Becoming a Person

I spent a lot of winter break searching for internships, jobs, fellowships, and other programs to do this summer. This search has continued into the school year as I rush to complete a host of applications on top of my schoolwork. Writing internship application after internship application has forced me to revisit college applications, just to figure out how I used to write about myself. In high school, the limit of ten extracurriculars on the Common App felt like I was being cheated: I was the head of costuming for the theatre, I’d founded a photography club, I was in three honors societies, and that was barely the tip of the iceberg. I wanted to include every service activity I’d done (I amassed more than 260 service hours in order to win an award at graduation) as well as the Leadership Fellows program I’d participated in, my multiple creative and historical writing awards, music lessons, and all the random clubs I took part in. I definitely felt like my accomplishments were impressive, numerous, and important. They solidified me as a real person in my eyes, most notably because they were easily demonstrable in a clear list for others and because of the recognition I received for them. I was also excelling academically, and had such a hard time choosing teachers to write my recommendations that I eventually sent three along with a non-academic mentor as a supplement. I felt impressive.

me at my high school graduation - note the various tassels and pins

me at my high school graduation – note the various tassels and pins

Flash forward two years, and writing applications caused me to go into a full-on panic earlier this week. I just didn’t have enough to offer–no previous research experiences, a barely demonstrable interest in “natural sciences” (it was for a museum position), and a list of background experience that drew heavily from my high school activities. It was hard to choose professors to write my recommendations, but for very different reasons. Instead of having far too many professors to choose from who I knew I had a good relationship with, I only had about three professors whose courses were relevant to the position and who I had interacted with enough to feel comfortable asking. In college, I haven’t amassed the resumé I had in high school, but that old set of accomplishments feels dated and inappropriate. I haven’t done any costuming, I barely attend club meetings or SGA, and I’m really only regularly involved with this blog and the literary arts magazine (which seems less impressive as it hasn’t been published yet).

freshman year in philly with my customs group

freshman year in philly with my customs group

On Tuesday, as I frantically scrambled to finish my application, I took a break to go into town and buy some things I needed. I stood in the grocery store wondering if I had a favorite food or if I even wanted to buy anything at all. I almost started to cry when they didn’t have the crackers I wanted, and then became angry with myself for getting upset over such a silly thing–if I couldn’t handle that, who was I to presume I deserved an internship? But then I checked my email. I’d been nominated for an SGA position. I felt confused, then almost angry, and then relieved to the point of semi-hysterical laughter (I was definitely disturbing the good patrons of Acme at this point). I remembered last year, when I was nominated for a different position and lost the election. Then I thought about the club fair, when I’d signed up for around 20 clubs only to never hear back from most of them, or find out their meetings conflicted with class, or attend one meeting and lose interest. I remembered trying out for a capella groups, contacting various theatre people, and applying for jobs and internships on and off campus.

Once I realized I wasn’t totally drifting from myself, I thought about who I was freshman and sophomore year of high school. At the beginning, I came straight home almost every single day–no activities, few friends, nothing to indicate the successful person who would graduate in a few years. I found one or two things I liked and began to blossom once I’d taken root. I didn’t show up on the first day thinking I’d be leaving a permanently installed mural or countless other achievements in that building. As I walked back to campus, I formulated a revised essay in my head. I’m still that high-achieving artist, student, and person that I was when Bryn Mawr accepted me. I just need to give myself time to dig my roots in before I see myself bloom again.

when I officially enrolled in Bryn Mawr on an accepted students day

when I officially enrolled in Bryn Mawr on an accepted students day

Right before I was going to publish this blog post, Devica posted a crazy similar piece. I couldn’t believe the coincidence–until I realized that it probably wasn’t a coincidence. I think a lot of sophomores probably feel the same way. We aren’t brand new anymore, and we’re starting to feel like we’re running out of time to make our marks on Bryn Mawr and to find ourselves. We both feel estranged from ourselves during a year that is so overwhelmingly about cementing your future as a Bryn Mawr student: declaring majors, deciding whether to study abroad, starting to hold dorm/campus leadership positions, etc. But I happen to believe that the sophomore slump is an illusion, and I like to remember what President Cassidy said on moving in day last year: none of us was a mistake. We are all here because we deserve to be Mawrtyrs. And it’s totally okay that we don’t know exactly who we are yet. There’s always room to grow.

