The smell of strawberries wafts through the air, Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life” plays in the background, and I can’t help but stare at the beautiful pasture through the window as Kerstin, Rosy, and I flip crepes. Is there a better way to spend a morning? I miss cooking on campus, so making breakfast for the Collective was a welcomed activity. As we plated crepes with cheeses, fruits, and a spread of nutella, making breakfast felt more like crafting a chaotic art project than the chore of cooking. Staying a weekend at the Catskills was filled with diverse activities that allowed me to bond with amazing people and learn some new skills. One of my favorite things was getting to know more about other collective members (and their amazing talents!) in a more intimate setting. For example, I was so impressed by Madeline’s ability to craft a Muder Mystery party within a few days as well as Kerstin’s juggling skills. One of my favorite things about this trip was learning about other art-centered interests. There was a lot of time to talk about these topics during more relaxing parts of the vacation. For example, music interests, visual art styles, and even clowns (my favorite thing to talk about–honestly) made their way into the conversation as we lounged in the hot tub and looked at the stars, made S’mores over a fire pit, or sat on the balcony to look at the changing autumn trees. The trip was great and so are the people!
For me, the Edwards Collective Fall Retreat struck a perfect balance between engaging communal activities and quiet individual reflection. From the “three-on-a-couch” game on the first night, which exposed some truly fun facts and wild lies, to the impromptu karaoke on the last night, which started with Disney princess songs and ended with “Hallelujah,” I loved getting a chance to forge deeper relationships with other members of the Collective. Our daily meals, from the cooking to the eating to the cleaning, were great opportunities to spend time together and to enjoy the delicious food we created ourselves. One definite highlight was the murder mystery night, which was the first one I’d ever done; it was so much fun to play my role and try to piece together clues with others.
At the same time, I really appreciated the still moments when I could truly retreat, so to speak. I am never more at peace than when I’m curled up in a comfortable seat with a good book, and the Silent G Farms had no shortage of cozy places to read. Of course, the beautiful backdrop of the Catskills certainly added to my sense of serenity. I also made sure to explore the premises, venturing by myself into the Buddhist garden. The fall foliage and cloudy sunset created the perfect moody ambiance for a contemplative walk.
Altogether, I left the retreat rested and recharged, with fond memories, a full stomach, and a greater sense of community.
Before going on the trip to the Catksills, I was a little nervous because I didn’t actually know the members of the Collective too well. I tend to spend most of my time with my existing friend group rather than trying to socialize with my hallmates, who I only occasionally meet in passing. But I’m so glad I came to the trip, because I ended up feeling so much closer to my Edwards Collective friends, which I should’ve expected given that they were the only people I interacted with for those three days.
I learned so much about them: I learned that Ipsita tells wonderful stories and is simultaneously one of the sweetest people on Earth. I’ll never forget when she was telling the story of being in Fiji and learning about the bonds she made with her host family, who thinks of her as a daughter (to the point where they’ll matchmake her with men since they think it’s problematic that she’s in her mid-to-late twenties and hasn’t married yet.) She told us about the graduate versus undergraduate student experience and made me see a lot of my professors differently. Then when I told her I thought she was super articulate, and she was so flattered that she gave me a hug.🙂
I met Anel Askar, who was one of the Matheyites who came with us on the trip. She’s an amazing polyglot and international student who can speak English, French, Russian, and Spanish (I’m probably missing a few in there.) I took some incredible photos with the gorgeous mountain view across the lake with Ipsita, inspired by the painting Wanderer Over a Sea of Fog. I kind of learned how to juggle, thanks to Kerstin! I brought my ukulele to make some music and left it on the bus (unfortunately), but I worked on a ton of music and forced myself to stop procrastinating, which was one thing I was grateful for: I was glad we weren’t being forced to go everywhere and do everything and
see all the sights before leaving.
One of my favorite memories that I’ll forever cherish from this trip was sitting in the hot tub outside in the cold. Kenya peer pressured me to go into the hot tub (I initially said yes, but I expressed a lot of hesitation upon realizing that it was an outdoor hot tub), which was one of the best decisions I made during the whole trip. I remember sitting there with Kenya, Katie, Anel, Gabriel, Misha, and a few others I don’t remember too well. The stars were unbelievably visible in the clean mountain air, and the moon over our heads shone bright yellow as we sat in comfortable silence with Bad Bunny playing in the background. I’m so glad I did that, because I ended up getting my period the next day.
All in all, thanks so much for this trip! I’ll never, ever forget it.