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Happy Easter!

Sometimes, even when there is work piling up, it is good to just take a break and go home. I have never been one to get homesick, but going home and being surrounded by everything that is so familiar was really wonderful.

This weekend I went home for Easter! Although we don’t get any extra days off other than the usual weekend, I made the trek home. At first, I didn’t think it was worth it. I knew that I had a lot of work to complete (2 Computer Science projects, studying for a quiz, reading…..the list goes on and on), but my sisters convinced me. As my sisters have grown older, we have slowly moved apart physically, but that also affects how close we are emotionally. We don’t have the opportunity to talk as much and share our stories about our wild weekend adventures. So I couldn’t miss out on having the whole family be reunited.

It was truly a fantastic weekend (even though every night I had some bothersome project due at midnight). We all slid back into our normal habits so easily. It was as if we had never had any time apart.  For Easter, my whole family congregated at to our uncle’s house and enjoyed some delicious food. During Lent I had given up meat and ice cream and Easter marked the day that I could finally gobble down these foods again (although I like being vegetarian). I had some mocha coffee ice cream with cookie dough pieces in it and boy was it magnificent! Mmmmmm…

I realized that it’s important to take the time to talk to your family and catch up with them. Even though you know they are always there and sometimes you just want to get away from them, they are your backbone. They are what have supported me this whole time and I don’t know what I would do without them.

About Anh Uong

My name is Anh (yes it is very hard to pronounce). I am a freshman living in Foss (Foss is Boss) ready to take on the world. Traveling from the far reaches of Massachusetts, I have really enjoyed Maine and the beautiful landscape that accompanies it. I am interested in everything from math to writing, which makes selecting a major difficult, but that's why I am here at a liberal arts college. Around campus, I can be spotted with a ukulele, a stack of notebooks, some sort of wildlife, and a smile.
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A Jazzy Saturday

Last night, I attended a Colby Jazz Band performance, which was part of the 2013-2014 Music at Colby series of concerts, and I was instantly affectively taken back two years to the spring of 2012, when, over April break, I went with another tutor at the Writers’ Center (and with the Director and Assistant Director) to St. Louis, Missouri, for a conference on tutoring writing. One of my strongest memories from the trip, apart from the intellectually stimulating conference sessions that I participated in, of course, was sitting with the others at a pub in the city, while enjoying munchies and jazz music. The concert at Colby was a slightly more formal experience, but the music was nonetheless equally pleasant. In fact, I felt quite adult as I listened to the various selections being played, and I felt as if I was taking part in the kind of sophisticated evening that, after graduation (when I enter the real world; well, kind of, I’ll be going to graduate school, so I will be in a university setting for about another six years), might become more of a norm for me.

Although I am no music expert (I don’t think being a Biggie Smalls aficionado counts, right?), it was very relaxing to sit back and listen to the songs. Some of the selections were from movies or musicals, and they were thus relatively well-known tunes. Others were written, composed, or arranged by student members of the Colby music department and/or jazz band. Some example of songs played by the jazz band last night include “There Will Never Be Another You,” a 1942 tune that figured prominently in the musical Iceland, and “On A Clear Day (You Can See Forever),” which was part of a 1929 musical that shares the same name. Some of the performances, including the latter, featured vocalists. Most notably, President Bro Adams participated in the concert. I did not know that he had a musical side, so that was fun to watch and his performance was certainly the highlight of my evening.

One of the nicest things about the concert was that it was well attended by both Colby students and Waterville residents alike. The Music at Colby series, I think, is probably one of the most successful arenas of the college at promoting opportunities through which students and local members of the community can mix and mingle. This aspect of the evening, combined with the wonderful music, surely made my evening a night to remember.

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More than Just Majors

Majors are not important.
WOAH! Back it up there, what did she just say? Isn’t college all about discovering what you want to pursue for the rest of your life which is what your major decides?! This girl is crazy…..is what you must be thinking. However, I attended a presentation by Don Asher that convinced me of this point. Don Asher is an “internationally acclaimed author and speaker specializing in professional development and higher education” says his website (http://www.donaldasher.com/). In other words, he is well educated in the field of “getting people a job” (my words).

I’m not saying that majors are not important (okay I may have just stated that) but there are other factors that are more essential to succeeding in college and when you enter the “real” world of jobs, taxes, briefcases, and stiletto heels. Asher highlighted some main points of how to make the most of your college experience and what employers seek when hiring. This data is important for any parent or college student to see, because majors are greatly emphasized and maybe even over-emphasized. Deciding a major can be scary and feel confining, but I want to ease your nerves…..I know it helped me at least.

