Archive for the ‘Cody’ Category

Thanks!
September 6, 2010

With the first day of classes behind us, we just wanted to say thanks so much for reading and following us this summer!

Don’t be too sad that we’re ending the blog: you’ll still be able to get your weekly dose of our wit and charisma as both of us will be writing for Midd Blog this coming year!

Till our next Vermont summer,

Cody and Audrey

Notes on a Summer
September 3, 2010

My textbooks have all arrived (thank you Amazon free student shipping). I’ve moved into my fall housing. I’ve crashed every possible Freshman Orientation event that I could.

I guess that means that the Summer is finally drawing to a not-so-welcomed close.

When I think back to May, I’m not sure what I envisioned for my summer. At the time, I was just happy to have a paying internship somewhere where the temperature wouldn’t be 110 degrees (read: Dallas). I was excited that classes were over and that a much needed break was going to begin, but as far as to what I wanted to accomplish or achieve during my summer, I had no concrete plans. I didn’t even know that this blog was going to be created. I entered with no expectations, ready to embrace whatever came my way.

Little did I know that I was in for a summer full of adventures and pleasant surprises.

There is something really special about being at this place during the summer. Without classes, professors, or 2200 other students on campus, the college becomes this huge, leafy, expansive playground. There’s no rushing from place to place, staying up late to write papers: you get to experience the college in its most basic state all while reveling in the near perfect weather. To say that it’s idyllic doesn’t even begin to describe what spending a summer here is like: words can’t do it justice.

Further, I was finally given the opportunity to get to know Vermont. In many ways, I consider myself a new-born Vermonter, spending weekends in Burlington, going to local fairs, driving through all the wonderful small towns in the general area. I’m a big proponent of spending time being a tourist in your own town/city/state, so it’s been great adventuring through the mountains of VT.

But what made my summer experience so wonderful, aside from a great job and fantastic scenery, were the people I spent it with. Luckily for me, I was able to form a very tight-knit group of friends, with both students I spent time with during the semester and students I barely knew going into the summer. Not surprisingly, all of us were so much less stressed, so much less caught up with being ‘Middlebury College students’ than we normally are during the school year. It’s a rare opportunity given to us summer workers, the chance to get to know one another outside of an academic context.

While not everything about summering in Middlebury was completely rosy (living in battell, eating in the same dining hall for the entire summer, working 7 hours a day 5 days a week), I can’t help but look back on my experiences and smile. For me, it was a summer of grilled onions, board games, climbing trees, Ke$ha and Gaga played loud and proud, monsoon weather, late night star gazing, rooftop talks, foreign languages and a sense of true contentment.

I’ve grown a lot this summer, both in the way I interact with others (when you spend your entire day attempting to win over prospective students, you find it easier and easier to get to know strangers) and in deciding what I want out of my future.

While I’m not sure what to expect going into the new school year, I know that whenever I get stressed about that 15 page paper or when the temperature plummets below freezing, I can reflect on my summer spent beneath the Vermont sun and feel at peace.

Cody

Fresh Meat: 2014
August 31, 2010

The Middlebury College class of 2014 has (slowly) begun to arrive on campus, and let me tell you, they look about as eager and fresh-faced as any new Midd Kid is when they first catch a glimpse of the College on the Hill.

Beginning this past Saturday (the 28th) with the International students, a small stream of student athletes, resident life staff and various other members of the student body have begun to repopulate what was an almost deserted campus. With these students come the resurgence of parking difficulties, lines at the cream cheese station, and a sense of what being a student at Middlebury truly feels like.

And it’s extremely weird.

For the past month or so, we (the students staying over the gap between Language School and the regular Academic School Year) have had the entire campus to ourselves, which has made the place a ghost town (try to imagine the entire campus as inhabited by only about 25 people). But, with all the new students, things are slowly beginning to transform back into the Middlebury College that all of us are used to.

It’s odd to think that as our summer here at Middlebury is drawing to a close (we’ve still got 5 days, mind you), a new slew of adventures are beginning for the class of 2014, and  with the addition of about 580 more students on the campus today (for Domestic Orientation), we’re pretty excited to observe the look of wonder upon all of the new Panther faces.

Cody

Middlebury’s Own Chocolat
August 21, 2010

In a town that rarely seems to change (Middlebury is a Main St. kind of town, of course), it’s always a pleasant surprise to stumble upon something new.

