Author Archives: Savannah '12

The end! (of the beginning)

I can’t believe it’s already been a year! As I’m watching everyone pack and move their things out of the dorms, it seems like I was just watching everyone move in.

I’m still on campus right now, writing this a few days after classes have ended. I’m staying here over the summer, doing an internship that I’m really excited about! I’m going to be working with summer conferences, mainly setting up the Colorado College Summer Festival of the Arts

http://www.coloradocollege.edu/summerprograms/summerfestivalofthearts/

which looks amazing! Hopefully I’ll also get to catch the amazing performances, and attend some of the workshops that are happening.

I’m also looking forward to seeing Colorado Springs in the summer… so far 8th block has been beautiful (see gorgeous sunset below) and I’m thinking it can only get better.

Mountains at sunset

We definitely had some sunny days… (and silly days…) as the year wound down

Sunny 🙂

It was also remarkably hard to concentrate on the last couple of days of class as I was trying to study for my final in International Politics of the Middle East and North Africa! (A cool class that I would highly recommend. The best part was a peace summit simulation we ran for one day in the campus center where we each represented a different country — I was Israel, and like to think I worked out a pretty great peace treaty :D).

So in the last couple days my friends and I retreated to the Fishbowl (a building near the east side of campus where you can go and study, the windows are completely glass, so if you can’t be outside, at least you can pretend you are).

Lahya studying

And now I’m looking forward to a great summer ahead! I think the internship is going to keep me really busy, but I’m also planning to do lots of hiking and exploring in the Colorado area with my friends, and to jet off to my brother’s graduation on the east coast in June to see my family. The summer looks exciting… and I’m ready for it!

What’s the weather like at Colorado College?

What’s the weather like at Colorado College? This is a good question, and a pretty common one. In Colorado Springs, sometimes it seems like its winter in the summer and summer in the winter, but it’s almost always bright and sunny. Something you might read coming into the Denver airport is that there are 300 days of sunshine a year!

However, I think the best way to explain the weather around Colorado College is to show it, not describe it. So, the following are movies and photos taken from my seventh block break (April 15th-19th), four days that I spent on campus, around Colorado Springs, and in Denver. Check it out for yourself!

First of all, this is a link to a 30 second video of the weather I took on the second day of block break.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Er9dPmC6PUA

After a sunny morning on Thursday, it started hailing! (Which was fun to dance in) The sound in the background is the hail coming down. I have to mention that I took this video because I thought it was great that I could leave CC in the sunshine… drive to Denver in the fog… and return to a hailstorm!

Post-hailstorm, I went with a group of friend’s to a friend’s house in Colorado Springs. We woke up in the morning to this beautiful sight:

Friday morning!

Friday morning!

That evening after returning to campus we decided to avail ourselves of the snow and go sledding down a grassy hill that ended with the soccer field:

Me about to sled down the hill

Me about to sled down the hill

The funniest part was watching people go down the first time because they didn’t expect the bumps at the bottom!

Post-steps

Post-bumps

And finally on Sunday, the last day of block, it was beautiful. We biked to Old Colorado Springs, which is about 15 minutes away from the college and a nice little areas with lots of restaurants and shops. It was so hot we stopped for ice cream, and a little shopping.

It's very hot!

Hot and tired

Happy after ice cream

Friends: happy after ice cream

So there you go: Colorado weather. Now, this block break was pretty extreme: but generally the weather is never boring here! And overall there’s more sunshine and warm weather than anywhere else I’ve lived in North America.

When I attended high school in Singapore, which is very close to the equator, one of my stepfather’s favorite jokes to make when he called me was to ask me what the weather was like. The answer was always

EXACTLY the same!”

This never failed to amuse him.

Ah how the tables have turned!

Baca!

This past week I had a chance to go to Baca for three days with my political science class Leadership and Governance. Baca is CC’s satellite campus about a 3 hour drive from Colorado Springs, in the beautiful San Luis Valley. It’s also right next to the Sangre de Cristo mountain range, where I hiked during my Priddy trip at the beginning of the year. It was fun to see the mountain I climbed from the other side!

The view on the drive from CC was gorgeous:

Sangre de Cristo mountains

I’d been to Baca once before on a spiritual retreat through Shove Chapel during third block break. This time was equally great — though we stayed in the townhouses instead of the lodge, which made it even better!

