This year, I joined a club. While doing such a thing is not always advisable in your junior year, when you already have many commitments, challenging classes, and plans for the future to spend your time on, I decided that this particular club was worth it. I have joined the Body Image Council, a club dedicated to addressing body image issues on campus. I feel that these issues are very important to talk about and work on, because so many people have to battle with these issues in private for fear of being stigmatized and judged. I joined this club because I want to help make this a subject that people can freely talk about, if they want, without having to worry about these negative consequences.

I am writing about this now because this week is Body Positivity week, sponsored by the Body Image Council. There are a lot of events happening on campus, such as a free yoga class, a film screening, and clothes donations. Yesterday, I tabled for the event in the campus center to let people know about body positivity week. In addition to handing out informational flyers, our table had a huge piece of paper with the words “What do you love about your body?” on it. The idea was simple: people were invited to write the things they loved about their bodies on the paper. IT was a challenge for me. In order to get people to come over, you have to call out to random strangers and ask them if they want to write something they love about their bodies. I’m not all that outgoing, and people generally don’t like to be solicited.

When I initially called out to people they seemed wary. Unless Girl Scout cookies are involved, it’s hard to get people excited on a Monday. When they realized that they would get the chance to talk about what they loved about their bodies, they surprised me. People smiled. Lots of people came over and wrote on the poster. It turned out; people had a lot of things to say about their bodies. Some of them were simple, like “I like my eyes”, and some were a little more involved, like descriptions of the things that their bodies let them do. A lot of them walked away smiling, and it made me glad to be a part of this club.

There are many benefits to taking classes off campus. For example, you have access to a wider range of course offerings, you get to meet students from other schools, and you get to expand your knowledge of mainline traffic (that last one might be a drawback). There are, however, a few drawbacks, and I encountered one such challenge this past week. It turns out that not every school has spring break on the same week, and I found myself with two half spring breaks. One week, I didn’t have to go to my Villanova class, and the next week, I had spring break from all of my other classes but still had to attend class at Villanova. It essentially meant that I was staying on campus for a large part of spring break.

When you are on campus when most of the student body is not, there are two major challenges. The first is food; the dining halls are not open. The second is entertainment. With everyone gone, you and the few people on campus have to come up with creative ways to fill the hours that you would normally spend in class and doing homework. The food problem was surprisingly easy to solve. My friend has an apartment with a kitchen, so we got to spend much of our extra time cooking and baking to our heart’s content. One night, we even had blackberry-chocolate chip pancakes for dinner, with white chocolate chip brownie cookies for dessert. It was almost as good as a home cooked meal.

It wasn’t that hard to find fun things to do, either. My hellee and I caught up on a few of the movies we had been planning to watch. I introduced her to the gem that is Sweet Home Alabama, a thrilling romantic comedy set in the south, complete with two Civil War reenactors, a coon dog cemetery, several honky tonk bar scenes, and more country accents than she knew what to do with. The other big attraction was the King of Prussia mall, which is the biggest mall I have ever been to, and quite possibly the largest mall on the East Coast (the internet is undecided on this). This mall has over 400 stores, so there is a lot to do and see.

My personal favorite adventure around southeaster PA was to a place called the Baldwin book barn. It is a literal barn that is full of books and 1 cat. My hellee and I drove there on a rainy day, and spent hours in the unheated barn, listening to rain on the roof and perusing any book that caught our attention. I had read on Yelp that the barn had cats, so I went in search of them. After trekking through all five floors, most of which were unheated, and the fifth of which was rather rickety, I finally found a cat and several interesting books. Though it is a bit far from campus, it was a perfect spring break adventure.

This week, my brother came to visit. It was exciting because he got to see me compete in my conference championship, but the main reason for his visit was to go on college tours. Despite the fact that I still think of him as the cherub-cheeked 6 year old who let me paint his fingernails “Spiderman Red”, my little brother has grown into a tall, 17-year- old junior who is thinking about college.

Obviously my brother will not be considering Bryn Mawr. He’s actually been on the campus tour, but that was 3 years ago. Hearing him talk about his college visits brought me back to when I was deciding where to go to school. One of the main things that he talked about was food. This is high on the mind of any 17-year old male, but I’m pretty sure that the blueberries and yogurt that I had for breakfast on the morning of my overnight at Bryn Mawr were one of the huge pros on my list. The Haffner pizza was another big plus.