Working Hard, or Hardly Working?

As the end of the semester approaches, everything becomes overwhelmed with studying: the libraries stay open for 24 hours a day, friends change their cover photos to appropriately distressed images, and Done-Is-Good teas flood hallways with crafts, crying, and candy. Fellow students will robotically list all of the things they have to complete in the coming weeks whenever spoken to, and if you dare to ask how they’re doing, most will emit a strange, garbled laugh that somehow combines the words tired, stressed, and dying. As I, too, am trapped in the onslaught of exams, projects, and papers–oh my!–I thought I’d not procrastinate at all and do a comprehensive rating of the places I study on campus. This doesn’t cover every possible study location, as I’ve never set foot in the science library and a number of other potential study spots, but I hope it helps if anyone else finds themselves wondering where they should even begin to work–literally.

IMG_1321Carpenter Library

pros: general atmosphere of studiousness, lots of different areas to study in, natural light during the day, gorgeous

cons: can get easily overcrowded, most people I know study here which can be distracting

I have an embarrassing number of selfies taken in carpenter with friends.

I have an embarrassing number of selfies taken in Carpenter with friends.

Carpenter Library is definitely my favorite “official” place to study–I feel like I’m more productive here than anywhere else, and a huge amount of my time at Bryn Mawr has been spent here. I actually wrote my “why Bryn Mawr” supplemental essay about Carpenter Library–I loved the design (meant to reflect an architectural dig) and the legend about the building that supposedly it has so much natural light because students were asked what they wanted to see in a new library. I appreciated that the college had involved students in the design process for such a building that represents such a key element of the college life. But the library can get crowded very quickly–it’s fairly small, and it’s technically the graduate students’ library, so you’re not only competing with your fellow undergrads for space. As for those fellow undergrads, I am pretty easily distracted, as evidenced by the numerous photoshoots I’ve had with friends in the library. Overall, I’d definitely recommend Carp for all your study needs–but I’ll never tell which table is my favorite. Can’t risk losing it!

IMG_3608Canaday Library

pros: lots of printers, usually pretty quiet, people seem to be working hard

cons: I still can’t figure out how to get around, extremely creepy at night

I firmly believe that where people study tells you more about them than what they’re actually studying. The Canaday vs Carpenter debate will probably rage on for eternity, but I personally cannot get anything done in Canaday. I find all of the upper levels to be creepy, empty, and depressing, and the first floor is always packed full of people.While I have been able to get work done in Canaday, I just don’t like it, and don’t feel as productive when I work there. Though I do like that they have far more computers for when I need to print things out.

IMG_4997My Room

pros: everything I need, without leaving my bed

cons: my bed

Dragging everything I could possibly need around with me doesn’t always seem like the best course of action–with notebooks, folders, chargers, textbooks, my laptop, and a host of other necessities, it’s really quite tempting to just stay in my room and study. There’s a desk there for a reason, after all. The only problem is that I don’t really use that desk–I tend to curl up in bed, getting all cozy and not really getting into a work mindset. In public study places, it’s harder to waste hours at a time on social media, solitaire, or watching music videos. But I also really like being able to get work done while not wearing pants and eating snacks.


my friends Leyla and Sara often let me do work in their room

A Friend’s Room

pros: not responsible for the space, friends have usable desks, getting to spend time with friends while getting things done

cons: friends

kind of hard to do work when your friends just want to sleep

kind of hard to do work when your friends just want to sleep

Working in a friend’s room has many of the benefits of working in my room with the added benefit of having outside reinforcement to keep me on track with my work. I also enjoy not being shut away in my room if I’m committing to hours of studying–it’s definitely healthier to be around other people. But the same risks of working around other people still apply: if Leyla is watching 30 Rock and playing solitaire while Sara is skyping a friend from home, I’m probably going to start painting my nails instead of working on my assignments.

