Middlebury

 

The Feb Experience

To give you a feel for what your arrival on campus will be like, we asked current Febs about their experiences and wrote down what they had to say. Click on the green questions below to read their responses!

Will I have a "normal" college experience like all of my friends who are beginning college in September are having?

You will not have a “normal” college experience. There are many things about starting in February that will affect your time here, for all four years. But remember that “normal” doesn't equate to “better.” There are things about being a Feb that are frustrating, isolating, and flat out difficult, but there are also things about being a Feb that are enlightening, empowering, and just plain wonderful. You're choosing something different, with all the skeletons and butterflies that go along with it.

–Rebecca Coates-Finke (rcoatesfinke@middlebury.edu)

Yes, and extremely tedious, too! I'm terribly happy that I arrived in college just at the time when I'm comfortable enough with myself and confident in my capability to take challenges, adventures, even risks. The reflective experience we got during the six months is our repertoire of inner power. Rumor has it that Febs tend to go out and explore things much more often than their contemporaries. An open mind, an intellectual curiosity, and the right amount of audacity defines who we are.

–Chloe Jialong Wu (jialongw@middlebury.edu)

No, your college experience won't be normal. This experience will be in some ways worse but in more ways better than the typical college experience, and in the end you won't regret being a Feb. By becoming a Feb you have given yourself a chance to grow over your Febmester through however you spend it. 

–J.J. Moser (jmoser@middlebury.edu)

Yes! You will face the same challenges and experience the same joys that every college student faces during their first semester. Entering college is hard, be it in the fall or the spring. But, you will still meet amazing people, go to fun parties, spend nights in the library, and ultimately have the same opportunities as every other Middlebury student.

–Michelle Yang (mxyang@middlebury.edu)

Yes. After orientation you are a real college student attending rigorous classes. You will be surprised how quickly you discover a weekly routine. This routine will be full of very “normal” college experiences such as eating meals with new friends, learning how to live with your roommate, studying with classmates, doing homework, and attending very interesting classes. Without even realizing it you will feel like any other college kid out there. Soon you will be able to swap stories with all of your high school friends.

–Maddie Nunez (mnunez@middlebury.edu)

What do people do during their Feb semesters? Do I need to go save the world?

People do a variety of things over their Febmesters: the most important thing about it is that you learn from your experience. I worked in a restaurant earning minimum wage over my Febmester, but I'll never forget my experience there learning from my coworkers and being a part of that community. There is no right or wrong way to spend your semester off! It's such a special opportunity in that you can really choose to do anything that makes you excited. If that's working for a semester, then that's fantastic, and you won't be the only Feb making that choice! It could be traveling, or volunteering, or just taking a breather... there's no one way to go about your "Febmester," and you'll see that once you arrive on campus and hear all the different kinds of things the rest of your Feb class did! 

–J.J. Moser (jmoser@middlebury.edu)
 
Not necessarily, no. It is certainly laudable that “Amonoma” has helped solve the water crisis in a Kenyan village, and that “Brulurb” has helped build the first primary school in rural Kyrgyzstan. But if you don't feel you're quite ready to shoulder the responsibility yet, you can actually take this time to empower yourself, and one day you'll be ready. During my Febmester, I once again took the role of a student. I went to a culinary school to satisfy my craving stomach. I learned parachute gliding; because I know when war comes I will need this skill. I learned international Mandarin promotion. One thing I contributed to the world is that I taught Chinese students to cram for the SAT and TOEFL. The point of Febmester is a discovery and recognition of your place in the world, and that does not limit you to being a savior.

–Chloe Jialong Wu (jialongw@middlebury.edu)

Our Feb class did a whole range of different activities during their Febmester. Some of my friends stayed at home and worked while others traveled. Some of my friends traveled through countries by themselves and met up with other Febs. Personally I wanted more structure to my semester. There a lot of great programs for a gap semester if you need a little structure to your traveling. No matter how exotic or seemingly normal their experience was, each person has said how rewarding their time off from school was. This time off is a unique situation that I never would have pursued without the prompting of Middlebury.

–Maddie Nunez (mnunez@middlebury.edu)
 
There are two things you absolutely need to do. One, enjoy a new, introspective experience, and two, memorize a two-sentence summation of that experience (this second step is surprisingly important). Some Febs do some crazy things over their Febmesters, while many others are content to travel, work, or even attend a different university. Whatever you decide, rest assured knowing you can leave your cape and tights at home. Simply pursue something enjoyable that will aid in self-discovery. It’s worth noting that Walden Pond was about two miles away from the center of downtown Concord when Thoreau lived and wrote there. Although a few Febs do, you don’t have to go across the world to find a meaningful experience.