The other thing that my brother took away from his college tours was that dorm size was going to be a big selling point for him. I didn’t remember this being an issue for me when I was thinking about colleges, and I wondered why my brother would make this such a big deal. Then I remembered what had been special about my overnight at Bryn Mawr. Almost the entire time had been spent in the common room. I attended a hall tea, and then a couple of students and I watched a movie. The whole thing felt, in short, like a sleepover. I wanted to go to a school where it didn’t matter how big your room was because you’d spend most of your time outside of it. That’s been my experience at Bryn Mawr. I spend time in the common areas of the library or in the psychology house studying with my classmates, or unwinding with my friends over an episode of How I Met Your Mother in the common room. My freshman year, my best friend had a huge double and we all spent our study and hang out time in there. Even if I had a long week or I missed home cooked meals, there was always a little microcosm of home when I was with my buddies. It was the only place other than the common room where we could all spread out on the floor with our books and catch up on the weekend’s events while we studied. The advice I probably should have given my brother (other than that Bryn Mawr is the best!) is that if you go to a place where you get to be part of a special community, it doesn’t matter how big your dorm room is.

This has not been a good winter on the Mawr. Almost every day presents a new hazard: several inches of snow, just a few millimeters of black ice, freezing temperatures, piercing winds. On Sundays I face a very serious question: do I even go outside at all? I’m a New Englander and I can’t bear the thought of braving the conditions outside. I can only imagine how the Californians feel. The number of emails I have received cautioning me about how serious cold weather is exceeds the number of fingers and toes that I have. All this, and yet we haven’t had a single snow day.

narnia

Sometimes campus looks a little bit like Narnia

thomas insta

Most of the recent pictures on my phone look like I was just on the set of Game of Thrones, and even though campus is pretty in the snow, I prefer cherry blossoms.

tundra2

 

 

tea

The best cure for the cold: a trip to one of the many many coffee shops on the Main Line

 

tundra1

A few weeks ago I competed in my first pentathlon. A pent is just like a heptathlon, but it is contested during indoor track and has two fewer events. Over the course of one meet, I would compete in five track events, each one 20-30 minutes apart. That weekend, the rest of the team was at other meets, so I invited my friend who doesn’t know anything about track along with me. How I convinced her to spend 5 hours of her Friday at a track meet with me is beyond me, but she was happy to come.

The great thing about inviting someone who knows nothing about track to a meet is that they think everything you do is impressive, especially when you do everything. For example, she picked up my shot put (which weighs 8.8 pounds) and said, “This is so heavy. You throw this?!” It made me feel super hardcore.

The first event in the pentathlon is the hurdles. The race went off at 5:30, and my last race didn’t start until 8:30. The whole thing was 3 hours of warming up, competing, cooling down, and then warming up again. Even though it’s important to know how to prepare for each event without tiring yourself out, it is equally important to know how to eat. Even if I’m just sitting in class, I can’t go longer than 2 hours without eating, it just makes me hangry. During an athletic competition, that just gets magnified. Luckily, my mom had sent a loaf of pumpkin bread, so in between the high jump and shot put (the best time for eating), I had a slice. Or two.

photo credits to Jocelyn Martinez

photo credits to Jocelyn Martinez

The second to last event was the long jump, which is arguably one of my favorites. There’s nothing like getting sand all up in your uniform to spice up the night. But the feeling of jumping a really good jump is really cool. If you get everything right, you hit this point where you think “wait, I haven’t touched the ground yet. Where is the ground?” and right when you start to panic about finding the ground, the sand is right there and you have a really good mark. I didn’t find that really good mark in this particular meet, but that’s not really the point of the pentathlon. When you’ve already been competing for several hours it’s just about finishing.

There was one other thing about this meet that was special, other than it being my first pent. I knew before the meet that I had a shot at the school record. It was a pretty good mark; the athlete who held it was so famous for having one of the longest planking records that Coach had named a core lift after her. She is strong and fast, and it was going to be a tough record to break. By the end of the meet however, I had done it; I had my very own school record. A week later, I broke it again.

teammates

bonus photo taken after my second pentathlon with my high jump/sprints teammate

 

 

Nontombi Naomi Tutu was the keynote speaker for Black history month this year. Tutu grew up in South Africa while her father, Desmond Tutu, was enacting the changes in her country that made him famous. She now lives in the U.S. and has taught at several universities, runs a consulting business, and speaks at events like this.

I can’t say anything about her consulting or her teaching, but I can attest to the fact that she is a wonderful speaker. She has a way of using her words to bring out the candor in everything she spoke about, even if the subject was painful, and yet she spoke about these painful topics in a way that supported our discovery of them and allowed us to feel the full scope of what her truths meant.

There are several things that I got out of her speech. A point that she kept coming back to was the idea of stories and how they can be told in many different ways. She began with this idea, when she spent a while speaking on the idea of Black history month, and how important it is to look back at the history of Black people, but also how this history is inseparably intertwined with the history of the larger world. The study of Black history, listening to these stories and really hearing them, inevitably makes one realize that they are hearing the history of the world.

