Sharples (or, On Having a Place to Come Together)

Let’s start this post off with an important fact: food is very important to me. Not in a I-only-eat-cuisine way, but in a I-just-like-to-eat-all-the-time way. As a result, I spend a fair amount of time in Sharples, Swarthmore’s main (and only) dining hall. Sharples isn’t Swat’s only dining option–there’s also two coffee bars, a student run café, and Essie Mae’s, a kind of deli/sandwich place–but it is the main place students go to eat.

This semester, I’ve come to appreciate Sharples even more than before.* When I was in Spain, I ate most of my meals with my host family or out in restaurants with my friends. We didn’t have a campus in the same way Swarthmore does, and we didn’t have a dining hall where we could all come together. Being back at Swat, I’ve realized how much I value Sharples–it’s a place where the entire community comes together for meals. 

It’s fun to have a place where you can see so many people that you know, where it feels like the whole campus reunites. I missed having that sort of place while I was in Spain, but I’m glad I had some time away so I could really appreciate it again.** I’m also very much enjoying some of my favorite Sharples meals, like: spinach and cheese Stromboli, Thanksgiving sandwiches, and falafel bar. Overall, I feel at home at Swarthmore, and even though we are all pretty busy here, we have meals at Sharples to help us slow down and reconnect. 

Until next time! 

P.S. Another great thing about Sharples: there’s a bulletin board called the “Napkin Board” where students can post suggestions or comments on napkins, and the staff at Sharples actually read them and pays attention! For example, my friend Ben was bummed his first year when they didn’t have Cherry Coke, so he wrote a note for the board asking for it, and now there’s still Cherry Coke to this day!

*I’ve also come to appreciate Mindy Kaling, Scandal, and Frozen even more than before.

**Similarly, I’ve been rewatching 30 Rock and The West Wing for the first time in a while, and they only get better with time. Who’s excited for Tina Fey’s two new shows this fall? I am! Thank goodness she’s not abandoning TV. (Sorry this footnote got a little long–but I think we can agree Tina was worth it). 

Studying Abroad

Justin Beiber and I have something in common now: we’ve both been misbehaving lately. He’s been getting into all sorts of trouble, and I haven’t been updating this blog very regularly. Don’t worry, though: I’m working hard to follow in the footsteps of Draw Barrymore and get my life back on track. And I’m starting with a post about studying abroad!

I studied abroad in Madrid last fall, and it was absolutely una experiencia fantástica. I loved being able to travel around Spain and Europe, and to fully immerse myself in a new culture. My program included a language pledge—we had to speak Spanish at all times. At first I found this part pretty taxing, but over time my friends and I found it easier to chat in a different language. In fact, it became so second nature that at the end of the semester, switching back to English was a little bit like the series finale of The Office: surprising and a little more emotional than expected, though not necessarily unwelcome.

Now, if you’re reading this and thinking, “Wow, I sure wish I could see some pictures from his time abroad,” you’re in luck!* Here are some pictures:

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Looking back, I’m grateful for the many fun and exciting experiences I had abroad, but I’m also grateful for the help and guidance I received at Swarthmore. At Swat, you can go to any accredited US university or college’s program, so there are basically no limitations on where you can travel.** What I most appreciated, though, is that before you leave, you meet with the people in the Off Campus Study Office and with professors to make sure the courses you plan to take abroad will transfer to Swarthmore. That way, you don’t have to stress about whether you’ll get enough credit from abroad, and you don’t have to worry about the impact traveling with have on your graduation plans. All in all, Swat guides you through your experience abroad so you can really get the most out of it, which is great!***

Until next time!

*If instead you’re thinking about how great Mindy Kaling is or how much you wish J.K. Rowling hadn’t said she regretted matching up Hermione and Ron, that is also acceptable.

**For example, I have friends studying in Samoa and Madagascar this semester.

***I.e., the opposite of John Travolta’s introduction for Idina Menzel at the Oscars.

2014!

Good news: not only is Tina Fey making at least two new shows next year, but A Week with Cheek is officially back in action! I studied in Madrid last semester (which was a blast; more to come about that), but now I’m happy to back at Swarthmore for the spring of my Junior year. Some big things have happened since I last posted: Amanda Bynes started art school, Greg Kinnear thought he was relevant to star in a TV show, and I lived in a foreign country for almost four months! I’m excited to share my experiences from the fall, as well as new ones from the spring, so stay tuned!

