What is Interim, Anyway?

Economic Progress in China. Changing Political Identities in Coastal Central Europe. Medicinal Chemistry in Jamaica. Theater in London. These are only four of many courses offered during the month of January, or “Interim,” at St. Olaf. So, what should you know about Interim as you work on your St. Olaf application?

Even though it’s only four weeks, this one month provides many opportunities for Oles. They are able to take a class on campus — maybe in an academic area they’ve always wanted to explore, or something they know will be challenging and best to focus on intensely for a month. It also provides hundreds of students with study abroad and off-campus study opportunities led by St. Olaf faculty. Some students design their own Interim courses; others will pursue an internship or job-shadowing opportunity. Students are required to take three of their four Interims during their time as Oles; however, most students take all four Interim classes. With the chance to explore a new subject, dive further into something familiar, study abroad, or take in a slower-paced life on campus for a month — and at no added cost — students take advantage of January.

The essay on the St. Olaf Supplement to the Common App is where you get the chance to express your interests and creativity. We ask you to design your own interim course and to make it interdisciplinary — and you can embrace this term however you wish. An example of an already existing interdisciplinary course: during a popular Art and Biology interim (aptly titled “Art and Biology in the Bahamas”) students travel with one Art professor and one Biology professor to San Salvador Island in the Bahamas. Not only do the students get to explore the marine and island life, they study the natural surroundings from both a scientific and artistic perspective. Students who are interested in art still experience the biology offerings, and vice-versa. Here’s an example of your classroom for the month, sent to me by Patrick Faunillan ’13 after his experience last Interim:

(Courtesy Patrick Faunillan '13)
(Courtesy Patrick Faunillan ’13)

As you sit down to write your St. Olaf Supplement essay, consider your interests and hobbies, both inside and outside the classroom. Maybe they all have a common thread; maybe they have absolutely nothing to do with one another (or so you think). When we read your application, we want to see how you connect ideas and demonstrate your academic curiosity. Try to enjoy it! The Supplement essay is another chance for you to tell us about yourself and how you would engage with the St. Olaf community.

 

 

Snapshots of Interim: Art in the Bahamas

For his last Interim as an Ole, Patrick Faunillan ’13, a Nursing major from Shakopee, MN, traveled to San Salvador Island in the Bahamas with Art 106: Drawing from Nature in the Bahamas. The program was led by John Saurer, Associate Professor of Art, offered in conjunction with Island Biology in the Bahamas (Biology 287) led by Professor of Biology Jean Porterfield. Patrick shared with us his favorite photos and a few highlights from his time there. 

