An Interview On
Bowdoin College

Background

Interview Date:June

Gender Identity: Male
Race/Ethnicity: Mixed
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2017
High School Experience: Private school in Baltimore, MD with a graduating class of about 100 students.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Government and Legal Studies
Minor: None – if Arabic counted as a minor I would have minored in that. I just decided to take a lot of classes without worrying about it
Extracurricular Activities: I was a student-athlete, a proctor, a tour guide, and am part of Bowdoin Men Against Sexual Violence. I also worked in a group with the dean’s office to focus on diversity initiatives and student integration and transitions

Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
Being a proctor was just as influential on my experience as playing a sport.

Academic Experience

Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
Mostly a lot of readings with papers every 3 or 4 weeks. There are midterm exams and final papers and final exams depending on the class, sometimes both.

Did you especially like or dislike anything about your major’s department? Did they do anything especially well or poorly?
I thought the professors were phenomenal and I really liked the variety of course options. They covered all the bases in terms of thinkers and ideas. They did a great job of covering everything and then complimented this with guest lecturers and speakers on campus. The professors also did a good job of integrating what we were learning into things happening today.

What was your favorite class you took for your major?
I really liked three. My senior seminar, Conflict Simulation and Resolution, that was debate based so we had to prep for weekly debates in class. In my Political Theory class we read a lot of very prominent political thinkers from many different eras. I also liked International Security.

What was your least favorite class you took for your major?
I didn’t have one for Government. Intro to Macroeconomics was awful, though. It was the first time the professor was teaching the class.

What was a fun class you took outside of your major?
Rebel Yell, a class about punk rock in the music department.

Why did you pick your major?
Because I wanted to study international relations, political science, and pre-law. It fit perfectly because it had all those things and more. People ahead of me also recommended it so that helped.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Double in West Hall. We had two rooms: a bedroom and a living room. It was very nice.

Sophomore: I was a Proctor, so I had a Proctor’s room in Hyde Hall, which is a freshman dorm. It was a massive single.

Junior: Brunswick Apartments in a triple. We had two bedrooms, a kitchen, and living room, so two people had to share a bedroom. I then went abroad in the spring.

Senior: Harpswell Apartments. There were four of us living in a townhouse style apartment with three bedrooms, living room, and kitchen.

What was your favorite living situation?
Harpswell was my favorite but I loved all of them honestly. I was very happy with my housing situation at Bowdoin.

What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
Little Tokyo for the atmosphere, Sher Punjab for the food.

What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
Off-campus housing. I don’t know it didn’t really happen that often. We went to Portland a couple of times. We also went to the Harpswell Sound for day trips. Driving around Brunswick and Maine is really pretty.

Pros and cons of being in Brunswick?
Pros: (1) You get a small college town feel.
(2) Unbelievable food selection.
(3) Portland is only a 30-45 min drive away and Boston is 2.5 hours away.

Cons: (1) It’s a very white area. If you’re not used to that it can be difficult.
(2) Sometimes you can get claustrophobic. The bubble is very real.
(3) If you don’t like the cold that sucks, but you also chose Maine so that’s your fault.

Social Opportunities

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
I tend to go out Friday and Saturday night. Where you go varies as you get older. Freshman and sophomore year people go to college houses, or if you’re on a sports team your team’s house. As you get older, you go to off-campuses depending on what club or sports team you’re on, or where your friends live, so maybe upperclassmen housing. Bowdoin is all house parties. There are a couple of bars but people tend to go there on Tuesday and Thursday nights.

College House parties can register kegs. The college gives you a budget that you can spend on food and other things that you need to throw a party, campus safety comes and checks whatever amount of beer you registered, and then you won’t get in trouble if you have a party.

What are your favorite days or nights at Bowdoin like?
Ivies is the big one. Quad day on Ivies is great. It’s when you’re like a real college and you can have day parties outside and nobody cares what you do. The best days are when you’re at the team house doing stupid stuff with your close friends.

What are some other options if you don’t want to go out to a party or bar?
A lot of people go on Outing Club trips. They go skiing, hiking, kayaking all over New England, or they just have get-togethers at their own places. Hanging out at SuperSnacks is really popular.

How happy are you with the weekend options at Bowdoin? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I was personally very satisfied with it. I prefer house parties to bars, so it was exactly what I wanted. I know a lot of people that were very unsatisfied with it, especially with regards to diversity. It was a very white-dominated space that was centered around drinking. I know a lot of students, especially students of color, who did not think they had a good social experience at Bowdoin. By senior year I was ready to be done with it, though.

Campus Culture

How did you make your closest friends?
Through my sport and residential life mostly, also classes.

Do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
It depends on whom you talk to. Everyone has different experiences. For the most part, the Bowdoin scene is very White and heteronormative. [In the Class of 2022 35% of students of color.] If you’re not comfortable with that and not constantly pushing yourself out of your comfort zone it can be difficult. It’s also tough because it also puts the burden on those people. The Bowdoin social scene demands a lot from people who aren’t comfortable with those spaces, so those people sometimes aren’t satisfied. This happens especially with people from urban and diverse areas. It shocks you freshman and sophomore year, but you learn the lay of the land later on. I’ve also learned from other people that the homosexual people can get frustrated because there aren’t that many of them so you run through options quickly.

How would you describe the social scene?
One thing that’s a buzz phrase is the athlete and non-athlete divide. I think it’s more nuanced than that, but I’m also coming from an athlete’s perspective. As you go through Bowdoin those barriers break down, but I think that people hang out with their shared interest groups, like sports teams, clubs, and college houses. People that are involved in multiple groups have a diverse group of friends, but if you’re only in one you’ll just be with them.

Do people seem happy with Bowdoin by their senior year?
I think people are happy they go through Bowdoin for the name and the degree. I think a lot of people, especially minorities, have a lot of frustration with Bowdoin and felt let down by Bowdoin at certain times for good reasons. I personally love Bowdoin. There is a lot of Bowdoin pride, and people like saying they went to Bowdoin. I think it has problems but I think that it is doing more than other places to change and they have the right people in place to change.

Careers

Has the alumni network helped you with internships or jobs?
Yes. My past boss’ brother went to Bowdoin so he looked for interns there. I’ve spoken to numerous alums in the job search process and many of my friends have used the alumni network.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Bowdoin before you entered as a freshman?
I wish I knew that counseling was a thing that a lot of students used and that it’s a very normal thing.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Check out the art and athletic facilities because you don’t get those on a tour. The studios, recital halls, practice rooms, and gym are all top of the line.

Reasons to attend Bowdoin:
1) Faculty and staff are phenomenal
2) Maine is amazing
3) You’ll certainly grow as a person
4) The food is unbelievable. [Bowdoin is consistently ranked as a top school for food.]
5) You’ll make some of the best friends you’ve ever had

Reasons to not attend Bowdoin:
1) Maine is very homogenous. [About 93% of Maine residents are White.]
2) If you don’t like the cold don’t go.
3) Sometimes the Bowdoin bubble can feel claustrophobic
4) If you’re not comfortable with heteronormative white spaces being the norm, then it can be difficult. [About 67% of students are White.]

Notice: Bowdoin College is a trademark. Induck uses it for descriptive purposes, not to imply affiliation with, endorsement from, or sponsorship by Bowdoin College.

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