Sharing thoughts about settling in
eavesdrop on other peoples dinner conversations? Sure you have, and it can
be fun, especially with an interesting cast of characters at the table.
For the dinner
parties being hosted by President Jamienne S. Studley and husband
Gary J. Smith for seven Skidmore freshmen (as reported in the
fall '99 Scope),
the lineup includes Amy Conyers, the cellist from Georgia; Jeffrey
Parker, the environmental studies and music student from Illinois;
Eliza NaranjoMorse, the New Mexican who likes art and education;
New England athlete Benjamin Eberle; George Comnas, the New Englander
with an eye on international service; Oren Kroll-Zeldin, the Californian
whod studied in Israel; and artist Melissa Axelrod, from
At the first dinner,
in September at Scribner House, conversation centered on feelings of newness and
first impressions. Here are some highlights:
Gary: Did you
all visit Skidmore before you came?
[Yeses all around.]
Jamie: Did you
visit your college before you enrolled?
Gary: Yes, a week
after they accepted me.
Jamie: And you
only applied to two places? Me too. I applied to two and looked at no others.
Why did it seem so much easier then? less fraught?
it was! [Laughter.]
Jamie: I remember
thinking of schools in wide bands: good, not so good; here, further away. But
we werent ranking them or reading about them so closely.
Oren: I knew I
wanted to be 3,000 miles away from home. (I love home! I just hate Los
Angeles.) So many things about Skidmore appealed to meliberal studies, and
Saratoga, of course.
Amy: Small class
size was important to me.
what I thought, until I got into a 200-person cultural anthropology class.
kidding! All mine are small.
Oren: It was such
a popular course that the professor decided to lift the enrollment limit this
year. He expected 80 students and he got 200. So he says hell go back to
limiting the class size next year.
anthropology? Does it seem interesting?
Oren: Umm . .
. yes and no. I know the professor cant see me, so I could probably sit
in a corner and fall asleep or doodle in my notebook . . . .
Jamie: Well, I
used to give a big required lecture at Yale, and I realized I could actually tell
which item of a crossword puzzle somebody was doing, let alone if they
were asleepyou know, theres something about that tilt of the head
. . . . [Laughter.]
Jamie: Were there
any particular worries about coming to Skidmore?
Oren: I wasnt
worried about classes . . . I should have been, because classes here are not easy!
I have a lot of work. But Im a pretty worry-free guy in general.
Geordie: I had
a lot of experience being away from home. I went to camp for eight years, some
of that time working there. I have experience living with a lot of people.
Melissa: For me,
the unexpected part was all the small things I didnt have to do at home.
Like, the first day, I thought, "Oh my gosh, Ill have to do my laundry
and all this stuff myself!"
Ben: I was surprised
by how little change its been for me. I thought my parents would walk away
and Id be, like, "Oh my God, dont leave me now. What am I going
to do?" And its never been like that. It fits, it works, I feel perfectly
at homewhich is really bizarre: I thought thered be at least a couple
moments of trepidation or high anxiety.
Eliza: How have
you both settled in?
Amazingly easily. We moved here in the summer, so we got to know the town before
the college was operating.
Gary: With so
much going on in town, we got so caught up in it so quickly, there wasnt
time to think about what we were missing back home.
Geordie: How is
it you came to Skidmore?
I came looking for Skidmore, though I was a nontraditional candidatenot
a professor. But colleges more and more are looking at skills rather than
previous career. The head of the Peace Corps, also a lawyer, just became president
at Hobart and William Smith, and the new president at RPI was in the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission. This summer, we all went to "new presidents school"
Amy: What did
Jamie: How to
deal with lots of different issues and peopleand that youll never
have time to deal with them all in the way youd wish. You want to spend
time with students, faculty, trustees; go on the road for fundraising, read to
stay current with issues . . . .
Gary: Do you guys
have any expectations about what a president should be doing? At my college, I
met the president opening day and that was the last I saw of him until graduation.
I got to know faculty better, and I remember a dean of students who was a pain
in the neck.
like to get to know some of the administrators and deans as well as faculty. I
had a very close relationship with my advisor in high school. After college, its
a big, big world, you know? And getting professional advice will be something
I look forward to.
Jamie: Do you
feel like you can tell yet where the doors are into the things you want or need?
Jeff: A lot of
the professors have been very open, especially in the area Im interested
in. So I would start there.
Jamie: And youre
interested in . . . ?
science, and music and a little hockey.
Oren: Did you
go on one of the pre-orientation SCOOP trips in the Adirondacks?
