Saturday, June 20, 2009

My First End/New Beginning

Even if I say that I won't be a sophomore until school starts again in the fall, there's no way to pretend that my first year at Swat isn't over. I definitely did not spend enough time documenting all the new things I experienced, but maybe that's a good thing as I had an opportunity to "live in the moment." But even though at times I've been really bad at keeping my blog up to date, I'm not giving up on blogging.

Although my first year at school is over, I've still got plenty of things happening that are both worth recording and Swarthmore related. This summer I'll be traveling to Otavalo, Ecuador with the Village Education Project, a program started by Swarthmore alum Katie Chamblee. I'll stay there for four weeks to teach math and english to students preparing for high school. Students who successfully complete the program will receive a scholarship that covers the costs of attending high school, including transportation and uniforms.

I think this new experience deserves a new blog, something separate from the world of Swarthmore. You can follow it here:

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

My First Spanish Essay

This post is pure procrastination. 

But I have to write my first ever critical essay in Spanish, quite a daunting task. Spanish has been my hardest class this semester, probably my hardest class at Swat, and possibly my hardest class ever. It meets everyday, so I never get a chance to put off assignments. And while I manage to keep up with the day to day assignments, worksheets and book work for the TTH grammar section and readings for the MWF "drill" section, there are also long term projects (such as this one) looming over my head.

The hardest thing about this essay is that it brings me the closest I've ever been to thinking in Spanish. I'm writing in Spanish about a book I read in Spanish, so there's really no room for English to intervene. 

My friend Sarah asked me once over dinner if I felt that I write differently when I write in Spanish. She's a junior and knows the language well enough that it takes her as much time to write an essay in Spanish as in English. "I really think I write differently," she says, or something like it. 

As I write this essay, I'm trying to negotiate this empty space, or rather, this space where I'm not in control of the words. My thoughts, and the words that actually come out on the page, are limited by my vocabulary and knowledge of grammar. I am sure that I'm writing differently because of these constraints, but I'm also sure that this isn't what Sarah means at all.

Are these things I would say in English (if I were in the sixth grade)? Is my organizational scheme somehow different? 

But in my frustration (and procrastination) I begin to wonder if I will ever know if something's different, if I will ever have the upper hand in this battle for expression, if I will ever hold the reins tight enough to know that what comes out is me, and not the lack of the right word.  

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My First Internship

Not only was it beautiful out today, I got a chance to get off campus and read poetry. Professor Betsy Bolton invited all twelve of the Poetry Workshop participants to help a Drexel professor read through manuscripts for the Saturnalia Press manuscript contest.

A fellow student and I had a little adventure: got on the train, navigated the city on our own, bought Auntie Anne's pretzels. 

We sat in the corner of Drexel's basement Writing Center and read through manuscripts, discussing what we should think about when choosing yes, no, or maybe. We learned quickly and got started, marveling at the stacks of unopened manila envelopes teetering in his office. It's weird to think that next year one of them will become a book that you could hold in your hands, complete with cover art and a spine waiting to be broken in.

On the train ride home, we dreamed about staying on campus through July 1 (when the process ends). Something idyllic (and perhaps causing the men and women commuting home from work on the express train to think of us as cliche): reading manuscripts out loud in the outdoor amphitheater, discussing poetry, cooking our own meals.

Turns out there's no partial summer housing on campus. Students who are specifically working at the college get first preference. And no air conditioning. Ugh.

Maybe we'll house sit for some professor. 

Saturday, March 14, 2009

My First Absence

As Chief would say in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Next, "I been away a long time."

Perhaps I could blame it on the lack of firsts. As spring semester started, I settled into a routine. I know what goes on in all the buildings. I've tried every meal on the rotating Sharples menu. I've even seen Swarthmore in every season (yup, it really looks like Spring is starting, just like Punxsatawney Phil predicted). 

But it would probably be a little bit dishonest, a little bit of a shiny gloss. The truth would be something more like "I forgot" or "I didn't have the time." The routine of Swarthmore somehow managed to suck up all my time. I forgot a lot of things. Like calling my mom on Friday afternoons (but maybe that had nothing to do with being busy and a little more to do with wanting to feel independent). And washing my clothes once every week. 

Right now I'm home for Spring Break and rather than doing spring cleaning (since my room here is so empty that it can't help but be neat) I'm making some belated resolutions. 

Or maybe just one big resolution: to maintain a balance. 

I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

My First Reading Week

Classes ended last Tuesday, but I have yet to take an exam or turn in a paper. I've been living in this strange space where very little is specifically required of me, but I know that I will face severe consequences if I don't get stuff done. So I've been combing intense study sessions with Gilmore Girls marathons and hour-long Sharples' dinners.

I owe part of my freedom to a two day "reading week" that lasted from Wednesday to Thursday. But after that ended, I still didn't have any exams. My first exam is tomorrow night at seven. I'm not sure how I feel about an exam at night, but I'll find out soon.

The other part of my nearly complete lack of stress is the knowledge that this is my last week of pass/fail. Next semester I get real grades. Next semester it matters. So for now, I'll focus on those things that are important to me: making lasting friendships, writing my first year seminar paper, and relaxing. The rest of it can take up residence on the back burner.  

Saturday, November 22, 2008

My First Snow Day

So you'd think, what with us all living on campus, that college students would be deprived that wonderful thing called a snow day. But yesterday I had one.

Although not all classes were cancelled, my philosophy professor was unable to make it to campus because of the two inches of snow that must have filled her driveway. But by the time we found out, it was already time for class and all of us had already gotten out of bed, pulled on our boots, and walked to class. 

So instead of climbing back into bed (which at that point was a bit far away for me at least) we climbed up the stairs of the philosophy building and onto the roof. Up there, surveying the white campus and the bundled up passers-by, we had a snowball fight. There were some girls from Georgia who had never seen so much snow before, so they eagerly ate snow and made snow angels.

But even us northerners were excited.

After our fight, we went down to the Kohlberg coffee bar and got warm drinks. We chatted about the classes we're picking out for next semester and warmed up. 

My second class was not cancelled. I spent the whole thing staring out the window at some kids building a huge snowman. 

Mmmmh. Snow.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My First Snow

It snowed today!!!

I've seen snow before, but not here.

I dropped my work and ran outside to run around and childishly attempt to catch the tiny flakes on my tongue.