This semester, I am taking a class at Villanova. I’ve found that not many Mawrters know that this is an option, but if you’re motivated, it is! I’m taking anatomy and physiology, which involves memorizing more things than I thought was possible to shove into your brain at once. So far, I really like Villanova. People are friendly, the professor is approachable (she told me that she liked my Eagles shirt on Friday, so she gets extra points).

It’s nice to get off campus for a little bit. Even though Villanova is just 5 minutes down the road, it’s a completely different place. There are many ways I can highlight this, but the best example happened on Friday. Walking out of class, I spotted an interesting event. There was an L.L. Bean sale in the middle of Villanova’s campus, complete with a car shaped like a Bean boot. Coats were being sold, a few students were participating in a Bean boot toss, and best of all, there was a golden retriever puppy. I don’t know where the puppy came from, but it was adorable. This would never happen at Bryn Mawr for two reasons. 1.) Half of the students would be like “excuse me, but what is a Bean boot?” Even though I, being from a small New England town, saw nothing but Bean boots all winter long, the large West Coast, Southern, and international population would be unenthused by a car shaped like a giant boot. 2.) Everyone would be too excited by the puppy to buy anything. If given the choice between petting a fluffy, adorable puppy and buying a practical coat for the coming winter, most people would choose the puppy. But this is how Villanova is different from Bryn Mawr.

Great news! Plenary was a SUCCESS!! And given recent Plenaries, I have very low standards for a successful Plenary. In fact, I only have 1 standard: in order for Plenary to be successful, we have to finish all of the resolutions. There were a lot of resolutions, because some of them had been waiting for a year to be heard. The important thing was, however, that all of the resolutions were heard. The other important thing was that, after 2 years of starving through Plenary, I finally remembered to bring a sandwich to eat in the lobby. That way I didn’t have to join the mad post-Plenary dash to Haffner, only to sit there and eat salad and ice cream until full dinner came out half an hour later. But no matter how proud I am of my food-remembering abilities, I am much prouder of my hellee, who passed her first Plenary resolution (YAYYY!!!) and all of SGA and the Plenary committee who kept an 11-resolution Plenary as efficient as possible.

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**Disclaimer: This post discusses some topics that may be sensitive to some people. I have tried to be as open-minded as possible when discussing these events.

There was a demonstration on campus this weekend. Students encircled part of the campus (through Rock Arch and then around through Pembroke Arch), holding hands and chanting. We did it to show solidarity, to show how strong our voices can be. It also showed how quickly campus can come to action.

But the thing that hit me most about the experience was the connection. From a biological perspective, the human hand has thousands of neurons packed under your skin. This means that your hand has an incredible capacity to make connections with the world around it and communicate all of those connections with your brain. This is why I think that showing solidarity by holding hands, sometimes with perfect strangers, can be so powerful. Your hand provides so much input about the person next to you, and tells the hand you’re holding so much about you.

One more thing that all those hands were doing was tweeting up a storm. Look for the hashtags #bmcbanter, #BecauseIAm #IfIWere and you will find more insight into the demonstration than I can put into this post.

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This summer I worked with students with special needs at a vocational education center in my town. Since I live in a beach town, this meant that I got to take them to the beach every week.

Picture a relaxing day at the beach: laying on a beach towel, the sound of the waves crashing on the shore and a good book in your hand (my picks this summer: some Oliver Sacks, The Casual Vacancy, and a few travel books), getting nice and toasty in the sun. This is what I did when I was not at work. When I was at work, I spent beach days giving a 7-year-old piggy back rides in the water while trying to keep her from drinking up the entire ocean. When it was time for us to go back for lunch, she would sprint, covered in sand, across the beach, not caring if she stepped on towels or sprayed sand on people. When I caught her she would be all giggles and hugs and it would be impossible to be anything but charmed. And a little tired.

My other favorite part of work was teaching social skills and cooking skills to kids with high-functioning ASD. I liked the social skills part because it was so rewarding to watch them start to use their People Files and refer to the Friendship Pyramid with ease. I liked the cooking skills part because we got to eat the final product.