So you must be curious to know what employers are looking for when hiring. They try to find someone who can write (apparently this is deficient in many college students), quantitatively reason (that means applied math like Calculus, Statistics, Research Methodology), present (I know presentations can be scary but get used to speaking in front of people), and have organizational and leadership skills. Notice, that these skills can be attained in any major. You don’t have to be an English major or a Math major to know how to write or think logically (although it doesn’t hurt). Furthermore, in today’s market, it is beneficial to have a global perspective. This means being able to speak more than one language and, preferably, having study abroad experience. Once again, you can study abroad with practically any major and easily add a language into your course load. Asher also stressed how employers look at more than just your academics. They want well-rounded students who participate in activities and socialization, such as sports, clubs, and volunteer opportunities.

But what is the top thing that employers look at? The number one thing that decides where you will end up after college? The REAL thing that everyone should be stressing over……is internships. Having experience in the desired field of work is crucial, which means that summers really count. People may think summers are meant to relax (and they definitely are), but you should make the most of your time by working. Your junior year summer job is what most likely determines what you will do in the future. Of course this is not true for everyone but there is a high correlation between junior summer jobs and where people end up.

What does this mean for you and your major? Well, you can relax, take classes you enjoy, and maybe double major or minor in something just because you love it. No matter what major you choose, you can end up in any field. Your major will be able to be applied in a multitude of careers. Asher gave an example of how students who majored in French Literature ended up as bank tellers and lawyers! So don’t force yourself to do something just because you think it will find you a high paying job. Do What You Are.

About Anh Uong

My name is Anh (yes it is very hard to pronounce). I am a freshman living in Foss (Foss is Boss) ready to take on the world. Traveling from the far reaches of Massachusetts, I have really enjoyed Maine and the beautiful landscape that accompanies it. I am interested in everything from math to writing, which makes selecting a major difficult, but that's why I am here at a liberal arts college. Around campus, I can be spotted with a ukulele, a stack of notebooks, some sort of wildlife, and a smile.
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Reversing Reification Through Thank You Notes

One of the first things that I learned about while taking classes to fulfill the requirements of my sociology major was the concept of reification: a kind of taken-for-grantedness, reification is when we remove the individual from the picture. We, usually unintentionally, overlook day-to-day reality or the personal in favor of an abstract understanding of something. As liberal arts students who discuss topics like progress, educational standards, belonging, difference, and privilege on a regular basis, it is easy to get lost in the abstract world of names, theories, and concepts. This happens to me everyday: I walk to the gym multiple times per week, and, in my head, I note that the building that I’m going into is the “Alfond Athletic Center.” But what does that mean, exactly? While using the Arc Trainer this morning, I realized that I don’t know very much about the family that sponsored and funded the fitness center. But we really should take more time out of our days to learn about where the resources we use come from—or at least to appreciate them.

Funds are fairly widely available at Colby, which is one of the perks of going to a college like this. The school is need-based, so it has a no-loan policy, and it meets (in the form of grants), 100% of students’ calculated financial need. Surprisingly, many colleges that label themselves “need-based” don’t actually give students monetary support for their entire calculated need, and I have always been appreciative that Colby doesn’t falsely or deceptively label itself a need-based school. On top of grant money, students can apply for funding to do special projects, like to go to a conference, to conduct archival research, or to start a new club on campus. There really are remarkable opportunities here.

Each year, sometime in April, I write a thank-you note to the donor who has been the source of my need-based financial aid grant. Many other students do this as well. I write to express my gratitude, of course, but to also share with the person an update of some of the things that I’ve been doing that year. The note is an opportunity for me to reflect not only on my time here, but also on how much Colby has given me, and on how those gifts have allowed me to thrive and excel as a student. So write thank you notes for things you are truly grateful for in life: in an internet-dominated age, the person you are writing the note to will surely really appreciate it, and this type of exercise will be good for you, too!

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Breakfast Thoughts

I write this blog from Dana dining hall, where I am enjoying my usual Monday morning breakfast of oatmeal, fruit salad, and coffee. I confess that I have rarely made it to breakfast for most of my Colby career. My classes generally begin at 11, so I usually just eat lunch right after them. I like to workout in the morning, and I rarely have time to do that, shower, and prepare for class, while also making it to breakfast. Yes, I typically skip “the most important meal of the day.” Well, I do usually eat a granola bar on the run, so that counts, right? On Mondays, however, I have an early AM tutoring shift, so I always eat breakfast before it.