In this case, the new discovery has come in the form of Middlebury Chocolates, an independently run chocolate shop that has recently opened in downtown Middlebury. Today, Charlie, Olivia, Whitney and I ventured to town in search of the wonderful chocolates and warm chocolate beverages that we had heard were amazing and decadent.

Luckily for us, all the rumors surrounding the chocolate goods were incredibly true. The four of us essentially ordered everything on the menu: chocolate truffles, warm cacao (that was actually warm, not hot, as Charlie Arnowitz freaked out about), and cookie sandwiches in hopes to sample all that the newly formed eatery has to offer.

And everything was amazing. We (read: me) ate everything pretty quickly, using every variation on the word ‘good’ that we could to describe the chocolate creations. Once we had finished, we decided to have a conversation with the owner of Middlebury Chocolates, Stephanie.

Stephanie, a native of North Carolina, told us that her focus for the café is to make sure that everything always remains local (most of the products and ingredients come from farms located within a 20 mile radius). She described how she wanted to find an environment that was close-knit and would support her local interests. We all told her that Middlebury was the perfect place for her.

With a location overlooking Otter Creek Falls, and an owner that seems down-to-earth, this spot is going to become very popular. And to boot? Stephanie confided in us that she is going to be getting wifi soon.

I may never leave.

Until the next truffle,

Cody

PS. Stephanie is looking for couches. Anybody have a few to spare?

From Russian to NPR: Language Study Matters
August 16, 2010

Well folks, we’re back in a Ghost town.

This past Friday, all of the language school students (finally) left, leaving a 1,500 person sized vacancy on our huge, leafy campus. For (almost) the entire summer, the few, the proud, the English have been surrounded by foreign language school students, so to have them gone feels very strange.

Not to mention that the cute French children have also left.

To celebrate the end of the Language schools, the college held a commencement ceremony this past Friday to honor those students who were receiving Masters or Doctorate degrees in Foreign Language. It was held in Mead Chapel, which was a nice throw back to the days of Convocation (I mean, who didn’t love touching the cane?). For the ceremony, the school brought in Vivian Schiller, the president of NPR, to speak. Besides being such a powerful woman (she’s not only run NPR but also the Discovery Channel and CNN), Ms. Schiller earned her Masters from Middlebury in Russian almost exactly 25 years ago in 1985.

As to be expected, her speech focused primarily on language acquisition and education. As an undergraduate, Ms. Schiller earned a degree in Russian, obtaining her Masters in Russian later on at Middlebury. You might be wondering, as a lot of us in the audience were, how she could have possibly ever ended up pursuing a career in journalism. She discussed how she receives that question a lot of the time, people prodding her to figure out why on earth she studied Russian. She responded, saying that she studied Russian because she loved it and it is because of her study of Russian that she became the journalist that she is today. She went on to say that she could ‘trace a straight line’ from her decision to study Russian to her current work with NPR.

Wow.

As a student fascinated with languages (I’ve studied French, Italian and Spanish, and am thinking about jumping on the Portuguese train), it was empowering to hear that so much success could come from pursuing a foreign language passion. I sometimes find myself struggling to validate my intense focus on language study, both because it is incredibly time consuming and because, at least on the surface, it doesn’t seem very practical, but Ms. Schiller has seemingly defied that notion, and in her speech she spent a great deal of time urging all those in the room to not only study a language, but to become immersed in the culture of that language. In America, she went on to say, we have lost touch with what it means to be aware of other cultures and that only through language study can we ever hope to regain a sense of knowing what it means to be citizens of the world.

Her speech brought me, if nothing else, immense clarity about what I want for myself. I want to study languages, yes, but I also want to become an active participant in bringing together those parts of the world that seem so lost in translation.

I guess Middlebury isn’t a bad place to start.

Listen to Ms. Schiller’s speech here: http://middmedia.middlebury.edu/media/atolbert/VivSpeech.mp3″

And a rousing rendition of Gamaliel Painter’s Cane (led by François Clemmons, tenor): http://middmedia.middlebury.edu/media/atolbert/GamalielPainter.mp3″

Ciao/Adios/Au Revoir,

Cody

A Week of Music
August 1, 2010

There is nothing I love more than music.

I’ve been singing ever since I first discovered the movie Sister Act as an impressionable 5 year old and have since dabbled at playing the piano, the french horn, and the ukulele (now if that doesn’t sound like the makings for a fantastic band, I’m not sure what does), so whenever there is a chance to experience live music, I’m always game, so you can imagine my joy when this past week, in both expected and unexpected ways, I found myself surrounded by musicians in all of their zany and talented glory.