A few weeks ago, I competed in the heptathlon at the conference championship meet. The most interesting experience I had all weekend was my long jump experience. Long jump is part of the heptathlon, but I had also qualified as an individual. Unfortunately, the mark I got in my heptathlon long jump would not count toward my mark as an individual, so I would have to long jump twice in the same day. This doesn’t sound too bad, but I also had to do six other events that weekend. Heptathlon long jump was the first event of the second day. I was on the top of my game and jumped a personal best long jump. If only that jump had counted for regular competition too.
Less than 10 minutes before the final event of the heptathlon, the 800 meter run, went off, the individual long jump competition started. Each long jumper gets three tries, but I would only have time for my first try before I had to go to the starting line. I ran the same approach that I had run for my successful jump earlier, but I was so nervous about the 800 that I ended up fouling the jump and not getting a mark. Trying to push the unsuccessful long jump attempt out of my mind, I headed to the start line of the 800, determined to focus on only that even for the 3 minutes it would take for my heptathlon career to be over. Both times I ran past the long jump pit, I made a point to ignore what was going on, and instead focus on the cheers from my teammates who had circled the track in support of my teammate and me.
The thing about mid distance races such as the 800 is that by the end, your legs feel a little numb, or at least very shaky. This race was no different. As soon as I got off the finish line, while my fellow heptathletes were congratulating each other and contemplating what type of pizza they were going to get now that the two-day competition was over, I was walking as fast as my shaky legs would allow me back to the long jump pit. If I hadn’t missed all of my attempts, I might be able to get a mark, albeit a very short one. The problem was that there was a rather large crowd of coaches and teammates gathered around the long jump ref and I had very little breath to tell them to move so I could talk to the ref. Just as I approached the crowd, I heard the ref call out my name for my third and final attempt. “I’m here!” I shouted, stumbling through the crowd. “I’m here!” The entire crowd turned to look at the crazy, breathless girl tripping toward them. In long jump, once your name is called, you have a minute to start your approach or you are disqualified. I walked as steadily as I could to the end of the runway, my legs feeling about as strong as Bambi’s in the scene where he first learns to walk. In the short 60 seconds that I had, I caught my breath as well as I could. This time, I stared the board down. I wasn’t going to step over it; I couldn’t foul. My foot hit right on the board, and I landed in the pit. A perfectly legal jump. Even from looking at it, I could tell it was short, but I didn’t care. None of the other jumpers had run an 800 right before their attempts, so in my book it was pretty impressive. And as it turned out, the ref took pity on me and allowed me to make up the jump that I had missed after the rest of my flight finished, and I jumped a respectable distance on that one. It wasn’t anywhere near my personal best, but it was decent . Especially considering it was my eighth event of the weekend.

This weekend I competed in my first ever heptathlon. A heptathlon is a track event that is comprised of seven events over two days: on the first day, the athletes compete in the hurdles, high jump, shot put, and 200 meter dash, and on the second day, the athletes compete in the long jump, the javelin, and the 800 meter run.

It had been a long road to get to this day, a road that had started in high school, when I had asked my then-coach if I could compete in the heptathlon. My high school coach is a wonderful coach; a lifelong trackie and incredibly kind. He also coached a large team and had to pick his battles. Therefore, his response was that I could not compete in the heptathlon, with the reason that I would be very weak in the throwing events. He was mostly right.

Flash forward two years, to the beginning of outdoor track season this year. My friend on the track team got her heart set on competing in the heptathlon. Personally, I think that she just wanted an excuse to try throwing the javelin. It was decided that I would be her training partner.

Over the course of the season, I learned how tough it can be to be a multi-event athlete. I would go to practice in the morning and do a running workout to train for the 200 and the 800. A few hours later, my legs still sore from their morning pounding, I would head to high jump practice, and pound my legs for another hour. After that, my legs would get a break, as I headed to the thrower’s lift to do a bench press workout.

The extra time was worth it when the first day of competition arrived. We started off our warm-ups in the balmy 70° weather and I was surprised when the athletes I would be competing against started chatting amiably to Reb and me about our warm-up. Over the course of the two days, I found that while trackies are overall nice people willing to exchange a “good luck” at the blocks and a “good job” at the finish, the multi-event community is even more friendly.

heptathlon

day 1, getting some shade.
selfie by Rebecca Craig

 

As is expected of a long day competing in the sun, there were ups and downs for both of us in the events. We were lucky to have two dedicated coaches beside us for the whole day, offering moral support, advice, and a well-timed Gatorade run. We were even luckier on the second day, when the rest of the team came to the meet to compete in the other events or to cheer. It was my third time ever long jumping in college that day, but with my team almost literally lining the runway, I was able to shatter my personal record beyond what I thought was possible.

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Me and my hellee
Photo by Rebecca Craig

By the end of the meet, both of us earned the opportunity to compete in the event one more time this season: at the Conference Championship meet in May. We also got some pretty nice tan lines (think: socks, watches, and singlets) and a free pass out of 7 am practice the next day.

Room draw can be a very stressful and overwhelming time. People get very intense about it. Unfortunately, I am one of them. I make these intense color-coded spreadsheets and then print out the dorms maps and all sorts of stuff. It’s a little embarrassing, really. However, it has given me a sort of insight into the things that normal people who aren’t obsessed with spreadsheets can do to make their room draw experience a little less painful. To that end, I would like to present a few tips about room draw.

 

1. Communicate with your hall group or multiple occupancy partners.

This is really important, which is why I put it first. Let the people you’re rooming with/near know what you want and don’t want when it comes to room draw. If there are dorms that you absolutely don’t want to live in, tell them (some common complaints are: Brecon is too far, Denbigh 3rd is too hot, the Pems are too loud, etc.). Only one person can speak up for your group when your number is called, and if they know what you want ahead of time, there won’t be any last minute debates when it’s finally your turn to pick. Also, it will make the living situation over the course of the year significantly less tense.