I am a big fan of breakfast food. I love oatmeal, I love boiled eggs, and I love hash browns and the fruit bar. I often find myself wondering why oatmeal and fruit salad, in particular, are not served during the lunch hours, or even during the dinner hours. I could eat those foods all day!

There’s something incredibly relaxing about breakfast time. The dining hall doesn’t feel as populated during breakfast as it does during lunch, for instance, when many people are hustling and bustling to eat some food after an 11-12:15 class (most, after all, are rushing to eat something before a 1:00 class or meeting). Instead, everyone is calm: they are sipping coffee, flipping through a newspaper, chatting with friends over a pastry or bagel, or reading an article or book for a class later in the day. It really is a wonderful time of day.

If you come to Colby, I hope that you are able to enjoy the breakfast hours more than I have been able to throughout my time here!

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International Extravaganza

If there is one piece of advice I would like to give to departing seniors/incoming freshman (I assume, my main audience), it would be to never be afraid to do what you want and try something new. There have been many things this year that I wish I had partaken in. One example, would be dancing in the International Extravaganza.

Every year, students coordinate dances from different cultures around the world, usually led by an international student from the dance’s origin. I attended the event on Saturday and there was such a variety of performances and representation from different nations. The auditorium was packed by the time I arrived so I was left standing in the back for 2.5 hours but it was worth it. It was fun to watch people perform and show their pride. I heard so many songs in so many different languages. It was beautiful.

Here is just a small sampling of some of the acts (there were about 20). I apologize that I do not know the correct term for each dance or song or country of origin but I will relay the information I do know.

Belly Dancing (led by my friend from Turkey)

 

Karate (brought to you by the Karate Club, I didn’t even know we had one!)

Taiko Drumming

 

Poem about Diversity (Solo act! Very brave and very wonderful)

African Dance (seriously, some crazy awesome moves. I don’t know how they do it but it was impressive)

Bollywood Dance

 

Japanese Fishermen’s Dance (my friend was in this one! So proud of her. Apparently, this is a typical United World’s College – UWC – dance)

 

Chinese Dance to the song “Bu Yao, Bu Yao” (this is the song that won the World Division Song Contest earlier this year. VERY catchy song)

 

Russian Song (my friend is playing the guitar! The music to this song was so beautiful. There was a violin, a cello, two guitars, and a flute)

I imagine that each group devoted so much time and effort into their performance. Each group wore native clothes for the dances and songs, which really made the acts seem authentic. What a great show!! I am always sad when I miss out on an opportunity to try something new that seems really fun. Sometimes I feel like I am just too shy to put myself out there for the world to see. But slowly, I am trying to change that about myself and crawl out of my shell.

About Anh Uong

My name is Anh (yes it is very hard to pronounce). I am a freshman living in Foss (Foss is Boss) ready to take on the world. Traveling from the far reaches of Massachusetts, I have really enjoyed Maine and the beautiful landscape that accompanies it. I am interested in everything from math to writing, which makes selecting a major difficult, but that's why I am here at a liberal arts college. Around campus, I can be spotted with a ukulele, a stack of notebooks, some sort of wildlife, and a smile.
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Seconds Please!

Desserts are AH-may-zing. I have always been a huge fan of dessert, and I truly think my sweet tooth really takes up most of the space in my mouth. There is just no room for anything else. The dining hall has some pretty stellar desserts, and I can bet that I have tried them all. My favorites would definitely have to be the vegan (yes, vegan, healthy, and delicious) apple and oats parfait, hermit bar (molasses and raisins never tasted so good), apple pie (classic), snicker doodle cookie (perfect with a chai latte), or the classic brownie (especially tasty with ice cream on top). As you can see….I have a lot to say when it comes to dessert.

This week has been especially full of cookies and cakes. Many events hold receptions afterwards with, of course, dessert. Sometimes I feel like the reason people get their butts out of their room is to learn something interesting and stuff their faces with goodies. After a movie I watched on the human-elephant crisis in Sri Lanka, I enjoyed chocolates with carrot cake inside and eclairs…..they were little morsels of happiness with every bite.

