As I sit here sipping some tea from my “World-Class Dad” mug, I wonder to myself what I was doing this time a year ago. Like some of you, I was debating whether I would attend Maine Coast Semester. As I thought about it more and more, I began to worry about the things I would be ‘missing out’ on while I was away. Now that I’m here, I’m so happy that I said yes to this adventure. Although I might miss out on some things at home, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Now that I’m here, I’m going to try to answer a few of the questions I had when I was applying.
Q: How am I going to go a whole semester without seeing my friends and family?
A: It turns out that I don’t have to! There are two landlines here that are free to use whenever there is free time. I can also email and write letters to my friends and family. Receiving letters, emails, and packages back is so fun – it really brightens my day. Facetime also became an option once the Wifi was turned on (a month into the semester). I am looking forward to seeing my family during Spring break and family weekend. Visitors are also welcome anytime!
Q: Will I make friends?
A: Yes! Although it’s a little awkward at first, everyone feels the same way. My cabin and classmates have become fast friends, and everyone in the semester has gotten to know each other really quickly. Within three days of arriving, I already knew most people’s names and hometowns. There are many icebreakers to get the ball rolling, but just striking up a conversation is super easy because people are genuinely interested in what others have to say. Mealtimes are also a great way to get to know a group of people I might not normally interact with (like other Chewonki community members or people who aren’t in my classes).
Q: Is the food good? What if I don’t like what is served at meals?
A: Short answer: Yes. Long answer: This is some of the best food I have ever eaten. I have quickly become friends with Bill, Lesley, and Hank in the kitchen and they are amazing. Every meal is SO GOOD and there are always items locally sourced and/or from the Chewonki farm. I would tell everyone to not be afraid to try new things because you might be pleasantly surprised (and your parents will be very proud too!). If I don’t prefer what is served, there is a (dangerous) toast bar available around the clock and popcorn on Friday nights! The farm-fridge is stocked with fresh veggies to snack on, and there are usually hard-boiled eggs in the milk fridge too, not to mention plenty of coffee and tea. I also bring bars, candy, and other snacks to keep in the cabin for those late-night cravings.
Q: Are there any sports or exercise opportunities?
A: I, like many people here, participate in school sports at home, or other forms of exercise. One of my main worries was not having these opportunities here. Whether it be splitting wood, hiking on a science field trip, running/walking around campus, or attending one of Nick’s famous morning yoga classes, there are many ways to be active! Sarah also often leads afternoon runs or I can go on one by myself too (I just have to remember to wear a reflector and sign out!).
Q: Will I have any time to myself?
A: Although the days are pretty packed, there is time built in for homework and more. Study hours are from 7:30-9:30 Monday thru Thursday and Sunday is completely unscheduled. Weekend activities are planned by students but they make sure to leave some time for homework and free-time too. Students are constantly encouraged to take a walk to one of the points, and I can say from experience that they are breathtaking (especially at sunset).
Q: Is it cold?
A: “Never bad weather, only bad clothing” says my friend Sabrina. But yes, it does get cold- it’s Maine. No need to fear though, because the packing list is super helpful. We even had a “Warm and Dry” lesson on the third day to get us prepared! I got used to it pretty quickly (and I’m from Atlanta), and there are usually extra clothes available to borrow from friends or faculty. The woodstoves keep our cabins warm and cozy.
Q: Will I have to chop wood and/or milk a cow?
A: Yes! And you’ll love it! I was recently assigned to the Farm for work program on Tuesday and we split wood for our cabin woodstoves. It took a little getting used to, but by the end, I was splitting like a well-oiled machine. It is also a great stress reliever. As for milking a cow, my cabin will be assigned farm chores for two weeks during the semester, and that comes with many different jobs. Collecting eggs, turning compost, mucking the stalls are all part of it. There are also sheep, pigs, and cows that need plenty of hay and water and they’re super friendly. Only the luckiest students get to milk Greta!
The bottom line is that It’s OK to be uncertain! I was still very uncertain (not to mention nervous) as we rounded the Wiscasset Airport on Chewonki Neck Road on opening day. My jitters were still there even as I unpacked. Committing to a semester school experience is scary and overwhelming. I’m so glad that I took the chance though, and you will be too!
Jessica, The Westminster Schools, Atlanta, GA