Category Archives: Midd Off-Campus

Voices From Abroad: Isabelle Stillman ’16 in Nepal


An incredible shot taken in Nepal by this week’s author, Isabelle Stillman ’15

Every year, over 50% of the Middlebury junior class studies abroad, traveling to more than 40 countries and enrolling at more than 90 different programs and universities. If you’re unaware of study abroad percentages at other schools, just know these are crazy high stats. Plus, we’ve got our own Middlebury Schools Abroad in 37 cities in 17 countries, making us a national leader in foreign language and global studies.

BUT, more often than not, we don’t get to hear the real details of our friends’ abroad experiences. Of course we’re all asked “How WAS it?!” about a billion times upon returning, but, due to time, space, and perhaps interest, it becomes pretty customary to respond “Awesome!,” and leave it at that. Truth be told, no 5-month long experience of international immersion is just “Awesome” or “Great”; every individual’s experience is extremely complex, varied, tumultuous at times, and, hopefully rewarding, but in unique and often unexpected ways.

So, this year middbeat’s makin a serious effort to expose honest, detailed accounts of Midd students’ study abroad experiences, while they’re living them. We’re hoping to post stories/descriptions/reflections wrtiten by any and all Midd students abroad, covering as many countries as possible. If you’re interested in submitting a post, definitely contact us at and we’ll set ya up.

For our first post, we’ll be hearing from Isabelle Stillman ’16, an English major from St. Louis who also runs The Orchard Arts Journal at Midd. Isabelle is studying in Kathmandu, Nepal this semester through SIT Study Abroad (a non-Midd owned study abroad many students enjoy). Isabelle’s wrote an incredible snap-shot description of Nepali life based on her experiences just last week. Read and enjoy:

Kathmandu’s streets are lined with open-front shops – sari shops, sweet shops, pet shops (fish only), shampoo shops, packaged biscuit shops, daalbhaat shops – and the keepers, along with an assortment of friends and family members, spend most of the day standing behind the counter or sitting on the stoop, which, in most stretches of road, also functions as a sidewalk and stray dog or cow bed.

Yesterday I walked up the stoop of a pharmacy in search of sleep aid; nothing unusual, I’m just not used to sleeping to the tune of dog fights, neighbors’ Bollywood movies, wounded cats wailing, roosters, and the daily 5 am parade. (Plus, yes, I’m a little overwhelmed, and my brain is slightly unsettled in general.) In the shop, a baby-faced man in a button-down shirt leaned on the counter, which doubled as a plexi-glass medicine case, talking to a cross-armed balding man who sat behind it. The case and the walls were lined with white cardboard boxes of things like “Mydol” and Glucose-D, an instant energy powder that also occupies as many shelves in the supermarket as do the produce and dairy sections combined.

“Namaste,” I said to the bald man. “Tapaaiko aushedhi suTnu chha?” (Boo-yah Nepali.) (What I’m pretty sure this means is “Do you have medicine to sleep?”)


“SuTnu? Sleeping?” I put my palms together, cheekside. “Like, sleeping medicine? Aushedhi? Medicine? Sleeping?”

After a moment of confused stares, the men conferred with each other in Nepali, and when the phrase “sleeping tablets” was used, I jumped in. “Yes, sleeping tablets. Sleeping tablets, do you have those?”

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Reminder: Swimming Holes

It’s another beautiful sunny day in paradise, but the days are now numbered that we can go outside with little more than a towel and a swimsuit.  But not to worry.  This summer, Levi Westerveld ‘15.5, Dan Barnes ’15,Teddy Smyth ’15, and Laura Strom ’14.5 put together an interactive map detailing the best swimming holes around Middlebury.  You can find the map here in case you missed out on daneatsbears’ post over the summer.  Personal favorite? Bristol Falls.  Thumb a ride, take a bus, grab a bike, or find a friend with a car to take full advantage of what’s left of Vermont summer.  

People’s Climate March Sept. 21

Two weeks from today, UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon and heads of state from around the world will gather in New York for the first major climate summit since the largely ineffective Copenhagen conference in 2009.  Moon hopes to reach a global deal to reduce greenhouse gases with 100 the heads of state expected to attend, an ambitious yet increasingly pressing issue.  Atmospheric CO2 this week is hovering around 396 ppm, almost 50 parts per million higher than the 350 ppm goal set by many climatologists.