The reason for her focus on stories was not fully explained until the question and answer session, when an audience member asked about the ways in which the country of South Africa had gone about helping their citizens to heal from the psychological wounds of apartheid. Tutu explained that South Africa is working very hard to start and continue the process of storytelling. She emphasized the importance of telling a story with such enormous effects on the individual and the community not once, but several times. It is important for people’s stories to not only be told, but to be really and sincerely heard, many times, over long periods of time, for there to be healing. It was at this point that I realized the importance of all of the stories that she had told throughout the course of her speech.

One of the most powerful stories she told was about Eugene de Kock, a police officer who had committed so many atrocities under apartheid that he had been nicknamed “Prime Evil” by the press. His story, while terrible, is a story that must be told, and listened to, and understood, for the sake of confronting past atrocities and learning from them. It was at this point that Tutu spoke about what she had heard de Kock and other individuals who spoke before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission say. De Kock said that he had become like a split person during that time, that there were two of him; one who loved his family and was a member of his community, and one who killed and did terrible thing. As a psych major, I found this incredibly interesting. There have been many studies in the field, especially studies that came out of WWII and the world’s knowledge about the truths of the Holocaust, that try to find out how people do terrible things. It is an interesting question: how do humans do the inhumane? Right there in the word is why it is so hard for people to wrap their heads around the question: the inhumane is not human. Since we are human, it seems like it must be impossible to do something that defies the human-ness of others, or even ourselves. But it happens everywhere. By denying others their humanity, we deny our own humanity. Tutu’s words about de Kock, while they do not explain this, make it clear why this is such an imperative question to explore, for each and every one of us to confront. De Kock differentiated the person who loved from the person who killed, and only in this way was he able to continue to do what he did. Tutu said that she struggled with this, that this seemed like a bad explanation, that it was the easy way out. She then said that she realized that many of us, not to that degree, have parts of ourselves that we love, parts that love and care and are exceptional, but there are parts of us that we are not proud of. While de Kock may be an extreme example of this, it is important to remember how close those dark parts of us are to the rest of us. Tutu emphasized how easy it is to do something that creates that part. This is why de Kock’s story is necessary. Yes, the story of Nelson Mandela is necessary, but the story of de Kock is too. We all have capacity to be good and evil. We always have a choice to acknowledge the humanity in others, and thus cultivate the humanity in ourselves, or to disregard and destroy the humanity in others, and thus eradicate the humanity in ourselves. We have to deeply and thoughtfully listen to these stories to figure out how.

 

I would like to thank Sisterhood, the Bryn Mawr chapter of the NAACP and the Pensby Center, as well as everyone else who helped to organize this event.

I would just like to take a moment to thank the Blue Bus drivers. When I think about my experience in the bi-co, which has been extensive, I somehow never think of them. Now that I am doing a lot more driving around the mainline to and from Villanova, however, I would like to thank them. Consider this an open thank you note to all the Blue Bus drivers.

Thank you, Blue Bus drivers, for your tireless service to the communities in the bi-co. Thank you for dealing with the terrible driving decisions that everyone who drives on the mainline makes. I know that they can be very aggressive at times, especially when they are driving their kids to and from school, which baffles me. Thank you for always waiting for that one person who is sprinting out of class to make the bus. I’m sure you make their day. Special shoutout to that one driver who always plays really calming classical or jazz music. Shoutout to all of the other drivers who play popular music even though it must get old after a while and also people who are in the party mood on the bus sometimes sing along (badly). Props to you for keeping your head up through that. And finally, thank you, Blue Bus drivers, for navigating that really tight turn onto Haverford Station road several times a day. I have a hard time with that and I drive a Buick.

Love, Marissa

In all seriousness though, you all do an awesome job. And you all somehow seem to be best friends. I didn’t know that bus driving can bring people together, but I always see the drivers hanging out where there’s 2 busses at the stop at the same time. That warms my heart.

