By Natalia Asis, Staff Writer

 in front of a building in Boston

UMF students in front of the IMAX at the
New England Aquarium
(Photo by Susan Hunter)

    Many students are taking advantage of trips and activities organized by UMF and are going to New York, Boston, among other places. Every semester, Weekend Adventures and Excursions, coordinated by the Center for Student Involvement (CSI), organizes a variety of different outings to give students a change in their routines by getting them involved in different activities outside of Farmington.

   The last trip took place on Nov. 10 and over 40 students went to Boston to eat in the restaurant Fire + Ice and to either the Museum of Science or New England Aquarium. Dining at Fire + Ice was a first for many students. Ophélie De San Bartholomé, a French T.A. at UMF, said, “The concept of the restaurant is very original because I had never had the experience of choosing the ingredients. You can make a lot of experiments with the food!” said De San Bartholomé. “It’s a great place to hang out with friends.”

students in front of the fire and ice restaurant in Boston

The whole group after Fire+Ice
(Photo by Susan Hunter)

   Audrey Blaufuss, a freshman, said, “My favorite was Fire + Ice. It was so cool to watch them cook your food in front of you.”

   Janelle Noonan, a freshman said, “I had some Alfredo and then some Asian. I didn’t want to leave.”

   Most of the students chose to go to the aquarium. Qing Zhou, an exchange student from China at UMF, said, “My favorite part of the trip was the aquarium; especially, seeing the penguins. It’s the first time I see penguins”, said Zhou. “They’re smaller than I thought, so cute!”

   The New England Aquarium is currently undergoing renovations so an IMAX movie is included with the general admission to make up for some closed fish tanks. Fred Ben, a senior, said, “I found the movie interesting and informative. It addressed the issues of global warming and animal extinction,” said Ben. “The 3D immerses you into it and you become a part of it.”

   Although some of the students had been in either the museum of the aquarium before, they visited them one more time. Audrey Morin, a junior, said “I went to the aquarium when I was young and I didn’t remember much. I loved it.”

   Noonan said, “The museum was fantastic. It is very interactive and you learn a lot. It is also a lot of fun,” said Noonan. “I’ve been to the museum once or twice before. I just love it.”

   “Adventures and Excursions Program provides an opportunity for students to go outside of the Farmington area and be exposed to all kinds of cultural, social and physical events where you can learn something about somebody else or other community,” said the Assistant Director for the Center for Student Involvement, Maya Kasper.

   The students had some time to walk around Boston and see things. “It’s a cool city,” Blaufuss said. “I’d never been here before. We got to do a lot of stuff,” she said.

   It was also Zhou’s first visit in Boston. Zhou said, “It was interesting to see people dressed differently than in Farmington.”

   Kasper said, “We do get many students that have never been outside of Maine and being able to go to a Red Sox game or a musical in New York City is a big deal. I think it’s very important that they have the opportunity to go different places because it is hard if you’ve never done it before,” she said. “It’s really hard to take the first step so we offer an easy step for them to know the world.”

   De San Bartholomé said, “I’d been here [Boston] before on another UMF trip when we saw a baseball game. I liked the fact that you stroll in the city among huge modern buildings and all of the sudden you happen to find a nice old stone building,” she said. “You see that the city has history. It’s a big city but the atmosphere isn’t oppressive.”

   So far, the trips this semester have been the Red Sox game in Boston, the Phantom of the Opera in New York City, Six Flags New England, The Haunted Side of Portland, Culturefest and Horseback Riding in Bethel. “We have the Freeport trip in December and then the semester is over,” said Kasper.

   As for the next semester, a variety of activities are already organized. “We have a snow tubing trip during orientation, a Celtics trip in February, the Blue Men Group in Boston and karting in South Portland in March,” said Kasper. “April, we are looking at the Spirit Boston Cruise because students have been asking me for that one again. And we’re looking for ideas for smaller trips in April,” she said. “I hope, we have never done it before, to go and watch a good movie in IMAX down in Scarborough.”

   These trips are inexpensive. “We try to keep it as low as possible so any student can go,” Kasper said “That’s why I offer the smaller trips, where they don’t have to pay anything, because there are students that can’t even afford to pay 20 dollars,” she said. “Everybody gets a chance to do something.”

   “It’s an opportunity to go and have fun and connect with other students and play and learn about different things,” said Kasper.