These experiences included getting to see performances by Low Anthem, Swell Season, and The Jubilee Family Band and getting to perform myself (with Audrey, of course) at the Farmer’s Market.

The Low Anthem & Swell Season Concert

This past Wednesday, Olivia, Syd, Ryan, Audrey and I went to the Flynn theater in Burlington to see Swell Season (a band which is made up of the groovy stars of the movie Once and assorted other people). And let me tell you..

It was amazing.

Not just in the, “oh..that was worth $35! What a pleasant experience” but in a “oh my GOD WHAT WAS THAT DON’T STOP DON’T STOP DON’T STOP” sort of way that makes you remember why you love music- especially live music. There is something raw and unpretentious about both groups, which makes the experience all the more genuine. Having entered the theater not knowing who The Low Anthem was and having only watched the movie Once once (pretty proud of that word play), I left a devoted fan, nay, a devout follower of both groups.

As my friend Olivia put it, “They [Swell Season] are just so… AHHHH”

The Jubilee Family Band

This pretty much sums up what The Jubilee Family Band is all about. A group of students from Bennington College singing and traveling together throughout the New England area, The Jubilee Family Band, with each performance, attempted to bring together a collective of shared experiences, art, performances, stories, etc. in an effort to make all of their shows a collaboration between the audience and themselves.

And I will be the first to admit that I was more than a bit skeptical about what their show would be like. Bennington has the reputation for being just a tad hippy/crunchy, so I had no idea what to expect.

But it turned out to be really awesome.

There is something really refreshing about a group of kids performing not just because they enjoy performing, but because they really want to share their music and have it impact others. The intimate setting (an apartment in Middlebury) made it all the more fun, and by the end I wanted to join the family! Not to mention that two of the group members stumbled upon two famous German hip hop artists that the German School flew here for a concert on the streets of Middlebury and proceeded to invite them to perform with the Jubilee Family Band.

Also, you can go to this link to hear some of the music performed by members of the Jubilee Family Band.

Audrey & The Uke

This past Saturday Audrey and I performed at the Farmer’s Market in town. More to come on this later, including videos and photos!

All in all, it was a week full of joy, saw-playing band members, crazy hippies, and sweet melodious music.

Until the next concert,

Cody

Whistle While You Research
July 26, 2010

Every College Guide book will tell you that at any small liberal arts college in New England (read Middlebury), research opportunities abound. The Middlebury College website itself says that, “Middlebury offers a huge array of research opportunities for undergraduates in all disciplines,” but as a prospective student (interested in Psychology, nonetheless) I always doubted whether or not there were real opportunities for research at any of the colleges I was visiting.

Tour guides and admissions counselors alike would talk about how ‘easy’ it was to do research and I even find myself telling tour group attendees that all they need to do in order to secure some form of research is to  show interest, but how true is all of this? Is it really that easy to work alongside professors and even maybe someday be published in a research periodical before you can legally drink (which would be especially impressive if you lived in Fiji apparently)?

The short answer is: yes. During the Summer here at Midd, for example, over 200 students are doing research work in every science department offered here at Middlebury. To give you an idea of what some of that work includes I did some researching (oh hardy har har) on the Middlebury website and found a section devoted to students who have done summer research at Middlebury. One of the students, Tyler Prince, discusses what his research entailed:

What was your summer research internship?
I spent the summer with another Middlebury Jr. in Professor Mark Spritzer’s lab. Mark’s research entails the effects of hormones, mostly androgens, on spatial memory and neurogenesis. So, throughout the course of 10 weeks, we, as undergraduates, were able to excercise skills such as hours of spatial memory testing and other medical procedures. It was unbelievable getting to exercise skills I may not use again until I’m in medical school. Professor Spritzer’s research is targeted towards the treatment of depression and Alzheimer’s. Through the stimulation of certain neural pathways, clinicians may eventually be able to radically alter the pathophysiology of a host of neurogenerative diseases.

Scientific jargon aside, I never cease to be amazed at the wonderful opportunities offered to Midd Kids in all sorts of academic areas. This summer, in fact, my friend Whitney and I are doing research with our FYS (First Year Seminar) adviser Professor Kimble in the Psychology department, exploring the causes and effects of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). It’s been a great experience thus far and has, at times, made me forget that I’m really just a rising sophomore in college, because I’m working alongside a professor who has been doing really great research work for years.

Sounds like an excerpt from a Princeton Review book, eh?