Until next time!

p.s. If this post was disappointingly short, here are some wacky animal facts to keep you busy until my next post.

 

 

Research Opportunities

Swarthmore has an incredible number of opportunities spanning every facet of student life, but research opportunities are a specific example that I have recently begun to appreciate. There are so many ways to get involved on campus, and working with professors on their projects or on your own individual projects are two wonderful experiences that Swarthmore makes possible for its students.

This semester I am involved in a bunch of psychology research projects. First, I’m working with Prof. Daniel Grodner on research examining perspective taking in conversation. Our project involves both eye-tracking and studying how people choose to describe objects to others. I’ve found the work incredibly fascinating and rewarding.

I’m also working with my friend Sarah on a project that we designed for Barry Schwartz’s class Thinking, Judgment, and Decision Making in the fall. This project is particularly exciting because Sarah and I (along with a third classmate of ours who is currently studying abroad) designed it ourselves and are implementing it independently (with the help of Prof. Schwartz). It’s another incredible research opportunity, and we’re having a blast carrying out what we initially thought would only be a hypothetical experiment designed for class.

Last, I’m also working on an experiment in my Research Design and Analysis class on how mood affects judgment.  What’s great about this project is that it’s part of the class, so even if I weren’t working on my other projects, I’d still be getting research experience as part of my regular course schedule!

Though I’ve focused on my experience in the psychology department, similar opportunities exist across all departments and disciplines at Swarthmore. I think the ability to get involved in such fun and engaging projects is just one of the many great opportunities open to Swarthmore students. Just like Ke$ha when she added a dollar sign to her name, Swatties all over campus are taking advantage of the nearly infinite options available to them, and that’s part of what makes Swarthmore such an exciting place to be.

Until next time!

Conference Funding

During the last week of winter break, I was lucky enough to attend a psychology conference in New Orleans. The conference was held by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, and attracted thousands of psychologists from all over the place. I also had the opportunity to present some research I did last summer, which was very exciting.

I had a great time at the conference, and I couldn’t have gone without Swarthmore’s support. Swat has conference funding specifically designated for students to travel to conferences, and that resource made it possible for me to go to New Orleans. Many of my friends have also been able to use that funding. For example, my friend Noel got funding to go to a spoken word conference last spring.

I think it’s great that Swat supports and encourages its students, enabling us to explore our interests outside of the College. It’s really nice to be somewhere with so many resources, and I’m looking forward to continuing to take advantage of them during the rest of my time here!

Until next time!

P.S. I made it through an entire post without a celebrity reference! That’s more impressive than Beyoncé’s halftime performance.

A Trip to the PMA!

Some of my friends and I went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art yesterday! A couple of my friends are taking a class for which they had to pick a painting from the museum to write about, and the rest of us came along for the ride. It was great to get off campus and enjoy Philly a little bit. What’s really nice about Swarthmore’s location is that there’s a train station on the edge of campus, so all you have to do to get into Philly is hop on a train for 15 minutes. Much easier than, for example, getting through the emotional heartbreak caused by the end of 30 Rock.

Here are a few pictures we took yesterday. There aren’t too many, because we mostly forgot to document out adventure.*

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The PMA

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My friend Estefania in the American wing!

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There’s fun art outside as well!

Overall, it was great to venture into Philly, and the whole adventure was almost as fun as watching Tina Fey and Amy Poehler host the Golden Globes!

Until next time!

*Like how the makers of the Hangover 2 forgot to write a new plot.

Finals Treats!

Well, despite the excitement of Ke$ha’s new album release, finals period has still been a very busy time at Swarthmore! The libraries have definitely been seeing more business than usual, as everybody studies for exams and writes final papers. But, stressed students aren’t the only ones who’ve been in the libraries lately. There have also been deans, along with student council members, on an almost nightly basis, handing out candy, cookies, power bars, and other tasty treats. Although these snacks don’t make finals a walk in the park, they definitely go a long way toward making this time easier to get through. And, it’s another way in which the administration shows its support for the study body on campus. We’ve been gobbling them up, so my guess is the treats are almost gone. That’s okay, though, because finals are almost over as well!

Until next time!