Ariana Olson wrapping everything up

Hi everyone! I can't believe that this is my last blog post as a gappie... Time has really flown!

So much has happened since the last time I posted, in February. One major thing is that I participated in a speech competition! By taking Public Speaking at MCC (my local community college) I was eligible to compete in The Otis Young Motivational Speak-Off. My fellow contestants and I auditioned for a spot in a 6 week honors course to prepare us for the competition. During class, my fellow contestants and I wrote, rewrote (and rewrote again) our speeches, rehearsed, and received feedback from our professor, past contestants, and each other. It was hard work and extremely frustrating at times, but by the time the competition date came along, we were more than ready, and we had become a little family instead of competitors. It was so cool to see how far we had all come from the first class to competition day!

My sister and me right after the speeches

My speech was about... you guessed it: my gap year! I spoke about my uncertainty at the beginning of my gap year on whether or not I was good enough to go to Olin (I don't have much of an engineering background, which worried me at first) to knowing that Olin was where I belonged. I had never spoken on stage in front of an audience before the competition (I'm usually content to be backstage). I never thought that I would actually enjoy it! It was an incredible feeling to step off the stage knowing that 6 weeks of hard work paid off. I am so proud of everyone who told their story that day. All of the speeches are online here if you are curious :)

Kaitlyn checking in from China

Nĭmen hăo! Nĭmen zĕnmeyàng? Hĕn hăo! Wŏ yé hĕn hăo, xīngfèn, háiyŏu lèi.

(having exhausted my immediate conversational skills in Mandarin, let's try this again in something I am actually fluent in)

Hello Oliners! And Gappies and anyone else who may read this! Kaitlyn checking in again, and this time from China!

Street in China.jpg

I've been here in Chengdu for about six weeks, learning Mandarin at Brilliance Learning Center, shopping in the local markets, chatting in English Corners, and telling stories to a seven year old. I even managed to get a student of my own, so once a week I'm an informal English teacher. In KFC. Did you guys know that KFC is a big thing here? I did not know that. I do not understand that. Surely there is a better thing to become popular than KFC and McDonalds? Sorry, fried chicken fans. (Starbucks is staring at me and daring me to add it to the other two; alas that I cannot remain unbiased in the face of sweet-coffee-drink fondness).


Anyway. Um. Before I got here would be boring to tell about. Pretty much lots of working. So skipping that to More Interesting Things... Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan Province. I'm in an apartment with four women, most of whom are friends of a friend. Almost all of my time has been in this city. There are really neat places here, from local side streets where you can get foods like this...


David Papp's ('19) adventurous journey in South America

Hey guys,


My name is David Papp and I'm writing this from Bolivia. Just two days ago I finally ditched my bike after stripping it of valuable parts. I disregarded my golden rule: do not make important decisions when hungry, tired, sad, or ill. In this case I was the latter. I fell violently ill when I got hit by a hailstorm 4900m high in the Bolivian altiplano and also picked up some stomach infection that gave me awful diarrhea. So I finally overcame the stubborn voices in my head that said "I must bike every centimeter" and hitchhiked to the nearest town. I'm now backpacking for another 2 weeks with this ridiculously bulky duffel bag. I wish I was returning home sooner because I find it hard to appreciate backpacking after bike touring - it feels too easy and your wealthy tourist status really stands out. It probably also has to do with the huge drop in my dopamine levels.

If you're wondering why I embarked on this trip by bike, you're not alone. The best explanation is from Candide: "I should like to know which is worse: to be ravished a hundred times by pirates, and have a buttock cut off, and run the gauntlet of the Bulgarians, and be flogged and hanged in an auto-da-fe, and be dissected, and have to row in a galley -- in short, to undergo all the miseries we have each of us suffered -- or simply to sit here and do nothing?'" (I found this quote in Alaistair Humphrey's book about cycling around the world and it has really stuck with me). I suppose I was simply seeking to see how far I can go and to prove something to my bored self. I spent the prior semester at UMass Amherst, which was great fun but unfulfilling knowing that it's so temporarily. Anyways, it's funny what strange goals you can associate your ego with.

Arpan's gap year- Part 3 - last post!

Hi guys!

This will be my last blog post as my gap year winds to a close.

The last couple of months have been a blast! I visited Olin during Candidates' Weekend two! It was a great chance to meet some of people who will make up the class of 2019. (And, of course, advise them to take a gap year :P )


Here's a #selfie of me with my host, Keenan, at the Design Challenge

While I was at Olin, I met a candidate, Isaac, (now a member of the class of 2019!) who was helping to organize the FRC Ventura regional. He and his mother were looking for someone to help with match commentary. One thing led to another and a couple of weeks later I found myself flying out to sunny Ventura, California to help out at that regional.


#Selfie with MC Blair 



The view from the Game Announcer's Table

After admission decisions go out...

With Candidates' Weekends long behind us and May 1st around the corner, the Olin admission office is once again shifting gears. I have to say, this January was one of the busiest times of my life. February was one of the most exhausting. But while March was full of difficult emotional decisions, April in admissions has a different character entirely. Decision letters were mailed out before the month began, and since then, emails and phone calls have been pouring in. It seems a big part of the job these days is to reassure admitted students and their families that the things they've learned about Olin are, in fact, true. We're hearing back from students in concrete ways as well! We've seen deposits, defers, and declines. It's thrilling to be able to go to our list and highlight each new enrollee as they declare! For some, this part was a no-brainer. For others, April has been a month of weighing benefits, splitting hairs, and agonizing over opportunities. We've extended the opportunity to some admitted students, who needed a second look, to come for an overnight 'admitted student visit'. They stayed in the dorms, sat in on classes, and met/discussed with a wide range of Oliners in order to help make their decision. 

It's coming up on the time to "fish or cut bait," as our Dean of Student Affairs sometimes says. May 1st is the decision deadline, and we're keeping a close eye on the numbers so that we can enroll an 84-student class precisely. The Office of Student Affairs would have other words for us if we sent them too many students and fill the dorms, or too few to fulfill their our responsibility to the community. So we need to be judicious yet decisive when taking students off the wait list. It's an artful act of threading the needle, and I'm glad we can count on Charlie to do it. We're all very much looking forward to meeting the class of 2019!

But besides answering questions, hosting visitors, and waiting, what have we been doing this past month?

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