Prank Wars and Pasta Dinners: A Q&A With Fall ’17

By Katrina Orthmann (University of Minnesota ’19), the student blogger for Fall 2017.  

What was the most rewarding or impactful experience you had on a field seminar?


One of the coolest experiences I had was aboard the [US Brig] Niagara and began with the Chief Mate asking if I wanted to climb aloft and help furl the fore-topgallant; I confused the topgallant with the topsail and responded with an enthusiastic “sure!” For those of you who don’t know, the topgallant is way higher than the topsail. I climbed up to the fighting top, looked to the topsail – where I thought I was going – and no one was there. So I looked a little higher… and there were Bosun Matt and my shipmate John. I climbed higher and higher until I reached the topgallant, laid out, and started furling. I was scared out of my mind but Matt distracted me from my anxiety by pointing out landmarks in Erie and the setting sun. I swore I could see Earth curving around us. Afterwards I climbed the long way down, shaking with adrenaline but longing to go back up. It was such a beautiful and powerful experience, seeing the boat below me, and all my shipmates seeming so tiny – chatting and laughing and happy. 


Every field seminar has generated moments of extraordinary emotion and intellectual stimulus. However, I found the most impactful location to be the Redwood Forest in California. After learning about so many problems and controversies on the field seminars, it was refreshing to visit a place so tranquil and soothing.



The most rewarding experience I’ve had as a part of Williams-Mystic was sailing aboard the Niagara. That field seminar brought to life so much I’ve learned about sailing and sailors, from the bond with your ship to the hard work and dedication of a crew. The night of the “All-Hands” call, when we were frantically hauling in sails in the middle of a squall, everything ended up fine because we took care of the ship and she took care of us. That’s not a lesson you can easily learn from a book.


Being on the field seminars helped open my eyes to the challenges and perspectives of people across the country. For example, in Louisiana, we met people who refused to let the loss of land keep them from leaving their homes.  It’s easy to question their decisions to stay given all the challenges they face, but when you meet them and hear their stories, you begin to understand their perspectives and the importance of fighting for their homes. The field seminars directly exposed us to issues we can sometimes be ignorant to; they have made me want to be more proactive, to educate others, and to join the fight to make this world a little bit better.

What has been the best house dinner you’ve had?



The best dinners are the ones we have with other houses. My favorite was the time we had wings, but I also enjoyed the salmon dinner we had the other night. Our group chat is always active with people asking for ingredients and inviting others over to eat. It is probably my favorite part of Mystic!


Johnston House has some pretty good dinners. My favorite so far has been when my housemate Kim made Dominican beans and I made honey mustard chicken.  We’ve also had some yummy enchiladas, pastas, risottos, and Asian-themed dinners.


On Family and Friends Day, Mallory hosted a pasta dinner with our families and people from other houses. Mallory’s dinners tend to be very social, and we have a tradition of going around the table and telling five-minute life stories. That night we went around the table and everyone told two-minute stories. It was really fun hearing the parents tell stories about our classmates when they were younger, and it was really nice to get to know everyone a little better in general.

Where is your favorite place to study?


I like to study at any of the numerous coffee shops in Mystic. While I love Bartleby’s, one of the baristas is so friendly and chatty that I sometimes can’t get much work done. My personal favorite is Sift Bake Shop; their pastries are so delicious it’s unreal. If one of Sift’s croissants or macarons can’t motivate me to write a paper, nothing can.


I like to study in Carlton [Marine Science Center]; there’s usually a bunch of us in there at any given time, which is kind of fun. Also there’s a coffee maker and a mini-fridge – what else could you ask for? The Savoy Bookshop in Westerly is another really cool place, but sometimes I spend more time looking at books than doing my homework.

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How do you spend your free time in Mystic?


Most of my free time is spent walking through the town. To call Mystic scenic doesn’t begin to do it justice. Mystic epitomizes the peaceful New England town and the idyllic setting makes going for a walk well worth it.


I was worried about being in such a small town since I go to school in New York City, but there’s so much to do here. In my free time I like to explore the town and find new restaurants, coffee shops, and bookstores. I’ve also tried to take advantage of the parks and river here while the weather is still warm.


I love to wander around the Mystic Seaport Museum in my spare time. The exhibits are not only fascinating and alive but the people who tend them are equally engaging and interesting. Making friends among the staff is fun. They’ve taught me a lot I would never have thought to ask in class. Plus, the more you learn the more you’ll want to stay, and who knows? You might become one of them someday. I also work at the shipyard any chance I get, helping to restore the Mayflower II as my student job. The shipwrights are extraordinary people and it feels great to be a part of the project.

