Binghamton University

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

On the brink

Today, with some other RAs, I hosted a pillow-making community builder—residents were invited to come to the Johnson Hall great room with t-shirts, cut up said t-shirts, and tie the pieces back together, this time with stuffing between them. This is what mine ended up looking like:


The Arista on the pillow is the name of an honor society, and the BS is for the name of my high school, Bronx Science. Four or five years ago, Arista was such a big deal to me, and Bronx Science was pretty much my life. I still think about Bronx Science a lot and I’m still friends with people I knew there (Christina, for instance), but it’s not a huge part of my day-to-day life anymore. Arista I hadn’t even thought of in months before finding the t-shirt in my drawer last week.

I’ve got under a month left at Binghamton. I’m excited. I’m scared. Most of all, I’m acutely aware that while I’m immersed in the world of Bing U right now, pretty soon and pretty suddenly, it will be behind me, the same way Bronx Science is. I’ve grown a lot thanks to various opportunities I’ve had in college, and I’m looking forward to taking that growth into the real world. But I’m also so happy with a lot of what I have here, and I’m anxious about leaving it. So for now, I’m trying to savor the things like stressing over my independent study, things like randomly reconnecting with two acquaintances while drinking bubble tea with a friend outside Lecture Hall at midnight, things like meeting up with people to make pillows out of t-shirts and being able to count that as work. Things that I’m sure I’ll miss terribly in a month, and that I’ll probably look back on with fondness in a few years, but that for my last few days at Binghamton I get to experience as simply a part of my everyday life.

Since this is college decision season, I want to remind any readers who didn’t get into Binghamton, or whatever their dream school was, that your lives are not actually over. I promise. Look, I got rejected from my top choices, and I ended up having an experience so beautiful, educational, enriching, and life-changing that I don’t even care about the fact that I might have been better off somewhere else because OMG PROFESSIONAL FICTION-CRAFTING HELP OMG BECOMING A BETTER PERSON  OMG AWESOME/RIDICULOUS COMMUNITY OMG CLASSY EVENING DOWNTOWN OMG UNDERSTANDING MY PLACE IN THE WORLD OMG CHOCOLATE. Right now, you’re immersed in the world of your high school, and maybe your parents or teachers are disappointed with your college plans, or you feel like you’re not measuring up to the kids around you, and honestly, I don’t know if that’ll ever exactly change. But soon, you’ll get immersed in the world of your new college, and that’ll be behind you, and if you keep seeking out opportunities, the things that matter will fall into place.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A personal note

So I was reading over my latest blog post, and it’s true—I am still thrilled that I studied abroad. Study abroad was a wonderful experience for me and it helped me grow so, so much, and because of that, I talk a lot about how awesome it is, especially on this blog.

At the same time, I know there are reasons to not study abroad. For instance, a lot of times parents are scared that their daughters, in particular, will be victims of crimes, especially sexual assaults, during their time abroad. Most kids I know who have studied abroad think that that’s a silly worry. I don’t, in part because it happened to me.

In the scheme of sexual assaults, mine definitely could have been much, much worse—I wasn’t physically hurt at all, and while I was emotionally messed up for the first day or two afterwards, I’m very fortunate to be able to say honestly that since then, I’ve been fine. But the truth is that when you study abroad you are at risk for sexual (and other) assault.

Are you at more risk than you would be on your home campus? This study, the only one I’ve been able to find after a decent amount of digging, says yes (though it’s not by a dramatic amount). Also, anecdotally, as I said before, the vast majority of study abroad participants I know, both from my program and from Binghamton, didn’t run into any such problems during their time abroad.

That aside, if assaulted in a foreign country, you may have very little support in place. When I was assaulted in Milan, all I really wanted/needed was to talk to someone, but I didn’t get along with the people in my program and hadn’t yet made friends with anyone outside it. Somewhere in the slew of papers I’d been given when accepted into the program, there was a list of medical contacts, but I had no idea where that paper was or even whether it included a therapist, let alone a therapist who spoke English and who would let me go in and vent for just one session—and even if all that worked out, the process of setting up an appointment and figuring out how to get there seemed daunting. Yes, my host school had a general contact person for all the foreign students, but I felt awkward telling her about it, assuming it was even appropriate to go to her for this (no one had ever really said what to do in case of a sexual assault, just precautions you should take to prevent it).

