Zen & the Art of Sanity Maintenance at Mystic

The number of days left at Williams-Mystic is in the single digits. Papers have been written, sleep has been lost, moms have been called, and many coffees have been consumed. I feel like I say this every post, but I cannot believe how quickly time has flown by. In Weeks 13-17, it is easy to get so wrapped up in your work that you forget to appreciate how gorgeous Mystic is in spring, and everything this place has to offer.
My advice to future Williams-Mystic Sea Cows:
-Take a day to enjoy the Seaport as a visitor. We spend so much time in the Seaport for classes and skills that sometimes, you can forget to really enjoy the place. Bring a frisbee or a book to the green, eat at the Galley, take a water tour on the Liberty, and watch Mark play the accordion while he sings chanties.
-There’s so much good food around here! My biggest mistake may also be the amount of money I spent on food this semester…Kitchen Little brunches, Zhang’s on a snow day, and Five Guys lunches with friends were a lot of happy moments.
-Hang out with each other! Once you get all wrapped up in your work, it’s easy to isolate yourself in your room, or with your housemates. Invite other houses over for dinner, have picnics and barbecues, and go to the beach together. One of my favorite Williams-Mystic memories will be a Friday afternoon cookout, full of games, laughter, and great food (I really like food, okay?). Also, get to know everyone. People are people, so sometimes you may not agree or have everything in common. However, I have had meaningful, positive interactions with every single person in my program, and I think I’m all the better for it. There are so many people who will surprise you, and your next best friend just might be from Mystic.
-Talk to your professors & staff. Even though I attend a liberal arts college which I chose in part because of the close relationships I could form with the faculty, the amount of time you will spend with your professors and staff here is unparalleled. You will spend time with them in six-hour van rides, at cajun dance halls, at the beach, and onboard the Corwith Cramer. They are entertaining, supportive, and you can call them by their first names because they’re just so cool. Once you’re back from field seminars, it can be easy to only think of them as “Professors” and “Administrators” again, but maintain the field seminar spirit. Drop by just to say hi, tell them something interesting, vent to them about a problem, look for advice, or invite them to a house dinner. They want nothing more than to help you get the most out of Williams-Mystic.
-Don’t forget everyone back home or at school! It’s also pretty easy to be so wrapped up in the Mystic experience that you forget about the world that exists beyond here. However, it’s also important to maintain existing relationships. Your might need a non-Mystic friend to listen to what you’re going through, or you just need to hear a joke from your roommate at school to get you through a paper. That’s okay! Also, please call your family every once in a while. After the Cramer, they’ll have already gone nearly 10 days without hearing from you.
-Don’t be afraid to put the books down. Doing well in school might be a huge priority for you, but some of the best moments I’ve had at Mystic happened after I closed a book or decided to finish an assignment later on so I could go on an unexpected adventure. Some Sundays are so beautiful that it would be a shame if you didn’t spend it sailing, kayaking, or taking a bike ride. Some of my favorite nights here have been mid-week birthday parties.
-Explore! If you have a car or car access, also get to know the surrounding area. Waterford is great for shopping and offers a different variety of restaurants. Providence is a great city with a ton to offer. Boston and New York are close enough for an overnight or weekend visit. Visit Naragansett or Newport Beach in Rhode Island. Have dinner with your housemate at their home. There is more to Williams-Mystic than…well, Mystic.
-Take it easy. Your life can change while you’re at Mystic, some ways beyond your control, some not. There may be applications, jobs, and internships to think about while you’re here, and you may spend a lot of time preoccupied with stresses beyond your control. Get a pedicure at the nail salon next to the Wokery. Go to the Crystal Mall and sit in the massage chairs at Brookstone. Get froyo with your friends. Sing karaoke or go contra dancing. Or have a Game of Thrones watching party. It’s okay to not be “ON” all the time, and we’re all going through the same things. Sometimes you just need a day off. Do what you have to do to recharge and get re-energized.
-Understand you can’t do it ALL! There is simply not enough time in the world to take advantage of all the opportunities that come your way. I wish I could hike, learn to surf, and eat pastries at the same time, but you’re just one person. Do what you can in the time you have, and add the rest to your bucket list!
Other advice: have a chore chart. Pack, randomly separate half the stuff you’ve packed, and that’s about what you’ll actually use while here. Do fun house events! I won radio tickets to see the Harlem Globetrotters this semester, and while at 20, we were pretty much the oldest non-parents there, we had a great time. Get up early to shower first. Write goofy notes on your housemates’ doors. Let go of your anxieties and apprehensions about what your semester away is supposed to look like or what should happen. You are going to have the time of your life if you allow yourself.

Author: williamsmystic

A one semester interdisciplinary ocean and coastal studies program integrating marine science, maritime history, environmental policy, and literature of the sea.

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