What have been the best house-to-house pranks played so far?


This semester has seen a bit of a prank war develop between Mallory and Carr. It all started when we bragged in the group chat about the fried Oreos we made, so Carr house came and stole them. This spurred a full-on war between houses in which a tire swing and toaster were stolen, furniture was rearranged, and even our house’s portrait of P.R. Mallory was stolen. Not to worry though; Mallory House has big plans to avenge Mr. Mallory.


I think the best house prank we played was hiding Mr. Mallory’s portrait in our living room. He liked it there. The length and ingenuity of the prank served to reinforce our superiority in the forever-debated case of Carr House v. Mallory House. However, stealing Johnston’s sign (twice! They still haven’t noticed the second time…) and displaying it in Carlton was hilarious, as was the time we replaced Mallory’s toaster oven with the “Roller Toaster” matchbox car (get it? For Carr House?)


Is there anything you want to tell prospective students about Williams-Mystic?


This program is hard but it is so, so worth it. I’ve never had so much fun or experienced so much while traveling, and I’ve made such good friends. The workload is no joke, but the professors are always willing to help, as is everyone else. 



This semester I have made the most extraordinary friends – people with whom I can sail 1812 warships and play Avalon for hours in the New Orleans airport. 


This program will be one of the hardest things you ever do academically, but the things you’ll learn, the people you’ll meet, and the places you’ll visit will make the hard work worth it. Not to mention, you should take advantage of any opportunity given to you, from surfing to learning the Argentine Tango and anything in between.


Coming here will be the best decision of your life! You will learn so much and meet some really incredible people. Don’t you want to be a part of something this unique and special? You will become a part of this community for life.

“Just Killing Time Between Meals”: Month 1 at Williams-Mystic

0d6262a2cb6b4b54989ef2c3e1c0a727A note from the editor: This semester, we’re welcoming Natalie (Williams ’18) as our student blogger! Natalie originally comes from King of Prussia, PA, and is now a junior at Williams College majoring in sociology with a concentration in environmental studies. She wanted to be a marine biologist when she was 7 years old, so studying at Mystic is a dream come true. Below, her first entry.

It’s hard to believe we’ve been at Williams-Mystic for a month now. It somehow feels both like it’s flown by and like we’ve been here for much longer.

New England greeted our return from the Caribbean the only way it knows how—with a blizzard. After falling into bed at 3 am, exhausted from our time on the Cramer and a long day of travel, we woke up to a blanket of snow. As the chronically early riser in my house, I was the only one awake when Chris (Florida Atlantic University ‘19), enjoying his first snowfall, attacked our house and neighboring Carr with snowballs. We spent most of the day in recovery mode: we laid around, watched TV, took naps, and talked about how we probably should start our homework.

Later that night, once everyone was awake and (somewhat) well-rested, we gathered up cookie sheets, plastic bags, and trash can lids, and headed to the top of the hill by our houses to sled. Thankfully, some neighbors took pity on us and offered us real sleds. The night’s biggest discovery: foulie pants work as sleds. Our fun came to an abrupt end when a snow plow turned onto the street and came straight for us. We escaped and went back home to—you guessed it—lie around and drink hot chocolate.


Fast forward a few days, and it’s back to work. We had our first classes after the trip and found that it was much easier to understand The Tempest and especially William Falconer’s The Shipwreck after having actually sailed a ship. On Monday afternoon, it was a surprise when everyone showed up to the job selection meeting. Apparently we are all strapped for cash. We selected jobs ranging from shipyard assistant to ecology research and everything in between. I’ll be the “Williams-Mystic Operation Assistant,” which is a fancy term f or working in Labaree and writing occasional blog posts. Our next meeting introduced us to the skills available at the Seaport, and everyone frantically tried to narrow down their options. We agreed that the meeting made it harder to choose, not easier. In the end, everyone received either their first or second choice. I’m working on my sea chantey repertoire with Rachel (University of Vermont ‘20) and Emma (Stony Brook University ‘17). So far, we have mastered a few songs and two chords on the banjo. Baby steps.