Since I’ve never been assaulted at Binghamton, I can’t say for sure what I would’ve done if I had been, but I think that the presence of friends and familiar resources (like Res Life staff and the Counseling Center) might have made it easier. (On a side note, remember I mentioned High Hopes’s plan to collaborate with Binghamton’s study abroad peer advisers? In part, that program is my attempt to fill in the gap for the next person. It’s stalling right now, but we’re hoping to have it in place by next semester.)

I don’t think it’s right to say that girls (or anyone else) shouldn’t study abroad due to the risk of sexual assault. To say that is to sort of ignore the risk of sexual assault that you will unfortunately encounter everywhere. It is also, in my opinion, to invalidate my experience—yes, obviously I wish I hadn’t been assaulted, but my overall experience of study abroad was fantastic, and I’m still thrilled that I went. On the other hand, while I was unlucky in that I was assaulted, I was lucky in terms of how not-severe it was. Someone with a worse situation (or someone who had a stronger response to a similar or less-severe situation, which would be 100% valid because people’s reactions are their own) might in fact regret having gone. And as I said above, going abroad may put you at a higher risk, and it may leave you with fewer resources than you would have at your home college. So, I also don’t think it’s right to just brush off the risk of sexual assault. For this reason and many others, the decision of whether or not to study abroad is very personal.

I decided to write this post because I was worried that although the way I normally portray study abroad accurately captures how much I loved my time in Italy, it might be contributing to a culture of silence about an issue of importance to me and I don’t know how many other people. I hope that this post will help you make a better-informed decision about study abroad (though again, yay you no matter what you decide). I also hope that, if you have been assaulted, you do what you need to do to take care of yourself. And if you, like me, decide to study abroad after all, I hope you get as much joy out of it as I did.

Sunday, March 30, 2014


Today I hosted a meeting for High Hopes on the topic of self-care. Self-care, which means anything you do to improve or maintain your state of well-being, is one of the biggest things I’ve learned during my college experience. For a good portion of my freshman year, I was a bit of a mess—I didn’t get enough sleep and didn’t eat properly, I took on more than I could handle, and my default response to stress was to get upset about being stressed. (Shockingly, it was not very effective.)

Fortunately, I have much better habits now. I have plenty of factors to thank for that, but I have to admit, institutional support isn’t really one of them. While Binghamton has mental health resources like the Counseling Center and Health Services, the idea of cultivating habits to take care of oneself is not part of the general discussion on campus, and I think that that should change. Fortunately, I have hope that the university’s administration shares that belief. The other day, at a meeting about the reorganization of the High Hopes hotline, one of the deans talked about how important it is for the student body to be taught effective coping mechanisms, and also about the university president’s desire to “turn down the volume” of the pressures affecting our students. My hope is that when we finally reopen, High Hopes will be able to spread the word about self-care so that it becomes a bigger part of our campus culture.

In the meantime, I am going to continue to practice self-care myself. Right now, that means not blogging again for at least a week. Mutant Mania, Dickinson’s annual gigantic inter-building competition began this morning, and it will end on Saturday night. I’ll tell you all about Mutant Mania when it’s over, but in the meantime, I want to throw myself into supporting Johnson Hall. An important aspect of self-care is not getting overly stressed, and this week for me that means cutting out any non-Mania non-essential activity. So, catch you guys later—and take care!

Thursday, January 23, 2014


On-campus residents have started to return for the spring semester, which officially begins on Monday. As an RA, I’ve been here since last weekend, and I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that only today did I finish cleaning up the mess I left before going home for winter break. After I finished cleaning, my building’s staff hung out together to eat pizza and other food provided by our Resident Director (because she’s awesome!).