 

2. Check out Project Dorm Room.

If you’re too shy/lazy/busy to run around campus looking at rooms, this is a great way to get an idea of what a room might look like. While they don’t have pictures of all of the rooms on campus, it can be a good way to get a general idea of what a typical Erdman room looks like, or a general size estimate. In past years, they have even taken 360° photos of the rooms that were in the contest, which is a great resource.

 

3. Don’t freak out.

Yes, room draw can be daunting. Yes, it will determine where you live for the next year. But there is room trade period after this if you really mess up. And besides, most people end up spending way more time in class, at club meetings or sports practices, or at social events than in their rooms. For example, I’m pretty sure I spend as much time, if not more time in the dining hall and the gym alone than in my room.

Also, make sure you eat a good meal before room draw; it can go really long, and bringing snacks to room draw is generally frowned upon.

 

This week, the show How I Met Your Mother ended. I started watching the show my senior year of high school. It was the first show that I ever Netflix binge-watched, so it will always hold a special place in my heart. When I came to Bryn Mawr, I introduced the show to my good friend. Over the past 2 years, we’ve worked through all 9 seasons of the show. Naturally, a lot of the jokes have worked their way into our lives. We high five a lot more than we used to, and accept challenges with a lot more gusto. Much to my friend’s chagrin, I have found that “Have you met Reb?” is a fun game to play at parties.
For the finale, we were going to make a night out of it, but as typical Mawrtyrs, life got in the way, and instead of the Ben & Jerry’s-fueled party we had planned on, we ended up watching the final twists and turns on my laptop while snacking on chocolate chips from the dining hall. As series finales go, it was pretty good. My personal favorite part was when Ted talked with his kids after he had finished the story. I had always wondered how his kids would turn out considering they type of bedtime stories he told them.
Unfortunately, now I’m going to have to find a new show to watch.

This week, I had an occasion to eat in Haverford’s dining hall. Plenty of Mawrters do that; our swipe cards work at both places, and it comes in handy when you have a class or friends over there. This was no social outing, however. I attended a job talk for an actual position at an actual company that I might take after graduation. To say the least, as a sophomore who declared her major 4 short months ago, this was a daunting meeting. Especially since only 3 people showed up and the recruiter actually wanted us to interact with her. Luckily, she was very nice, a common characteristic of those who work in the field that I want to go in. After graduation, I want to work with children with special needs and help them to live the most full and independent lives possible. There are more ways to do this than I ever imagined, and when I first started looking into the field, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of possibilities of things that I could be when I grew up. Every one of those job titles: special education teacher, clinical psychologist, ABA specialist, speech-language pathologist, to name a few; would fulfill my dream. I have by no means decided which path I am going to take, but I am getting a better picture of what each path looks like through things like this job talk. This particular company could provide a wide variety of wonderful opportunities for me, including training in one of the leading autism interventions, financial help pursuing a master’s degree, and, perhaps the most intriguing of all, a stint working in their office in Abu Dhabi.
Even though it was scary to be thinking about my future in such concrete terms, it was that little detail that made the whole thing less daunting. Imagining myself working with autistic kids in Abu Dhabi, exploring and enjoying a new part of the world, was as wonderful and exciting as imagining my future had been when I was a kid and I wanted to be a circus performer. I may never work for that company, but I will probably work for like that. The idea of working in such an exotic place reminded me of how I should feel when contemplating any new career, even in the States. I should be excited. It should feel like an adventure, something that I just can’t wait to do.

The D3 indoor track national championships meet was this weekend. I knew a few people participating, such as my teammate Claudia and my sister. As it is my sister’s senior year, my parents want to attend every one of her “lasts”, so they bought plane tickets to Nebraska and offered me the opportunity to go as well. I love my sister, and being almost 300 miles from her means that I don’t get to be there for many of her lasts, so I jumped on this opportunity. Also, I’m a bit of a track nerd, so it was exciting to be able to watch all of the people I’d been following on TFRRS run at such a high-caliber meet. The trip started, as most of my adventures this semester seem to begin, with snow. The morning of our flight to Nebraska was pretty wintry: it was about 28 degrees and flurrying in Hartford when I left. When I arrived in Nebraska, however, I discovered the spring was just a time zone away.

I was told that this is not typical of Nebraska at this time, but it was 67 degrees for the whole weekend. Chances are, I will never return to Nebraska to refute this impression, so I will always imagine short-sleeved runs, balmy evening strolls, and warm breezes when I think of Nebraska. It was outdoor track weather.

Speaking of track, the meet itself was even more extraordinary than the weather. When I returned to campus, I entertained my friends by giving them a blow-by-blow of my favorite races. The first involved a runner who got a 50 meter lead in the first few laps and never lost it, winning by almost 4 seconds; another involved a runner who got a 50 meter lead and kept it until the final few laps before losing it to an astonishingly super-human kick by a runner who had been in 4th.

Both Claudia and my sister also ran well, with Claudia setting a new school record in the 5k with a 10th place finish and my sister taking 5th in the mile.

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Claudia and coach after her race. Photo by me

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