Patrick Faunillan '13, left, and his friend Stephanie Robert '13 in front of the bright blue ocean
My friend Stephanie Robert ’13 with me in front of the bright blue ocean
A lot of times we would go out in the island to do art. Siri McCord '15 and I are pictured here doing a negative space, a medium that we learned from the class, of the mangroves in front of us
A lot of times we would go out in the island to do art. Siri McCord ’15 and I are pictured here doing a negative space, a medium that we learned from the class, of the mangroves in front of us
We visited many of the ruins on Sal Salvador, Bahamas. Many of the ruins are old slave plantations. This picture shows me going through one of the windows of what use to be a home. You can see that some of the wood on top the window is still there
We visited many of the ruins on Sal Salvador, Bahamas. Many of the ruins are old slave plantations. This picture shows me going through one of the windows of what use to be a home. You can see that some of the wood on top the window is still there
On our last day on the island, some of us work up early, around 5:45, to go see the sunrise. We walked onto a part of the island called "North Point." In this picture, the sun is just starting to rise as Hannah Friesen '13, Elijah Bowen '14, Kristen Mueller '15, Siri McCord '15 and Pha Lor '13 look out
On our last day on the island, some of us work up around 5:45 to go see the sunrise. We walked onto a part of the island called “North Point.” In this picture, the sun is just starting to rise as Hannah Friesen ’13, Elijah Bowen ’14, Kristen Mueller ’15, Siri McCord ’15 and Pha Lor ’13 look out
Our means of transportation was sitting in the back of a truck. Here is a picture of us taking a break to enjoy and take pictures of the scenery
Our means of transportation was sitting in the back of a truck. Here is a picture of us taking a break to enjoy and take pictures of the scenery
We went on the beach everyday while we were in the Bahamas. I love this picture because you can see how colorful the sky, ocean, sand, and rocks are. This is me just walking around the beach
We went on the beach everyday while we were in the Bahamas. I love this picture because you can see how colorful the sky, ocean, sand, and rocks are. This is me just walking around the beach
As with all abroad trips, you get really close with the people in it. This group picture was taken at an island party that the locals organized. Pictured here is Elijah Bowen '14, Kristen Mueller '15, Sam Becker '13, Siri McCord '15, me, Justina Stern '14, Anastasia Hains '14, Hannah Friesen '13, Paul Liesmaki '13, Robbie Lehman '14 Brooke Weigel '13, and Pha Lor '13
As with all abroad programs, you get really close with the people in it. This group picture was taken at an island party that the locals organized. Pictured here is Elijah Bowen ’14, Kristen Mueller ’15, Sam Becker ’13, Siri McCord ’15, me, Justina Stern ’14, Anastasia Hains ’14, Hannah Friesen ’13, Paul Liesmaki ’13, Robbie Lehman ’14 Brooke Weigel ’13, and Pha Lor ’13
Top 5 Things I Learned:
1. This was my first art class since middle school, and I learned that I still love doing art. However, I also learned that it takes so much time for a drawing to look good, and even then, it’s never really done!
2. I love the ocean. I love swimming. I love snorkeling. We snorkeled/swam almost everyday of the trip, and because of that, I absolutely have grown a connection to the ocean and its many creatures.
3. This interim trip was a conjoined trip between an art and biology class. I learned that there is definitely a place for art in science, and a place for science in art. While science can give art an infinite amount of inspiration, art can visually portray science in a way that is more understandable to the public. I collaborated with Elijah Bowen ’14,  a student in the biology cohort, in his research about the turning process of conch. For my final series in my art portfolio, I drew a series of pictures of how a conch turned. Elijah then used it for his project.
4. I loved the people on the program. Not only did I get to know the people in my art class, but we were with the biology class everyday as well. Internet was sparse; it was only ‘open’ from 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm M-F for $1 every five minutes, so we only had each other to entertain.
5. I also loved the exhibition at the end of the month. For our final, the art students had 3-4 of their pieces displayed in an exhibition in Dittman Center, while the biology students presented their research posters in Dittman as well. It was cool to see everyone’s hard work in an official art show and to hear the biology students present their research to people who weren’t on the program. My parents and some friends also came to the exhibition, and they were very impressed with everyone’s work. It made me proud.
The entire group in Dittman for their exhibition upon their return. (Photo courtesy Christie Hawkins/John Saurer)
The entire group in Dittman Art Center for their exhibition, upon their return. (Photo courtesy Christie Hawkins/John Saurer)
– Patrick Faunillan ’13

Snapshots of Interim: Hemingway in East Africa

As Oles begin to return to campus for the second semester, they excitedly share photos and stories of their time off-campus and abroad. One such student is Krista Swedenburg ’14, who traveled to Tanzania with the program “Hemingway in East Africa” and shared with me her favorite photos and captions.

This little guy had fun playing on the sidelines with a few of us during a soccer game.  Not only did he love to smile and pose for pictures, he loved wearing Jenny Jones's St. Olaf College sunglasses (see picture below).  Photo taken in Karatu, Tanzania.
This little guy had fun playing on the sidelines with a few of us during a soccer game. Not only did he love to smile and pose for pictures, he loved wearing Jenny Jones’s St. Olaf College sunglasses (see picture below). Photo taken in Karatu, Tanzania.
Still loving the limelight wearing the sunglasses of Jenny Jones '13 at a soccer game
Still loving the limelight wearing the sunglasses of Jenny Jones ’13 at a soccer game
View from our safari car in the Ngorongoro Crater and Conservation Area right outside of the Serengeti
View from our safari car in the Ngorongoro Crater and Conservation Area right outside of the Serengeti
Mama and baby zebras just a few feet off the road from our safari car in the Ngorongoro Crater and Conservation Area
Mama and baby zebras just a few feet off the road from our safari car in the Ngorongoro Crater and Conservation Area
Set against the Ngorongoro Crater and Conservation Area in Tanzania, this elephant was short one tusk, but walked straight up to our safari car
Set against the Ngorongoro Crater and Conservation Area in Tanzania, this elephant was short one tusk, but walked straight up to our safari car
The entire group (photo courtesy Mike Paradis '13)
The entire group (photo courtesy Mike Paradis ’13)

Welcome back, Oles! Check back for more photos from our returning students.

-Maggie

Beat Poetry Night

This interim I’m taking an English class called The Beat Generation. I love American literature, so I get really excited talking about the poetry of Allen Ginsberg or Jack Kerouac’s novels. The Beat Generation refers to the young artists of the late 1950s that rebelled against conformity and set the stage for the hippies of the 1960s. The class is a great look into an interesting time period that I haven’t learned much about in my other classes.

