- Class: Freshman
- Major: Biology
- Gender: F
- High School: Bolingbrook High School
- Transfer Student: N
The best thing about Amherst is the variety of different people you meet (if you look in the right places). There are so many people from so many different places and its really amazing to see the convergence of ideals and sentiments during that first week of orientation. One thing I'd change is making the atmosphere a bit more friendly. The campus, especially during the winter months (which is about 3/4 of the school year), is very disjointed from each other and doesn't have as much friendly interaction. People here can be sorta cold if you're not their best friend. When I first told people I was going to Amherst they said "You mean Elmhurst?" (a community college back home). Outside of New England, nobody really knew what I was talking about. Downtow Amherst is a bit more subdued, with some good places to eat, one bar, and a CVS for all of your urgent daily needs. There's a great public transportation system that takes you to the mall, the other 5 colleges, and Northampton, a really great downtown area with tons of shops and restaraunts. The most recent controversies at Amherst stem from intolerance towards different races and sexual orientation, such as the yelling of offensive slurs at people on campus. Also, the recent "Lip Sync" contest for Room Draw created quite a stir since the Feminist Alliance and many students saw the winning performance for the rising juniors as offensive and demeaning towards women. One of the biggest anomalies I find at Amherst is the unexpected large number of jocks. Yes, we're a school filled with people who are multi-talented and did amazing things in high school, but I just didn't think there would be so many stereotypical sports-obsessed students here.
During dinner, students drift in and out of conversations about world politics and the latest South Park episode. There's a lot of really engaging, stimulating conversation among the students, but of course generously peppered with gossip and average college topics. The students really aren't that competitive; everybody more so focuses on doing well for themselves rather than sabotaging the person sitting next to them. In fact, students are really eager to help each other and give input on projects, papers, and problem-sets. The professors here really want to know their students on an individual basis, but this isn't dont unless the student makes the effort to talk to their professor and see them outside of class. Especially in large lecture classes of 80+ students, it's impossible to know each student. But professors are always eager to help their students and be available outside of class. There's also a great program called TYPO (Take Your Professor Out) where the school picks up the tab for you, other students, and your professor to have lunch/dinner. It's a great way to connect to your professor and see the human-side of them. The academic requirements at Amherst are a bit more relaxed than most schools since we have an open curriculum. It gives students the opportunity to explore lots of departments, especially during their first 2 years.
There are tables in the dining hall that are pretty much designated for the sports teams, who always eat together. But across the room could be a table of international students, hip indie kids who work for the radio station, a table of girls all carrying the same designer hand bags, and then of course the racially affinitive tables. But this isn't always the case. Lots of people intermingle with each other but there's also a lot of cohesiveness among similar people. People aren't quite as accepting of those who have experienced lives different from their own. There are many openly gay people and an active LGBQT club that has respect on campus but we've had numerous reported incidents of intolerance towards gay students. Most students here are upper/middle class from the New England area (and a lot from California) and aren't always socially conscious of others economic situation. When talking to a fellow freshman about his $300 Prada sunglasses, he was somewhat disgusted to hear that I paid only $89 for my prom dress.