Thursday, October 31, 2013

My Year Abroad in England

Kara Rubenstein- Los Angeles, CA

Even as a middle school student, studying abroad was always in my mind as something that I wanted to do in college. In that sense, there was no place better suited for my desire than Pitzer. I began looking into programs as a freshman and seeing where I wanted to go and whom I could talk to about each of the programs I was interested - there were too many to choose from! Eventually, although my dream had always been to study in Paris for a year, I chose to study at the University of Essex in England for an entire academic year. Studying in England meant that I could be a student in a totally different setting for an entire year without worrying about graduating on time or missing any requirements because all my classes abroad were approved by my advisors as classes that could fulfill my graduation requirements. Pitzer gave me the ability to do something that I had been dreaming of for as long as I could remember without making it a stress or strain on my college experience, it was simply another stepping stone in my path towards graduation and having the perfect college experience.

Study abroad is one of those experiences that you can treasure forever, thus picking the right program is essential. Whether you're interested in climbing Mount Everest in Nepal, exploring the beaches of Costa Rica, wandering the streets of Morocco, or seeing the countryside in England, Pitzer provides gateways to all the places that could be imagined and if it's not on the list, it's still an option. The endless choices allow for students to really delve into what it is they want to gain from studying abroad and focusing in on the various experiences that the programs and exchanges offer. There is the initial decision between the six Pitzer Programs or over forty International Exchanges. The six Pitzer Programs are Nepal, Costa Rica, Ecuador, China, Italy, and Botswana. In addition to those six programs, students can also choose from over forty International Exchanges including multiple programs in England, Spain, Italy, France, Morocco, Sweden, Netherlands, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, and more. Beyond that, there are even Pitzer Domestic Exchanges with colleges within the United States including Colby College, Hampshire College, and Sarah Lawrence College.

Studying abroad at Pitzer is much more common than at other colleges. This means that Pitzer is better equipped and probably more understanding of what the students are hoping to gain from their experience and it is also understood that studying abroad can be just as important in one's college experience as taking core requirements, trying every eatery on campus, or any other essential college experience. By recognizing the importance of studying abroad, Pitzer has created an incredible collection of programs that offer students everything they can in order to build an unforgettable experience.

Pitzer Dining Hall Changing me for the Healthier! (kind of)

Natasha Cheng- Hong Kong

A home cooked meal is always the best but when you are 7,500 miles away from home, it's not exactly easy to get access to. The Pitzer Dining Hall and all the other dining halls have really delicious food but sometimes, you know, I just need rice. Sometimes in desperation, I turn to soy sauce and rice but I really try to stay out of it. It was hard to adapt and accept the fact that I don't have access to rice for lunch and dinner everyday. Rice has been such a big part of my life. I definitely had a separation anxiety with rice when I first got to America. Not being able to have comfort food has pushed me to explore all the other tasty foods out there. I learned to appreciate salads especially the balsamic vinaigrette at the Pitzer Dining Hall. YUMMM!!!! Like most kids, I am a picky eater, I hated veggies, I don't eat raw food either. That's why I'd never thought that this day would come that I would crave salad. What? Don't feel guilty though if you are think I'm a healthy person, I always top my salad off with some french fries. Don't even get me started with the french fries at Pitzer... It's heavenly! I don't know what they put in there but it's irresistible! Ahhh! Speaking of fries, it's time for me to go eat some fries. Peace.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

First Day Jitters

Abigail Barnstone - Newton, MA

Almost every time I give a tour of Pitzer College someone asks me what day school starts.  I often have a hard time answering that because ever since I have been at Pitzer, I have participated in the first year Orientation Adventure.  Orientation Adventures (OA) is a required and integral part of the freshman orientation.  I like to think of them as the event that takes the edge out of the first month of college.  What happens is students arrive at Pitzer, nervous and excited.  After saying goodbye to their parents and sitting through an introduction speech to Pitzer, the first year students immediately meet with their OA groups.  OA groups are selected through student choice.  They get a list of programs ranging from sipping the best coffee and visiting the most popular museums in LA to backpacking through the mountains to surfing in Orange County.  Because these trips are picked by the students, often they become very close with the other participants and leaders. 

Meeting the participants for the first time always starts off the same.  We sit in a circle on the only patches of grass on pitzer’s campus, the mounds and play icebreaker games.   As one can imagine this situation is a little awkward, because no one knows each other.

