Living in Barcelona

Living in Barcelona

Hola todos! (Hello everybody),

I am in Spain for the semester! Though the pre-studying abroad process can feel stressful and frustrating, especially since study abroad always feels so far away, it is by far one of the more worthwhile experiences I have had in my life. I am living in Barcelona, Spain for the semester and just wanted to share my first few experiences, impressions and struggles studying abroad.

I have been to Spain many times in my life, and I even have family that live in the capital, but coming to Barcelona has been a difficult and amazing adjustment. The first thing that hit me was the time difference. Since Spain is 6 hours ahead, adjusting was difficult because I was used to sleeping during the daytime here and doing things during the night. However after a few days of forcing myself to stay up during what felt like the night, it has become normal.

The Trinity team is full of nothing short of miracle workers. Agueda and Brian work to coordinate our schedules, our field trips, our money vouchers and so much more. Though we have been here a mere 3 weeks, we have had numerous outings, both optional and mandatory, which include museums, cooking classes, hikes, tapas eating, trips outside the city, flaminco dancing, self-defense and more. Gabriela, also on the Trinity team, often takes students on optional field trips.

We have been lucky enough, through Trinity, to access some amazing sites in Barcelona for free. The Trinity space itself is located on Pau Claris, which is an avenue in the center of Barcelona in walking distance from the Gaudi buildings and parallel to Passeo de Gracia. The advanced students are taking a history class which is located in the Ateneu, a historical building located right off the Ramblas, which has a renown library, a beautiful cafe in the courtyard, and classrooms on the top floor. The rest of our classes are at the UPF (Universitat Pompeu Fabra) and are in the middle of the city, in all different parts of the school.

As far as housing during study abroad here, there are 2 options. Students can choose to stay at the TSH (The Student Hotel), which is located in the Melon district, or students can choose to live in a homestay. There are upsides and downsides to both choices, as with many things, but the perks of both situations significantly outweigh the potential costs.

In a homestay, students have the chance to fully immerse themselves in the Spanish language. Students are placed with families, meticulously vetted by Trinity’s staff, who have expressed an exceptional interest in taking in an international student. Students fill out a survey explaining both what type of living situation they are looking for (for instance, do they want little kids, pets, etc) and a form explaining their living personality. The host families do the same and students are matched to the best of the programs ability with a compatible home. Though the families all speak Spanish in the household, they are very patient with students learning the language. This semester we have a student in a homestay who speaks very little english, and both he and his host family are very patient with each other learning to communicate in broken Spanish and broken english. But the advantage of living in a homestay is just that: the student picks up the language at an alarming rate. Learning to speak in a language is very different from learning the dissect the language into grammatical concepts. Students in homestays get the chance to practice their conversational Spanish everyday and everyday they become better Spanish speakers. Another advantage of living in a Spanish household, is the advice they can give you about the city. Nobody knows the ins and outs of the city better than they do because it is the city they live in, and for many, the city they grew up in. Host families can give the best advice as to places to eat and exhibits to visit, but also the places to avoid, the cautions about living in the city and much more. Many people in homestays eat at least dinner with their families which gives them time to bond and time to practice their Spanish!

The other option offered to students is TSH. The Student Hotel is located in the Melon district and is home to hundreds of students from all around the world. From the TSH dorms, it is about a 5 minute walk to the metro and it’s within walking distance of the beach and the university. Each student is issued a room key that allows access to the cafeteria, the building, the kitchen and the common areas. Each floor consists of about 10 rooms on either side of the hallway and at the end there is a shared kitchen. The cafeteria is on the ground floor and is connected to TSH but is a public restaurant in the area. The common space consists of a large study room, a large TV and viewing area, a pool table, ping pong table, fusbol table and more. The residents of the space are invited to regular events that are put on by TSH that engage students in activities with one another. Students at TSH also get to enjoy the rooftop area, which looks out on the city of Barcelona from 12 stories up, as well as a rooftop pool. There are also many advantages to living in the TSH. The rooms are small, but private with queen beds, and private bathrooms. There is a cleaning service that comes once a week, and a service that cleans the kitchen as well. There are shared fridges and cabinet space with allows students to cook during the week as well as store groceries for convenience. Living at TSH, students are entirely independent and entirely responsible for themselves and their needs, such as laundry and meals.

