be hard to figure out what you need to pack into the two suitcases your airline allows you to carry. Over the years, I have forgotten many key things at home which I realized midway through the flight. Hence, I have come up with a list of things you should bring:

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Festivus with Trevor Daniel

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. 

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The Last Spring 

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

This winter break, I did not go home to Bangladesh. Instead, I stayed in the U.S. and visited my friend in Los Angeles. After my brief trip, I came back to campus early. Most students were not back and the quiet serenity gave me some time to reflect on the parts of Conn I will miss the most as I start my last semester here.

Getting Mozzarella Sticks from Oasis
Nothing can quite live up to an impromptu Oasis Cafe visit with my friends at midnight. Whether it’s after a hard night in Shain Library during midterms or on a Saturday during a hangout, the Oasis mozzarella sticks hit all my salty and cheesy cravings.

Sprinting to Tempel Green to take photos of the sunset
I have lost count of how many times I have spied a sliver of either orange or pink from the windows of Shain Library and I raced to Tempel Green to take a photo of the sunset behind Harkness Chapel. As I grew up in a crowded city, I rarely saw such a magnificent sight. Thus, Conn sunsets hold a special place in my heart.

Getting a mid-afternoon coffee from Coffee Grounds
I like to use our student-run coffee shops as a study break. I particularly like visiting Coffee Grounds as a lot of the baristas and bakers are my friends. My recommendations for CG are their matcha lattes and shaken espresso with a cinnamon shot.

SGA General Assemblies on Thursdays
Throughout my junior and senior year, I have been heavily involved with Conn’s Student Government Association. We usually hold our general meetings on Thursdays, hence, it has become a weekly constant in my schedule. It’s a great forum for students to make their voices heard, get involved with a co-curricular activity, and an opportunity to make friends who are not in my class year or major.

Cooking with my roommate in our on-campus apartment
In my senior year, I was lucky enough to get an on-campus apartment with one of my best friends. She was my roommate in my first year of Conn. We wanted to come full circle and be roommates in our senior year too. Having a kitchen to cook in at the end of the day has been a great stress reliever after a long day of classes and SGA appointments.

Late nights in Shain Library
If you couldn’t tell by this blog post, I spend a lot of time in Shain Library. But I don’t study all the time there. Shain first floor is my second home on campus. I hang out with my friends and occasionally, do some work. We have two tables we always sit at and we run into the same groups of people which makes Shain the most comforting place on campus.

My Professors
I always say that “the people make Conn.” Throughout my time at Conn, I had the pleasure of working with numerous professors who I have depended on heavily. Starting from getting help outlining my papers during my first semester to advising me on my graduate school applications, my professors have made my Conn experience so much better. Conn’s small class sizes and the frequency of office hours have ensured that my professors know me well. These relationships served me well for graduate school applications as they advised me on whether a particular program was suitable for me.

These are small snapshots of the things that have made my Conn experience memorable. In my last semester, I intend to enjoy all of these while eating as many Mozzarella sticks as possible. 

 

 

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Changing Scope

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

Samirah stands behind the podium in front of a projector to present her project at the All-College Symposium. A panel of students sits on the stage awaiting their turn.
Presenting at the All-College Symposium

It’s been two years since I attended Conn’s first All-College Symposium, where seniors present their integrative learning in the Connections curriculum. At that time, I found it hard to believe that I would someday have a cohesive senior integrative project (SIP) for the Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts (CISLA). In a SIP, seniors integrate their major, coursework, research, and internship experience in the form of an honors thesis or an independent study project and then present it at the symposium. It is a big undertaking and as a sophomore, I felt quite overwhelmed thinking that I’d have to have a perfectly finalized idea for my SIP by the time I would present my senior year at the symposium. 

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A Foodie’s Adventures Through the Capital

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

I have not been on any kind of vacation since the pandemic started. So when Fall Break rolled around this year, all I wanted to do was go somewhere. I did not care where as long as I didn’t have to think or talk about my academics. For my final Fall Break at Conn, a couple of my friends and I went to Washington, D.C. I had two goals: visit as many museums as possible and try as many new foods as possible. I definitely excelled at the second goal.