Our professor joked that you could major in Baca — well, in classes that went to Baca. There are some professors that regularly come down to Baca with their class, and not just professors of the social sciences. There is a physics professor that regularly brings his class down! I haven’t had the time since coming back to figure out if you really could do a major where you mainly went to Baca… but I’m very interested.

For the three days we were up there, we had a “leadership film festival” and watched a eclectic mix of movies including Norma Rae, Fog of War, and Twelve O’Clock High. It was really relaxing… we watched movies in the morning and in the afternoon went out and explored the surrounding area. One day, in the middle of a windstorm, we visited the sand dunes:

It was extremely windy. I felt like a character from Dune.

Despite the wind, we made it to the top of one of the dunes,  and used our cardboard boxes (taken from the nice people in Baca’s kitchen) to go sand dune surfing. It was wild!

Now, as I’m preparing to write my final paper for the course, I’m wishing I was still in Baca! And I’m still finding sand everywhere.

Mexico

I spent my spring break in Mexico, having an amazing reunion with my high school friends from Singapore. At our high school graduation, we’d talked tentatively about having a reunion in the United States (where we all chose to come for school) but never though it would happen so soon — and neither did our friend Valeria, originally from Mexico City, who hosted us and showed us around! The week preceding the trip was full of frantic facebook messages from her in the line of “I can’t believe this is actually happening!” And it was unbelievable to see all of my friends again so soon.

We spent the first day of vacation exploring Mexico City, seeing many of the tourist attractions and getting adjusted to the heat. My Albanian friend Ira, who is attending Macalester, also spent most of the day trying to tell me how much she spent on her plane ticket, but after I found out it was significantly less (and she lives further away than CC) I refused to hear it. I knew there must have been cheap tickets somewhere!

Waiting for the bus on the street in Mexico City

Waiting for the bus on the street in Mexico City

One of the most amazing places we visited in Mexico City was Teotihuacan, known as the “birthplace of the gods”, an archeological site built around 500 BC. There were several large pyramids such as the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon, and our english speaking guide told us that Teotihuacan had been laid out in the shape of the universe.

Climbing the steps at Teotihuacan

Climbing the steps at Teotihuacan

We climbed both pyramids, and because it was extremely hot (even in Mexico’s winter!) we were wrung out by the time we got to the top and sat for a while to enjoy the scenery.

Finally we reached the top

Finally we reached the top

After we descended, our guide took us to some nearby caves to do a little exploration. We were each given a large white candle as our light, and a funny dance ensued after we entered the cave, as we tried to not bang our heads on the ceiling while not dripping hot wax onto our feet. I wasn’t too thrilled by the caving, especially after twenty minutes of crawling the guide told us that he’d taken us inside the cave to simulate the feeling of being inside the Pyramid of the Sun.

Inside the cave with our candles

Inside the cave with our candles

After the first couple days in Mexico City, we were off to Puerto Escondido for some sun and relaxation. We spent the hottest part of the day by the pool, and in the morning and evening when it had cooled off ventured to the beach. Puerto Escondido has massive waves, and while I wasn’t brave enough to try surfing, I did rent a bodyboard for several days. Trying to use the board on the waves was like riding a rollercoaster — or, often as not, like being pounded in  a washing machine! But when it got too much we’d retreat to the beach for some cool drinks, and often watched the hammock sellers and horses pass back and forth as the sun went down.

The beach at Puerto Escondido

The beach at Puerto Escondido

When we returned to Mexico City to catch the plane home, we first went to go see the National Museum of Anthropology — one of the most famous in the world. It had an amazing array of artifacts from all different periods of Mexican history, among which my favorite exhibits were the Mayan and Mexica. I felt like I could have spent three more days in that museum without running out of new things to see! On our way home we passed by Frida Kahlo and Diego Riviera’s Blue House, and popped in for a chance to see some of their artwork and the beautiful garden at the center of their house.

In the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City

In the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City

It was amazing to be reunited with my closest friends from high school so soon after graduation, and in such a beautiful place. It was also fun to practice my Spanish after just completing two blocks of Spanish 101 at CC, and I found that most people were really pleased when I tried to talk to them in Spanish (except for the storeowners on the beach, who were quite nonplussed by my poor attempts to very slowly and badly bargain with them.)

