Student-run and extracurricular activities are a must on the Grinnell College campus––everyone here is involved in something other than core academic classes. This means that any random conversation you may have with a Grinnellian will be an interesting one. I find that each of my extracurricular activities adds depth and focus to my academic endeavors and helps me relate to my peers in new ways. Each week I get to converse with a native Russian speaker, plan study breaks for my floor, and engage in some friendly sports competition.
On Wednesday evenings I meet up with three other students and Elvira, the language lab assistant for the Russian department. My first day in conversational Russian was super intimidating, especially because everyone spoke so quickly! However, a few classes in, I was using new vocabulary and slowly learning to speak without saying "um" every other word. Last week we went over how to order meals in a restaurant and key phrases to use in that setting. It's difficult but totally awesome to apply the grammar skills you learn in regular classes to real life situations. It's also really good preparation for study abroad programs and most language departments offer these one-credit conversational courses.
Each day I participate in at least one activity related to my student advisor position on campus. Student advisors (SAs) volunteer to help create floor community, are resources for residents, and can provide students with a little relief from academic and social stressors. My favorite part of being on student staff is that I get to plan study breaks for my floor. I usually team up with the floor's other SA and together we host a fun activity every few weeks. Our first study break was a floor dinner. We recruited two pairs of first year roommates and the six of us made dinner for the entire floor. The dinner was a hit and a great way to break the ice and meet everyone. A more recent study break involved cocoa, tea, cookies and our Residence Life Coordinator's new puppy, Ginger! The role of SA can also be more serious at times, but overall it's an extremely rewarding experience and teaches you to relate to your peers on several different levels.
Track is my favorite part about spring semester. Participating on a sports team allows me to spend time outside, meet new people and gain new athletic skills. It's also a great way to relieve stress and get rid of extra energy. I never ran on a track team before coming to Grinnell and it's been an incredible experience soaking up tons of new information. The coaches and students were so supportive and helpful when I joined the team. Every day they pushed me to my limit and helped me drop time in my races. I usually only get to see my peers perform in the classroom and it's great to see them display their talents and excel in other areas.