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My CISLA Internship

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

When I was accepted into the Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts (CISLA) in the fall of my sophomore year, I never thought I’d be forced to search for my international internship (which is a traditional part of the CISLA program) during a global pandemic. I also did not think I would be doing a remote internship. I was excited about furthering my Arabic language skills during my study abroad semester in Morocco and then a summer internship, also in Morocco, where I would be strengthening my professional linguistic skills. However, Covid-19 forced me to change my plans. 

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My Student Leader Journey

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

It’s hard to believe I am a senior at Conn. I still remember my first few days here like it was yesterday. I arrived at night, geared up for international student orientation the next day. I had never actually been to campus prior to my arrival, so I didn’t really know where things were except my residence hall and the dining hall. So when my schedule told me to go to Tempel Green for ice-breakers and the start of Odyssey, I was quite lost. I meandered around trying to find Tempel Green until a very kind person pointed out that I was actually walking around it. Mortified and embarrassed, I remember uttering a thank you and running away. This was pretty much me the entire orientation.

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A Bittersweet Spring  

- The Experience, Lexi Pope ’21  - The Experience, Lexi Pope ’21

Student with a Connecticut College shirt on decorates cookies with colored frosting.
My roommate, Molly and I enjoying a little finals stress-reliever decorating some graduation themed cookies her mom sent to our house! graduation-themed

Every year in New London when the sun starts to shine and Tempel Green becomes busier and warmer there’s a hopeful and happy feeling in the air. This year especially, it feels even more special to get to gather with friends outside and the feeling of hope finally feels present.

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The Bibliography Stage 

- The Experience, Lexi Pope ’21  - The Experience, Lexi Pope ’21

The sidewalk in front of Shain Library lined with trees with pink buds on them and blue skies behind
Spring on campus means commencement is just around the corner

Senior spring is like the bibliography part of a paper. You’re at the very end and it’s a struggle sometimes. This metaphor came to me as I sit here attempting to finish a paper of my own. The assignment is very manageable and I know exactly what I’m writing, yet I find myself taking far too long to complete a single paragraph. This is when I realized that–– and made the excuse for myself—I have senioritis!

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Grad School

- The Experience, Lexi Pope ’21  - The Experience, Lexi Pope ’21

Last year if someone had told me I would not only have applied but been accepted into one of my top choice graduate schools I assure you I would not have believed them. While this pandemic has certainly taken away many good things from my senior year, it also provided me with something even bigger. During the past year, and summer, I had time I never had before. For the first time since I can remember, I had nothing going on and nowhere to go, and nothing to do other than learn to be with myself and sit with my own thoughts. This turned out to be the most productive time for me. Through my remote summer internship working for The Crisis Text Line, I discovered that I wanted to pursue my studies in Psychology. However, rest assured–– this was not something I woke up one morning and decided. It was a slow, long process of researching, thinking, and more researching. 

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Grad School To-Do List 

- The Experience, Lexi Pope ’21  - The Experience, Lexi Pope ’21

I love a good to-do list, especially ones when there is a longer timeline. Applying to graduate school can be a months-long process, so I hope this helps! I would also like to note that timing may change based on your program of choice, school, etc. I received guidance on my timeline from the American Psychological Association’s website as I applied to Psy.D. programs. So, if your program has a website similar to this, check it out!

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Laundry Hacks

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

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.

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Meet My Mentor

- The Experience, Lexi Pope ’21  - The Experience, Lexi Pope ’21

Is it possible to still have camel moments in your senior year?! By your second week at Conn you will know (and probably will have heard it said a million times) what a camel moment is. We define this as a time (in my case, many times!) that you felt and knew you were meant to be part of this community. For some, this happens before they even begin their first-year. For others it happens at the end of sophomore year, and for me they happen all the time. I had yet another camel moment this fall when I was introduced to a camel alumna who has taken the time to not only help and guide me through the graduate school application process, but has gotten to know me on a more personal level. Ida is a student working towards her doctorate in clinical psychology — the same path that I will begin in the fall of 2021.

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My First Snowman

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

A lumpy, scary looking snowman with stick ears, hands, and mouth with
Snow Chucky, in all his glory!

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! 

 

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