It’s that time of year: classes are starting, snow is falling, and summer internship applications are due. When I heard that news as a freshman, I was caught like a deer in the headlights. But it’s only winter! I thought. How can I think about summer when I’m in full hibernation mode? I was not prepared, and I therefore had a very rough January.
The story has a happy ending: I found a wonderful job in my hometown (free rent!) doing what I loved and getting paid. But not everyone is so lucky. And since this is the third time I’ve been through this, I thought I’d share a few tips:
1.) Go to the career development office. The people there are really helpful. I had a meeting and the counselor got as excited about my ideas as I was. She couldn’t wait for me to go out there and do what I loved.
2.) Don’t be afraid to take a volunteer position. There is funding that you can apply for, and sometimes you can do things that are more interesting if you volunteer.
3.) Finding the perfect summer internship takes time. LanternLink and internship sites are good starting points, but there are lots of summer internships and jobs in the world that aren’t on those sites. If you find something on those sites that is in your field but looks kind of boring, try inputting the search terms associated with it into a different search engine (Google it!) and take the time to sift through the results. There are lots of great opportunities out there that are not super boring, they just can be hard to find sometimes.
4.) Talk to people. If you’re having trouble finding something, let people know; your friends, your professors, your grocer. You never know who might have a good idea. My summer job for the past two years was at the suggestion of my neighbor. The internship that I’m most excited about applying to this year I heard about from my sister. The one that I’m second most excited to apply for I found on Google after an afternoon of different variations on “summer internship fun research”. If you look hard enough, even research can be fun.

Athletics have always been a part of Grace’s life, and she was thrilled at the opportunity to continue playing in college. At Bryn Mawr, she found a supportive community that included people from athletics, academics, and her dorm. This gave her the confidence to step outside of her comfort zone and pursue a minor in computer science. Grace combined her passions for computer science and people in her work at the organization Girls Who Code, which provides high school girls the opportunity to discover computer science.

Why Bryn Mawr: “The thing that really sold it to me was coming here and seeing the community, and seeing how it’s not just the community of students, but it’s the community of students and professors, and it’s the community of the staff. And everyone’s in it together to make this place the best place it can be.”

Fighting for a common goal: “One of the things I really love about the lacrosse team is our focus on goals. Our goals are something that we really come back to and focus on and use to power us forward and to keep us going. I think like most teams at Bryn Mawr we’re a very determined group and we want to continue to do better than we’ve done before, whether it is better than we did yesterday, or better than the game we played last week. I know that personally I always want to keep getting better, and seeing your teammates work hard and fight for the same things you’re fighting for is something that always inspires me to work harder.”

A different perspective: “Being a scholar athlete means bringing a different perspective to things. I think athletics enhances my academics because I’m able to bring a different perspective to my classrooms, to my professors, to different situations. Being on a team provides you with so many opportunities and gives you so many different situations that you have to work through and learn from.”

Why Computer Science: “I didn’t think I was going to like it, I didn’t think I would be good at it, but it filled a requirement and I thought it might be interesting. I knew that Bryn Mawr had the support system behind me. Taking that risk of taking a class I wasn’t really sure I was going to like was safe because there were people here to help me through it, and taking that risk paid off.”

Girls Who Code: “I didn’t take computer science until my sophomore year and it’s what I want to do in the future with my career, but I would have loved to discover it earlier. Exposure to computer science is something that is lacking for a lot of girls so being able to be a part of an organization that is helping to fix that problem was really great. Seeing the girls discover that computer science could be what they wanted it to be, and that they could use it to solve the problems that they’re passionate about was really wonderful. They all had different interests and different views on the world, but computer science can help so many of the things they were passionate about and can be used in so many ways. Seeing them learn to appreciate the importance and power of knowing how to code was something I was honored to be able to witness and help them discover. They were truly an incredible group of young women and I had so much fun working with them.”

When it rains at Bryn Mawr, the campus completely transforms. First of all, you realize how many geese are on campus. On my way past Thomas today, I counted 47 geese on the green in front of Thomas alone. It was a goose party. Two of them were even playing tag.  Second, everyone who forgot to close their windows goes into a state of panic. 90% of the windows on this campus leak in the rain, but a good 75% of those windows have wide windowsills that people like to put art, plants or digital clocks on. When it rains, all of these things get soaked, which means that 66% of these things will be ruined. Third, you realize how cute everyone else’s umbrellas are. While I’m trudging along with my plain blue umbrella, the campus is festooned with owl-printed, polka-dotted, and rainbow striped umbrellas.

Despite the fact that everyone has cute umbrellas, and everyone leaves them outside the dining hall, or the library, or the gym so that they don’t track water everywhere, umbrellas don’t really get stolen. I’ve lost an umbrella before, but I’ve never had one stolen. I think this shows how well Bryn Mawr’s honor code works. Even though a person might be stranded in the library without an umbrella when it’s downpouring, and even though it suck to have to go outside without an umbrella, and even though there’s a whole pile of umbrellas just inside the door, people don’t take them. It’s just not nice, and then the person whose umbrella it was will be stranded without an umbrella. It’s an example of how people here really care about each other, and how they don’t do the easiest thing if it’s the wrong thing. The honor code is alive and well at Bryn Mawr.

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