However, by day two, its almost like people wont stop talking.  It’s almost like everyone met a group of his or her long lost soul mates.    The combination of the shared situation and activity at place seems to make people really open up and embrace the new-ness of the situation.  As someone who has participated and lead these trips, I have always felt very close to the people I have met on these trips.  I always love to think of the comparison of social interactions when the group has first met to the end of the trip (and even the end of college)

How I imagine people feel when playing icebreakers on the first day of college:

What the group looks like by the end:

Groove at the Grove

Robert Little- San Francisco, CA

“And this ten room house, built in 1902, was put up for auction,” I beam at the 10 am tour group.  “Inside it features all antique furniture.  Pitzer students convinced the city of Claremont to put the house up for auction.  Students and a professor showed up to the auction, bid, and won the house.  Any guesses on how much we paid for it?” I ask with a grin.  “You bought it in the 1970s?” a parent asks.  “Probably $80,000?” “$5,000!” a student adds.  “Kind of close.  Well no, not really.  We bought it for a dollar.”  Reactions to the statement are always mixed – a combination of acute shock, collection of shrugs, and the occasional follow up question – “Well, how much did it cost to move the house to Pitzer?”

I refer to the grove house as a Pitzer student’s “home away from home.”  Complete with ten or so rooms, a fireplace, and the tastiest homemade cookies that keeps graduates coming back, a Pitzer student can spend their whole day at the Grove House, and consider it very well spent.  Aside from the story slams, the peculiar purple pickles, and occasional guitar player on the porch who knows more than four chords and is worth listening to, I find myself frequenting the Grove House after the sun has set.

One of the most enjoyable jobs I have at Pitzer is working as an Event Staff manager.  This line of work has me managing multi-thousand dollar soundboards, dancing backstage with band members, and of course, playing my favorite tunes in between sets (you can tell I have potential when my mini DJ set gets the crowd moving with “Dance Yrself Clean” better than a live band called “Merry Christmas").  Although I have the opportunity to work some of Pitzer’s biggest parties, like “Kohoutek” and “Earthquake,” I often opt for a more stressful, yet fulfilling bi-weekly Groove at the Grove.

First started in the Pitzer orange grove to celebrate the harvest season for fresh PZ oranges, Groove at the Grove is a regularly occurring party at the foot of the Grove House porch.  Artists run the gamut, from professional acoustic punk artists (check out the October 11th Barry Johnson videos on YouTube, you might see me!) to first time student performances.  All Groove at the Grove events are always open to students from all five colleges in addition to the greater Claremont/ LA community. 

Groove at the Grove exemplifies what Pitzer is all about.  Students contact artists, or organize to feature student clubs or bands themselves.  They hire student Event Staff workers to manage the sound, employ New Resource Students to serve beer to students over 21, and celebrate aspects like the season for ripe oranges, which most communities would overlook.  Whether gathered for an intimate evening to support friends explore their creative side, or ready to celebrate the weekend and dance on the trash can that you tossed your food scraps into after lunch earlier that day, the Grove House and Groove at the Grove are undeniably and uniquely Pitzer. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Finding a good fit is more than your freshman year

Abigail Barnstone- Newton, MA

Something I always try to emphasize on my tours is the importance of looking for a school that grows with you.  From my experience, the only constant in college is change, you change classes every semester, your views change, you change, basically, a lot is going on.  With that said, there are some schools that work for you freshman year, but then not so much for the rest of college.  This was not something I thought of when I looked at colleges.  Thankfully it worked out for me, here at Pitzer.  Let me tell you why.

Pitzer is the only college I can see myself growing to the best version of myself.  This is vastly because it is part of the five-college consortium.  In my experience, freshman year I spent almost all my time at Pitzer, I wanted to get to know the other kids in my grade and the school I was about to attend for the next four years of my life.  As the year came to a close I felt like I had the foundations of a home and a family.  Because Pitzer is such a small school (Approximately. 1,000 undergraduate students), it is very easy to get to know almost everyone.  Especially friendliness is one of the number one social norms here. 

Feeling at home and comfortable has been one of the best parts of Pitzer, especially because it has also pushed me to see what all of the Five Colleges Have to off.  I like to think of the consortium as a world:  you have your home base, but you it’s important to flap your wings and experience other ways of life.   Each college was founded in different era, as a result many of the classes teach through a bit of a mirroring lens of the time it was created. 

Another way I like to look at the Five Colleges is going to a university made up of all your favorite liberal arts schools.  Take a second to think about all your top choice small liberal arts school.  Now imagine yourself going to your favorite of them, but taking classes, eating and hanging out at all of your other top choices.  Pretty cool huh?  

Something I have learned through research classes here at Pitzer, is that it is hard to prove a causal effect, without rigorous scientific research.  However, I can say that I entered Pitzer, a very shy girl with slightly low confidence, now as a junior, most people would describe me as one of the most friendly and confident people they have ever met.  Pitzer has helped me change from a slow moving caterpillar to a techno colored speed demon of a butterfly.  I don’t think I would have grown into myself this much if I had chosen to attend another college of university.