Two days traveling, up at 5:45am and still nearly missed 8am flight the first day, about as close as I've ever cut it...somewhere, about 20 minutes disappeared and we were later than I meant to be. Flights to and from were among the least enjoyable I've had in a while (flying isn't something I look forward to anyway, and these were smaller, full airplanes, even on the LA-DC leg), marked by lots of turbulence on the return.
The three days actually there included:
Catching D after orchestra rehearsal Thursday night.
While D was in class Friday, I stopped by College Hall to take care of a billing problem (Smith had refunded an amount they shouldn't have) and then rean an intercept to meet one of D's favorite profs at the end of a class...it turns out that she had told D she wanted to meet us. We then took a drive up to Mt. Tom as far as the road was open, spending time at a scenic turnout up the road, and then embarked upon a meandering drive back to Smith via Easthampton, where I stopped to check on real estate prices in the area.
Sitting in on D's private musical instrument lesson. I thoroughly enjoyed her instructor.
Friday afternoon tea at D's house; met some other parents, including a pair of Americans who live in France just across the border from Geneva and whose D attended a French school with an American layer added.
Taking three of D's housemates with us to dinner at Osaka on Friday night. Three very bright and interesting young ladies, one of which I have to follow up on for research for a story. Went to Herrell's for ice cream after.
One of the things that D misses most while attending Smith is the ability to take a bath in lieu of a shower...one of her classmates said enviously "You suck" when D said she was coming to our room for that purpose.
Saturday morning TheMom and D did some light shopping in NoHo while I first stayed in line for brunch at Sylvesters and then did some shopping of my own, including getting some gift certificates for D for Herrell's. Near as I can tell, the major focus of D was the yarn shop for her crochet projects. (The Astronomy class moves so slowly for her that she often either crochets or reads for her Lit class...occupational hazard of being a senior Math major in an intro science class.)
We then did a quick foray down to the Springfield Armory, the only National Park Service facility in Western Massachusetts. Tour was interesting enough for me, less so for D & TheMom (though not boring) but it's not on my "do it again" list, unlike, say, visiting Gettysburg.
Late Saturday afternoon church service at the Helen Hills Hills chapel...I wish they'd rename the Berkshires the Helen Hills and then we could have lots of fun. Dashed to a quick dinner at Viva Fresh Pasta, one of D's favorites. I prefer Spoleto's (next trip!) but frankly it was pretty darned good...the chicken gorgonzola dish was great...and it's closer to something a student can afford on a splurge.
Followed by the Montage concert at JMG. Much better than the one D's first year, though the groups were very uneven. I think hand bell choirs must be a New England thing. I thought the larger vocal groups and the orchestra in particular were pretty good.
Sunday Brunch at the Northampton Hotel followed by a walk in the woods with a former Smith admissions officer who has been doing college counseling for the past several years and was one of the two early external inputs that moved Smith higher up D's list. TheMom and I then wandered around campus for an hour or so while D met with a classmate about a stats project they're working on. We then drove over to Hadley (near Amherst) to spend a few hours with some relatives of mind. We had an early dinner at the India House and then we all watched much of the Red Sox game on TV, finally walking D from the Autumn Inn to her house on Green St. and then back again...TheMom and I caught the end of the game.
Monday morning was a quick swing by D's house for a last goodbye before heading to the airport.
It was sad to leave her, sad to leave New England, but TheMom and I are absolutely convinced that she's where she needs to be and that she's hit a kind of cosmic jackpot by attending Smith. I'd say more about her classes but I'm not sure that I can file enough serial numbers off.
TD, and other parents of seniors, did you feel nostalgic at all? Have the last four years flown by? I mean, i bet you can remember the first time you and your D visited the campus. Has she grown up in unexpected ways, explored paths you never dreamt of for her, or do you get the impression that Smith just added to what was already there? Ok, it's late and I'm tired and this is a lousy metaphore, but if Smith were a gardener, would it be a landscape gardener, a botanist, or the old-fashioned "nature-knows-best" kind?
Sorry LiT, I'm neither a senior parent non a gardener.
Since D has been in the area at BS for 4 years (and we spend the summer nearby), we didn't "do" Parents' Wknd as much as other first-year parents. We arrived Saturday noon to watch D play Rugby - - WOW!! D and her first-year friends were adorable. We went out for dinner (Thai place on Main Street) w/ D, her BS roommate (also at Smith) and the roommate's family. D returned w/ us to hotel for a quick swim, late night tv watching and pampering (still bruised from her game). In the morning, we had a quick b'fast at the hotel, hit Mt. Tom and dropped D and roommate back at the dorm for some studying.
