FROM HELEN C. ’25
At the end of any school year, it never feels like summer break could be long enough to recover from the semester. This time around, though, I was finally ready to head back to Bryn Mawr and get back into student life after finishing up a summer filled with family, friends, travel, and a virtual internship. I’m sure I’ll regret these words in a few weeks, but the idea of sitting in a coffee shop with some class readings to do has never sounded more appealing. For now, though, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on what it is I’m looking forward to this school year.
This semester I am most excited for my first 360° Course Cluster: Minerals, Museums, and Colonialism. At Bryn Mawr, 360° programs examine a single theme or experience, but approach them from different fields. In this specific course cluster, for example, I will be taking the History of Colonialism in Geology through the Geology department and a Cataloging Collections class through the Museum Studies department that will introduce us to the College’s massive assortment of geology specimens. I’m an Archaeology major, so neither of these directly connect with my field, but they’re certainly related and will complement my studies, while allowing me to check out two departments I’ve never had the chance to explore. One of the biggest sells for the 360° programs is that they each have a built-in travel component to places all over the world, totally funded by the College. For me, this means a trip to London and Bristol during Fall Break where we’ll explore museums and meet with experts in the field to enhance our explorations of the cluster topic. I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences with you all once I return!
In addition to academics, I’m looking forward to further expanding my community and meeting new people through my activities this semester. This past May, I traveled with the Bi-College Chamber Choir to Quebec for our annual tour. Though I’d already sung with these people for the past year, there’s nothing like spending 7 uninterrupted days together to get closer to your Chamber pals. I was able to get to know so many old friends in new ways, so I can’t wait to get back, meet the new members, and start singing together once again. We recently celebrated Parade Night here at Bryn Mawr, a way to recognize finishing the first week of classes, and one of our four major traditions. Traditions are such a unique part of being a Bryn Mawr student and they are a great way to welcome our new classmates to campus. Personally, I love Lantern Night where lanterns are passed down to first years by the upperclassmen as a way of inaugurating them into campus life and celebrating their tangible, lifelong connection to the Bryn Mawr community.
Expanding on this, I think that my biggest goal for this semester is to really take advantage of all the unique opportunities available at Bryn Mawr and in the surrounding area. Being a student at Bryn Mawr presents a huge variety of options, as does being located just 20 minutes from Philadelphia by train. At the beginning of this month, I took part in College Fest, a weekend in which 25+ museums in Philly are totally free and students have access to a number of discounts and giveaways from businesses. This is not only an excuse to get into the city, but also a way to connect with other college-age students in the area, of which there are many! We of course have our Tri-Co relationship with Haverford and Swarthmore, but we’re also right next to Villanova as well as easily accessible to UPenn, Temple, and many other Philly-area schools.
It’s easy to go off to college every semester and just focus on the classes you need to take for your major or that one gym credit you can’t seem to force yourself to take, but don’t forget that Bryn Mawr is located in a unique place, both physically and metaphorically, that will allow you to explore new things and widen your horizons in ways you may not expect. What I encourage you to remember is to take advantage of these new opportunities that come along with your education. Whether it be forming new connections, exploring exciting cities, or even developing different academic interests, there is no more exciting time to do so than the years you spend at Bryn Mawr.