fullsizerenderYou may be wondering about our living situation. In contrast with the boat, we live in houses with our own rooms, rather than small bunks off of the main salon. It was a relief to come home and sleep without being disturbed by someone’s dinner. So far, all is going well in Johnston House. Ellie (Yale ‘18) and I, two of the three vegetarians in our class, have persuaded Jason (McDaniel College ‘18) and Mackenzie to eat almost entirely meat-free dinners. Although our culinary skills wouldn’t impress the finest chefs, we’ve made some excellent dishes. Our favorite so far was a vegetable enchilada casserole, which is just as delicious as it sounds. Salsa, tortillas, beans, roasted vegetables—you get the picture. In fact, most of our dinners involve roasted vegetables. We’re getting pretty good at it. While we’d like to say our meals are the best, we happen to know we’re contending with a lot of excellent cooks. All of the houses have taken to sending pictures of their meals to a group chat.

Early on, one of our professors joked that Williams-Mystic is “just killing time between meals.” That’s only something of an exaggeration. On Valentine’s Day, we pooled our skills to meet at Carr House for a potluck dinner. Johnston pulled out all the stops and made pink pasta. My secret? Add a little food coloring to the cooked pasta. Disclaimer: it doesn’t work all that well. But the effort earned us praise. Carr made a delicious Caprese salad and boring non-pink pasta, while Mallory House brought fried rice and Albion House supplied dessert in the form of raspberry-filled cookies.

In addition to eating, we’re also doing our best to remember that this is in fact school. With science and policy research proposals due next week, we’ve all been frantically searching for topics while trying to stay on top of readings and write papers for history and literature. Maybe I should have started Moby Dick over winter break… Anyway, before we know it we’ll be off to the Pacific Northwest!

Making Friends (and also Cake)

Weird things happened with my email account this past week and so there is a delay in my posts. While I am currently living it up in Week 3 of the program I am going to flashback to the events of last week.

As I mentioned in my last post, I live in Albion House along with three other girls. There is Meghan (Smith ’18), Meaghan (UCONN ’19), and Meagan (Williams ’19). Totally kidding. Meagan is actually named Kristen, but she really is a sophomore at Williams College. They are great. Maybe I will feel differently about them in a week or two but so far I am happy to be in such a friendly and fairly clean house. To be fully honest, we do need to vacuum again. Four girls. Long hair. You get the picture.

Celeste and her horse, Cupcake (2016); Meaghan Rondeau; Crayon on paper



For those of you reading this who are not alums, students, faculty, or staff, and therefore might not know how the housing works for the program, I will explain. The students are divided into four or five houses that are owned by the Seaport. All the houses are together so we can walk to and from one another’s house with ease. We shop for groceries with our houses and in Albion we eat together most nights. Albion has also taken to coloring in pictures of Disney princesses after dinner. We assume that the students who were here last semester left these coloring pages behind. Our goal is to diversify Disney. The drawings are questionable, but the process has definitely bonded us.



Barbara leaving her Bat Mitzah (2016); Hannah Thomas; Crayon on paper

Every semester the students take four academic classes which are Maritime Literature, Marine Policy and Law, Maritime History, and then a science course. I am in Oceanography with about half of the students in the program while the other half is in Marine Ecology. In addition to the academic classes we also study a skill at the Seaport, mine is blacksmithing in the Ship Smith Shop. Additionally students are given the opportunity to work while in the program so I am working as the rigging loft assistant in the shipyard, while continuing to work my normal job in the interpretation department. Several students work on grounds, but others work as research assistants for professor or work in the offices. Some even write blog posts about the program.

So far all of the classes are pretty cool. I find Oceanography to be incredibly daunting as I am not much of a science student. My preferred science is political. Perhaps my reservations are rooted in the fact that my mother was my AP chemistry teacher in high school, and there were some road bumps.  That being said, all of the professors here are ridiculously nice and involved and so it is hard to dislike any subject. Not only do they teach our classes but they come with us on our field seminars and always seem to be happy to talk. Plus, at Williams-Mystic we get to do our own research projects, sail on a tall ship, and explore the local (and not local) history. I am trying not to geek out, but it is hard for me.

While I am not willing to say that I have a favorite class, I am comfortable admitting that my favorite tradition in the classroom takes place in Marine Policy and Law where, in an effort to break up the three hour seminar on Friday morning, we break at 10:30 for snack. Each week a house is assigned the task of bringing in a snack that is both delicious and relevant, meaning that we have to try to represent the cases we are discussing in that class, in food form. The assignments run alphabetically which means that my housemates and I were first. Our readings focused on public and private interests in coastal lands and waters. Naturally, we decided to make a sheet cake with a graham cracker house and a beach, clearly showing how private land extends to the high water mark. It was delicious. I am biased, but also, c’mon. Cake is cake.


