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Kassia Robinson-Hidas ’20

(Kassia Robinson-Hidas, ‘20, in Jordan on her gap year spent travelling Europe)

 

Kassia Robinson-Hidas is a first-year student, undecided major, who took a gap year to travel and backpack around the Eurasian continent before returning to school. She uses she/her pronouns and is from Pelham, MA.

 

What’s been your favorite part about Mount Holyoke so far?

I like the small class sizes. Most of mine are not over fifteen people, except for my Chem class, which is like forty or so.

 

What’s something you didn’t expect about Mount Holyoke?

The lack of a social scene. I knew there wasn’t going to be much, but I really thought there would be more…of like a community sense? Maybe that’s just because it’s the beginning of the year. It’s hard to meet people. People seem very caught up in their own world. There’s not much, not even party wise, just in terms of social interaction and meeting people.  I feel like when I talk to someone in class, if I see them outside of class they’ll say hi, but there’s no effort to make more of a connection. Plus all of the orgs [I’m interested in] meet in the time that I work, so it’s hard to meet people that way.

 

What is your favorite class so far?

Maybe my Black Women Writers class.

 

That’s a First-Year Seminar, right?

Yeah, it’s a really small class size, we’re reading good books and discussing them. We’re focusing on four themes, Body, Voice, Memory, and Movement. The professor is funny, and she makes it interesting, especially in discussion. The people in the class are nice too.

 

Do you think the First-Year Seminars are helpful for Firsties?

I don’t really know the difference…I mean it kind of just feels like an English class. I mean it is with all other first years—and not a single one of them talk to me outside of class, or even like say hi. So in that sense, I literally could be taking this class with anyone and it wouldn’t make a difference. I think it’s also like—people who live in the same dorm are a lot closer. Like everyone who lives in MacGregor know the other people who live in MacGregor.

 

Is there a class or a subject you’re looking forward to studying at Mount Holyoke?

Definitely, Photography and Ceramics. I’m taking Studio Art right now so that I can get into those classes…which I’m not great at. Maybe a Psych class, though I don’t really want to take it cause it’s like 100 plus people, and I’m really not into big classes—that’s why I picked a small school. Maybe taking classes at another of the 5-colleges?

 

Do you have any ideas for what you’re going to major in?

No. (laughs)

 

What’s on your bucket list for college?

I want to go skydiving! I want to do some cool things with orgs, and maybe do MERT. I’d like to get some cool internships and get Lynk funding—and study abroad is something I really want to do, though I’m not sure where yet. I just want to travel with my education.

 

How do you think your gap year has helped you prepare for college?

Well—I thought it would prepare me socially. I got really good at making terrible conversation, cause that’s what you do in hostels. But here, when I try to make conversation, I feel like people don’t respond. I’m really good at small talk, like I do it for my job as a waitress. But I can’t seem to make friends here. I know how to take care of myself, since I was travelling alone, so that part didn’t freak me out, but I feel like the social aspect is easier in the ‘real world’.

 

What do you think Mount Holyoke could do to make the social aspect better, especially for first years?

Having actual like—orientation groups would have helped. I think orientation groups would have given you just a couple people that you knew, right off the bat. I was initially kind of surprised they didn’t do something like that.

 

What about social events sponsored by the school? Do you think people would go to those?

I mean like I definitely haven’t, so I’m a terrible example. Maybe it’s just a morale thing. I didn’t go to Dirty Dancing because I didn’t know anyone at that point, and I didn’t want to just sit by myself, so I ended up hanging out with some high school friends. I think it’s really hard for someone when academically wise I don’t feel like I’m on the level of other people, especially after a year off. So connecting on that level, in classes and stuff is harder for me because I have literally no idea what’s going on. After a gap year, going back to studying and doing homework is really difficult, and I feel like I’m struggling, and I wish there was more support.

 

Are you glad you took a gap year?

Oh my God, yeah, for sure. It’s just the transition that’s hard.

 

Is there anything professors could do to promote morale?

Assigning study groups would be awesome. I know at least one of my professors has told the class to get into study groups, and I’ve tried to reach out to other people, but there’s just not an effort made. I think assigned study groups would be amazing socially and academically. Not even necessarily one with an upperclassman or mentor, just a peer group would be really helpful.

 

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