studying on Rhoads porch

Outside studying on Rhoads porch

pros: gorgeous setting, fresh air, Rhoads porch has outlets

cons: most outdoor study areas aren’t computer-friendly, it’s REALLY COLD

getting some use out of my somewhat hideous picnic blanket

getting some use out of my somewhat hideous picnic blanket

I’m a big fan of studying outside. When the weather’s right, it can be a lovely break from the monotony of dorm, class, library. The back porch of Rhoads, where I live, is equipped with outlets next to the tables which are perfect for spreading out to get stuff done. I also love to get takeout boxes (or even splurge on delivery!) with friends and treat ourselves to a study picnic on Carpenter Beach or next to Serenity (the unofficial name of that tree outside Rockefeller). Unfortunately, with the sun setting around the time we get out of class and the temperatures dropping steadily, I’ll probably have to save this for finals week next semester when it’s warm again.

through the study window

The London Room through the study window

pros: studious atmosphere, isolated, comfortable couches

cons: the bathroom is REALLY far away, often reserved for events

The London Room is a little nook on the second floor of Thomas that often hosts a capella concerts, department teas, and my late-night panicked studying/essay-writing sessions. It’s essentially a smaller version of the Quita Woodward Room on the first floor–another little nook full of books and chairs–except that it has desks and isn’t associated with a campus legend that prohibits the completion of academic work within its walls (allegedly, if you do work in the Quita Woodward Room, the ghost of Quita will haunt you until you drop out of school). I quite like the London Room, as it has a studious atmosphere without being full of distracting people, and the window into the room keeps me on my toes about staying focused (I am fueled by outside judgement, apparently). Unfortunately, it’s pretty small, so if someone else is already working in there, they’re probably using the only outlet. It’s also as far as possible from the only bathroom in Thomas while still being in the same building.

That’s probably enough for one post–even though I feel like I’ve only covered about half of the places I’ve studied in! Where are your favorite places to study? Any important ones that you feel like I’ve missed? Want to fight me about which library is the best? Tell me about it in the comments while you’re totally not procrastinating on whatever it is you have to do. Good luck, and remember: done is so, so good.


Preregistration: that most terrifying of words, an inducer of stress, the moment at which fates are decided. As a first-year, it just confused me–why couldn’t I just sign up for classes and be done with it? But as shopping week came around, I was grateful for the ability to easily rearrange my schedule. The first time I did preregistration, I’d wanted to take Japanese, French, film, and anthropology on top of my Emily Balch seminar. When I left my dean’s office for the first time, I was signed up for anthropology (albeit a different kind than I’d expected), French, my Esem, and a costume design course. Second semester, I got lotteried out of a class and my backup was not nearly as appealing as it had sounded on Bionic. I ended up taking a class at Haverford that I never would have known about if not for the preregistration/shopping week system.
This time around, I was prepared. Since I had to fill out a sophomore plan at the beginning of the year and I’d declared my major in October, I already had to look at the courses being offered this spring. I knew I needed to take a math course and I’d put down some anthropology and film courses on my major plans, so I thought I was pretty much set for preregistration. Just in case, I decided to double check the courses a few days before preregistration started on Monday morning.
Before checking, my plan for the spring semester had been to take the following:
Forensic Anthropology – to broaden my experiences within my major
Anthropology of DIY Movements – with a Haverford professor I enjoyed
Statistics – gotta fill those college-wide requirements!
Identification in Cinema – I’d taken a course with the same name at Haverford the previous spring, but they were supposed to be different.