And the next reunion? Well, the 2010 Winter Olympics are on the Horizon for Vancouver, B.C., which is 45 minutes away from my house, so, I think Canada’s next!

An eclectic weekend

This weekend, being the first after block break, it seemed that everyone was trying to schedule their event on the same day. It was truly time for decisions, decisions on Friday — a talk by a Rwandan bishop about forgiveness, or the Vagina Monologues launch party? Sleepover in Shove Chapel or hip hop dance party in McHugh Commons?

My friends and I opted for the Vagina Monologues launch party, which was happening in the new Cornerstone Arts Center (I always love the events they host there because they make such a cool use of the space). The Vagina Monologues is a series of monologues about female empowerment that was written and first performed by Eve Ensler back in the 90’s. My friends and I had already bought our tickets for the show next Friday night, so we thought it would be a good idea to go check out the kick-off event. There was great food sponsored by Nosh and Bluestar, a performance by Room 46 (one of CC’s many acapella groups) and a live auction going on of artwork, photography, and what looked like someone’s homemade strawberry pies!

Fastforwarding to Sunday, I went for what turned out to be an epic run down by Monument Creek.

This is Monument Creek, about 2 minutes away from my dorm room:

Monument Creek

Monument Creek

The run was epic because it was long! My running buddies are planning on doing the Fort Collins Marathon on May 3rd:

http://www.ftcollinsmarathon.com/

And I have been running with them, though I’m not planning on running the marathon. My personal philosophy is that the body dosen’t need more than one hour of running a day, maybe an hour and a half tops. Looks like a gorgeous course though!

Our friend Corb, who has been giving us some support around how to train for a marathon, came for the run with us yesterday, which was great. Corb is a local and talented artist who does some of the chalking of events around CC campus, but I had known him previously because he’s also involved in the host family program for international students. Going off on a tangent, this is one of the things I really love about CC — the way they encourage you to establish relationships with the community surrouding Colorado College as well as making friends within the school. As a quasi-international student from Canada, I have two host parents, wonderful women named Barb and Allison who are friends that live in Colorado Springs. They’ve had me over to their house for dinner, invited me to their art shows, and now we’re off to the Empty Bowls fundraiser on Tuesday at CC (it’s a fundraiser to raise awareness about hunger and homelessness). I think its really great how community members (even ones only loosely affiliated with CC) are willing to share their time with students and open their homes to them. I feel like on many levels, there’s a great deal of integration between the campus and the community, and that’s a really great thing to be a part of.

¿Hablas español?

This block I am taking my first-ever language course at CC: Elementary Spanish! A lot of prospective students I talk to (one of my jobs in talking on the phone to people who are thinking of applying or who have applied, maybe you’ve talked to me!) are curious about what it’s like to take a language on the block plan. Well, its fabulous!

A typical day in my Spanish class goes like this: our professor walks in with a big smile on her face and asks us how we are doing. We spend about an hour practicing basic phrases and vocab, and then another hour playing games or doing group work. One of my favorite games is the one where we divide into teams and then run to the whiteboard and back and write whatever the professor tells us (like numbers from 1-100) and then she declares one of us el ganador! (The winner). I’ve never had such an enthusiastic and energetic teacher. At the end of the class, we might watch Muzzy (a language learning cartoon which I’ve fallen in love with) or a video of people speaking to each other in Spanish.

The block plan is very interesting for languages because you can concentrate completely on the language — before, in high school, my French homework was never top priority and was usually done in twenty minutes at the end of the night, after my math and physics homework. However, I’m really enjoying being able to concentrate completely on Spanish, and I feel like I’m learning a ton. I went for a run with a friend down by Memorial creek today and stopped to stretch by a sign about flash floods. As I was stretching, I realized I could read most of the sign, which was printed in Spanish and English. It was a great feeling — it’s only been three weeks!

I’m planning on taking a Spanish language adjunct class so I don’t forget what I’ve learned after I finish this introductory class. An adjunct is a class for a quarter credit which runs for a whole semester, and usually meets twice a week for about an hour. CC offers lots of types of adjuncts — I’m also taking a great modern dance adjunct and a French adjunct right now.

