Category Archives: Block Break

Dear Class of 2015:

In roughly two weeks (give or take a couple days), you will step foot on Colorado College. Some of you have visited, while some have not. Regardless, that first glimpse of Colorado College will be something magical for this will be your home for the next four years.

This is the place where a ‘unique, intellectual adventure’ is about to take place. You’ll have the opportunity to be a biologist, an historian, or a philosopher for 3.5 weeks. You have the opportunity to share your thoughts and ideas in a classroom with students from across the world. Professors become your friend, and really do care about your well-being and your many existential crises.

This is the place where you get a Block Break after that mind-blowing and exhausting FYE course. You then decide to go camping, visit some friends in Boulder, or stay on campus to catch up on sleep.

This is the place where you will meet incredible friends. You lived on the same hall, went on your NSO trip together, or bonded over your FYE.  You sometimes can’t get over how special your fellow classmates are, but more importantly, you can’t get over that they share your passions.

This is where you belong: the most magical institution of higher learning.

I will hopefully see some of you during NSO week!

The Decemberists, Block Break, and Block 8. Oh my!

Last weekend, I went to see The Decemberists play in Colorado Springs.  Oh, you haven’t heard of them?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLSOzcEQjiE[/youtube]

They are probably one of my favorite bands ever! Each album, each song, and each instrument tells a story in a manner that completely absorbs me. The youtube video I posted is of their latest single “This is Why We Fight” from their album The King is Dead. I highly recommend this new album. How can you deny the beauty of lyrics like these, “When we die/We will die/With our arms unbound.” Plus, they are great live–fantastic energy and sound amazing!

Also, a really cool thing The Decemberists do when they tour is make posters for each city they tour. It’s art. The Colorado Springs poster is so awesome! (Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures because I wasn’t close enough. Being 5’2” has its pitfalls sometimes…)

Block break came and went.  I ended up staying in Colorado Springs to dog and house-sit for a professor, and finish up some work for the History Department.

And when I say dog sit, I mean I was dog-sitting for three dogs.  Above, you see Hank.  He was the most playful and wanted to be outside alllll day.  (Note to self: when I go to graduate school,  I will have a dog to keep me company)

 

Block 8 starts tomorrow! This means two things: 1) I will be in a very difficult class (Junior Seminar: Studying History) with Tip Ragan (one of my favorite professors), 2)Summer is coming!

 

This summer, I will be doing education policy research with a professor at a nearby university.  I’m excited, because this gives me a first-hand experience in something I really want to pursue in the future. I’ll update more on this once this summer.

 

Until next time,

Melissa

the aspens

“I like being near the top of a mountain. One can’t get lost here.”
Wislawa Szymborska

Colorado high country is known for its aspens. The beautiful, color-changing trees lose the green of summer leaves and take on a rich yellow hue in the beginning of fall – generally around mid-September. Travelers come from all over the country to watch the aspens turn gold, and to explore Colorado in car, on bike and on foot. Over the year’s first block break, a few friends and I went up to the Maroon Bells outside of the city of Aspen to spend some time outside and watch the colors change ourselves.

maroon bells

Though our original plan was a four pass loop, we ended up backpacking over Buckskin Pass and camping near Snowmass Lake, taking day trips away from our beachfront home. We were completely isolated and alone – surrounded only by water, trees, sky and 14ers. We passed afternoons lounging by the lake, eating trail mix and peanut butter, and mostly appreciating the peace and four and a half days to adventure in the mountains.

lake

It was a great first block break and a perfect way to relax between classes, spend time with friends and breathe in some fresher, high-altitude mountain air. And, of course, to walk amongst the aspens as they changed color.

trees

How I chose CC.

After hosting accepted students during the April 2nd and April 9th Open House, I started to reminisce about my college process.  It delights me to think this was just last year.

I’m not going to lie.  As a senior in high school, I did not have the slightest idea of where I wanted to attend college.  Many of my classmates had romanticized the idea of college.  Students applied to very prestigious universities with a major already in mind.  I DIDN’T.  Something was wrong with me.  I wasn’t looking forward to the college process-I had no clue for what I was looking for in a college.  My parents assumed that I was going to apply to the major universities in Oklahoma.  Nevertheless, my teachers, friends, and college counselor recommended that I look at other schools outside of Oklahoma.  While I did apply to three Oklahoma universities, I also applied to six more schools.  Researching colleges was overwhelming.  Did I want a school in a rural or urban location?  What is your ideal student body size?  Diversity?  Financial aid?  Majors? Campus life?

These questions opened up a lot possibilities for my future.  The thought of planning my future as a 17-year-old scared me.  My solution for this dilemma?  Apply to a wide range of schools to insure that come decision time, I would have many options.  I applied to the medical research university, the religious-affiliated university, the engineering university, the pre-law school; a few schools in the South, Southwest, North, Northeast, the West; schools with predominantly right or left political views; and of course, liberal art colleges.  Come acceptance/rejection time, I was accepted to all nine schools.  I didn’t expect that to happen, because I assumed that schools would essentially decide if I was a good match for them.  There was no way that I was a “good fit” for all nine schools.  I realized the most important aspect of my future necessitates an interdisciplinary and critical understanding of society.  A liberal arts education would definitely fulfill the expectations of my future.  To make matters more difficult, I applied to two liberal art colleges-one of course being Colorado College.

