BackgroundInterview Date:April 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Graduation Year: 2019
High School Experience: I went to a public high school just outside of Boston, MA with about 250 students in the graduating class. There was a culture of going to college.
Major: Sociology and Anthropology (SOAN) and Political Science double major. Sociology and Anthropology is one major, they group them together.
Extracurricular Activities: I’m a student-athlete, I work at the organic farm on campus, and I’m a tour guide.
Did any extracurricular activity have a particularly big impact on your experience?
Yeah, I would definitely say the college farm, but not until recently. I interned there over the summer and got to know people from corners of the campus that I never would have experienced if I had just been a regular athlete.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
Mainly readings and then essays.
Is there anything you feel either of your majors’ departments do especially well or poorly?
I think that the SOAN department in particular does a really good job of having a diverse range of professors with a diverse range of interests. I had a prospective student asking me about tracks within Sociology and if you have to pick certain areas to focus on. You don’t have to pick, but like there is a professor that specializes in environmental justice and there are professors that are interested in workers’ rights and unions and I think that’s really great, especially for such a small college. You do get to take some classes with some specialization.
What has been your favorite class in your majors?
Anthropology Theory, it gave me a very deep knowledge of the subject and has made my experience in all other SOAN classes not just easier in that it’s easier to dive into detail and understand when you have the theoretical background knowledge for everything you’re studying. It was also just a great class. We got to do a lot of hands on activities. We chose a group on campus and did fieldwork to gather data and then applied the theory that we were learning in essays.
What has been your least favorite class in your majors?
Political Sociology, even though it sounds like something that would be perfect for me, it was a new professor in his new semester but I’ve heard since then he is very good.
Why did you choose your majors?
I came into Middlebury thinking I was going to be a Math and Classics major and took Calculus 2 and decided that was not for me. I then decided to take as many random classes as possible. I ended up in the Intro to Anthropology class and really liked it, so I just kept taking more. It wasn’t something I expected to like because I didn’t really know what it was.
How was it managing your sport and your coursework?
It’s definitely doable. My coach especially understands you are a student-athlete and, since we are a Division III school, your academics come first before athletics. If I do have a particularly stressful day he’s just like, “Oh yeah, do your workout on your own time.”
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
I was in Cook Commons
Junior: Palmer, which is a superblock, so you apply with a group of 30 people. So, me and 29 of my friends live in a house together.
What was your experience with the Commons System? Did you like it?
Yeah, I actually really liked it. I would say like 40% of my close friends are from my commons and it was nice to have people around. I actually kind of miss living with the people I was with my freshman and sophomore year. It’s weird not seeing them around campus all the time now. I really liked the common system. It was a really nice support system because you are with people that you know for the first two years when you’re getting acclimated. You also have your dean and a lot of residential life staff living in your dorm for support.
Can you describe the level of safety you have experienced on and around campus?
I think it’s really safe. Vermont is one of those places where people don’t lock their cars. I think generally most people feel safe. I leave my things in the library. Like I could leave my stuff unattended and nobody would take it.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
Sabai Sabai, it’s a delicious, cheap Thai restaurant.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
The Knoll, or the Middlebury College Farm. It’s not technically on campus, but it’s just down Route 125 and probably a 10-minute walk from campus. It’s the most easily accessible place to get removed from academic life. It’s generally pretty beautiful there are lilac bushes and outdoor classrooms so you can do work there if you want to.
Pros and cons of being in Middlebury, VT?
Pros: (1) There are so many outdoor opportunities like skiing and hiking. We have our own ski mountain. There is this thing called J Term where you only take one class and you can spend your free time doing those activities during the peak of winter.
(2) I feel like I would never live in Vermont except during these four years. I don’t know when else I would get to experience this.
Cons: (1) Feeling isolated from major cities. Burlington is only 45 minutes away, it’s not a big city but it’s not small either. It’s great if you want more nightlife options, restaurants, bars, etc.
(2) The winters are tough, especially if you’re not used to it. One of my friends is from Los Angeles and she definitely didn’t have any conception of how cold Vermont really would be. Like she knew it would be cold, but she struggled a lot and promptly got herself a parka. This past winter was one of the coldest winters and springs Vermont has had in [a long time]. It was pretty much a winter that lasted for six months.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
I guess most of the time I’m able to go out Saturday nights because Friday nights are the nights before meets. Saturday nights are also the biggest nights here. Mainly social life on Saturday is hosted by the social houses. Anybody can join social houses if they want and each house has a specific theme, like one is community engagement, one is arts house, and so on. They are very inclusive. Sports teams also host parties. I find myself going to more parties thrown in sports suites or houses and off-campus houses. The majority of things happen either at Atwater Suites, Ridgeline Townhouses, and off campus.
There are a lot of great options for people over 21 too. Monday nights is Big Beer Monday at a bar in town you just sit down at a table with a group of your friends. It’s very relaxed and you get locally made beer which is fun. Then there’s bar night which is Thursday night at the one bar in town that everyone over 21 will flock to. That’s really fun, that’s the closest thing we have that is more of a club feel.
What is an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
On Wednesdays, there are open mic performances, casually known as WOMP. One of my friends performs pretty regularly so I go to support her. People don’t always drink, sometimes people are hanging out with their craft beers. Also The Moth once a month on Thursday nights there is a live storytelling event. It’s one of my favorite things to go to. Community members, students, and faculty have a 10-minute time limit to tell stories.
How happy are you with the nightlife at Middlebury? Is there anything you would change?
I would say I’m pretty happy with it because obviously Middlebury’s a pretty demanding course load, so it’s nice that there aren’t too many distractions during the week. I think that also means that things that are happening on the weekends are pretty fun because most people are going to try to go to them. For that typical nightlife scene, it’s pretty good because you can study during the week and then everyone goes out on the weekends.
How did you meet your closest friends?
Through my Commons and mutual friends. There was one girl who was friends with all of my current friends.
To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
Not the most, like there definitely are cases where people feel isolated, but I also don’t think it’s the most pressing issue on campus.
How would you describe the social scene at Middlebury?
I would say it’s pretty lively. I am definitely really happy and comfortable with it. If I had to describe it, I’d say it’s pretty party-oriented, but with that being said, some of my most enriching interactions are sitting in Proctor [dining hall] on a Sunday morning waiting for people to roll through after a night out, or just in the morning waiting for people to go to class and talking to people across the breakfast table. It’s definitely party-centric, but that’s not a necessary part of my experience.
How would you describe the student body?
Most students are pretty preppy, but there’s also the alternative crowd and the “crunchy granola” crowd.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew before entering Middlebury as a freshman?
Your dean and your residential life support staff are there to help you with something personal that is overwhelming you and compromising your ability to do schoolwork. I started meeting with my dean this year and it’s changed my whole Middlebury experience.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
If you’re into hiking, I’d recommend hiking Snake Mountain. You get a really nice view of Lake Champlain and it’s only 20 minutes away from campus.
Reasons to attend Middlebury:
Other than the Pros I said about the location, I would say that people at my high school were very into social climbing and were competitive with what colleges they were getting into and all of that, and that’s something that isn’t true at Middlebury. Everybody is so friendly to each other here.
Reasons to not attend Middlebury:
The isolation and the winter are the two worst things about being here. In general, I have really enjoyed my time here.