This was our first trip to Noho w/o hositng D's BF (w/ whom she very recently parted company). Also, our first trip w/o visiting the Holyoke Mall (and that saved me a bundle).
We will have to try Viva Fresh Pasta (I prefer Fitzwilly's to Spoletto; D loves Packards).
nyc, you will notice in my account that we, too, missed the Holyoke Mall.
But I felt very good hosting some unattached Smithies to dinner, though one had her mom getting into Bradley at midnight(!).
I'd recommend the brunch at Hotel Northampton any time. N.B., the Autumn Inn is a bit on the rustic side in comparison but I prefer both the rates and the location for the stay. Fitzwilly's vs. Spoletto...the kind of question that makes for horse races; I think Spoletto has the best wine, fwiw. Btw, what is not at all clear about Viva Fresh from the outside is that they have a good sized downstairs dining room, not just what you see in the window. The Thai place on Main down near the bridge is one of D's favorite off-campus spots to eat.
LiT, I'm almost overwhelmed by nostalgia. The time at Smith has made high school seem half-speed in comparison. There have certainly been unexpected directions of growth for D at Smith and if she had it to do over again she would have taken slightly different classes first year, ruthlessly eliminating Latin and the possible Classics major that seemed possibly appealing at the time. Back then, she tore apart her whole schedule just to accommodate the possibility after a Dean told her it was "first year or never" for the Latin. At a guess, she'd have a couple of more Econ courses.
I'm not much of a gardener either...if I say "Hi!" to plant it most likely will start turning brown around the edges. But I think it may be a blend: students chart their own courses but the advising, to me, has seemed staggeringly good, with the exception of the fellowship coordinator. They have waved D past course prerequisites at least three times now and their specific recommendations have always made great sense. And it's kinda cute when two departments or two profs start fighting over her...makes her feel wanted, know what I mean?
She's developed a lot, as one would expect, outside of the classroom as much as in. For lack of a better word, she's much more surefooted now and catches tone and nuance pretty well. (Though sometimes discerning criticism in a fatherly comment where none was intended.) I expect that she's made several lifelong friends at Smith. The one downside of going abroad is that you have a lot of people, those outside your own class, for only one year.
Being up in the air regarding post-undergraduate plans is more stressful than the college application/choice period was four years ago...a sobering thought.
Smith has been outstanding to her academically but possibly even better outside of the academics.
A classmate and I stayed at the Autum Inn in Sept. I loved its proximity to D's "center campus" dorm (even closer to the Quad). My classmate, however, complained bitterly about the absence of a bar (last time we stayed at the Clarion, which I never do when traveling w/ the kids - - for some reason they find it frightening and have nicknamed it hotel hell).
Umm, I'd have said, "Classmate, let's walk 5 minutes and get a drink." Having a bar in the hotel would never occur to me as a criterion and I do drink.
We had to stay at the Clarion once too. Bleah. But we were lucky to get a room even there, for we were overlapping with graduation on coming back from NYC (the city, not the poster) after the Smith Orchestra concert at Carnegie Hall.
My daughter is a sophmore so I've been to Northampton a few times, but I never got to see Emily Dickenson's house before this trip. Daughter is taking a class at Amherst so we drove her there on Friday and did a tour in the afternoon. Daughter rolled her eyes a few times at the overly enthusiastic tour guide, but I really enjoyed it. On Saturday, we visited Shelburne Falls to see the flower bridge and the potholes. I highly recommend them. I love Haymarket for breakfast or lunch. We also ate at Circa and the Tibetan restaurant, both of which were good. Daughter was as happy to see us as we were her, and she did take a couple showers at our hotel. We stayed at the Hotel Northampton, which is nice, but very busy with weddings. Once when we got off the elevator we could hardly get though the lobby it was so crowded with a wedding reception going on. I love Northampton and am jealous that my daughter gets to live there!
TD, I know that this isn't what this thread is about, but it's funny that you mention the fellowship coordinator. More than one friend and several acquaintances are currently having problems with him. He has a nasty habit of making Smithies cry. :-(
None of the girls want to complain though because they're afraid that it could hurt their chances for a fellowship.
Laurel, interesting to have the collaboration. He didn't make her cry but, if her accounts were accurate, he was completely unreasonable and full of it and she decided she didn't need the bullcrap on top of the huge amount of time the process was soaking up. I'd characterize him as arbitrary and probably petty, based on her comments. She said that about one-third of the Fulbright candidates had dropped out.
Bummed me out, because Smith has a good record there. But D rationalized that getting a project approved for the UK, where the odds are ridiculous to begin with anyway, in a field not either of her undergrad majors, was slim in any event. I sure hope she comes up with some funding elsewhere. This is probably the one and only incident where I think Smith has let her down.