Finally, exciting news… I heard recently that CC has approved two new Spanish language study abroad programs in Chile and Argentina which is perfect!

http://www.coloradocollege.edu/international/study_abroad/pTable_southA.asp

I was always planning on studying abroad while I was at CC, and what better place than South America?

Winter Break ’09

Well, my winter break was absolutely fabulous. I have never had a more relaxing time during a school holiday — and I’m going to chalk down to the block plan, which left me with no work over the holidays! However, the very first part of my holiday was not relaxing at all… instead of one day to get home, it took me five! Which would be understandable if I lived in Chiang Mai, but I’m from Victoria BC. As I’m sure anyone who was traveling around Christmas this year can attest, weather conditions were nasty, and the airports quickly became mired in angry and anxious passengers trying to get home for the holidays. Before I left, I was talking with some friends who were flying to Bulgaria and Moscow respectively, for whom it took several days of travel to get home. Little did I expect that I’d be arriving home after they did after several days of sleeping on airport floors!

So, as you can imagine, once I got home (in time for Christmas) I was doubly grateful to be there. After some great holiday time with the family, I did all those great things you do after arriving back from time away — saw old friends, slept, read, and relaxed! I also applied for a summer job at the cafe down the street from my house. Seeing as my friends and I had all just turned the legal drinking age in Canada (19), I also got a tour of every bar and club in town! From which experience I can assure you that Victoria, BC is not currently the hottest clubbing destination in the world, but you do stand a good chance of meeting your old middle school teacher during the bar crawl.

And finally, after four great weeks at home, it was time to return back to Colorado College. It was hard to leave my friends and family in Victoria, but I was also excited to come back to CC… and the leg of the journey back was much smoother! Now I’m back at College, taking a very fun intro Spanish course, and about to go to my first modern dance adjunct class today. Its shaping up to look like a fun and busy term, destined to start off with a punch — this Friday the Student Organization for Sexual Safety that I’m a part of is putting on Speed Dating/Friendship in the new Cornerstone arts center. It’s going to be a riot. And probably pretty funny to watch. Though I’ve been told I’m participating because I’m a member of SOSS…

So. Do you like long walks on the beach?

Me and my friend Hannah, who helps me pack every time I go away. I put stuff into the suitcase, she takes it out! And I still pay overweight every time.

Me and my friend Hannah, who helps me pack every time I go away. I put stuff into the suitcase, she takes it out! And I still pay overweight every time.

Brrrrrr!!!!!

Yesterday’s weather was the coldest I have ever experienced. I wondered, biking to breakfast, why my fingers were sticking to my metal handlebars… only to discover when I checked after class that it was -17° C! (-1° F). Wow. Wow wow wow. This may not be fantastic for anyone that has lived in Colorado for any amount of time, but I’ve never lived anywhere with temperatures below freezing. So, I thought I’d call my parents and do a little bragging about how hardcore I was living in Colorado… and they told me that my hometown of Victoria B.C. (located in a relatively warm part of Canada) was having record low temperatures of -18° C. Yeah, they basically stole all my thunder.

Last night's Kwanzaa Celebration

I had several “first” experiences yesterday — “first” lipchap freezing in my backpack, “first” wet hair freezing stiff. It was actually kind of fun — I never knew what was going to happen when I stepped outside. I was really relieved, however, when someone assured me that Colorado weather doesn’t get much colder. Right now we are enjoying a sweltering 30°F, so, braced by yesterday’s freeze, I’m feeling ready to don my bathing suit and do some sunbathing while the warm weather lasts.

However, not all was cold about yesterday — I attended a toasty dinner in Gaylord Hall to celebrate Kwanzaa, put on by the Black Student Union. Kwanzaa (I’d never heard of it before coming to the US) turns out to be a celebration of African heritage, which last for seven days, during each of which you light a candle that represents a different principle. The first principle is Umoja (unity) and the last is Imani (faith), so the man leading the ceremony joked that we should pay close attention because all college students need these two things to finish the four years.

