Bryn Mawr Day was actually last Saturday on September 6, but I didn't get around to writing this post--or doing anything blog-related really--until now. Quoting The Script's "Breakeven", I'm still alive but I'm barely breathin' haha. I really am enjoying my time here at Bryn Mawr College, have been trying to get around, meet people, join clubs, do homework, and get sleep, because it's really hard to get hyped up about something when you're devoting all your energy to keeping your eyelids up. For the most part, I've managed to sleep before midnight, but what I have not managed to do was keep up with my blog, not to mention the rest of the blogosphere.
Anyways, Bryn Mawr Day was a free family fun day celebrating (I'm assuming) the town of Bryn Mawr, and included activities such as tasting restaurants, visiting shops, riding firetrucks, seeing the traveling zoo, watching the circus, taking a history tour, shopping the farmers' market, hearing musical performances by Radio Disney, and much more.
By Bryn Mawr Day, I had finished one week of the Tri-College Identity, Equity, and Social Justice Institute, one week of Customs (which is what we call our freshman orientation), and one week of classes, but not once did I visit town or even leave campus for that matter, so this was the day.
'Twas hot. But 'twas worth it. Unfortunately I didn't get to spend the day with my family like many kids of the town got to do, but this allowed me to do things at my own pace, which was really slowly... although now I realize that it may have been helpful to have an extra hand carrying things for me as I took pictures. I couldn't get into the petting zoo because I was holding all the food I bought but didn't finish eating! You must understand the struggles of an amateur photographer and appreciate that behind every shot you see are a hundred failed attempts.
So where the hell have I been for the last three weeks?
August 20, 2014 - August 25, 2014 Tri-College Identity, Equity, and Social Justice Institute
Coming from an international community, I know that many of us like to think we're such worldly people having lived abroad for so long. We're aware that our socio-economic status gives us privilege, but we join charities that open our eyes to the problems of the real world, so that makes us cultured people, right? Well I hate to break it to you, but it really doesn't.
(an interesting topic to look into would be "white man's burden")
Though I cannot speak for all the international kids out there, from my own experience, I would have to say that I was stuck in the international bubble. After eight years in Beijing, China, I still cannot tell you anything about the local life, except for my brief trips to rural villages as a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, and my love for 煎饼.
Tri-Co was such an eye-opening experience for me. Until now, I did not fully grasp what diversity encompassed. Until now, I thought that my high school, composed of students from different countries, was diverse, though most of us were just middle/upper class, heterosexual, cis-gendered, able-bodied, American born Somethings. Who knew there were so many ways you could categorize social identity? (race, ethnicity, nationality, socio-economic class, age, biological sex, sexual orientation, gender, religion/spiritual affiliation, physical/emotional/developmental ability, first language)
What I was most amazed by was how open everyone was about themselves. Stories were shared revealing the most vulnerable parts of us, and though through tears, we knew we were in a safe environment. Nay, not just safe, but liberating!
(an interesting topic to think about would be "tolerance vs. acceptance")
At least in the groups I was in, the two most passionately discussed topics were of cultural appropriation and microaggressions. What do you think?
There was so, so, so much more that we talked about, but I guess after five 12-hour days, you couldn't expect any less. I remember one lunch-time conversation towards the end of the program in which we voiced how grateful we were to be surrounded by people with so much substance, who had endured so much, who had overcome so much, who were concerned about things that mattered. And we were nervous about what these meaningful conversations would evolve into once everyone else trickled in for freshman orientation. Would we gradually return to meaningless smalltalk, trying to get to know someone, but never getting there? We'll see how it goes.
"The days are long, but the years are short." -The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
(a book recommended to me by fellow ISB Tri-Co Kevin)
The program has ended, but I really feel like I'm just beginning.
Tri-Co at Swarthmore College, photo credit Bobby
August 27, 2014 - September 1, 2014 Customs Week
To be honest, it was all a blur.
I am housed in Brecon, which is the furthest dorm. Furthest from what? you ask. From everything!! It's literally the campus on one side, a road, and Brecon on the other side, so we like to joke and say that we have off-campus housing. The dining halls are on the opposite end of campus, so every morning I make the trek (well, depending on whether I decide I need food more or sleep more). The one thing we are close to is the gym, so hopefully that'll be motivation to pop by there more often. Maybe with all these obstacles in the way, the freshman fifteen will have a harder time catching up to me.
The point is, because of this, friends hardly ever come down to Brecon to visit us, though they say they will. Breconites bond over this hardship, and so from what I've been told, we are usually a tight-knit group. This time around it's a little different though. Athletes arrived on campus first (many housed in Brecon), then came the Tri-Co students (majority housed in Brecon), then the international first-years, then the domestic first-years, and then everyone else. Because of this, we felt a separation before Customs even started. We still don't even recognize everyone on our floor, which is pretty sad. On the bright side, this is not the case for the other Customs groups, so everyone else is getting along fine. I guess Brecon is just weird. I remember thinking that I just wanted classes to start already.