I spent one semester of my sophomore year at Binghamton and the other semester studying abroad. Halfway through last year, I moved out of my on-campus apartment because I’d been hired as an RA. That means that this is the first time since my freshman year that I’m spending spring semester in the same place and with the same people as I spent fall semester. I like that I’ve had so many different experiences, but as I look around my newly-neat room and get ready to meet with part of my staff again in a few minutes to watch a movie, I feel really content with the continuity of my experience this year. I’m looking forward to getting back to old commitments and old friends. I’m looking forward to squeezing in some new experiences, too. Actually, I’m looking forward to everything. I’m anxious, of course, because this is my last semester, but keeping the general framework of my life the same as it was before the break is making me feel more comfortable.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

A Transfer Student Admissions Blogger…What?

My name is Stephon and I am a transfer student from Brooklyn, NY, double majoring in Political Science and History.

I ultimately want to become a lawyer, and then later on involve myself in politics.

I’m involved in all sorts of things on and off campus. On campus I’m a tour guide - which is loads of fun. I enjoy meeting new and prospective students and talking with them about Binghamton, college life, and everything in between. I’m also involved in student government, so I’m constantly trying to keep track of what happens both on and off campus. On the weekends, I play Co-Rec Football (an intramural football league in the residence communities in which the quarterback is a girl).

Outside of campus, I intern for the Red Cross International Humanitarian Law Action Campaign program, where I work with high school students to educate them on International Law and challenge them and others to be mindful of and engage with the world around them.

I LOVE Binghamton. Again, I’m a transfer student, so Binghamton was not my first “home”. It quickly became home however. Everyone here is so committed to helping one another succeed, the professors are great, and the University as a whole offers every student a legitimate opportunity to succeed, and —perhaps more importantly - learn and mold themselves into adults ready to change our world.

I’m very excited to be a blogger, and hope that I will be able to connect with you all and assist you in your college search. Hopefully in the process, you’ll see that Binghamton would be a great fit for you as well!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Lessons from the fishbowl

First-year experience courses are classes that pretty much teach you the same things you learn at orientation, but more in-depth (for instance, instead of just learning that there is a Multicultural Resource Center, for the class you might physically go and interview someone who works there). You don’t have to take a first-year course if you don’t want to, but they do help you fulfill some requirements and get settled at a new university. I took one when I was a freshman—HDev 115. Most of what we did was aimed at acquiring basic skills, like public speaking or citing things properly, or at helping us get to know aspects of Binghamton University, like its resources or its history.

Last week, I was part of a panel for one first-year experience course. It was weird. I mean, it was actually totally normal—I was talking about my experience getting an internship through the school, and I always like doing that. It just felt weird being one of the students on the panel instead of one of the students in the class.

I remember at least one of the students who sat on a similar panel back in my HDev class. She was the president of Dickinson Town Council and had done the Dickinson Leadership Certificate program as well. She was one of those people I didn’t know personally but did recognize, just like the supervisors at open houses or people I remembered as orientation advisors.

As I go about my business on campus these days, I constantly run into residents from my building this year, residents from my building last year, students who were in the ESL class I assisted with last year, and people who’ve come to me for study abroad peer advising. So, I am constantly thinking about something that’s drilled into the head of every RA during training: RAs live in a fishbowl. We are those people that other students might not know personally but do recognize, and when they see us around campus, they are likely to notice our behavior. Part of the idea of the fishbowl is that you’re setting an example. I don’t think anyone else exactly models their behavior on mine, though I try to be aware that someone might and to act with that in mind. The aspect of the fishbowl that I feel most acutely, though, is that I’m never 100% away from any of my leadership roles. If someone sees me or says hi to me between classes, the way I act is going to affect the way that person interacts with me in the future. If I smile and ask how someone’s day is going, they’ll be more likely to come to me if they have a problem in our res hall. If someone sees me roll my eyes at how slowly the line is moving in the dining hall, that person might not want to approach me with questions later when they see me manning a table for study abroad.