Either way, every student has amazing living accommodations while studying abroad in Barcelona and students from TSH and homestays have plenty of opportunities to spend time together during the week and on the weekends. Trinity does a great job with matching up families with students as well as placing students in the generous hands of The Student Hotel.

Overall, this trip has been amazing so far. We are so lucky to have so many amazing people on the Trinity in Barcelona staff who have helped us to get settled and encouraged us to explore on our own. So far, this has been an amazing semester and I cannot wait to share more of it with you as I go!

Getting Around Hartford

Getting Around Hartford

One of the great things about Trinity is its location. We are located just outside of Downtown Hartford, a thriving city with museums, amazing restaurants, art and performance venues, and its own identity and culture. Trinity has implemented many resources to help students get around Hartford as easily as possible. Trinity’s campus is located at the conjunction of four residential Hartford neighborhoods, so there are only a few restaurants and markets within walking distance of campus. But Trinity has made it pretty easy to get anywhere you might want to go around the city.

There are a variety of ways that Trinity has set up for students to get around the city, and even more ways provided directly by the city of Hartford. The first thing Trinity has done is secure a shuttle that drives around the perimeter of campus at all times. It stops at different locations around campus every 20 minutes. The shuttle will pick you up anywhere on the outside of campus, and drop you off anywhere along the route. You can also call campus safety and request the shuttle to your location. There is also another shuttle that runs off campus. This shuttle has specific times that change every once in a while, but the main time it runs is on Saturday afternoons, when it takes students to Walmart, Target or the Westfarms Mall, and then picks them up and brings them back to campus. Trinity also provides each student with a free Bantam Bus Pass every semester. These allow students to ride the Hartford city buses completely free all around the city. There are even some field trips that require students to take the bus, and there are chaperones who teach and show the students how to use the bus system. Bus schedules and routes are located in Mather Hall.

There are many festivals downtown throughout the semester, and the bus is the perfect way to get around during those times. Its a great time for students to get a chance to experience the cultures of the city. Students also love going to the local coffee shops to get a change of scenery when studying for tests or doing homework. Story and Soil is a local coffee shop co-owned by a Trinity alum who wanted to celebrate the Hartford culture through coffee and community. There are also amazing arts venues and performance spaces around the city like Real Art Ways, Playhouse on Park, The Hartford Stage and The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. Hartford is there to take full advantage of and students can’t be more grateful that Trinity offers so many opportunities to do so.

Aside from public transportation and the shuttles, it is also incredibly easy to order Uber or Lyfts to campus. This is a quick and easy way to get downtown if necessary, or for a night out to the theater, to dinner, or to a movie. The nice thing about Ubers and Lyfts is that they pick you up and drop you off exactly when you need and where you want to be. The other forms of transportation have specific stops. However, all are easy and fun ways to get around Hartford, and it allows the students to break out of the Trinity bubble and explore the amazing city of Hartford.

Tips for Finals

Tips for Finals

As we leave Thanksgiving behind, finals season creeps in. We are now at the end of the semester and finals are about to start on December 14th! As work starts to pile up, students wind up spending an unfortunate amount of time in the library. Here are a few tips that will hopefully help students get through finals with some ease.

First, find your niche in the library. We are lucky to have a big library with many study spaces. Some students study well sitting at the big tables in the middle of the library. Others find it easier to focus at the cubbies. The library gets progressively quieter the higher up you go. Level 3 is a silent level, while people on levels A and B are free to talk. However, the quietest place in the library is level C, which many people don’t know about. Even further underground than level B, level C is a silent level where students can go to do their work in complete silence. Another feature of the library that should be explored is the study rooms. If there is a group project that requires input by multiple people, or a topic that is easier to understand if it is talked about out loud, students can book the study rooms. These are rooms on each level of the library that have white board walls, where students can collaborate, study and learn together.