The first blow to the plan was when I discovered that Anthropology of DIY Movements was no longer being offered. Instead, that professor was teaching two other courses–neither of which particularly appealed to me or fit into my schedule. I read through all of the course descriptions and decided on Museum Anthropology as a replacement. I then decided to check out the film courses, eager to take something that wasn’t an introductory course. I ended up with four film classes in my shopping cart. Oops.
While on the phone with my mom, she lamented that I was only taking courses related to my majors and the other requirements instead of exploring other subjects like English, history, or the arts. So I checked the English courses and discovered that a professor I had last year was teaching a poetry class that looked cool. Success! Except it was at the same time as Forensic Anthropology. I figured I could deal with that later.
As I tried to decide between poetry and forensics, I also tried to narrow down the film classes. I settled on Sex on Screens, which is taught by the major adviser of the film program, and an experimental media production/history course at Haverford that I thought would be an interesting way to get out of my comfort zone. Unfortunately, I still had six courses in my shopping cart–and I can only preregister for four (though it’s possible to add a fifth during shopping week).
I found out from a friend that the poetry professor was planning to retire this year, so this would be my last chance to take a class with her. I’d loved her class last spring, so I decided to put forensics on hold, even though I love that professor as well (all the professors at Bryn Mawr are so awesome that it makes it really hard to choose classes based on who is teaching it). I then realized that if I dropped the production course, I wouldn’t have any classes on Friday–which sounds awesome to most people, but for me, I knew it wouldn’t be good for my work drive. I talked to a few upperclass friends and decided to try out taking five classes, see how it felt, and drop one if needed. I felt that I had a pretty good mix of subjects in my schedule and didn’t want to part with any of them. Besides, with two once-a-week classes, I’d definitely be able to handle the workload.
On Monday, I got up at 8:15 to get ready for breakfast with my friends. I preregistered for four classes, deciding to send an email to the fifth professor in case the enrollment jumped later in the week. Here’s what my schedule is (probably) going to look like:

yes, I color-code my classes.

yes, I color-code my classes.

I’m really happy with the way this preregistration worked out–I’m excited to take the courses I signed up for and I’ll even have some friends in my statistics class if everything stays the same. It’s really helpful to just calm down and make a list of the courses you want to take. Make note of the professor, the time, and what the workload will be like, along with why you want to take the course (i.e. for a requirement, because a friend said it changed their life, because you love the professor, whatever!). Preregistration doesn’t have to be stressful. It can actually be kind of fun to look at all the fascinating courses being offered! Now, all I have left to do is to daydream about color-coded school supplies and decide how to differentiate among all five classes.

Good luck to everyone figuring out their schedule for next semester!

Lantern Night 2015

It is dark and silent in the cloisters, with a heavy atmosphere of anticipation permeating the stones of the building. We are lined up in two even rows, dressed all in black and shuffling our feet between two rows of lanterns. The lanterns have already been lit. My eyes have already grown accustomed to their soft yellow-green glow. They are so close to my feet that I can feel their warmth through my shoes. A handful of whispers flit back and forth along the lines–we have, after all, been on our feet for the past two hours, and the anticipation can hardly remain contained. The audience has also settled into their seats in the wings of the spectacle, with upperclass students, alums, and even parents filling the limited seating.

me on Lantern Night last year

me on Lantern Night last year

As I shift from one leg to the other, I pull my coat closer against the wind. I had the same feeling that comes from being backstage before a play–in fact, the entire thing was like putting on the most mystical play in existence. After the whole process of lighting the lanterns–which was surprisingly difficult–ended, I wound up in the front of the line of runners. I tried to stay calm, knowing that the more I focused on my stress, the more likely I would be to fall. We’d practiced earlier that evening and the day before, but we had never done a run in the dark, and certainly not with two lit lanterns in our hands. I found myself conflicted between wanting to be fully immersed in the beauty of the experience and thinking about accidentally bludgeoning an unsuspecting first-year with a fancy flaming flail. Of course, I was reassured by the knowledge that this ceremony had been going beautifully for decades, but none of those other runners had been me.

assembling the lanterns before Lantern Night began. photo courtesy of Emma Porter 2017

assembling the lanterns before Lantern Night began. photo courtesy of Emma Porter 2017