–Matt Cloutier (mcloutier@middlebury.edu)
 
Your Febmester is about you. The best thing to do is find something that you love, that you have always wanted to do or need to do and do it. This time is not about impressing anyone, but about discovery and inspiration. Save the world, stay home and bake, enjoy your passion or just breathe: whatever you do is worth it. 

–Isabella Carey (icarey@middlebury.edu)

 
As stated above, you do not need to save the world during your Feb semester. Your Feb semester is about doing what is the best choice for you – taking time off, working at home, doing an internship or traveling the world. Here is a small sample of what the Class of 2016.5 did for their Feb semester: http://sites.middlebury.edu/middmag/2013/02/12/what-did-you-do-on-your-febmester/

How does the rest of the campus react to the arrival of new Febs each winter?

Everyone is ridiculously excited to have new people in February. It can be stressful sometimes to have so much positive energy directed at you! But it's also wonderful. You will be the jewel of your hall for the first 3 weeks - and then things go back to normal. 

–Rebecca Coates-Finke (rcoatesfinke@middlebury.edu)

Everyone is so excited for the new Febs to arrive. The first-year students who started in September have settled into their friend groups and are ready to meet all the new people. Perhaps most excited for your arrival are your Feb leaders who will greet you with a welcome dance. From there on out every time you see them you will be met with more enthusiasm than you will know what to do with. The Feb leaders are a great source for meeting new people as they are so excited to introduce you to all of their friends.

–Maddie Nunez (mnunez@middlebury.edu)
 
The idea of arriving on campus a semester after everyone else was extremely terrifying for me during my Feb semester. In reality, I found the transition very smooth and surprisingly easy. Other students are really excited to meet you and it isn't difficult to meet the other September students and to get involved. All the clubs on campus come together for an activities fair, just like the one they throw in the fall and they are also holding auditions and accepting new members. I haven't found anything that I wasn't able to do because I was a Feb. The professors are also extremely understanding and helpful during the whole process. 

–Elizabeth Stears (estears@middlebury.edu)
 
The campus loves Febs. Febs come in with this incredible energy that just kind of takes over campus – that’s a part of what makes being a Feb in February so awesome.  Everyone wants to meet you as much as you want to meet everyone else, and for a time, social norms just cease to exist.  It’s totally cool to go up to a random person and introduce yourself as a new Feb, which is a really unique experience.

–Alex Epstein (epstein@middlebury.edu)

How easy is it to connect with first-year students who arrived in September?

 

First years are excited to meet Febs but it helps if you make an effort to reach out to them. They think all the Febs have already made friends with other Febs. (True, but we want to make more friends!)

–Mariah Levin (mllevin@middlebury.edu)

It totally depends on what you're looking for. If you put yourself out there, you will have no problem meeting first-year students who arrived in September. Everyone is always looking to make new friends in college, so whether you join a student organization, or just introduce yourself to other first-years in your classes, there are always going to be students who want to be your friend and help you out with your transition! When I got here in the spring, I was placed on a first-year hall. Even though the rest of my hall had all been living together since September and I was just arriving in the spring, they could not have been more welcoming. I felt completely part of the community, and through them, I met so many other first-years.

–Ilana Gratch (igratch@middlebury.edu)

Connecting with first year Regs really depends on who you are, and what you do.  In the end, every Feb ends up connecting with their Reg class. The odds are, as a first year, Feb or Reg, you’re going to be in a lot of the same classes and activities.  The more involved you get, the more people you’ll meet, and most people want to meet you, the new Feb, just as much as you want to meet them.

–Alex Epstein (epstein@middlebury.edu)

 

What are some of the benefits of being a Feb?

 

You get to live in nice dorm rooms like Le Chateau. You have the best Orientation experience, during which you build extremely close relationships. You won't face heavy internet traffic when registering for classes. You graduate by downhill skiing, looking like wizards. You are automatically enrolled in the "elite" Feb club.

–Chloe Jialong Wu (jialongw@middlebury.edu)

As a Feb, you get to experience the campus in a way entirely unique in comparison with the other first-years. For one, Feb Orientation will instantly give you a diverse group of friends that are spread out across campus. Though the spread out feeling may seem inconvenient, it'll help you really experience all of the campus and meet more people. Also, Feb Orientation is undoubtedly the best possible way to start your Middlebury experience. Although orientations are typically just cheesy icebreakers and endless name cards, Feb Orientation is something much more.

–J.J. Moser (jmoser@middlebury.edu)

After our February orientation, you will have a support system and group of friends already built in from your Feb class. Our very intensive orientation is wonderful for establishing the "Feb connection" that stretches not only through your Feb class but also the classes above you. Being a Feb means that you are automatically part of this community that is filled with other students who have all had unique experiences that September students have not been able to experience.

–Elizabeth Stears (estears@middlebury.edu)

As a Feb, you have a rare opportunity to decompress after high school. You’re probably burnt out from all the clubs you led, the sports you played, the AP classes you took. Being a Feb means that you have time to explore the world (or your own backyard) before diving back into academia. You will feel refreshed when you come to Middlebury in February.