And speaking of unity… I’ll be working on that one really soon because this Friday I fly back to Canada! And as the cold weather has given us an unusual present this year — a white Christmas — I’m sure I’ll be blogging about all my shenanigans in the snow with my family.

CC Cabin!

Leading up to the weekend, Principles of Macroeconomics had been keeping me really busy, so it was really nice to get out of my midterm Friday and know that a weekend of relaxation stretched ahead. So, what did I do with my hard earned free-time? Well, I spent a good deal of Friday evening in a friend’s room, where a large group of us attempted to learn the dance moves to Michael Jackson’s Thriller and then to perform them. Unfortunately, because there was about two square meters of available floor space, I ended up doing my zombie march left into my friend’s zombie turn, and it just turned into a really big, fun mess. We then decided that in order to have more space, we needed to move outside… so we all started doing the moves to Thriller outside in the hall of the dorm. Thankfully, only a few people stopped to watch, most likely jaded by the habitual crazy antics of CC students on Friday nights.

The next day, I checked out the big craft fair happening in Worner Centre and struggled (successfully) with the temptation to buy everything, leaving with most of my money still in pocket. I then raced to my room at about 2:55 to pack for my trip to the CC Cabin, which was leaving at 3:00. Not the most brilliant plan, but I made it. Going up to the CC Cabin was part of my ORC (Outdoor Recreation Club) leadership training, which is something that the ORC (read: outdoors, hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, etc etc etc club) puts on to train students who want to learn how to lead trips in the outdoors. My last ORC trip for the leadership training had been out in the wilderness, and I’d spent the night absolutely freezing in my sleeping bag, which I’d borrowed it from a friend and forgotten to check to how many degrees it kept you warm). So, I was really happy to be staying in the warm and comfortable CC Cabin this time. The topic of training was “soft skills”, which turned out to be sort of group dynamics and interpersonal skills, and we did some games surrounding that and talked through some scenarios. However, the best activity was after dinner… we were told to blindfold a partner and lead them outside on a wilderness adventure! When I was blindfolded, my partner had me running, skipping, rock climbing, and leap-frogging through the wilderness, which was absolutely hilarious and a lot of fun. The next day, after cleaning up the cabin, we toted ourselves back to CC, just in time for brunch J.

American Thanksgiving

the end of the table where I sat with all the vegetarian goodies

Thanksgiving dinner: the end of the table where I sat with all the vegetarian goodies

The way the school schedule fell out this year, Thanksgiving has been like another block break on the heels of the last! Because it wouldn’t make much sense to fly back to Canada when 1) it’s only for four days and 2) Canadian Thanksgiving is at another time altogether, I chose to go to my friend Jen’s house in Littleton, CO to celebrate. The main activities of the last four days have been relaxing, eating, playing in the snow (it snowed four to six inches, far more than we would ever see in Victoria, B.C.!) and steaming in the hot tub. The day after it snowed, we went down to the hill by their barn with a sled and a bunch of cardboard, and Jen’s sixteen year old brother Zane helped us make ski jumps out of packed snow — which the four dogs staying in Jen’s house promptly destroyed, but not until after we’d achieved some truly impressive air!

Thanksgiving dinner itself was a trip. My whole family back home in Canada is vegetarian, with the exception of my stepfather, so we never have turkey but usually make lots of hearty, cold-weather foods like steamed kale and baked sweet potatoes.  This year, however, I got to experience a true Thanksgiving with the turkey and all the traditional sides, including some special vegetarian stuffing (thanks to Jen’s very accommodating mom). And just in case we hadn’t overdone it with the dinner, dessert arrived in the form of lemon meringue, pecan, and pumpkin pie. We all quickly rolled ourselves to the couch and stayed there until we recovered.

Jen's mother and brother cutting down the Christmas tree

Jen's mother and brother cutting down the Christmas tree

The day after Thanksgiving I got to take part in another tradition — cutting down the Christmas tree! Along with a bunch of family friends, we drove two hours outside of Littleton to the mountains. After great deliberation over which trees were the finest, we finally picked and sawed down two trees, one of which was so big it took four of us to carry it back to the truck. To celebrate, we all ate warm soup, apple crumble, and tea sitting on the backs of the trucks, and stayed for a while chatting with the other families and looking out at the gorgeous scenery. What a great Thanksgiving!