I began rocking from my heels to my toes trying to avoid letting my legs cramp up or fall asleep. A distant clock chimed eight times, and the tension in the air took on a physical weight as we all knew the ceremony was about to begin. The senior songsmistress burst from the left side of the cloisters, a pale light emanating from her phone as she dashed across the grass to the arch where we were waiting. She lit her lantern and welcomed the audience with a note on staying silent and dark for the duration of the ceremony. Her Anas echoed throughout the cloisters. It was followed by its mirror image from outside the walls–where the first years, transfers, guest students, and new McBrides waited to receive their lanterns. All four songsmistresses appeared to take their places around the edge of the fountain in the center of the cloisters.

two of the swingers--red is the class of 2017 and light blue is the class of 2016. photo courtesy of Emma Porter 2017

two of the swingers–red is the class of 2017 and light blue is the class of 2016. photo courtesy of Emma Porter 2017

The Traditions Mistresses, Celeste and Jasmine, appeared in the doors, their four-colored lanterns gleaming against their black robes. The first years were led in and they began winding their way through the grass to form lines in a dark clump I could barely see. I remembered my Lantern Night, recognizing a few friendly faces with their red lanterns in the hallways, and how beautiful the green and light blue lanterns had looked lining the walls of the cloisters. I felt a pang of sadness as I missed my friends who had graduated in 2015, knowing that their green lanterns were scattered around the world while I helped pass their color on. Celeste and Jasmine appeared in front of us suddenly, hissing “pick them up, pick them up, hurry!” as we broke out of our spells.

a picture of me bothering my HA, Pamudu, on Lantern Night last year. she's hiding behind the song booklet for Step Sing

a picture of me bothering my HA, Pamudu, on Lantern Night last year. she’s hiding behind the song booklet for Step Sing

I took my spot at the arch, two bright lanterns dangling from my hands. The swingers had begun to sing, and the Pallas reverberated around me. Jasmine and Celeste pressed their hands against our backs as they shoved us forward, whispering,”Ready…set… GO!”
And I took off. I ran straight at the fountain, trying to match the speed of the other runner while balancing the lanterns. A sharp twist to the right, around the fountain, then straight back at the middle of the clump. Run, run, run, don’t move your hands, don’t fall, run, run run! I turned to the right again, running between the wall of Thomas and the backs of the last row of first years. I got to the end and gently placed my lanterns behind the two students closest to the wall, barely pausing to drape their chains before I started jogging back. As I ran through the cloisters in front of the audience, all I could hear was the sound of my hard-soled shoes clacking on the old stones, a percussion backdrop to the quick-paced Pallas. I rejoined the line of runners, feeling blissfully alive, spritely, and magical.

a first year showing off her new green lantern. photo courtesy of Patience Boston 2019

a first year showing off her new green lantern. photo courtesy of Patience Boston 2019

I ran through about four more times, each time turning more sharply as the rows filled with light. After my last run, I rejoined my friends who had also been runners. We all congratulated each other, softly whispering stories of the close calls we’d had–strings of runner cards wrapping around our ankles, candles blowing out as we ran, and other nervewracking moments–before turning to watch as the first year songsmistress bent backwards to pick up her lantern. When she successfully raised hers in the air, the rest of the first years twisted around, reaching for their lanterns without peeking at the light. The only sound was the rustling of almost 400 black robes and the gentle clanking of the chains. As they raised their lanterns from the ground I recalled the nervousness with which my own gloved hands had found their way to my burning dark blue lantern. Suddenly, softly, the songsmistress started to sing.

Sophias philai paromen.
Philokaloumen met eutelaias Philosophoumen.
Aneu malakias, plouto ergou
Kairo crometha athlon ariston,
Kai kindunon tonde. Kallist on nomizomen.
Enthoumometha orthos hosa praxomen orthos.
Kalon to althlon kai elpis megale,
Elpis megale
Kalon to athlon kai
Elpis megale, elpis megale, nai megale.