September 2, 2014 + Classes start
- Calculus 1: The class is quite large, but the professor is engaging. I'm trying to go as long as I can without having to buy the textbook. So far it's working out okay, because I'm checking out the textbook from the library on reserve, which means I can only check it out for three-hour periods, which motivates me to complete my homework then and there. The only problem that may arise is if I need the textbook to study for an assessment at an inconvenient hour.
- Wellness Issues Seminar: This is the largest class I attend as it is required for all first-years, though there are different periods we can enroll in. It is attendance based, no homework is assigned, and no assessments are given. This class is supposed to help us students as individuals adjust to college, and it may have potential, but right now I'm not really feeling it. I foresee that a lot of the situations that will be brought up will only take common sense to solve, and the ones that take more than that, well, just don't put yourself in that situation! The worst part is that the coordinator of this seminar said that all he wanted to do was get all the first-years through it on the first try. If that's all there is to it, what's the point of this class? Perhaps he was just trying to lighten the mood.
- Introduction to Economics: I'm considering majoring in something along the lines of economics or international relations or marketing, so I figured that this class would be a good place to start. However, I'm a little confused about the order in which the professor is teaching the content, which is the order in the textbook, but I don't get that either. The organization of IB Economics made so much more sense! At least the textbook for this course is free, but we still have to pay $40 for an online program from which we will do weekly problem sets.
- Shakespeare's Hamlet and Ours: I am taking this course for my Emily Balch Seminar, which is basically just a writing requirement. I am the only person in my class who hasn't read Hamlet, because everyone else in my class took AP Literature and it was in their curriculum, but I took IB HL Literature--instead, I read Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard. My professor is interested in my fresh perspective, which is a little daunting, but she is the sweetest. I already had a one-on-one meeting with her for my first essay, which I was really unconfident about, but by the end of our conversation, she was able to help me organize my thoughts without being the slightest bit condescending or otherwise discouraging.
- Advanced Chinese: I considered starting a new language at a beginner's level, because to me that is so much more interesting, but I figured that if I did that, at the end of one year I would not know enough of the new language to use anywhere, and in addition, I'd also de-prove in Chinese, so I might as well continue with Chinese. This class is super tiny, consisting only of six students including me, of which I am the only freshman, and the professor is
very scatterbrained chill, so the atmosphere is relaxed, which is just the way I like it. Also, this is my only class at Haverford. I want to take at least one class every quarter off campus.
- Swim Conditioning: I don't believe in sweating, so swimming is the only way to go. I was planning to swim every morning on my own, so I figured that I may as well take a class and train with a coach. Also, I like swimming in the morning to get those endorphins pumping. On the first day of class there were only two people, but I think more are trickling in.
- Kripalu Yoga: The classes are in the evening, way out of the way, so I don't think this extra PE class will effect my workload or stress. If anything, this will be a way for me to de-stress!
So THAT'S what I've been up to lately. I've kept busy running around trying to figure out what I want to do and what I want to join, but I know that it'll only get busier from here once the workload piles up. I feel like I've been at summer camp for the last three weeks. I hope that it doesn't stop feeling like this, because I'm more curious to learn in this situation, but on the other hand, I know that I'll be easily swept away by extra-curricula and forget that I'm here for the academics.
- Varsity Swimming: I wasn't planning on doing this, but Coach approached me during Swim Conditioning, and I do quite miss training and the swim team family, so why not? My only hesitance was the time commitment. College offers so many opportunities, but swimming takes up so much time. Fortunately, we were able to work something out with my schedule by wedging in pool and dryland practices wherever we could.
- Chamber Singers: I was so nervous for the audition, but I'm so thankful that I got in. Last night we had dinner and icebreakers at our director Tom's house. Returning members sang a bunch of songs from last year and the newcomers sight-read or just sat in awe. The members are so passionate and happy when they sing, and their energy is so contagious! And the talent omg.
- A Cappella: I did four auditions, got three callbacks, heard back from two, and am waiting on one more before I decide which a cappella group to commit to. The process is so intense, ahh!! I really wanted to do a cappella in addition to Chamber Singers, because a cappella is more for me to have fun and jam like I did with my friends back in Beijing, but Chamber Singers is more for me to grow technically.
- Intervarsity Christian Fellowship: The best thing about religion is that it is a part of your identity you get to choose. Both of my parents converted to Christianity, so I have been raised going to church every Sunday (except for the last few years of high school) and it wasn't much of a choice. Now that I'm in college, I want to find my own way to Christ with the support of this group. I've missed all the meetings and socials so far due to scheduling conflicts, but I'm looking forward to it, especially for worship.
- Asian Student's Association: As I mentioned here, I'm experiencing a bit of culture shock, so I'm hoping that joining an affiliation group like this will help me connect. Also, I've lost count of the number of sophomores I've met on campus who have told me to join haha.
- Things I'm interested in but may not necessarily join: Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, The Bi-College News, Bryn Bites, Adopt-A-Grandparent, Sunrise Discussion Group.
Now you're all caught up with me, but I've been out of touch with high school school friends, the blogosphere, everything, so tell me what's up in the comments below! How's it going for y'all?
Labels: bmc, college, life lately