Jacob Frankel, ’13, has completed his first trimester at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. He has yet to declare his major.
Q: What classes have you taken, and which do you like the best?
A: I took Geology in the Field, Spanish 204, Facts and Fairy Tales: Introduction to Russian Culture and Society and a P.E. class called Swing Dance. My Facts and Fairy Tales: Introduction to Russian Culture and Society was kind of a combination of Russian literature and history. It covered a lot of time periods starting with ancient Russian fairy tales and ending with us reading the autobiography of Vladimir Putin and kind of discussing the history of Russia through its literature.
Q: What led you to take that class?
A: I really wanted to take Russian 101, but because of my geology class, which had a huge lab time period, it didn’t fit in my schedule. So I took Spanish for my language, and I still wanted to do a little bit of Russian studies, even if it didn’t include the language. And this was a non-language Russian studies class.
Q: How’s your dorm?
A: I am in a notoriously ugly dorm, but I still really like it. Most of the dorms on the campus I think are really nice. The one I’m in is very ugly. It’s based off of plans for a 1970’s hospital, so it’s a bunch of white tile walls. But it’s fun because you can draw on the walls with markers, and I really like the people in my dorm.
Q: What’s the food like?
A: I really loved the food when I got there. But I think the truth is you can get bored of anything if you eat it long enough. It’s a lot of different options, but they’re all really the same ingredients if you take them apart.
Q: Since you’re up in Minnesota, what’s the weather like?
A: It’s very cold. I’ve been on winter break since Thanksgiving, so I’m missing the true heart of the winter. But there were definitely days it never got above 9 degrees, and allegedly, it will get much, much colder this next term. It’s a lot of open, sunny cold—no clouds, just barren sky.
Q: Has there been snow?
A: There’s been a little bit of snow. Though I hope there’s a lot of snow because I’m on the cross-country ski team. I will need snow in the winter.
Q: On that note, are you participating in any extracurriculars? Any Greek life?
A: Yeah, a bunch. I joined a Carleton ping-pong team and the cross-country ski team and the alpine ski team and the mushroom club. There’s no Greek life at Carleton.
Q: The mushroom club?
A: It’s like a mushroom scavenging club. We meet every once in a while and go looking for mushrooms in the forest.
Q: What is the town surrounding your school like?
A: Northfield is very small, but quaint. As far as nightlife goes, it’s nonexistent. If you want any sense of city, you really have to drive to Minneapolis (45 minutes away). But Northfield is very pretty and small, and if you go too far in any direction, you’ll hit cornfields.
Q: What has delighted or surprised you about Carleton?
A: I was surprised about the attitude (and I like this, too—it’s not a complaint) toward academics. People seem to really like talking about academics and scholarly topics, but there’s definitely a complete lack of competition. There’s no competitive atmosphere in classes. Nobody would ever ask what you got on a test or ever ask how you did in a class. Everything is very chill and low-key in that respect, and I really enjoy that.
Q: Since you’re on winter break now, how was your first experience of college finals?
A: They were hardcore. For my geology final, we went to a room and we had two hours to identify four tables of rocks at the back of the room, which was extremely difficult. Finals were hard, but you survive.
Q: What’s the coolest tradition you’ve experienced?
A: On the night before finals, there was this thing called the “silent dance party,” where every single student went to the basement of the library, and everyone started the same hour-long mixed playlist on their own, individual headphones at the exact same time. People danced across campus for an hour, all listening to the exact same hour-long playlist. I thought it was going to be really stupid, but I had copious amounts of fun and we were able to collectively blow off a huge amount of steam before finals.
Q: Do you have any advice for the class of 2014?
A: My advice is that in the end, you’ll be happy anywhere. So don’t even worry about it—just apply to a school and have fun.