Another feature to take advantage of is the office hours and student TA sessions. Professors are always willing to help students with material that they didn’t understand, whether by answering questions, or reiterating part of a lecture. They are also often willing to tell students the format of their exams so that students know how to prepare for their particular test. TAs, or Teacher’s Assistants, are a huge resource for students. The TA for each class has already taken the course, so they know exactly what the exam is going to look like. While they are always willing to help students with homework and with concepts from class, they are especially helpful when exams roll around. They will usually help students by advising them on how to study for the exam, telling them what kind of questions (the format and concepts) they are likely to see on the test. They also often have old exams from their class, or they prepare mock exams for the students to take to gage their preparedness.

Some students, especially English majors, face many more papers during the finals period then written exams. Trinity has a writing center, where students can have their work peer-reviewed. Professors nominate students who have outstanding writing ability to work at the center. Students can make appointments and have a fellow student help them with their papers. The reason this is such an awesome resource is because a student can walk in with as much of the paper as they want – an entire draft, or even just a prompt – and ask for help with whatever they need. Some students have their grammar checked, while others need help starting the paper and organizing their ideas. Whatever the request, the writing associates will help.

My last tip would be to take full advantage of the student run cafes on campus. The Underground Cafe is located right next to the post office, in the basement of Mather. It has a nice, usually quiet, space, with tables where students can grab a coffee or a milkshake and do their work. The other cafe is called Peter B’s and is located on the ground floor of the library. In the morning, Peter B’s serves pastries from First and Last, an outstanding bakery near campus. Their house blend is also extra caffeinated, which provides that extra push to get through finals. Both places are great spaces to study on your own, with friends, or meet with a TA or Professor.

Finals season is never pleasant but these few tips will hopefully make it a little more bearable as we count down to Winter break!!

ACES Thanksgiving Drive

ACES Thanksgiving Drive

Right before thanksgiving break every year, ACES, the community service club on campus, holds their annual thanksgiving drive. They ask for any donations people are willing to make, whether that be money, or food. They also ask students to donate their meal swipes at the end of the week (the swipes that are left over, and won’t be used).

Once they have collected all the donations and the money, the presidents, Alex Donald ’19 and Lexie Axon ’19, and a few other members of the club go to Stop & Shop and buy food to donate. Since the goal is to make 100 full Thanksgiving meals for people who cannot afford them this season, they buy whatever is still needed after people donate food. The goal is to have 100 of each item -turkey, juice, mashed potatoes, stuffing, corn, beans, peas, cranberry sauce, gravy, dinner rolls, pie crust and pie filling. The workers at Stop & Shop are extremely helpful in this process, since there is so much food to buy. This season, we wound up filling 9 carts full of food, and the workers helped us take it all to the front, check it all out and were even willing to store some of it in the back, so we could come back the next day.

Once all the food has been brought to the community service office, the presidents ask the members to spend just 30 minutes to an hour at the community service office on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. The more members that come the more efficient the process, because the office is set up so that the members can make a chain and pack each of the bags efficiently and with all the ingredients. Trader Joe’s donates 200 bags so that each family can get a double bagged meal, since it is very heavy. Once all the bags are packed, the presidents, and their advisor, Joe Barber, take the bags to Hands on Hartford so that they can be donated to families without the means of providing their own Thanksgiving dinner this Thursday.

Family Weekend: A Welcome Relief in the Fall Semester

Family Weekend: A Welcome Relief in the Fall Semester

Family Weekend typically falls on the second or third weekend in October. It is nicely timed between the two busy midterm weeks, which offers stressed students the relief of spending time with their families. Usually, parents come up to campus to spend time with their children. Some lucky students even get visits from grandparents and other extended family and friends.

Though many students spend time on or around campus, there is a wide range of activities that families choose to participate in. Some parents bring homemade food and picnic with their families on the quad. Others choose to spend the day hiking at sites near campus. But there are also many activities on campus that families may participate in. Many of the houses on Vernon street are open to parents and have fall activities, or serve food for parents to enjoy and socialize. There is also an a cappella concert on Saturday, in which all the a cappella groups on campus perform with their new members.