While we can always count on global leaders to reach groundbreaking accords to combat climate change,* environmental activists worldwide are organizing a “People’s Climate March,” with the main arm of the march taking place in New York on Sunday, September 21.   A broad coalition of environmental, educational, labor, and religious organizations have organized the march to pressure leaders into reducing greenhouses gas emissions in what promises to be the largest environmental march in history.  As to be expected, Middlebury students and faculty members have been busy organizing for the march, and want you to join in the fight.  Middlebury organizers will host a talk tomorrow, Wednesday September 10, in St. Stephen’s Church to give context to the march within the broader environmental movement, and more details on plans for the march.   Hannah Bristol ’14.5 writes in:

Things are heating up in the climate movement this fall as organizers prepare for the largest climate march in history at the People’s Climate March (PCM) in New York City on September 21. Bill McKibben, Fernando Sandovol ’15,Marjeela Basij-Rasikh ’15, Jon Isham, Rich Wolfley, and folks from Migrant Justice are speaking at St. Stephen’s Church (the stone one in town where you can ring the bell at Chili Fest) at 7 pm tomorrow, September 10, to give an update from the global climate movement and talk about why the PCM matters.

There are already over 80 Middlebury students signed up to head to NYC for the big march and a youth convergence on Saturday. Buses and vans will be leaving Saturday morning and getting back to campus Sunday. Transportation and housing are all taken care of, although we are asking students to donate if they are able to help pay for the bus and gas. To sign up, visit go/pcm. Email Hannah Bristol at with any questions.

Again, the People’s Climate March and the following UN conference are of seismic importance to the environmental movement and the state of the planet as we know it.  The failure of the 2009 Copenhagen Conference, and the continued delaying of large scale, multi-national action to reverse the increasingly ominous specter of global climate change have only furthered the need of mass social action.  If you consider yourself an environmentalist, there is no better opportunity to practice your beliefs than pressuring the leaders of the world to act on one of the defining issues of our time.  See you all there.

Meeting detes
When: Wednesday at 7 PM
Where: St. Stephen’s Chapel, downtown Middlebury
Cost: Free

People’s Climate March detes:
When: Saturday and Sunday, September 20-21
Where: NYC
Cost: the fate of the planet


Breaking News: Midd Graduate Peter Theo Curtis Freed After Being Held Captive in Syria by Qaeda Affiliate For Two Years

Today, breaking news revealed that after being held for nearly two years in a prison run by an affiliate of Al Qaeda in Syria, American freelance writer and Middlebury graduate Peter Theo Curtis was unexpectedly freed on Sunday after emissaries from Qatar’s government won his freedom on humanitarian grounds. While Curtis‘ relatives are not aware of the exact terms of the release agreement, they were told that no ransom was paid, in alignment with the US government’s long-standing policy not to negotiate with terrorists. This incredible event is undoubtedly a blessing to Curtis‘ family, the Middlebury community, and our nation at large, though it stands in a stark contrast to the brutal decapitation of fellow war correspondent James Foley last week, which must not, and cannot, be forgotten.

Curtis, now 45, wrote freelance journalistic dispatches under the name Theo Padnos and authored two books: “My Life Had Stood a Loaded Gun,” a memoir about teaching literature to young offenders at a correctional facility in Vermont, and “Uncovered Muslim,” investigating Islamic extremism in Yemen. Curtis was taken near the Syrian border in October 2012 by Al Nusra Front, one of the groups seeking to overthrow President Bashir Assad of Syria that also has ties to the Al Qaeda terrorist network. His 22 month captivity was kept private, at his family’s request.

After graduating from Middlebury College, Curtis, an Atlanta native, went on to earn a doctorate in comparative literature from the University of Massachusetts. He is fluent in French and Arabic, and also speaks German and Russian, according to his family.

Middbeat, as well as the entire Middlebury community, extends its relief, and love, to Curtis and his family, while continuously mourning the loss of James Foley and remaining hopeful for the many other journalists presently held captive over seas. Significant information on Curtis‘ release, captivity, and career is available — be sure to read up here, or at your preferred news source.

Also, stay tuned for exclusive Middlebury Magazine coverage of Curtis‘ release.