Some people have a deep natural awareness of all this, which is great. For me, I guess I needed to be in some leadership positions in order to learn how to cultivate an approachable image. This has definitely been a major aspect of my personal growth since coming to Binghamton, and it’s definitely one of the main benefits I’ve gotten from getting involved on campus. It was weird sitting on a panel for a first-year experience course last week because it made me think about the fact that to a new cohort of Binghamton students, I might be one of those older people they kind of notice around campus. Weirder still, as I think about how much I’ve changed over the past three years, the fact that I might be one of those people actually kind of makes sense.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Fall In Binghamton—It’s much more than just midterms

Hey all!

Today I was looking at my calendar and realized that it’s somehow already November and there’s a little over a month left in the semester. While the horizon holds inevitable finals week gloom the fall here has lasted pretty long bringing with it some awesome fall experiences that I wanted to share with you all. Fall in Binghamton is one of my favorite times, everyone is adjusted to his or her respective schedules, freshman finally understand how the whole college thing works, and people are back in the college mindset. Usually everyone has a pretty intense midterm week or two in October; however, this is typically followed by a nice week or two lull of relative ease. This means that students traditionally have a nice break to take advantage of all the activities that campus and the city have to offer. One of the best fall activities is Co-Rec Football and area-wide competitions. Every building has its own flag football team and we play against the other buildings in our community. In each living community there’s always a field day full of building competitions, in CIW we call ours “Woods Olympics” and it’s a great way to raise some building pride and get everyone pumped to be a part of such a great community, as well as create some fun rivalry between neighboring buildings. Downtown Binghamton has also had great activities going on. For the entire month of October a theater downtown screened weekly cult-classic horror films to get everyone in the Halloween mindset, culminating with one of my favorites- Rocky Horror Picture Show, where of course everyone showed up in crazy attire. Another really fun event is Homecoming Weekend. Sure, Binghamton might not be making any ESPN headlines lately but free D1 sports games are always fun. This year our soccer team had a shut-out win that was preceded by a filling tailgate party and afterward one of the bonfire pits on campus had a fire complete with make-your-own s’more kits and hot chocolate, they also gave out free Binghamton scarves so now everyone who went looks like Hogwarts students walking around in our striped scarves.I had the pleasure of speaking with one of the faculty masters ( I’ll write more about these guys later, but they’re one of the coolest parts of the Binghamton student-professor relationsip so check them out here and a couple alumni, one of whom was a student here back when it was Harpur College (pre-1965) so it was quite interesting to hear how things have changed since his time at Binghamton.

While these are all great ways to get involved, meet friends, and be active on and off campus, my absolute favorite part of Binghamton in the fall is something that allows me to get away from everyone. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending a vast majority of my day living and learning with my best friends, but every now and then being a college student can make you feel a bit claustrophobic. What’s Bing’s solution to this you might ask? Our 182 acre Nature Preserve located right on campus!

The Nature Preserve is undoubtedly one of the most unique aspects about our campus, seriously though, what other campus do you know of that has a couple hundred acres of ponds, waterfalls, trees to climb, deer, and seemingly endless miles of trails? Not many that I can think of! I unfortunately think the Nature Preserve is one of the most under utilized areas on campus, it’s absolutely gorgeous, and it’s such a nice reprieve from the daily grind, but I suppose it would be a lot less peaceful if it were packed with students. In addition to the calming silence and fresh air, there’s also no light pollution so I’ve gone up there in the early hours of the morning to check out meteor showers, our hilly campus gives us a great view of the surrounding area and an unobstructed view of the night sky.The Nature Preserve is equally awesome in winter and spring, but I tend to favor it in the spring as the changing leaves remind me of being home in NH. For all of you runners out there the Nature Preserve is amazing, I try to include a few miles in there on my daily runs so, if you’re coming to Binghamton regardless of the season take a walk around the Nature Preserve, maybe I’ll see you out there!



Binghamton University's Admissions Blog is written by current students for students considering, applying, transferring and enrolling. Here you will find real-life points of view and personal opinions about campus life, classes, faculty and more! The opinions expressed by the bloggers are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the university. So, if you want to read more about Binghamton University students, you've come to the right place.