Trinity athletics also does its best to make sure that the most teams have on campus games on Family Weekend so that the players’ parents can get a chance to watch them play. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to plan this for every team, however, for the teams who cannot have a home game every year, they have one at least every other year. This year, field hockey played against Wellesley and football faced Bowdoin, and both games were on campus. Also, the equestrian team, men’s tennis, club rugby, and women’s volleyball competed near campus.

This year, the football game was packed with students and their families cheering on the Bantams. Right outside, in the Hansen parking lot, students tailgated with their friends and family. Some students also take the chance to involved their clubs in campus. Relay for life, for instance, held a bake sale to fundraise for the American Cancer Society.

Many professors come to the sports games, and it gives some students the chance to introduce their parents to their professors. It is also the perfect time for students (freshman especially) to show their parents around campus now that they have gotten accustomed to daily life at Trinity. Parents weekend is a lively and carefree weekend, and is a nice breath of fresh air in the middle of a tough part of the school year. It almost always is the perfect fall weather, and gives a chance for students to catch up with their families.

Trinity Days

Trinity Days

Trinity Days, or Trin days as they are better known to students, is the first break students get after the commencement of the first semester back at school. Usually taking place in the fall around the beginning or middle of October, it is the equivalent to ‘fall break’ at other schools. Trinity Days take place in the spring semester as well. Though there is an additional week in March for spring break, students get to enjoy Trinity Days in February. In essence, Trinity Days is when classes for Monday and Tuesday are canceled, so students take the entire weekend to go home and spend time with family or take a break from classes. Many students leave as soon as weekly classes are over, Thursday, Friday or Saturday, to take advantage of the time they spend away from school.

Though many students (especially from the New England area) take the opportunity to go home, many others do not have the luxury. This is why campus is still completely functional during the break. Cinestudio continues to play movies, the dining halls remain open, the shuttle service (which takes students off campus) continues to operate and Vernon Social stays open. There are also rock climbing activities that take place, and every once in a while a faculty member chaperones a Trinity trip to a pumpkin patch or apple picking. In addition, many sporting events take place during this weekend, and these are particularly enjoyable to attend in the blossoming fall weather.

Athletes make up a large portion of the students who stay on campus for Trinity Days. Though some get to go home a little bit later (on Sunday, or Monday), many spend the entire break at school. Many sports teams have games on Saturday or Sunday. This year, for instance, men and women’s soccer had games, the cross-country team had an invitational, and the football team had a game. Even some teams that don’t have competitions, such as the rowing team, stay on campus for practice.

Some students take this short break as an opportunity to visit somewhere new. Many students who live far from campus go home with friends for the break. It gives those students a chance to visit others’ hometowns and spend time with friends in a relaxed setting. Some are lucky enough to take the time to explore big cities, and they spend the weekend discovering DC, NYC, Boston, or even Montreal and Quebec. Others take the chance, at home or elsewhere, to catch up on homework, and focus on upcoming assignments. With midterms looming just around the corner from Trinity Days, work tends to pick up around this time. Regardless of how each student spends their Trinity Days, everyone can agree that it is a much needed and relaxing breath as work will soon begin to pile up.


Safety in Hartford

Safety in Hartford

Recently, I was helping a prospective student find his way around campus. He commented on how beautiful campus was and his mother was asking questions. One of the questions she asked, and one that is a source of worry for many parents is, “How safe is campus?” and “Do you feel safe on campus?” My immediate response was that I always feel safe on campus, and Trinity does everything in their power to make this the safest campus for its students. However, her question made me think about what makes this campus feel so safe?

Our campus and our direct community have gone above and beyond in creating a safe campus within an urban environment. Every student on campus is extremely protected by the trained campus police (Campo) specifically hired to look after Trinity’s campus and Trinity students. They understand the Trinity scene and the culture of the school, and they are there not to get anyone in trouble, but instead to make sure that every student on our campus is taken care of when needed, and protected at all times.