Until the next rat gets injected with hormones,

Cody

PS: 

Because, honestly, who doesn’t love Ke$ha? :

How to Vacation in Vermont
July 19, 2010

Last Wednesday, my family made a trek similar to the one shown on the map above, traveling over 1,000 miles from Dallas to visit me in good ol’ Middlebury. They left this morning, heading onward to Cooperstown, NY to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame, after which they’ll head to Boston and then fly home.

While my family was here, I tried to take them to all the quintessentially Vermont destinations I could think of, sparing no expense in making sure they got to experience at least a small slice of what a summer in Vermont is all about. After their visit, I decided it would  be a good idea to write a post about how best to vacation in VT, family included.

Stay in a Road Side Motel


My family decided that they would stay in a road side motel called ‘Greystone’  for their visit. This was a good call made by my Aunt  because (at least I think) the best way to experience any semblance of authentic living in Vermont is to stay in a road side motel.

They are all locally owned (the Greystone by an old married couple, for example) so the vacationers get to experience the ‘locals’ of whatever small town they’re staying in, which is what all the tour guidebooks always tell us is so important anyway, right? Save the Hiltons and Holiday Inns for when you visit a big city, but in Vermont, as the saying goes, “Go Local!”

Go to a festival/fair in small town America

Nobody does small town fun like Vermont, and, I would caution to say, that Middlebury does an exceptionally good job at promoting the Main St. mentality. By attending a local festival or fair, you can really come to appreciate the culture of Vermont because, at the end of the day, the people and how they choose to party and get funky is what makes Vermont so unique.

Luckily for my family, the Festival On the Green was going on this past week in Middlebury. It was, essentially, a huge music festival full of local and not-so-local bands. My family and I ate it up, reveling in how the festival was able to bring together so many of the town residents (it would be shocking if our home town could pull off something half as authentic).

Get outdoors!


Seems simple enough. When you go to Chicago you eat Deep Dish pizza. When you go to New York, you see the Statue of Liberty. When you’re in Vermont you have to go outdoors. In a state that seems to be covered by huge mountains, rivers, water falls, swimming holes, and hiking trails, it would be a complete and TOTAL shame if you didn’t spend at least some time outdoors while visiting.

To remedy this problem for my family, my brother (who has never been on top of a mountain before-the largest mountain in our hometown of Carrollton, TX is the city dump) and I decided to hike up Snake Mountain. It’s a relatively easy hike located really close to Middlebury and the views are amazing. Overlooking the Champlain Valley with glimpses of the Adirondack Mountains in the background, this mountain had my brother screaming, “The world is ours to explore!”

Seriously.

Go to a Farm


In no other state would I tell you to go see a farm. It would probably be impossible and not very pleasant for you or your family. Plus it would probably be located on a flat plain with amber waves of grain (shout out Katharine Lee Bates).

Not so in Vermont.

The farms in Vermont are beautiful, located amidst rolling hills and lush green fields. Plus, a lot of the farms in Vermont double as educational centers where the farmers/owners use their knowledge of farming and the environment to educate people on how they should interact with their planet.

My family and I decided to visit Shelburne Farms, a beautiful, expansive farm/nonprofit environmental education center located just outside Burlington, VT. The farm has a lot of animals and a lot of events going on (everything from cheese making to goat milking). My family and I had so much fun holding chickens, picnicking on the grounds, and, of course, milking/posing with Feta, the goat in the above picture.

Yes, her milk is used to make Feta cheese.

Clever Shelburne Farms, clever.

If you had asked me a year ago today what my family of Suburbanites could possibly do in rural Vermont during an almost week long vacation, I would have told you that there was no way that we would (or could) spend 5 days in Vermont. But, after a year of living here and having just recently shared my knowledge of the state with my family, I can honestly say that it was one of the most interestingly authentic vacations we have ever experienced together.

And to top it all off, as we were driving to visit Fort Ticonderoga, we ran into this. As my aunt would say, “you can’t say anything about Texas. Only in Vermont would you see a cow crossing!”

Until the next cow crosses the road,

Cody

Slacking
July 17, 2010

Sorry for the lack in blogging for the past couple of days! Both of us (me and Audrey) are somewhat distracted at the moment by catching up with family (with Audrey at home in Maryland and with my family visiting in Vermont from Dallas). After all, what’s more important, typing blog posts about the summer or actually experiencing it with those you love?

Don’t answer that.