Cake aside, all of the classes have been pretty interesting. I say “pretty” because I am trying to have a laissez-faire vibe and not come across as a nerd who really likes going to class. On the first day of our literature class we got to listen to a live performance of sea music. In each history class we meet on Seaport grounds first and listen to a student lead presentation on a museum artifact. And of course we are exploring the local coastline in our science labs. Even in the classes where snack is not mandatory (and awesome), we are doing truly exciting things.

Speaking of exciting, F’16 completed a Williams-Mystic first this past weekend. A group of four students accompanied the ecology professor and the former director of the program to Long Island. The purpose of their journey was to study the recent mussel die-off. I was working so I missed this adventure, but two of my housemates, Meaghan and Meghan, went and had a wonderful time. They got lost, but they also got to ride on the ferry boats (Meaghan really likes ferries (and fairies)) and Mike, the ecology professor, bought breakfast and lunch. All good things. Jokes aside, my housemates said that it was a very interesting experience and ultimately a lot of fun.

Several of us definitely also watched Pirates of the Caribbean this weekend because we care about maritime history and inaccurate portrayals of pirates. Piratical misrepresentations aside, this week’s movie quote/piece of inspiration comes from that film because it is great, and because I think it applies to college students… sort of:

“One word, love: curiosity. You long for freedom. You long to do what you want to do because you want it. To act on selfish impulse. You want to see what it’s like. One day you won’t be able to resist.” – Jack Sparrow

All in all we are off to a great start, or at least that’s what Hannah of Week 2 thought. DUN DUN DUN!!!!

Fall’16 begins!

Hi all! Mauro, Assistant Director of Admissions, here with a quick introduction: the Fall 2016 semester began on August 22nd, with our newest crew of 17 students coming from 12 different colleges and universities. Students very quickly “learned the ropes” (or “lines,” rather) of the WM way of life since day 2 of their semester started with boarding the Mystic Whaler for a short 2.5 day Block Island Sound excursion, which our newest blogger Hannah Thomas writes about below. Everyone welcome Hannah and let’s ready ourselves for another exciting semester full of adventures told from her point of view–take it away, Hannah!

Week 1

There is a certain level of anxiety and excitement that comes with the start of every semester. Freshman year the prospect of college was thrilling, and I remember that while the thought of moving nine hours away and meeting new people made me a little sweaty, the excitement of starting what many refer to as the best years of their lives won out.

After a year of transferring colleges, crippling anxiety and the fear inducing realization that the best years of my life might be further down the road, entering my sophomore year intimidated me. Much like my freshman year, it left a lot to be desired. Classes were interesting yet not as challenging as people promised they would be, my social life on campus was non-existent, and my only respite was the weekends when I got to work at Mystic Seaport which I cornily refer to as my “Happy Place.”

Having worked at the Seaport for three years I associate the tall ships and smell of codfish with physical activity and good people. I am my happiest and best self at the Seaport. Not only is the museum home to the last surviving wooden whaleship (huzzah!), but it also is home to perhaps the most concentrated group of hardworking, intelligent, and kind people I’ve ever encountered. Suffice to say, I love it, and I want to spend all of my time there. I am a huge nerd.

Rather than allowing me to worry away the summer thinking about another year at the same old institution, I was encouraged by my coworkers and mother to apply to Williams-Mystic so that I could go to school, have incredible life experiences, and be happy all at the same time. For the first time in years, the start of a semester brought with it a sense of hope and excitement that I thought I had lost somewhere during my freshman year.

Orientation began like many do. We, the students, spent the first day moving into our assigned houses. I was fortunate enough to be placed in Albion which is perhaps the cleanest and definitely the greenest (in color) of the houses. I have a double and I still have more room than I do in my single at my home institution. Granted there is variety between houses, but honestly I think most people are pretty content with the living situation. I digress. After move-in we congregated on Seaport grounds for a brief introduction to the program and faculty and then we were fed – which obviously was great.

