One down, seven to go: Freshmen reflect on first semester

Home sweet hall

Home sweet hall

After about 18 years of life at home, many freshmen had to adjust to dorm living. Residents of James and Stearns Halls find their dorms cramped and noisy. Freshmen living in Valentine grumble that their laundry machines won’t take AC dollars. Freshmen from all dorms complain about the thinness of their toilet paper.

However, the process of getting over these minor troubles can reveal positive aspects of college life that are more significant. “It took a little while to adjust, but having so many people around, a great roommate and the support of the academic staff made the transition much easier,” Ashley Pecora ’06 commented.

Making new acquaintances and getting used to a new social scene receives mixed reviews. “It seems like people have formed cliques because of their dorms or teams,” said Hikaru Okamoto ’06.

It’s common that new students are most comfortable in their familiar dorms.”I love being surrounded by great people all the time and staying up late talking to them about everything, getting to know them. I think the people in my dorm make me the happiest,” admitted Ceridwen Cherry ’06

Life on the weekends has gotten similarly mixed reviews. “TAP sucks unless you go there with friends, and then you end up hanging out with people you already know,” Sameer Bashey ’06 noted. Few will admit to liking TAP, even those who go there every weekend. Regulars say they go to TAP because they haven’t anything better to do. Many freshmen wish that parties were more than drinking-bouts. Yet, many others merely wish the drinks were better.

Although the high-speed internet is a welcome change from the nearly obsolete dial-up connection many students are used to at home, the network administrators’ practice of “throttling” all downloads (slowing them down to keep the rest of the network free) is highly unpopular.

“The network speed fluctuates far too much. It’s especially tedious when I need to use internet resources for homework,” said Scott Niichel ’06. Deats, a freshman senator, ran on a single platform point-speeding up the network.

Three square meals

Three square meals

Freshmen find meals at Valentine to be at least tolerable. “The food is quite repetitive, but it hasn’t killed me yet,” said Kate Roin ’06. Campus cuisine was described as “inconsistent” by Ben Rogers ’06, which may be the kindest thing it’s been called recently.

Sunju Park ’06 feels dinner is “almost always awful,” and lunch is not much better. She agrees with Rogers and most other freshmen that breakfast is better, but like many freshmen she goes to breakfast only rarely.

Get to class

Get to class

Most freshmen agree that the workload is challenging, but they differ in their views on its appeal. Sameer Nagpal ’06 finds his workload “immense and tedious,” while David Stein ’06, calls it “suicidal but fun.”

Some classes commonly taken by freshmen (such as Philosophy 11 and Physics 23) are consistently very popular. Professor of Philosophy T.P. Smith is rarely described as anything but awesome, and Professor of Physics Kannan Jagannathan is, in the words of Dan Savage ’06, “the man.”

The workload is intense enough to leave very little time for extra-curricular activities. Still, many students manage to squeeze a lot into their schedule. Daisuke O ’06, for instance, is involved with The Indicator, the sailing team and the debate team, besides being a Peer Advocate of Sexual Respect and a diversity senator. Along with his coursework, he said that these activities keep him up into the wee hours nearly every morning.

Athletics are similarly difficult to balance. Evan Guiney ’06 finds running on the cross-country team “insanely time-consuming.”

One matter on which almost everyone agrees is the remarkable intelligence of their classmates. Those who used to top their high school classes with little effort say it is now difficult to beat the average. Debaters and athletes who used to be the best in their regions find themselves among equals and betters. Some freshmen mutter under their breath that they’ll transfer to a community college. But the administration need not worry – in spite of everything, Amherst is too much fun to leave.