I visited both schools.  First, I visited CC and knew I loved it.  The other school wasn’t the right match for me.  Essentially, I knew that Colorado College was going to be my home for four years.

I wasn’t aware of this at the time, but I wanted to go to a school that truly believed in a “unique intellectual adventure.” This school is unique-there are few like this.  Where else are you able to submerse yourself in one class at a time?  Where else are you able to be a philosopher, an educator, a theologian, a sociologist, and a feminist within a span of a year?  This school is intellectual–I’ve been able to take courses that I never thought I would love or interests that I am passionate about.  Without the block plan, I would never be able to experiment with different courses, start friendships with everyone in my current block (despite differing opinions), or share a common love for knowledge.  Overall, it’s been an adventure. Undoubtedly.

Seriously, don’t ever apply to nine schools.  CC is awesome.

When I visited CC last year.  It was snowing and cold!

When I visited CC last year. It was snowing and cold!

Gotta Love Block Breaks

Enjoying some delicious sushi with my friend Naiara

After finishing a killer block, there is nothing better than block break.  Block break, for those poor souls that have never experienced one, is 4-5 days of summer vacation.  There is no homework, no class, nothing but stress-free fun from noon on Wednesday until 9 a.m. on Monday.

After turning in my final paper at 11:56 on Wednesday, I ran back to my room to pack for Santa Fe.  I quickly gathered my things and headed out with 3 of my friends for a celebratory end-of-the-block lunch downtown.  One of the sushi restaurants has a great lunch special that we’d been wanting to try out.  It didn’t disappoint.  I rushed back to campus to meet the van and we started on the 5 hour drive to Santa Fe.

Lauren playing with the kids at BGC

My friend Kristin and I were leading a BreakOut trip to the Santa Fe Boys and Girls Club.  BreakOut is a student-led organization that develops, organizes, and implements student-led community service projects during college breaks.  Kristin and I had been working all block on organizing this trip, so it was great to finally see our plans materialize.  We chose the Boys and Girls Club because we had been inspired by their mission.  In Santa Fe, there is a huge disparity between the rich and poor. Poverty plagues the city as the cost of living continues to increase.  Santa Fe has one of the highest middle and high school drop out rates in the nation, and gangs are ubiquitous.  BGC is a positive place for kids to go after school, providing them with tools that will help them move forward in life. It supplies dinner for kids that might not otherwise have an opportunity to eat, and it shows them that they don’t need to join a gang in order to be accepted.

The group in downtown Santa Fe

BreakOut is a great way to have a fulfilling block break, giving back to the community without having to spend a lot of money.  We had a fabulous group, consisting of 11 students.  On Thursday and Friday we played with the kids and helped out with tutoring and reading workshops.  On Saturday, we hung out in Santa Fe, enjoying the mercados and art scene downtown.  Driving at a leisurely pace, we got back late Saturday night, so that we could enjoy a good night’s rest in our own beds and have all of Sunday to relax before a hectic block 4.

Check out the links below to learn more about the Santa Fe Boys and Girls Club.

Santa Fe Boys and Girls Club; Reality from the Barrio; Reality from the Barrio Video

Block Break

My friends and I decided to stay at Colorado College for the Block Break, in pursuit of some rest and relaxation. With the Block Break winding to a close, I’m definitely feeling relaxed… but perhaps not so rested. Knowing that there is no school tomorrow is has proven to be the make or break point when deciding whether to watch that next movie at 3:00 AM (and the movie always wins).

Despite some very cold weather, there’s been some really nice sunny days. I can’t help comparing it to Canada, where cold and wet and dark are all married to each other and it feels like the sun only comes out once winter is gone. When I talk to my parents back home they always tell me that #1 it is raining, #2 is is dark and/or cold and #3 I should be very grateful to be in Colorado!

I think the highlight of my Block Break was going to Denver with a group of friends — we took the free shuttle from Colorado College down to the Frex station, and caught the Frex commuter bus for $9. Two hours later, we were in Denver enjoying a delicious lunch at a Parisian creperie (see the picture below). Even though I really like the food at CC (it is a massive improvement on the cafeteria at my old boarding school, where you could have deep fried your hat with the oil wrung out from the “lasagna”), it is nice to have a change every once in a while. I’m glad that there’s a big city nearby to Colorado Springs. After our French lunch, we hit the 16th street mall to do some Christmas shopping, and saw all sorts of interesting buskers plying their trades, including a man doing acrobatics with the sign to his Indian restaurant.

Today is Sunday, and fourth block starts tommorow. I’m very happy that I got into the class I was waitlisted for – Introduction to Macroeconomics – though I’m sure that taking the French course I was signed up for would have been great as well. I’m a bit disappointed my break is over, but I feel good knowing that Thanksgiving is only a few days away! I’m headed to Denver again to stay with my friend Jen, and I can’t wait to experience a true American Thanksgiving. At my house in Canada Thanksgiving has never been a big holiday, especially because we are vegetarian and so never have turkey! I’m not sure if my friend has told her parents I’m vegetarian, but I’m not expecting any problems; after all, my all-time favourite food is mashed potatoes. Three days!

My friend Judy with her delicious looking Crepe

My friend Judy with her delicious looking Crepe