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By Eric Weld   Date: 1/23/09

A Different Slice of Smith Life

It’s nearly over now, but for students who stayed at Smith during the January Interterm, it was the most relaxing time of the year.

Smith's January residents:

Chika Okase ’09

Ayla Qais ’11

Caitlin Spence ’11

Elise Ratchford ’09

Smith’s January residents see a whole new side of their college, they comment. Many miss their families back home and their friends who are not around, but treasure the relatively quiet month on campus between fall and spring semesters.

“It’s like seeing a different perspective of the college,” says Chika Okase ’09, head resident of Northrop House, who returned to campus from her home in Lakewood, New Jersey, early this month as part of her job. “Students who stay here in January have more free time. You get to talk with others. It’s a good opportunity to get to know each other. And,” she adds, “I get to sleep in—lunch becomes my breakfast.”

“Being at Smith in January gives me the chance to experience Smith at my own pace,” says Ayla Qais ’11, who is from Bangladesh. “It’s a good way to unwind from a hectic semester and get prepared to face the challenges of the coming one.”

It’s impossible to say how many students live at Smith during the Interterm, notes Rebecca Shaw, director of residence life, because they are free to come and go from the houses. Meals are furnished and their rooms are available through the month as part of their board fees.

Students return to Smith in January for several reasons, says Shaw. Some take J-term courses, some do research, some work and some are student athletes.

Caitlin Spence ’11, a member of Smith’s rugby team, stuck around this January to train in anticipation of the season opening in April. “I enjoy the quiet atmosphere on campus,” she says. “It’s really nice not to have work to do all the time.”

Spence, who lives in Lamont House, said there were about a dozen residents living there during Interterm, some of whom left for short periods. Both her roommates also came back for January and they and other Lamont residents watched movies together and took advantage of the free time to explore Northampton. “I went to Diva’s [a Northampton dance club] for the first time the other night,” she says.

Elise Ratchford ’09, also of Lamont House, stayed at Smith this month to take an Interterm course in applied exercise science. “It’s my favorite time to be at Smith,” says Ratchford, who has lived at Smith every January since her first year. “You can get some alone time, and people are very relaxed at J-term.”

Those who live on campus in January say they will miss the mellow side of Smith when classes begin next week. 

“J-term has been nice,” says Okase. “Next week it’ll be back to the stress of coursework, responsibilities and obligations.”


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