Expect a slew of blogging to come forth shortly with updates about our separate family experiences, reporting on the Festival on the Green, and other crazy anecdotes about summer life at Middlebury!

Cody

Illegal English
July 12, 2010

“In signing this Language Pledge, I agree to use ______________ as my only language of communication while attending the Middlebury Language Schools. I understand that failure to comply with this Pledge may result in my expulsion from the School without credit or refund.”

This is the language pledge that all students at the Middlebury Language Schools take upon their arrival at Midd. It’s supposed to be a very strict pledge; it is, after all, where the Language school catch phrase “No English Spoken Here” comes from. Not adhering to the pledge is actually a very serious offense and, as the pledge suggests, you can get kicked out of the program without getting your $7,000 back.

Ouch.

With all the gravity that is placed on the pledge, you’d think that language school kids would be very good about only speaking their chosen language, both fearing potentially-wasted money and getting on the bad sign of the infamous ‘language-school police.’

But you’d think wrong.

Language school kids break the pledge. A lot. And it’s understandable- Imagine if you were a level 1 (beginner) Chinese student, forced to adhere to the pledge. For a week and a half you wouldn’t be able to talk to anyone, awkwardly and, more importantly, silently bearing both the weight of social isolation and a ton of homework. Sounds pleasurable, eh? What I, and a lot of the summer workers have found, is that language-pledge-violators can be grouped into 3 categories based on both severity and frequency of breaking the pledge.

1. The broken down violator: These students are serious about the pledge. They paid $7,000 to come learn Portuguese or Japanese and they ain’t playin’. These are the kids you see pouring over their materials in adirondack chairs, scorning English speakers with their judgmental eyes, reveling in their language’s culture.

And then they crack.

They miss speaking English because they’ve realized that you can only last on phrases like, “Hello, my name is Cody and I’m from Dallas! I like to eat. I like to sing. I like to write. What do you like to do?” for so long. Further, they miss their family, people who probably don’t understand Arabic or Hebrew or whatever language the student is speaking. So what do they do? They run to the English safe spaces on campus (Admissions, Help Desk, Public Safety, etc.) with ‘problems’ that they need to talk about to the employees (for example, going to the help desk and asking the workers to help you set up an email account or open a word document).

Or they cower under their beds, in cars, anywhere that is confined and far away from other language school students, desperately calling family members, friends, or listening to English music. After they get out of their English funk, they hurry back to their language school pals, pretending like nothing ever happened. If you’ve got to break the pledge, this is the way to go.

2. The cautiously-constant violator: This person, like the one above, breaks the language pledge because he or she is feeling burnt out, broken down, what have you. They’re typically a level 2 or level 2.5 student, someone who has a pretty good grasp of the language they’re studying and doesn’t haven’t to try quite as hard as beginners to make sense of what they, or others, are trying to say.

They break the pledge because they want to speak English, yes, but their motives extend far past being able to communicate for a few minutes without intense concentration: they want to hang out, party, and get to know each other (and the summer workers) in a tangible way (seriously, how well can you get to know someone when, all of a sudden, you’re all speaking a foreign language that takes away your humor and personality).

Often times, they know English speakers on campus and decide to, whether begrudgingly or not, meet with their English speaking friends once or twice a week at a designated location for some ‘English-only’ time. In this way, they can get a consistent break from their language and a chance to catch up with their friends. They respect the pledge, for the most part, and are wary of getting caught or being found out by friends that they are speaking English.

3. The ‘I’m in language school?’ violator:Before spending a summer at Middlebury, I never thought that these kind of students existed. I assumed that, sure, people broke the language pledge, but that, most of the time, people pretty much stuck to the language of their choice.

I was wrong.

This classification of rule violator, as you can probably gather from the name, breaks language pledge all the time. And not necessarily for important reasons. It could be that they just want to have a conversation with a fellow language school student without stressing about grammar rules or they want to talk to an English speaking worker, but the frequency with which they break the pledge is astounding.

These are the kind of kids you see every weekend breaking the pledge in an unapologetically abrasive manner, shouting English across streets, daring the language police to discover them. For me, at least, it becomes a question of why they even decided to come to language schools at all; sure they’re learning a lot and are probably being very studious but, at the same time, if you don’t spend your time fully immersed in the language, how can you ever achieve fluency?

Thankfully, all of the friends I have in the language schools here at Middlebury are pretty good about keeping the pledge, breaking it only to spend time with their favorite English speaking bloggers.

Until the next language pledge violation,

Cody