Yesterday I attended a cooking class taught by one of the dining hall chefs. He wasn’t sure what to have us make, but he thought of a basic skill everyone should know how to do….cut up a chicken. He had a tray of cold, slimy chickens and we were expected to chop it up into drumsticks, wings, and breasts. Alas, I had to leave the lesson early and did not have the opportunity to cut up a chicken, but I listened intently and watched fellow students slice away. It looked surprisingly easy. He ensured us that even if we messed up, the chicken was still edible! To start off the class he said a quote from one of my favorite movies….Anyone Can Cook.

Sorry to deter away from desserts but I thought that experience was both interesting and fun. I stared at my friend’s chicken today. It looked just like one of the ones my friend cut up yesterday….hmmmm.

Yesterday also marked the Math Department’s big Dessert Extravaganza! The event was for potential math majors and minors but everyone who was even vaguely interested in math came. Apparently, people had heard about the wonderful desserts (and oh boy were they scrumptious) and flocked the math floor in Mudd. I socialized with current majors, math professors, and friends who are as clueless as I am about whether to choose math or psychology or chemistry. But let me tell you, those desserts were no ordinary desserts. They were the decadent kind that you order at a fancy restaurant and devour in two seconds. There was mousse and pies and cakes and ones that I didn’t even know their name! Saying pies and cakes seems disrespectful for these masterpieces! And, of course, they were delicious.

My final event with tasty treats is the Admissions Ambassadors meeting I just attended. This weekend I will be hosting another prospie for Accepted Students Day and Open House. We had a short meeting where we went over the schedule and the basic protocols. At each meeting there are always marvelous desserts. This time on the menu was three different types of bars. One with cranberries and vanilla drizzling on top, one that was cheesecake with crumbs on top, and one with chocolate on top (I can’t tell you much about it because I only ate the other two). Yuummmmm!

My stomach is very happy right now. At the beginning of the year when I told a friend that I felt guilty after eating my third brownie, she told me something I will never forget. Never regret something that once brought you joy.

P.S. This may not seem that momentous but LOOK! NO SNOW!!! Spring is finally here. :)

About Anh Uong

My name is Anh (yes it is very hard to pronounce). I am a freshman living in Foss (Foss is Boss) ready to take on the world. Traveling from the far reaches of Massachusetts, I have really enjoyed Maine and the beautiful landscape that accompanies it. I am interested in everything from math to writing, which makes selecting a major difficult, but that's why I am here at a liberal arts college. Around campus, I can be spotted with a ukulele, a stack of notebooks, some sort of wildlife, and a smile.
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Spring is in the Air!

The weather has treated us well lately, and there is a general buzz on campus because of this. With the temperature approaching the fifties nearly each day in Waterville, all know that summer is almost here.

Spring at Colby marks the beginning of several informal traditions, including class outside with willing professors (alas, this won’t be possible for a few more weeks, I’d say, because the ground is wet, given that more and more snow melts upon it each day), skirt day, cracking your dorm room windows open after a long winter, afternoons spent reading on the various “hills” that comprise Mayflower Hill, barbeques and picnics, iced coffee and other seasonal delights, pleasant runs outside, drives in friends’ cars with the sunroofs open, and the thrill of not having to do laundry one week, because you have officially transitioned from wearing pants and sweaters to shorts and tees.

This weekend, several events will be happening on campus, all of which, I think, typify what Spring feels like at Colby. Most representative of the general ambience is probably the Colby Outing Club’s 100th Anniversary Celebration that will be taking place: there will be food, drinks, games, and live music out on the lawn for students on Friday night. Besides celebratory BBQs like this one, Spring also means lacrosse games—and there will be one on Saturday afternoon—Woodsmen’s team competitions, and many other spring sporting events that are open to students and the public.

Spring at Colby certainly gives students several reasons to smile!

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When Someone Famous Visits Your Class

One of the most exciting things about Colby is that dozens of guest speakers visit campus each day. These talks are sponsored by several departments and organizations on campus, so the subjects that these individuals bring to our attention are truly varied and numerous. In many cases, a talk will be co-hosted by three or four groups. More thrilling than hearing a speaker talk about a topic that particularly excites you, however, is meeting someone whose work you’ve read in a class. I’ve experienced this a few times in my Colby career, and, most recently, it was with Jael Silliman, the author of The Man With Many Hats.

