•   Another semester draws to a close, the snows move in, and it’s time for a relaxing winter holiday. And here I am freaking out like it’s the end of the world. I mean, in some ways it is. I’ll be graduating in May (unless I royally screw something up) and that’ll be the end of my UMass and undergraduate world. People keep telling me “You can always go to grad school, though!” and “You don’t need to ever stop learning,” along with similar platitudes. While that may be true, I still get the feeling that things will never be the same. Even if I go straight to graduate... Read More
  • So … Class selection … For those of you who have not undergone this before, you will soon discover that this is perhaps the most stressful time of the year, vying for first with finals. On the bright side, you can take a good week to prepare, and then class selection lasts for all of five minutes. On the downside, classes fill up fast, every course you need seems to be scheduled for the same time, SPIRE doesn’t want to process your request, professors aren’t answering your requests for overrides, the one class you need to graduate got cancelled ... Okay. Take a breath... Read More
  • I think that we’ve all suffered loss. It might have been a favorite uncle, your grandparents, the dog; any number of things. It happens to almost all of us and almost all of us say that we feel the same thing. When loss hits, there’s a hollowness in your chest. Everything is muted for a while. Colors, touch, music, everything. It all seems less vibrant and that, in itself, can make the feeling worse. For some people, the best way of dealing with this is by taking time to themselves, maybe to reflect, maybe to distract themselves, maybe to hold themselves together. My... Read More
  • As you may have noticed, climate change has decided to drop by for a visit and screw with everyone. Last week, we were waking to temperatures in the 50s, gliding mists vanishing like ghosts in the morning light. By lunch time, we were looking at 72 degrees and folks taking out their frisbees and crop-tops. This week decided that it’s going to stick with a theme and that is “Mid September,” a.k.a. “Unpleasant.” Personally, I rather enjoy the rain, especially when it’s this warm. It feels … cleansing. Invigorating, even. What neither I nor anyone else I know likes,... Read More
  • One of the big advantages of living in the dorms is that you are surrounded by potentially interesting people and perhaps new friends. Thing is, a lot of people are too shy to take advantage of this. They’re too worried that going to a stranger’s door, even if it’s standing open, and saying “Hi” will make them sound desperate for socialization, or too peppy, or that the encounter will be awkward for lack of common interests, or any number of other things. Well, I hate to say it, but that’s all possible. However, you’re not going to discover all the wonderful people around... Read More
  • You know those classes that seem like they’ll be easy? I’m sure you’ve heard of them. In my own studies, I’ve taken a few that people have responded to with envy. They say “That sounds so cool!” or “Why do you get all these fun classes?” or “Dang, that sounds easy. Do you actually do anything?” I’ll tell you right now that, while those first two responses are justified, the third one is NOT. “Robinson Crusoe and Zombies” sounds easy until you’re a week in and have to write a paper relating John Locke’s and Thomas Hobbes’s political theories to Night of the Living Dead,... Read More
  • Ryan’s Question: How’s the initial adjustment to college? Would you say you are still adjusting? Amberly’s Answer: You sent me this question last year, little brother, because I had just gotten to college and it’s so different from our high school back in Sherborn. Now, I have one year of college under my belt. I not only survived that year, but managed to thrive as well. I joined a slew of extracurricular activities, threw myself into my classes, and landed this job with the Commonwealth Honors College. I did pretty well, and for all intents and purposes, adjusted by the... Read More
  • There are all sorts of ways for you to exorcise your demons. I know it’s early in the semester, but many of us are feeling those classes closing around us, suffocating and crushing, like we’re sinking into a tarry, black pit. Some people manage pressure well. I happen to work optimally when a little stressed. Too much, though, and I’m as liable to break as anyone else. I’ve seen enough of my friends walk around with hollow eyes or those little twitches you can get from sleep deprivation, and I’ve seen one of those people looking out at me from the mirror. Luckily, that... Read More
  • Every now and then my father emails me with huge information dumps that he calls “brain droppings.” He calls them such because, to him, they’re worth just about as much as the road apples you see trailing our horse-riding campus police. He really doesn’t give himself enough credit, though. In his last email, he told me about his work on the house, how the community choir’s concert went, mused on politics, etc. Perhaps he’s being modest when he says that such tidbits of information are useless, but I wonder if he realizes how valuable they actually are. If you think about... Read More
  • School and society as a whole want us to believe that, in order to succeed or get what you want, you must assiduously attend to whatever work is put in front of you and otherwise submit to someone else’s course. That means always doing your homework, putting everything into your job, getting involved in your community however you can . . . the list goes on. This is a mindset that’s pounded into our heads from the moment we start preschool. You want to go play in the sandbox? Well, Jimmy, you have to learn your ABCs first! It makes sense too. It’s a productive mentality... Read More

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