Following a fairly typical, albeit, enjoyable first dinner as a group, we returned to our houses to prepare for the next day’s far more unusual orientation activity. Maybe I have been oriented to schools one too many times, but the icebreakers, course selections, and awkward game nights have grown old. Fortunately for me, by day two we had set sail on the Mystic Whaler and were headed for Block Island. A quick disclaimer: the Mystic Whaler is not from Mystic, nor is it a whaleship, but it is still cool and was a lot of fun to sail on. As I mentioned previously, I work at Mystic Seaport. I am fairly familiar with sailboats and quite familiar with the area, but that did not mean that the Whaler was in anyway boring or unsatisfying. It was cool. Really cool. Again, this may sound nerdy, but keep in mind, there were no icebreakers. There was just a boat, a crew, our delightful faculty, and a group of seventeen college students who turned out to be far less nerdy than I had been picturing.

I do not want to assume things, but I feel like it is safe to say that an orientation that involves sailing on a schooner and throwing pancakes at the men who work the Mystic drawbridge is unique to Williams-Mystic. Unique, quirky, and fun. Somewhere along the line, and I am sorry that I do not remember the specifics, the crew of the Whaler made it their goal to serve the bridge controller breakfast every time they went by. I think he used to come over for breakfast when he was not working, or something like that. Regardless of the reasoning, the tradition has held fast, and as we motored down the river – sailing came later, fear not – seventeen bright students put their minds to the age old question of how to best throw a pancake at a drawbridge. Several of us opted for the Frisbee method, and while we tried our hardest, I think only one pancake, thrown by the captain himself, landed in the huge net that the bridge controller held out the window. Perhaps a lesson for this man to eat breakfast before he goes to work, rather than relying on the goodwill of a local schooner and her crew. It should be noted here that I am not athletic and therefore was not even close to getting my pancake in the net, but nobody made fun of me, which left me feeling like this group of people might be all right.

For two days, we sailed around Block Island Sound. We learned how to tack the boat which was very cool and far simpler than anything I have encountered on the square-rig vessels I am more familiar with (brag). While a lot of the focus was on sailing the Whaler, we also got an introduction to some of the material and people we would be working with. I could go into detail and probably say something science-y embarrassingly incorrectly, but instead I will just say that learning about the environmental issues in a body of water or region seem a lot more relevant when you are actually sailing on said body of water instead of when simply sitting in a classroom.

Many of us opted to sleep on deck at night, and some of us were even foolish enough to sleep on deck both nights. I say foolish not because it was really bad-it was just so cold. I usually pride myself on my preparedness but I do not think I could have been fully comfortable up on deck at night unless I had some twenty odd blankets and fleece footie pajamas. However, the romanticism of sleeping under the stars and staring up at masts won out for me – and many others – and so we slept on deck. And while I shivered under three thick wool blankets, it was a pretty memorable experience and definitely beat sleeping in a dorm room with cockroaches (which is what I have grown accustomed to).

After two full days of sailing we returned to our lovely campus, Mystic Seaport, and began to prepare more seriously for the semester ahead. Back at home we had communal living to explore, classes to start, and jobs and skills to select: all things I will happily cover in the days and weeks to come. In the meantime I have Oceanography homework to do and a Marine Policy snack to prepare. However, I would like to end each post with a final piece of wisdom from a movie about the sea.  When someone asks where you are sailing to, respond à la Jim Hawkins in the 1996 hit movie “Muppet Treasure Island,” and simply say “Wherever the wind may take us!” I am not saying this happened on the Mystic Whaler, but dang, wouldn’t it have been cool if it had?

Fantastic & Scholastic

Dear Prospective Student,

We have but two days left in the Williams-Mystic Spring 2016 semester. I hope that you have enjoyed reading about all our adventures at sea, on the road and in the kitchen.

Seeing the previous entries and vibrant photos, one could get the notion that Williams-Mystic is all about traveling and eating. I feel it incumbent upon me to emphasize that while those two activities do play a beautiful and vital role in the semester, there is something else Williams-Mystic students do a fair bit of…

We study! Earlier on the blog, I mentioned writing the research proposals and designing final projects… Well, last week was the culmination of our research efforts: in total, I submitted around 64 pages. (Please don’t let that number intimidate you; we’ve been working on those papers for several weeks, so last week was mostly putting on the finishing touches!). Throughout the semester, professors encourage (and often require) students to submit proposals, drafts and check-ins along the way to ensure that these research projects are a thoughtful and fruitful endeavor.

