Life at Smith: Traditions | The Geneva Convention: Life at Smith: Traditions

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Life at Smith: Traditions

I can only lay claim to the title of College Student for the next month or so, and I'm taking advantage of it with a new miniseries: Life at Smith! I hope it will give some insight for anyone interested in what happens here, and even people who will never end up affiliated with Smith at all might find something useful or interesting. Today I'm going to address some of my favorite Smith traditions.

We start off every year with a Convocation, like many schools. Ours, however, is a little more rambunctious than the others. For starters, it's clothing optional and the drunk outnumber the sober. Each house chooses a theme, for which their residents create outlandish (often skimpy) costumes. Seniors signal their new status by wearing hats. It's a lot of fun, and a great way to let off some steam before the semester begins.

Convocation at Smith College

I love all Smith traditions, but like most Smithies, Mountain Day is pretty high up on the list. Fortunately this one isn't Smith-specific, so we aren't the only ones who get to enjoy it! Basically, our president picks a beautiful fall day and surprises us by cancelling classes. We pack lunches and head off to enjoy classic autumn experiences in New England. This year, my Mountain Day was perfect -- I took a couple of friends and hiked Mount Tom. It was warm enough to bask in the sun on some rocks while we ate our lunch. When we got back, we did a late-night diner run with a few other friends to enjoy waffle fries and milkshakes. Best Mountain Day yet.

Mountain Day at Smith College
Mountain Day at Smith College
Mountain Day at Smith College
Mountain Day at Smith College
Mountain Day at Smith College
Mountain Day at Smith College

Vespers isn't necessarily a tradition everyone at Smith would identify with, but as a member of the choir, I don't think Smith would be Smith without it. Every year the ceremony gets me in the mood for Christmas and helps raise money for homeless shelters in the area. It's one of my favorite concerts, and I'm not the only one who feels that way -- we now stream it live on Smith's website.

Vespers at Smith College

Finally, we start off spring semester right every year with Rally Day. This time our day off is scheduled, and the convocation isn't quite as rowdy because it's February. Rally Day was initially created to celebrate George Washington's birthday; now we use it as an opportunity to award the year's Smith Medals and announce secrets about commencement. Seniors still wear hats, but this time we pair them with the robes we will wear a few months later for graduation. Here's mine -- it belonged to my grandmother!

Selfie at Rally Day

Soon it will be time for me to wear those graduation robes for real, though, and that will involve taking part in a whole bunch of traditions I haven't experienced yet. I can't wait!

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