When the first years finished the Sophias, the rest of us joined in to sing them out. The song echoed around the cloisters, its beautiful Greek lyrics reminding me of how excited and happy I had felt on my own lantern night while adding an air of mystery to the event. I was no longer cold, warmed by my relief that I hadn’t fallen and that I remembered the words to the Sophias. But the real joy came from watching as the glowing green lights gently drifted out of the cloisters. I knew exactly how the first years were feeling–excited for their life at Bryn Mawr, buzzing with joy and anticipation–and I felt a new kind of joy having passed on the light of knowledge to them. There’s so much more in store.

Welcome home, baby greens. May your lanterns guide you wherever you choose to go, and may their light remind you that you always have a home at Bryn Mawr.

my customs group on our Lantern Night last year. though I do miss being the babies of the school, I'm so happy I got to welcome the greens home.

my customs group on our Lantern Night last year. though I do miss being the babies of the school, I’m so happy I got to welcome the greens home.

Family Weekend 2015

My parents and I have established a system that (sort of) ameliorates the management of storage and dorm life. I leave most of my “winter clothes”–snow boots, heavy coats, long-sleeved shirts, etc.–at home when I come to school, and then they bring up my suitcase after fall break once it’s cold enough to need my winter stuff. I then exchange these things for sandals, shorts, and other “summer clothes.” The prospect of having all of my favorite sweaters–I mean, the thought of getting to see my wonderful parents and my lovely grandparents–really had me looking forward to Family Weekend.
Family Weekend can seem stressful from a distance–trying to integrate your parents and grandparents into your college life seems bizarre and mildly undesirable. What if they don’t like my friends? What about all of my homework? Will they just sit in my room? Should they come to class with me? What if they meet my friends’ families and then everything explodes and we all die? But Bryn Mawr does a great job of providing the visiting families with a variety of things to keep them interested.

my mom and I took a selfie at Sushi Land

my mom and I took a selfie at Sushi Land

my dad's snapchat from checking out Athena in Thomas Great Hall

my dad’s snapchat from checking out Athena in Thomas Great Hall

When my parents arrived, they helped me bring some things up to my room and then took me out to lunch. They went into the city to pick my grandparents up while I was at class–luckily, none of them were particularly interested in hanging around for my 300-level anthropology of globalization course. I met up with them after class ended at Canaday for a reception with President Cassidy, where my dean recognized my parents and came over to talk with us about my studies. My parents also got to explore the Trisha Brown: (Re)Framing Collection in the rare book room, where my grandfather recognized an old book from his days as a college professor, and chat it up with President Cassidy herself. My friend’s parents, who had kindly taken me out to dinner the night before, befriended my family and we all enjoyed a delicious dinner in Erdman together. I took my grandparents to see my dorm and meet my roommates before they all went back to the hotel for the night.

selfie with dad

selfie with dad

family selfie game strong!

family selfie game strong!

On Saturday, my grandparents went into Philadelphia to see the Barnes Foundation, a special trip for my grandmother’s birthday. My parents went to a LILAC session on internships, externships, and Praxis while I caught up on some homework (and some sleep). They then saw President Cassidy’s talk about the “life cycle” of a Bryn Mawr student, which they could not stop raving about. I was actually jealous that I hadn’t made it over–I’d been a bit confused by the schedule and thought her talk was in the afternoon! We went to New Dorm dining hall for brunch, where they met most of my friends and got to enjoy the beautiful courtyard. My dad had to go home to bring my sister to a soccer game, so we took a bunch of pictures outside of Thomas before saying goodbye. My mom went to Dean Balthazar’s panel about choosing a major as I performed the seasonal suitcase switch. I met up with her afterwards for another LILAC panel about the Leadership Assessment Center–although, awkwardly, it turned out students apparently weren’t welcome for that one, because the LAC relies on participants not knowing what they’re in for. So we left to check out the bookstore and decide on a place for dinner. After my mom picked my grandparents up from the SEPTA stop, we all went out to Bertucci’s followed by ice cream at Hope’s Cookies. I said goodbye to my grandparents and went to hang out with my friends whose parents weren’t on campus either.

me, my mom, and my grandparents!

me, my mom, and my grandparents!