In addition to writing the research papers, we take exams (of the “show-what-you-know” variety, not the “gotcha!” kind). I emerged this morning from the last exam with the nerdiest of ailments: a sore and cramped hand. From all the typing and gripping my pencil too tight, my right hand was strained from the effort. I think I will soon recover fully, though it might require another visit to Drawbridge ice cream before the week is out.

The Williams-Mystic semester is interdisciplinary, fun, full…and rigorous. The professors expect a lot of students. The readings, assignments, in-class exercises and final papers add up to a significant amount of engaging and meaningful work. When I was looking into study away programs, I was anxious about leaving the small classes sizes, stimulating discussions and challenging workload of my liberal arts college for the larger classes and sometimes impersonal academic experience of some international institutions. Williams-Mystic offers a unique field component, attentive faculty and rigorous academics.

Here it is fresh—the unsolicited advice you will ignore until you are busy typing and reading and feeling stressed (but never overwhelmed) in the last weeks of the semester. The following may be my first attempt at the internet classic “listicle,” provided in no particular order:

  1. Meet early and often with your professors about drafts. They are eager and equipped to provide thoughtful feedback at any stage.
  2. Start your policy interviews early…start contacting a variety of potential stakeholders several weeks before the deadline.
  3. Same goes for science research…collect more data than you think you will need.
  4. Thank your professors and classmates for their support and patience along the way.
  5. Take time to bake cookies. Johnston house made sure to have homemade dough on hand for a quick snack in the evening to fuel all the work…
  6. Finish your independent book for Literature of the Sea well before the paper deadline so that you have plenty of time to dive into analysis.
  7. Leave time to enjoy the Seaport. It’s a real treat in the Spring semester to watch the blossoming of trees and the bustling of visitors.
  8. Coordinate your history research with the available hours at the Collections and Research Center. The research support staff are incredibly knowledgeable and can help you identify the resources you need. They generously make available special hours for W-M students, but plan ahead so you can accumulate all those trusty primary sources.
  9. Don’t forget to do laundry. Some people (not me, of course) forget until they have but one pair of clean underwear. Again, this never happened to me…
  10. Enjoy the company of your peers and the staff and faculty.
  11. Organize notes and handouts throughout the semester so that reviewing for exams is not a game of hide and seek.
  12. Visit Drawbridge Ice Cream (no, they are not paying me to plug them in the blog, but I figure if I do it enough, they might just start)


Yours truly,
An exhausted and preemptively nostalgic Spring ‘16 student

What’s Cookin’, Good Lookin’?

One of the integral components of the Williams-Mystic semester is cooperative living. Students live, laugh and COOK with peers. The admissions team arranges students into houses based on a comprehensive survey, which addresses dietary preferences, sleep patterns and personalities. I live in an all vegetarian house and relish to the opportunity to expand my cooking repertoire.

Each house comes with a fully equipped kitchen with all necessary appliances, dishes, silverware and maybe even some spices. If you can’t find the baking pan with the right dimensions, ask another house!

Every week, each house receives a grocery stipend. Then we all make the pilgrimage to the local store for the weekly shop. Each house has a different strategy: some opting for the divide & conquer while others move methodically through the aisles. Some houses go armed with lists, while others take a more organic approach.

At the check-out. This is a weekly haul for Johnston House (the vegetarians)…If you have time, play a quick game of “I Spy.” Can you spot the 3 bunches of bananas, 2 cauliflower, 3 bags of spinach…?


Please peruse the gallery of food photos below to get a sense of what’s cooking at Williams-Mystic in a typical week.

For the parents and guardians at home who may be worried that their charges are not getting enough nutritious food, I hope that these photos dispel any anxiety.

For prospective students, you may well find the food you end up eating during your Williams-Mystic semester is better than what’s being served in your cafeteria!

Erica (Williams ’18) made her world famous enchilada casserole and a delicious kale salad (with avocado, cucumber, granny smith apple, slivered almonds topped with an olive oil & oregano dressing)


Mallory House looks eager for their feast of Italian flank steak pinwheels with garlic, feta, spinach and mozzarella lovingly prepared by Kenny and baked asparagus and zucchini by Thomas.


Marlo (Smith ’17) prepared a delightful spread of salmon, asparagus and potatoes. Yum!
Albion House shared this photo documenting their very first house dinner….”Taco Tuesday” has since become a tradition!


Sarah (Middlebury ’17) hard at work in the kitchen preparing her scrumptious noodleless lasagna. As she tends to a flavorful tomato sauce, a mosaic of squash and zucchini just waits become part of the dish!
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Thomas (San Francisco State ’15) cooking up something delectable!