20 Things Liberal Arts Students Need to Know At a Professional Internship

Reposted from For all you Midd Kids on the summer intern grind…

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So it’s late July, and if you’re a college student packed in a sweaty shoebox-sized city apartment like I am, you’re probably a large portion of your way through the “golden ticket” to post-grad success: the summer internship.

At small liberal arts colleges (hello, NESCAC) like mine, once April rolls around “So what’s your summer plan?” questions start spreading like the flu in January, and if you haven’t landed a summer internship, well, “Yikes!” Now, of course, there are many of us that graduate and lead successful, fulfilling careers without ever achieving intern status (Yes, really!). But we aren’t TOTALLY crazy: According to the National Association of Colleges & Employers 2014 Internship & Co-op Student Survey, about 60 percent of interns received full-time job offers last year.

Unpaid, paid, stipend, free Chipotle under the table — however they’ve lured you in, you’re here: the aspiring liberal arts academic pretending to know something about law, finance, marketing, journalism, you name it. Plus, if you spend the other nine months a year amid farmland like me, you’re probably equally overwhelmed by the subway system (wait, they don’t stop for bikers here?!) as you are by the professional work environment.

But as liberal arts students it seems we are taught just about everything BESIDES professional skills. Sure, we’ve read an (un)healthy amount of Shakespeare, can lead a kick-ass community service project, and can likely spit a random fact or two about anything from quantum physics to Russian history (ask us about our distros, I dare you). But is being “well-rounded” really the key to success when your boss is spitting terrifyingly unrecognizable acronyms and you’re the only one in the room not salivating like Pavlov’s dog (hey, at least we get the reference!)?

We might have some seriously frustrating moments, but we’re doing a hell of a lot better than you might think based on the smirks people give you when you tell them you’re English major. Check out this list for a laugh about everything us lib arts kids know (or NEED to) so we can swim, not sink, among our fellow pre-professional interns this summer.

1. The majority of co-workers don’t recognize your school.

They probably don’t know it by name, or know where it is. Nothing makes you cringe like hearing “Oh I’ve never heard of it, is that a community school?”

2. You should appear totally chill when no other interns know your college.

It’s not the Harvard business major’s fault that the whole world heralds her brand name. Plus, your less-blabbed-about institution just amps your unique flare.

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The Caiçara: J-term Documentary by Tommy Hyde ’14.5

Whether you were interested in the beautiful country of Brazil before this summer’s ragin’ World Cup or not (BTW USA! FUCK YA @ 4PM TODAY!), once you watch this awesome documentary-style video by Tommy Hyde ’14.5 you will certainly be scratchin’ for a trip down south. Tommy spent J-term 2014 living the Brazilian beach life in the small, non-touristy, fisherman-fueled town of Bonete, Brazil. This video was his final project. Check out Tommy’s description of the experience below. Definitely worth watching (make sure those subtitles are on unless you’ve mastered português as well)!

“So this was pretty much the best month of my life. Rita Croce ’14 was a hero and set me up with a little hut her family owns on this beach. I got to eat coconuts, surf everyday, and hang out with these really amazing fishermen.

For the first week or so, I got a lot of weird looks. For one – there are very few tourists that stay in Bonete for longer than a few days, and it’s extremely rare to see any Americans. So a gringo staying for a month was confusing for the people there. However I gradually started to integrate – surfing with the locals, drinking beers with the old folks at the little bar at night, and even going to a few church services.

Marcelo, the centerpiece of the doc, was also a very shy guy. He is a man of few words, and was at first hesitant to open his life to me…even more hesitant about sharing with the camera. By the end of January however, right when my Portuguese was decent, he opened up and allowed me to film two days at his fishing outpost and conduct a single interview. It was a learn-on-the-fly experience in every way, and I’m privileged to have spent quality time with such an inspiring person in such a beautiful place.”

And here’s the link to the video again if ya missed it:



Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 11.06.17 AMI’d never heard of the TBS hit series King of the Nerds until the casting staff directly contacted middbeat in hopes of casting Middlebury students for their next season - this is an incredible opportunity. And what is this show all about?

King of the Nerds is primed to become television’s ultimate nerd-off. The show invites competitors spanning the full nerd spectrum to come together to face challenges that will test their intellect, ingenuity, skills and pop-culture prowess. The nerds will first compete as teams before moving on to individual challenges, all with the goal of being named the quintessential master of all things nerdy.