Sunday morning, my mom and I decided to pass on the brunch at Wyndham (though my friend brought me a few tasty danishes) so that she’d be able to make better time getting home. After loading the suitcase into the trunk, we laughed about all the people my family had been able to meet and how much my grandparents had loved visiting the campus. All of my worries about the weekend had been totally unfounded: my parents had a great time, I was able to get work done, and nobody exploded or died. Of course I miss having my parents around, but when I’m home, I also miss Bryn Mawr. I love that they get to come and learn more about the school every year–because they love it here almost as much as I do.

A Key to Change

This past Saturday evening, I had the pleasure of attending the “2nd Annual Bryn Mawr A Cappella Festival: A Key to Change!” The festival was hosted by the Extreme Keys, the oldest a cappella group at Bryn Mawr (in fact, the oldest all-female group in the Bi-Co), and half of the proceeds will be donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. It was a wonderful evening, with eighteen a cappella groups representing Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Temple, Drexel, Villanova, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, and St. Joseph’s University (the program also listed Swarthmore, but none of the groups actually appeared to hail from the college). The festival was coordinated by Delia Bowman (’16), Julia Shreiber (’18), and Ellen Cohn (’17), who shared that the Keys had chosen to support JDRF in part because Ellen has type 1 diabetes.

the Haverford College S Chords

the Haverford College S Chords

I knew from previous experience to expect an awesome show, and I was not disappointed. The performances were fantastic, from the S Chords, Haverford’s all-male group known for performing in white overalls, to 54th and City’s memorable mash-up of “This is Gospel” by Panic! At the Disco and “Sugar, We’re Going Down” by Fall Out Boy that had me swearing one of the soloists was Brendon Urie in disguise. The wonderful Night Owls, our official a cappella group, were followed by three other all-female groups–Singchronize (Temple), the Wildcats (Princeton), and Counterpoint (composed of members from both Haverford and Bryn Mawr). Counterpoint’s raunchy-yet-sweet “Birthday Sex” mashup was also notable–though this may have been due in part to junior Siobhan Glynn’s candy distribution during her “Lollipop” solo. What can I say–of course I love any group of talented, beautiful women, but candy is really going to get my attention.


the Night Owls



The Extreme Keys, of course, stole the show. I may be biased, as my “heller” is in the group (and my hell sister, aunts, grandheller, etc), but they really know how to perform. Seniors Delia Bowman and Medoza Ameen provided wonderful renditions of “How to be a Heartbreaker” by Marina and the Diamonds and “Electric Lady” by Janelle Monae. The three newest members of the Extreme Keys blended so perfectly with the rest of the group that I forgot I’d never seen them perform before. The Keys were followed by eight more spectacular groups, with the University of Pennsylvania’s Dischord closing out the show. Many of the spectators then walked over to Radnor for the afterparty, which had almost as much singing as the actual festival. All in all, it was a great evening.

the Extreme Keys

the Extreme Keys

Unfortunately, one group’s performance hit a sour note. Penn Six, an all-male “comedy a cappella” group from the University of Pennsylvania, sang three parody versions of well-known songs, with lyrics referencing gonorrhea, a mailman’s leathery sack, and the sexual preferences of Jewish women. Newsflash: it’s hardly a popular choice to grossly objectify women at a concert at Bryn Mawr. But the Extreme Keys handled the situation admirably, quickly apologizing for the content (which they hadn’t been made aware of in advance) and allowing the show to move on. They didn’t let the uncomfortable moment ruin the spirit of the evening, which really encapsulated some of my favorite things about Bryn Mawr: our proximity to and cooperation with a number of other institutions, our vast creativity, and our desire to make a change in the world.