Jael Silliman is a Jewish and Indian writer, whose first novel, mentioned above, I read in my Global Women Writers course. She visited campus last week in order to give a talk on the archive that she is compiling on the Calcutta Jewish community. The novel that we read in class was, in many ways, a kind of critical ethnography about this community, but what was most fascinating was that I was able to hear her talk about, show pictures of, and share stories about a community that I could initially only relate to through a work of fiction. Not surprisingly, the lines between fact and fiction were thin, for her’s was in large part a historically-based novel.

The talk was on a Tuesday, and, on Thursday, Jael agreed to visit our class. She answered students’ questions about several subjects related to her book and about the archive, including but not limited to how history figures into her fiction, her inspiration for the novel, how she thinks about identity, the role voice plays in her book, and the process of self-publishing and what literary freedoms that gave her.

She was truly a wonderful person to interact with and learn from, and I left both her talk and class feeling very well informed about a community that, prior to last week, I had known nothing about.

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Oh the Places You’ll Go

Choosing a college is extremely difficult. Having just been through the process and now helping my sister decide, I feel like I am a bank of wisdom and knowledge. I have learned a lot about different types of colleges and universities, and I want to help others navigate through the maze because it is complicated and sticky and messy. This is why I enjoy hosting prospective students, and it just so happens that I will have one in just a few minutes! This weekend is College Match, in which Colby arranges for juniors to visit the campus and stay with a variety of students. I will have a little baby to show around.

College is a big deal. Not only is it super expensive, but you are learning the necessary skills to be thrown out into the real world and tackle the big bad responsibilities of having a job. When I was picking a college, I randomly added a bunch on my list based on what my guidance counselor thought suited me. It seemed like every place I visited, I loved and every website showed only the best points of the university. Pretty much, I had no clue what I wanted from a college. Only after being in college do I realize what I should have been looking for. And now I can pass my knowledge onto you…..

1.) Variety of Classes/Majors – this is the time to figure out what you want to do and what you are interested in, but this can only be achieved through taking a wide variety of classes. By taking classes in a bunch of different fields you can try out new subjects like anthropology and archaeology and maybe even discover that you have a hidden talent or passion. Make sure the college offers ALL of the majors you are interested in.

2.) Connections to a Job – what is the point of college? To get a job! Yes, yes, there is also the growing as a person, expanding your mind, widening your perspective aspect but ultimately, you hope to come out of college and be able to attain a job. So you should make sure that the college actually helps you get a job in the field that you want. For example, at Colby there is the Career Center. They have helped me create a resume and cover letter, figure out what I am interested in doing as a profession, and develop a plan to gain engineering experience. Aka very helpful.

3.) Resources for Learning – what is the other point of college? To learn! Classes can be tough. Not everyone is going to be stellar at every subject so you may need some help on the way. Be sure to check if the college has tutors to help you. Colby offers free tutors in every subject. I have received help from teacher assistants (paid student helpers) in Calculus and Computer Science and my literature class…actually I think they have helped me in all of my subjects. They are always so friendly and patient. Sometimes they have to explain something to me 3 times before I understood what I did wrong. There is also the Writer’s Center to aid with any problems while writing a paper, proposal, or brainstorming venn-diagram. Being a small school, Colby professors are also very willing to spend time sitting down with each student, getting to know them, and helping them with any issues in class or in life.

4.) Opportunities Outside of the Classroom – You won’t be spending all of your time in class, so you have to check to see what kind of extracurriculars and outside activities the college offers. Do they have the dance team you want to join, the musical lessons you want to take, the orchestra group you want to play in, the sport you want to try? Do they have the clubs you are interested in? What about on-campus jobs and volunteering opportunities?

5.) Sense of Community – Friends are what make the college experience so incredible. They help you survive the all nighters during finals week by giving you coffee. They wake you up for you 8am classes. They eat with you so you don’t have to sit in the dining hall alone. You want a college where you can see yourself fitting in with the people and befriending them.

6.) Quality Food – Enough said.

I hope this helps make the college decision process a little easier. Good luck!

About Anh Uong

My name is Anh (yes it is very hard to pronounce). I am a freshman living in Foss (Foss is Boss) ready to take on the world. Traveling from the far reaches of Massachusetts, I have really enjoyed Maine and the beautiful landscape that accompanies it. I am interested in everything from math to writing, which makes selecting a major difficult, but that's why I am here at a liberal arts college. Around campus, I can be spotted with a ukulele, a stack of notebooks, some sort of wildlife, and a smile.
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