The show is has completed two highly successful seasons and is casting for the third. Basically, they’re looking to compile a bunch of super smart kids and make them compete in totally absurd “nerdy-based” challenges like Robot Dodgeball, Nerdiocart and a Science Fair. Not sure if you’re “nerdy” enough? Associate Producer Brian Scully wants to encourage you that King of the Nerds is looking to re-claim, diversify, and celebrate the term “nerdy” – they don’t just mean bio and math majors (while you’re more than welcome too!), they’re looking for anyone with any unique obsession with anything that works the brain – be it academics, science, robotics, fandom, comics, rubik’s cube, engineering, sci-fi, anime, you name it.

In previous seasons competitors have reigned from top undergraduate and graduate colleges and universities nationwide. While Midd has not yet been featured on KOTN, Associate Producer Brian Scully is eager to see a Midd participant this year, as he was a huge fan of Sophie Clarke’s ’11 fierceness, wit and intelligence on Survivor: South Pacific, and even remarked that this Midd grad was “one of his favorite reality winners ever.” 

Casting for season three is going on now, and ending soon, so if you have any interest please email the casting team at kingofthenerdscasting@gmail.comSeason three will be shot during the summer, so you will not miss out on any classes. AND JUST A REMINDER, IF YOU WIN YOU’RE LOOKING AT A $100K PRIZE. Just think of the Two Bros nachos that would buy…

For any questions or concerns about the casting process, email

For more information about King of the Nerds check out these sites:
official TBS page:
official Facebook page:
official Twitter account:
official casting Twitter account:

Cursive Coffee: New Coffee Shop to Open in Middlebury

Middlebury is notably lacking a high quality coffee spot.  The dining hall coffee does’t quite reach diner status, and Crossroads, Carol’s, and Wilson are few notches above decent. Fortunately, Cursive Coffee, a Burlington based roaster, espresso bar, and artisan coffee shop, recently reached out to middbeat in hopes of generating stoke about their project to bring good coffee to Middlebury.  Founders Jim Osborne and Sam Clifton are working with Middlebury-based architect Anne Barakat to start an espresso bar at Barakat’s new office location at 58 Main Street, a few doors down from Vermont’s Own.  Barakat has designed spaces for the likes of Ben and Jerry’s, Hotel Vermont, and the American Bible Society, and, to add extra flavor to her Middlebury headquarters, is partnering up with Cursive to provide high caliber Joe for Middlebury. They currently have an IndieGogo campaign to raise money for the project with hopes of reaching $11,500 by May 23.  While middbeat will not ask our readers to donate, we do think the Barakat-Cursive partnership will be a great addition to Middlebury’s downtown, and would like to provide a platform for donation if this project interests you.  See after the jump for more background on Cursive’s growth from a mobile coffee shop at the Burlington Farmer’s market to a South End establishment, and more information on how to donate.

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SUNDAY: The Conversation Continues: A Follow-Up Discussion on Body Image at Midd

Image from Glamour Body Image Survey

Image from Glamour Body Image Survey

Last week, we were extremely pleased to see so many of you show up for the first Body Image Story-Telling event. Significant feedback about the power of the stories and the pertinence of body image related issues on campus has motivated a follow-up discussion to the event. At this Sunday’s follow-up meeting we are going to discuss where to go moving forward after this event and converse about what we want the school to offer in terms of resources related to body image, wellness, and eating disorders. We are honored to announce that the two Vermont state representatives for The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders will be joining us and will speak about various on and off campus eating disorder resources. We encourage anyone to join this conversation, whether or not you attended last week’s Gamut Room event. We look forward to seeing you there! Plus, there will be free Noonie’s catering! 

What: Follow-up discussion to Body Image Story-Telling event
Date: Sunday, April 27
Time: 2 – 3:30 PM
Place: Palmer House living room (first floor)

Outside the Bubble: “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Patagonia”


Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentine Patagonia

Continuing in our series called “Outside the Bubble,” where students share stories, anecdotes, and reflections from their time spent away from campus. Get in touch with us if you want to share a story!

In this post, Sayre Weir ’15 recounts an unexpected change in plans while traveling through Patagonia