It’s the Strange Opportunities.

“Only One Alma” is a phrase that we throw around a lot. And why shouldn’t we? There truly is only one Alma for a number of reasons.

Where else would I get the opportunity to go to England to study medieval theatre this spring? Where else would my brother be able to go to Peru to study Incan civilizations? Where else do you become this close to professors and are presented with this many opportunities?

But sometimes it’s the little things that make Alma only one Alma. Like the banana I saw in line today getting pizza at Food Day. There was also someone in a gorilla suit. I hoped that they met up and ate lunch together.

But yes, there are little things that make Alma Alma, and one of those things at least for me, was that I had class at Walmart today.

There are stories that go, “It was warm today so our professor let us have class outside on the football field! It was so nice!”

My story went, “Today we had class at Walmart and we’d been planning it for about two weeks! And it was creepy.”

I’m a writer. I have to be, I’m an English major and a writing minor. I’m currently in Dr. Vivian’s Fiction Workshop, English 291, and we spend a lot of time looking at people and the stories that they can possess. Do you ever walk in Mac Mall and look at someone and instantly wonder about their life?

Maybe that’s just me.

Our assignment: we had to walk inconspicuously around Walmart and study people. We had to write a five page story about them due on Monday. We had to be discreet. And we needed to buy something small, because the last time Dr. Vivian attempted this, the class aroused suspicion and got thrown out.

This was perfect. I needed a new bottle of children’s Benadryl and some toothpaste. So after a short meeting with Dr. Vivian by the Halloween decorations, we set off alone through Walmart, trying to be discreet and basically stalking people.

I’d like to say that I was inconspicuous and nobody thought that I was a creepy writer wandering around with an Avenger’s backpack, but I probably wasn’t as discreet as I thought. I hoped I would find someone in the toy aisle where I contemplated buying a Spider-Man mask, but it was nearly deserted. I then wandered toward the electronics and all I could find were middle-aged men wandering aimlessly. I picked up some Colgate and moved to the groceries.

There I ran into an older Mennonite couple that seemed very pleased with their loot of fruit and I followed them until the woman asked me if I was looking for something. I then hid in the pharmacy to grab my Benadryl and I found what looked like a hardcore biker dude looking at eye drops. He was very interested in them. When I left the pharmacy, I ran into four people that I knew outside of my fiction class and I literally crouched behind an aisle of craft supplies to listen in on their conversations.

I eventually gave up at trying to be inconspicuous and I bought my toothpaste, my Benadryl, and a box of doughnuts. I then plopped down in front of Subway and I ate my doughnuts, watching people check out.

The most interesting person that I found while munching on my chocolate doughnuts was an older man that was wearing mascara. I’m pretty sure I’m going to write my story about him. While I was munching, a nice old lady sat down next to me, pointed at my backpack and said, “I see you like Spider-Man.”

Yes, my friends, I like Spider-Man.

I also like the opportunity to have class at Walmart. At Alma we don’t have to be defined by our academic buildings. It’s nice to escape the lecture halls and labs of Dow and the classrooms of SAC. It’s nice to meet somewhere strange, somewhere new, whether it’s Peru, England, New Zealand, or Walmart just down the road.

So if someone asks you what only one Alma means, you don’t automatically have to jump to something like, “Well we can take all of these cool spring terms and we can travel and our school is small and we get lots of individual attention from our professors.”

All of that stuff is true, and all of that stuff is wonderful. But there are also little things, like having class at Walmart, or seeing a kid in a banana suit at Saga on Halloween.

Alma: We Define Busy.

Here’s a common question that I’m constantly asked.

“How’s being an RA going?”

I usually respond with something along the lines of, “Oh, sure, it’s going great, I have a great hall and I spend all my time taping things and printing off posters and making sure that people aren’t shooting off flame throwers at three in the morning.”

But, believe it or not, I do other things on this campus than just make sure that nobody is harboring illegal flame throwers. I actually have a life outside of being a resident assistant, and believe it or not, so do other RAs.

Like the typical Alma student, my schedule is so ridiculous that it’s color coded outside of my door and I have a planner that’s larger than my medieval literature Norton Anthology for my British Literature class. Even then, sometimes I remember that I had a meeting an hour ago that I completely forgot to go to because more than likely I was somewhere else.

Last week you may have noticed that there was a large collection of yellow flags outside of the library denoting the 1,100 college students that die by suicide each year. As the Publicity Chair of Active Minds, the mental health advocacy group on campus, I was out at seven in the morning sticking those flags in the ground (and dreaming of coffee and dreading my eight thirty class). I’m also in charge of making Stall Street Journals and I’m the culprit behind the posters that say Take What You Need.

Have you ever stepped in the Chapel for Sunday night worship at eleven? You guessed it, I’m there every Sunday with a nametag that says “Hola, me llamo Emily!” because I like to remember the good old days when I was a Spanish minor. I went through Alma College Christian Leadership last year and hanging out at the Chapel is one of my favorite things to do.

This Thursday I’m about to be inducted into the English Honorary, Sigma Tau Delta. I’m not entirely sure what kind of time commitment that entails, but it’ll look pretty sweet on my resume when I apply to be an English teacher. Plus I get cool cords to wear at graduation. So why not?