Sophie and Virginia created quite a spread refreshments for “Moby on the Morgan.” The menu included: Cheesy pesto pull-apart bread, angel food cake, sliced strawberries…and of course a watermelon carved like a whale!
Brinner! Rachel (Wesleyan ’17) prepared homemade buttermilk pancakes and hash-browns, sizzled some fake bacon and sliced strawberries & bananas for this meal. #nofilter


Grillmaster Kenny (SUNY-Maritime).


The votes are in: the Williams-Mystic cooperative living and dining arrangement is a recipe for success!


Read this if Moot Court Appeals to You

May it please the court: my name is Rachel Earnhardt and I am here to represent the Williams-Mystic program. I urge the court to declare Williams-Mystic is the best maritime studies program in these great United States of America. If I may begin with the immortal words of the Constitution…

Oh gee whiz, apologies for the formality! This past week we have all grown accustomed to speaking in court-appropriate language for our Moot Court proceedings. I won’t reveal the details of our case for the sake of prospective students, but I can say that we spent the week engaging with issues of public beach access and private property rights.

Marine Policy expert Katy Hall had divided the Spring ’16 class into two opposing teams, and encouraged us to meet early and often with our groups to craft our arguments. For many, the conception process for the argument included: writing, sharing, changing, practicing, changing, editing and then adjusting one more time.  This week held many long nights preparing for the courtroom proceedings, at times with legal guidance provided by Counselors Katy Hall and Brian Wagner. Truly the whole week was an exercise in collaboration, adaptability and endurance.

On Friday morning we gathered in the lounge to look at muffins we were too nervous to eat. Dressed for success, we milled about quietly. Some of us slipped out to practice our talking points in front of the bathroom mirror one last time, but finally we all filed into the courtroom (well, it was the science classroom…let’s just pretend). Draped in a black robe, Judge Derek Langhauser (W-M Fall ‘82) entered a few moments later. And thus it began.

What do lawyers wear to court? … Lawsuits, of course!

With sweaty palms, we each took a turn at the podium to present the case we had so meticulously prepared. This was not a chance to simply recite a speech, rather we had to be versatile and respond to numerous interruptions and questions from the judge. Soon it became clear that the anxiety, which had weighed so heavily in the room early on, was not necessary. The hours of practice and late nights had equipped all of us for the courtroom. (Secretly, I hoped someone would be bold enough to break out into a rap from the Hamilton soundtrack to help make her or his case.)

Even though the class had been split into two factions, I could feel nothing but proud of all my shipmates for presenting their arguments so persuasively and maneuvering so well to answer questions. I won’t spotlight any performance in particular because even though we each spoke individually, it was a team effort. The moot court exercise is not meant to encourage us to become lawyers, but rather aims to equip us each with the skills and confidence to argue any case effectively. As Judge Langhauser emphasized, the case we argued is a microcosm for discussing and weighing different values and rights, and informs conversations about a variety of contemporary legal issues.

Had someone stopped by the Carlton lounge any night last week, it may have seemed that we all lived and breathed Moot Court…but life went on here in Mystic. We are getting into the rhythm of classes and skills and jobs. Beyond the routine, we have also appreciated several field trips. In the last two weeks, lab excursions have taken us to explore nearby marshes, beaches and tide pools.

On a coastal bus tour, we enjoyed learning about the historical, geological and biological identities of local landmarks from Glenn, Lisa and Mike. While flying to field seminars in the Caribbean, West Coast and Gulf Coast may steal the thunder, I am inspired by all the places we can visit with a short van ride. Mystic Seaport, the town of Mystic and the surrounding area are proving to an incredibly unique and engaging classroom.

This upcoming week we will be turning in research proposals for marine policy and oceanography or marine ecology. All four of the Williams-Mystic courses invite students to conduct original research throughout the semester as part of the culminating project. The emphasis on original research is a hallmark of the program and students are encouraged to make use all the resources available here in the Seaport and Mystic area.

It is always a treat to see the moment of epiphany as someone finds the idea for a research project. Whether working with mussels or GIS software or microplastics, my peers are gearing up to conduct some fascinating science research. In the coming weeks, I am looking forward to hearing about a wide variety of project ideas for all the different courses.

Right now, we are preparing for the Pacific Northwest field seminar at the end of the week. Please do check back soon for updates from the West Coast!