Jeff: I didnt,
Oren: Oh, you
should have! It was far and away the greatest decision about coming to
collegeto do that trip.
Geordie: I did
one too. You got to meet a lot of people without worrying about homework or anything.
pretty outdoors-oriented, so I feel theres no better place to get to know
yourself and other people than in the woods. Three days with 11 Skidmore students
out in the wilderness is a way to really bond and form a connection with people
who will be your friends for the next four years.
Jamie: What do
you think about mixing people from different class years in the dorms?
Melissa: I like
it a lot. It breaks the barriers. People dont just say, "Oh, look,
Jamie: Would it
be helpful to have some activities to help make connections within each class?
Eliza: I think
it happens anyway in the classroom, although I really like having kids in a higher
grade in my classes; its helpful.
seem to be very few women tripled up in the dorms. Im sure it has to do
with the ratios or something . . . .
in a triple.
Oren: Oh, youre
the one female triple in the school! Thats fantasticI wanted to meet
that person! [Laughter.] There were originally two, but I heard that one was detripled
because the third roommate didnt come to school.
Im in one and I like it. I really like both my roommates. We have a nice
study area set up, but I couldnt see hanging out in there, with male or
female friends. Theres nowhere to sit at all. I cant sit on my bed,
because Im on the top bunk.
Oren: Yeah. Im
in the lower bunk, and its so dark you cant sit there and do anything.
I utilize the window seat to its fullest!
Jamie: The College
has always been able to detriple everyone by the spring semester, but Ive
heard some freshmen say, "No, I couldnt possibly choose; we like each
other too much. I have my study spot in the library. Im fine."
a good point. I dont think any of us would want outwe just
Jamie: Are you
all into any sports?
Melissa: I ran
cross country and played lacrosse. Im interested in lacrosse here, but I
dont know . . . .
Jamie: Give it
Geordie: You can
always quit, but you cant always join up. Ive signed up for novice
Oren: I played
water polo in high school. Im playing ultimate frisbee hereits
Ben: I played
soccer and hockey and was on the sailing team. I just tried out for soccer yesterday.
Theyre full, but Coach says to come back in the spring.
Eliza: I fly-fish.
some great fishing around here. Do you tie flies?
learning. Its really hard.
Jamie: I think
the Outing Club does rafting and stuff; I dont know if they fish. They do
want to rapell down Jonsson Tower!
Oren: That would
Geordie: You should
let em do it!
Jamie: Oh, you
think so, huh? Well, I passed their request on to Student Affairs.
Gary: Eliza, does
the Northeast feel like a whole new world compared to New Mexico?
very different. Even the way a lot of the girls from New England say hello has
a different tone and rhythm about it. Hopefully in four years Ill feel really
comfortable in this environment and also comfortable at homethats
cool to know.
been telling me all these stereotypes they have of California, and I laugh because
Ive got the same ridiculous stereotypes about the Northeast.
Ben: Like what?
and everyones white, upper-middle class and drives a Saab and wears fleece
vests. I doubt any of it is true, because the stereotypes Ive heard about
where I live just crack me up.
surfs . . .
Jamie: . . . and
is blond and cool.
Oren: I knew I
wanted this whole new experience. And everyone seems so open and friendly, and
completely different than my friends in Los Angeles. I just love this difference!
Jamie: Any other
impressions of the student body generally?
Ben: Yeah, crunchy.
Jamie: And "crunchy"
is . . . ?
Oren: Think granola.
Jamie: Aha! OK,
Geordie: I kind
of see that more in the upperclassmen, but I dont see so much crunchiness
in our class. Some are businesslike, some crunchy . . . .
whats so cool about it: you have extreme jocks, but then such different
Geordie: And they
all seem to get along.
finding it difficult to make a set group of friends, because there are so many
kinds of people I want to meet. There are the kids on my floor that I love, the
kids on my SCOOP trip who were just great, the kids in my classes Im getting
to know, the kids I pass walking to Case Center who I stop to play frisbee or
Eliza: Right now
Im definitely trying to find people more like me, but I expect that further
down the line Ill want to get to know as many types as possible.
still so early. It may seem like forever, but youve only been here nine
Oren: But were
so settled in; its home.
Jamie: We felt
the same thing, even when we were still surrounded by boxes, we just felt at home
here and in town.
No sooner had
the meal ended (with chocolate cake and glasses of milk) than everybody was trooping
through the kitchen and talking about the possibility of cooking their next dinner
together themselves. Stay tuned. SR