And of course, I can’t forget Greek Life. I’m an active member of Gamma Phi Beta and I’m Philanthropy Chair, so I get to plan all of the fun fundraising events like the spaghetti dinner and the pancake breakfast. And just as a heads up, our pancake breakfast is on November 30th, so make sure that you save room for some pancakes cooked by some awesome sisters. That money goes to help young girls go to camp to become strong women, so you’re eating pancakes for a great cause. All Greek Life philanthropies and events go to a great cause, not just ours, so make sure that you peruse the other events too.

When I’m not out and about doing these things and making sure that people don’t have flame throwers, I like to spend time on social media, which only makes sense since I have a student blog. Besides having this blog, I have a personal blog, a very active Twitter account, a generic Facebook, and another blog called a Tumblr that I’m still trying to explain to my mother. I also manage to find time to read Harry Potter, watch Lord of the Rings, and go to zumba in my spare time.

I’m not the only one on campus with a life like this. My other RA friends are involved in anything and everything from Greek Life to FCEE to sports. (I did sports my freshman year. It was an interesting time.) And I guarantee that YOU aren’t only involved in one thing on this campus.

We’re Alma College and we’re proud of our lack of sleep and of the crazy lives of our students. We wouldn’t be Alma without it.

So what’s coming up on campus soon?

  • Song Fest
  • Political Debates and other fun stuff at the Model UN House
  • Various Greek Life events like Derby Days and recruitment events
  • Fall Festival
  • Farmer’s Martket and Healthy Food Day
  • World Kitchen Events
And of course, if I missed something, there’s always posters all over campus.
I’m really curious about the poster that says Elvis is coming to the math symposium.

It’s Okay to Push the Big Red Button.

It’s that time of year. That time of year when signs start cropping up on lawns, when your friends are suddenly more opinionated than you thought, and you can’t watch an episode of How I Met Your Mother without terrible Michigan commercials.

It’s election season.

For me, the Michigan commercials are slightly baffling; I live in Indiana and couldn’t tell you who the governor in Michigan currently is. My father, however, has been emailing me and telling me who’s running for what in Indiana and who I should vote for.

I voted in Indiana on Friday October 19th for the first time. But for those of us who didn’t get the opportunity to vote early over fall break, there’s always absentee ballots.

More than half of Alma’s campus is first time voters. There are movements such as Rock the Vote to help us register and let us know that it’s important that we, as young Americans, push that red button on November 6th. But what’s Alma doing to make sure that we vote?

During Orientation Week there was voting registration going on in the Rotunda. I was planning on going to register for my absentee ballot, but of course, like many Alma students, I had other places to be. I missed this rather important event.

When touring Mitchell Hall looking for a friend to help me with hanging up posters, I came across a bunch of posters that were covered in college student myths. One such myth was “The candidates don’t care about me.”

No, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney probably don’t know your name and probably can’t feel the pain of your genetics fruit fly lab, but they do care about the youth of America and they’d like to you to vote. Professors and some groups on campus would like you to vote, too.

Alma has a Democrats Club, and you can probably guess that where there’s a Democrats club, there’s a Republican’s Club. They even have neat t-shirts, which is always a plus when joining a club. Both clubs are active on and off campus, volunteering in the city of Alma to get students and regular people that actually live in town involved in the election process.

The Model UN house, always a political hotspot, has been serving free food during the debates on television. I wish I had known about that during the last debate because I watched it alone in my room while stuffing my face with popcorn.

There have also been election movies put on in SAC, usually 113, about voting and how you as an Alma College student can be a part of the election process. If you want to catch a movie, find a poster somewhere in SAC; they’re everywhere. And don’t be afraid to talk to a political science professor. The only thing you have to fear is a prolonged political discussion.

If you’re like me and you’re a first time voter, it’s not as scary as it sounds. When I went to vote on Friday on who would lead our great country, I simply showed my driver’s license, signed a few papers, and was taken to a voting machine. There was even a nice lady there to explain all the buttons to me. When I was all finished, I got to click a big red button that lit up and made noise.

If you don’t have a reason to vote, pushing that button should be a reason, because it’s a really cool button.

And trust me, you won’t be the only person on campus involved in politics. If politics is your weird hobby, even if it’s only during election season, you’re not alone. During each debate I sit on Twitter and I watch Alma students following and tweeting about the debate faster than I can type. I guarantee there’s someone on campus who would LOVE to talk politics with you and is just as happy that you’re interested in voting as they are.

There’s a lot you can do on campus to get involved in politics, or to even just find out about politics a little more to form your opinion. The Model UN house has free food and nice people living in it, so that’s always a plus if you find yourself in the small housing area. The Democrat and Republican clubs are always looking for new members and new volunteers to help get the word out, and if you’re a libertarian, you can always talk to Student Congress about starting a club. If we had a Squirrel Club at one point, I’m sure there’s room for Alma College Libertarians.

Alma wants you to get involved and vote. What will you do? And who will you vote for on November 6th?