Students gear up for the first remote winter term

By Julia Pepper

Kat Betrus ’24 (COURTESY PHOTO)

J-term is an unusual time at the college, but even more so this year. Due to Covid-19 safety precautions, J-term has been moved entirely online. With just a couple days left on campus, many Middlebury students are thinking ahead to the remote winter semester and making plans accordingly.

Kat Betrus ’24 will be spending J-Term working as a substitute teacher at an elementary school in her area, and will also be taking an online winter term class.

“I’m excited to work at a school because it’s something I’m passionate about,” she said. “I’m nervous about Covid-19 restrictions though because it will be difficult to be safe and enforce rules as someone who is new to the school I’ll be working at.”

Charlie Keohane ’24 (COURTESY PHOTO)

A coast away from campus, Charlie Keohane ’24 will spend the winter in San Francisco, taking an online J-Term class as all first-year students are required to do. She’s looking forward to making the most of her extra free time to hike, spend time with family and stay in shape for the Women’s Track and Field team, of which she is  a member.

Keohane said she’s not sure what to expect during her first J-term at Middlebury. “I’m sad to be missing out on a normal J-term because I’ve heard it’s a lot of fun and a very celebratory time,” she said. “But I’m planning to focus a lot on the class I’m in because I think I’ll have fewer distractions.”

Mark Gross ’21 (COURTESY PHOTO)

Mark Gross ’21 also looks forward to returning to his home in San Francisco for the duration of the break. He plans to take an asynchronous J-term class so that he can work flexible hours at his old elementary school. 

While he says he is disappointed that he won’t be on campus for J-term, he understands the unprecedented circumstances. “I’m feeling very bittersweet right now,” he said. “On one hand, I am very much ready to hug my parents and get back into my home routine, but, on the other hand, I have a great suite and great suitemates and a nice campus routine.”

Isabela Bahadorzadeh ’23 is looking forward to skipping the bulk of Vermont’s cold winter weather after having a challenging J-Term last year. 

“J-term, and Vermont winter in general, was kind of a dark time where I felt really homesick,” she said. “I think if I were a skier or did other outdoor winter activities, it’d be a lot different, but a lot of times it just feels like that’s the only option for winter.”

She plans to enjoy time with her family and friends while studying remotely.

Sophie Levine ’23 (COURTESY PHOTO)

Sophie Levine ’23 plans to work at a health clinic in San Francisco during J-term.

“I have very low expectations for J-term online, and I was offered a job, which is just better than taking a class,” Levine said. She also plans to celebrate Thanksgiving outdoors with her grandparents in Los Angeles after quarantining. 

“Feeling burnt out and nostalgic for a lot of the things I have at home — food, more exciting walks, etc — but [I] also know that home will eventually feel banal, too,” Levine said.