Productivity in Perspective

I make a lot of to-do lists. I’ve got a color-coded weekly homework one I pin up on my cork-board, I’ve got daily ones that break things down into minuscule portions, and I’ve got ones with titles like “TO DO BETWEEN FILM AND ANTHRO.” It’s not very environmentally friendly, but it sort of works for me. I like the reward of checking things off–it makes me feel extra productive. But productivity is a strange term that doesn’t always make sense. This Saturday, I spent all day doing laundry, cleaning my room, and organizing my clothes. I had four washing machines going at once. I got a serious workout going up and down the stairs to the laundry room, the tea pantry, and the trash cans. I ironed my clothes. I washed my sheets, towels, and even a blanket. I watched videos on efficient folding to better organize my room. I caught up with a friend I hadn’t seen enough of this year. I did my dishes, called my boyfriend, cleaned surfaces in my room that really needed cleaning. When I decided to stop after dinner and just relax, I was even able to check off “self-care.” But I didn’t feel accomplished–I felt guilty.

I had meant to do homework while my laundry ran, I didn’t finish putting everything away, I didn’t even remake my bed. I’d been hyper-productive for almost six hours straight, but it didn’t feel like I’d done enough. I hadn’t started my homework for Monday or Tuesday, I hadn’t gone into town to do some shopping, and I hadn’t written my blog post yet. When my friends asked what I’d been up to all day, I said, “oh, nothing, just a lot of laundry and cleaning.” I was shocked when one of my friends said, “oh my god, I’m so jealous, I just did work all day, my room is a mess, I didn’t do everything I was supposed to do.” It made me laugh. It’s just so easy to forget that it’s okay to not be done–we always stress “done is good” here, which can be motivating, but it’s also important to be aware that half-done still means you got a lot done. Sometimes self-care is lying around, eating Chinese food, and watching Moonrise Kingdom, but sometimes self-care is deep-cleaning and reorganizing your room. Sometimes self-care is doing your homework, too–because you know you’ll feel guilty if you don’t, and the feeling of accomplishing something is hugely important.

And when I look at my beautifully reorganized drawers, I feel a sense of accomplishment. My clothes are important to me, so I want them to look nice and be easily accessible. As someone with ADD, organization and domesticity are not exactly my strong suits. But I took a few tips from professional organizers on YouTube, completely changed my folding style, and even improvised on their systems to account for things like crop tank tops with lace-up sides, or an unusual amount of bralettes, or a dinosaur costume. Maybe I haven’t exactly made my bed yet, but my room is a more productive environment now. The empty check boxes on my to-do lists aren’t my enemies, they’re just stairs I need to climb to get to that magical place: the done-is-good relaxation zone.


Love Letter to the Cloisters

Dearest C–

Oh, how I have longed for your sweet embrace! That stony façade, concealing your sweet, pure heart–could anything be more beautiful? It has been such a long summer without you; though it could hardly feel like summer without a dip into your fountain of knowledge. I have also missed your enticing curves, the way you fill this campus with laughter and song, and your remarkable ability to wear anything and still look lovely, no matter the weather. Oh, joyous day when I did see you again! I had been putting it off, wanting the timing to be perfect, nervous that the time apart over the summer might have changed my feelings of the sweet nature of our relationship. But all of my doubts were unfounded! What glorious luck!


Our reunion was pure accident–just serendipity, exactly as we first met–a result of another’s forgetfulness. Who could have guessed that my professor would forget her notes that blessed Wednesday, or that we’d have our petite class meet outside to relish in the sunshine! I opened that heavy wooden door, as I have done so many times before, and there you were, waiting for me! Oh, heavenly sight! Oh, joyous encounter! You remain as magical as I’ve ever seen you!


Do you remember that first meeting, so long ago? A chance encounter, an unexpected detour on my way home from New York. I think I knew from the moment I set foot on campus that I was drawn to this place, and when I saw you, I knew that it was because I had come home. You have welcomed me home so many other times since that fateful day, only a few short years ago. With sun, stars, snow, singing, you never fail to reveal another side of yourself. I may be naught but a tiny inkblot on a page in the grand novel of your life, but you are the lantern to my candle–you help me shine. You encourage me to run faster, sing louder, build a better nude snowman, speak up, dance like I’ve never been embarrassed, love more deeply, and just be the best version of myself that I can be. You allow me to show off the best of each of my many sides. Whenever I need something the rest of the world just can’t provide, I know I can fall, wordlessly, into your soothing embrace.

Yours, always and forever,