“Initially, I was scared to spendthree weeks in Putney’s Excel program at Amherst College, aprivate school, without knowing anyone. My mind kept thinking,”private” and, being a public school person, I wasafraid I wouldn’t fit in. The first family I met, however,proved me wrong. From Washington, the mother had my name, ararity. Her daughter and I met our dorm-mates together: a girlwho had gone to South Africa the previous year, two fromBelgium and one from Idaho. Everyone was nice, creative andintelligent. A girl in the room next door became my friendbecause we were both morning people.
I was in atwo-room double; one had desks and the other a single bed anda bunk bed. I got the single bed since I was there first; myparents insisted I not give it up. This selfishness seemedunreasonable when my roommate showed a fear of rolling off topbunks; fortunately, we found that the bunk bed could be takenapart.
My parents feared I would get lost on thecampus, since I had never been alone in a new place. But Ifound Amherst an easy campus to navigate because of the largecircular field all the buildings surround. The field was thecenter of activities; we played Frisbee, read and hadcommunity meetings there that all 180 of us attended.
Although we had two classes a day, we had a fair amount offree time, especially for those not participating in optionalsports clinics.
I was somewhat disappointed in theclasses. I expected them to be more challenging. I know I’mnot the only one; a friend of mine took the business courseand explained the concepts they had learned during a coupledays in ten minutes. The one class all the students workedvery hard in was Scriptwriting because each wrote an entirescript.
The most popular class was the SAT prep class,but I took creative writing and field biology. I wrote a longstory, and we spent a week critiquing each other’s pieces.This taught me a lot because I learned to point out the strongpoints, even if the grammar was confusing or it wasuninteresting to me. The teacher discussed differentstructures of stories since not all follow the typical risingaction, climax and denouement pattern. Overall, I’m glad Itook the class because not only did I become more interestedin analyzing literature, but I also had a teacher whoencouraged me to write.
I was disappointed in my fieldbiology class because walking in the woods was not a rareexperience for me. We saw a couple of beaver dams, a frog pondand went bird watching early one morning. It was lessstructured, and the teacher was young; sometimes we just wentswimming. It seemed we did more hiking than learning. Welearned about the scientific method and evolution, both whichI had already learned. Then we performed experiments in tooshort a time.
Amherst is a one-street town, aten-minute walk away. I found it convenient with everythingright there, but some complained it was too small. I loved theexperience of living away from home; the only difference fromcollege was the curfew. My main reason for spending the threeweeks at Amherst was so I would feel more comfortable nextyear at college. This goal was achieved. It’s fun to beaccepted by a whole new group of people who haven’t beenaround you since kindergarten.