–Krista Karlson (kkarlson@middlebury.edu)

 

What are some of the drawbacks?

Watching my friends go off to school in September when I stayed home wasn't fun. Also, if you're in a Sophomore dorm you may have trouble integrating with your hall since they will most likely have known each other for a year and a half. However, all of these drawbacks are greatly outweighed by the benefits.

–J.J. Moser (jmoser@middlebury.edu)

Some of the drawbacks are it can be really hard to start half way through, enter in the most depressing part of the year, and live with upper classmen, but this is all for just one semester. Integrating yourself into the community though is more dependent on your effort and time because you seem to be a little more separated. It also makes selecting your major and planning your time abroad a little more difficult with the deadlines but that's pretty manageable.

–Sophie Quay-de la Vallee (squaydelavallee@middlebury.edu)

It’s tough being parachuted into college halfway through the school year. But it’s important to remember that you were chosen to be a Feb specifically because the folks in Admissions believed that you would be able to find ways to thrive (and, trust me, you will). There will be times where you feel totally lost on campus, but then you’ll realize that there are almost a hundred other kids going through the exact same thing as you. It’s very scary to think of how your first semester will pan out, but I guarantee you that it can be a total blast if you and your fellow Febs help each other out.

–Christian Jambora (cjambora@middlebury.edu)

The transition to college will be hard. You’ll feel pressure to make friends right away, because it seems like everyone else who was at Middlebury in the fall already has a friend group. Try not to constantly compare yourself to the “Regs”- after all, it’s only your first semester! You might have had a crazy experience over your Febmester and it will feel like no one understands what you’ve been through. There will be roughly 100 other Febs who feel the same way- find comfort in each other.  

–Krista Karlson (kkarlson@middlebury.edu)

Although none of us have Feb regrets, starting a semester later gives Febs less time to declare a major. If you also plan on studying abroad your junior year that shortens the process by an additional semester. This means many Febs only have two semesters and one J-term to declare. For some students that is a definite constraint. You can help yourself out by examining the course catalog and major possibilities online, and then select your classes based mostly on foreseeable majors. Don’t get too worried though; there are plenty of people to help you out along the way.

–Matt Cloutier (mcloutier@middlebury.edu)

What are the different housing options I might be assigned to when I arrive at Middlebury, and when will I hear about mine?

You'll hear sometime in January about housing and you can be placed anywhere really. Freshmen or upperclassmen and you'll usually have a feb roommate but you can also be placed with a reg freshman or sophomore. Really wherever there's space! There can be positives and negative but just be open and try to get to know the people around you right off the bat, but you have to make the effort!.

–Sophie Quay-de la Vallee (squaydelavallee@middlebury.edu)

Housing is all across campus, and you can't really go wrong. Everything has upsides and downsides, but in the end, it doesn't make much of a difference as you move out the next semester anyway.

–Rebecca Coates-Finke (rcoatesfinke@middlebury.edu)

Additional advice that previous Febs thought would be helpful.

Be proud to be a Feb! Seriously, looking back on my experience I can't imagine NOT being a Feb. Be open-minded, be excited, be enthusiastic, BE YOU. The rest will fall into place.

–Sammi Re (sre@middlebury.edu)

Enjoy your time off - you've already taken the path less travelled, so make sure you leave your gap semester with no regrets!

–Michelle Yang (mxyang@middlebury.edu)

One fear many prospective Febs have is that they will miss out on the communal experience that comes with being a part of a Commons — this is especially so for new Febs who may be assigned to upperclassmen housing for their first semesters. Note, however, that this feeling is shared with the first-year Regs in your Commons, too, many of whom may feel a disconnect from first-years in other Commons. For the most part, Wonnacott kids will associate most closely with Wonnacott kids, and Ross kids will bond most easily with other Ross kids. You will still be able to find that Commons sense of community in your own residential Commons, but, as a Feb, you have the cool perk of also finding community among the other Feb classes.

–Christian Jambora (cjambora@middlebury.edu)

The best advice I can think of for incoming Febs is – meet as many people as possible.  Some people forget that one of the most amazing things about a college like Middlebury is that everyone made it here because they were smart and interesting.  The more people you meet, the more friends you’ll make, fun you’ll have, and things you will learn.  In some ways, being a Feb makes this harder because coming to school in the middle of the year requires you to put in a lot more effort to put yourself out there, but most Febs will tell you, that extra effort translates to an increased reward as well.

–Alex Epstein (epstein@middlebury.edu)

Want to ask another question to the most recent class of Febs?

Send an email to orientation@middlebury.edu with your question. We will pose it to the Class of 2017.5, and post the questions and their answers on this site as we receive them.