We only take one class during the month of January, and while many students take that month to travel, St. Olaf also offers cool courses like a history class that studies pirates or a religion class that looks into the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Interim is a great time to take classes that you are personally interested in but that you might not be able to fit into your semester schedule. Last Friday, I went to a great student-hosted event that brought the poems I’ve been reading this month out of the classroom.

One of the new honor houses this year is the Poetry House (read more about Honor Houses in this post from last October!) The eight male students that live in the house created the project to celebrate the art of poetry, and along with volunteering in the Northfield community, they often host events that allow students to listen to, discuss, or perform poetry. On Friday they hosted an event called “Beat Poetry Night” where students were invited to share their own work and perform some of the great beat generation poems of the fifties.

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Jordan Montgomery, ’13 reads from a Beat Generation poetry anthology.
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Rob Ayers, ’14 holds music while English Professor Colin Wells sings a Bob Dylan song.
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Alecsander Seeman, ’16 and Tasha Viets-VanLear, ’15 preform as students look on.

The night turned out to be a huge success. The house was packed with people eager to hear poetry and live music. The English professor that teaches my interim course even showed up to watch and to play a few Bob Dylan classics on the guitar. I was truly amazed (even as an English major) at the number of people interested in poetry at St. Olaf and the number of talented Ole poets that attended to preform their own pieces.

Stay warm!

-Zoey

Interim Experiences: Shadowing Oles with Law Degrees

Rachel Palermo is a second-year political science and economics major. She edits for the Manitou Messenger, serves as special events coordinator for the Political Awareness Committee, founded a political group on campus, and serves as her residence hall’s senator. Her blog post today describes the interim course she has created, which involves shadowing 20 people with law degrees during this month of January.

January at St. Olaf is a time to sled on Caf trays down Old Main hill, grab a cup of hot chocolate from the Cage, and focus intensively on one area of academics throughout the four weeks. We run on a 4-1-4 calendar, meaning students generally take four courses in the fall and spring separated by one course over January, known as interim.

For my particular area of study this year, I’ve created my own internship that consists of shadowing 20 different people in the Twin Cities with law degrees— most of whom are Oles— in order to explore career options and reflect about what fields of law I could see myself pursuing. Since nearly all Oles are all also taking courses, studying abroad, or having internships, it’s great to be able to compare experiences and share stories about what courses we enrolled in or designed ourselves.

The reason why I have been able to create such an amazing internship is because of enthusiasm from alumni and their desire to help current students. One way I have experienced the helpfulness and generosity of alumni is through the Piper Center for Vocation and Career, which is office on campus that helps connect students to alumni, among many other things. Two events where I first encountered alumni are Ole Law and Ole Biz, which are networking events that foster an environment where current St. Olaf students can converse with alumni working in law or business fields in order to learn about their journeys and hear what advice they have to share. These opportunities allowed me to speak to people working in areas I am interested in pursuing, which gave me first-hand perspectives as to what professions related to the law entail.

Rachel Palermo, '15
Rachel Palermo, ’15 with Kieran Dwyer ’05, an Associate Attorney at Dorsey & Whitney.

After attending both events, I left with handfuls of business cards from alumni who told me to contact them any time if I wanted to seek advice or even spend a day with them. I came in contact with Lynn Anderson ’75, Executive Vice President and General Counsel for Holiday Companies, after interviewing her for a story I was covering on the networking events for the Manitou Messenger. Once I expressed to Lynn that I was interested in shadowing during the entire month of January, she immediately responded with enthusiasm and support, offering ideas of who to shadow and sending me resources to help prepare for the experience. After I contacted the people she had recommended for me to reach out to, I already had nine people who were willing to meet with me or have me spend the day with them. After using personal connections and resources such as the St. Olaf Alumni Online Directory, I had filled the entire month and the following break with appointments with people who have law degrees yet work with different areas of the law.

After only the few days of shadowing I have completed so far, I’ve already learned an incredible amount about various careers I am interested in. The professionals I have met with have ranged from a prosecutor to general counsel, and each experience has dispelled myths about the law and has showed me how the different areas compare and contrast.

During interim, the options are endless for what kind of a course or internship you can create. From studying French in Morocco to shadowing surgeons around the Twin Cities, Oles use the time to expand their knowledge on a subject matter and gain experience. Interim opportunities are just one of the many things I love about this beautiful place called the Hill.

Watch for more updates from Rachel’s experience throughout January! 

-Zoey