In a recent email to the student body, the school informed us that even more precautions were going to be taken to protect us from any potential harm, even (and especially) unforeseen harms. They have hired more Hartford Police officers to be stationed on campus on the weekend when the most students are out on the outskirts of campus. They have increased the training of the current Campo officers, and they have developed a new and improved staffing matrix for incoming recommendations. They are conducting building audits to make sure that each building on campus is a safe as possible for students, and they have required certain events to hire outside (and professional) staff at the door to make sure every event is entirely Trinity students only. They have increased awareness about activities happening around campus, and they are in the process of preparing electronic alert devices for campus that will immediately alert campo when a student is in need of assistance. With each passing year, campus becomes safer, and Trinity takes continuous precautions to keep it that way.

Welcome Back, A Cappella

Welcome Back, A Cappella

Given the size of Trinity’s campus (2,350 students), the a cappella community is extremely prevalent. In total, there are 5 groups on campus. The Accidentals, better known as the Dents, are the only all-male group. They were founded in 1993, and have performed at some cool events, including the 1996 presidential debates. The Pipes are the oldest group on campus. They originated as an all-male group in 1938 in the library of St. Anthony’s Hall, and became co-ed in 1970. They also perform ‘Neath the Elms, Trinity’s school song, at the end of graduation every year. The Trinitones are the oldest all-female group on campus. Founded in 1978, they have performed at some impressive gigs, including annually singing at the governor’s Christmas party. Famous alumna Racheal Platten was also a Trinitone! Last year they recorded an album, which is now available on Spotify and iTunes. They also sing the National Anthem at the beginning of the football games in the fall, and during the opening ceremony at graduation.

The Quirks are the other all-female group on campus. They were founded in 2004 as part of a senior project and were once featured on NBC Connecticut. The last group on campus is the Dischords. Created in 2005, the Dischords pride themselves on having a ‘Grand Ol’ time’ and making music and memories together.

All the a cappella groups on campus have auditions twice a year at the beginning of each semester. When students come back on campus, usually the second or third Friday of the semester, all the groups hold a joint concert in Hamlin Hall called the “Welcome Back” concert. Each group chooses two songs to sing (some groups sing traditional songs, others choose new music). Then in an order that changes every year, the groups sing their songs one by one. It is an incredibly helpful concert because new students who want to audition for groups get to hear all of them sing in one place at one time.

Additionally, all the groups hold auditions directly after the concert. Each year, the new president or music director steps out and announces where each group will be holding auditions. Traditionally, the Trinitones hold auditions in Hamlin Hall, right where the concert took place, the Quirks are in the Alumni Lounge (which is right next to the Washington Room), the Dents are in the chapel, the pipes are in Terrace C, and the Dischords are in the Faculty Lounge right next to Hamlin Hall. Auditions go until pretty late, and all the groups stay around a little bit later than their last audition to make sure everyone has a chance to audition for as many groups as they want. After the audition process, the groups decide who they want to hear again and they call the auditionees on Friday night (around midnight) to invite them to callbacks.

Callbacks take place on Saturday, from about 9am until about 4pm. Each group has callbacks in a different place, but they are staggered so that the auditionees can attend as many as they were invited to. Usually, the Quirks hold their callbacks early at 9am, Pipes are at 11am, Dischords are at 1pm and Trinitones are at 3pm. The Dents sometimes do their callbacks in the evening, or they can do them when one of the all-female groups is holding them since their pool of potential new members does not overlap. When I was a freshman, the callbacks took the entire 2 hours they were allotted, which can make it a very busy day for the students who are auditioning.

Although it is a tough process and can feel stressful because it occurs in one weekend, it is beyond worth it. My group is truly a second family, and I love the girls like sisters. It is such a good form of stress relief and such a great (and sometimes extremely necessary) break from the fast-paced nature of Trinity. It is amazing to be able to make music with people you love and to have people you can always count on.