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The CMC Bucket List

March 13, 2012

by Jillian Raftery
The CMC Bucket List

After a long week, some of my best friends and I were reminiscing about our career at Claremont McKenna College.  We talked about the three years that we’ve spent on campus, re-living major events and talking about our hopes for the future.  It struck us that we had little time left. Four years may seem like a long time, but, as we realized, it can go by more quickly than one could ever imagine.  One minute you’re arriving on campus for freshman orientation and the awkward first roommate encounter, and the next minute President Gann is handing out diplomas and suddenly life in Claremont has disappeared in a flurry of job applications and interviews.

Before the time slips away, there are some things students absolutely should do before leaving Claremont.  While we made our own bucket list, and have worked hard on the weekends crossing many things off, this list is intended as a suggestion for students looking to explore and make their own memories - a starting point for everyone to incorporate their own unique goals and interests.

My best advice as a senior is to not waste time worrying - instead, spend more time doing... and enjoying.

10. Discover the Claremont Village. Claremont isn’t exactly a booming metropolis, but there are many fun parts of the Village that Claremont students never take the time to experience.  Hidden gems like C.K. Cafe, which has free WiFi and a fantastic tea selection that includes the special blooming flower teas, are great places to study or just to hang out.  Likewise, Eureka! Burger is a great place to visit, with a rotating beer selection, visiting brewers, and “Steal the Glass” Night on Wednesdays.  While some make it a goal to visit every restaurant in downtown Claremont, it’s also worth it to expand that goal to include going to events in the Village.  The Sunday morning farmer’s market, held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Second Street, has fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as honey, hummus, pita, and local artisan crafts.  It’s a great place to grab groceries for the week with friends and prices are often cheaper than in stores.  On Fridays from 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. students can visit the Green Market at the Packing House, where vendors bring food and crafts to sell at great prices.  Students staying in Claremont over spring break will find many options for fun close to home.

9. Cheer on C-M-S at a sports game. Although CMC doesn’t have the big-school sports frenzy like USC or UCLA, C-M-S events are not to be missed.  Division III events can be just as exciting as Division I, especially when you’re rooting for people you actually know.  It’s a great way to show friends that you care by supporting the Athenas’ undefeated basketball season, or going to a track meet to see a friend hurdle her way to victory.  And how better to show that guy in Econ 50 that you like the way he talks about the demand curve than by cheering on his water polo team?  Not only are C-M-S sports events fun and exciting, but they’re also a great way to bond with friends.  Game schedules and results are posted online at the C-M-S webpage.  Even at a small school, spirit is important.

8. Attend a student theatrical or arts performance. There are many organizations that put on plays, open mic nights, improv shows, and musical performances around the Colleges.  The CMC theater group, Under The Lights (UTL), puts on several performances each year, including their One Acts - a night of one-act plays - and the perpetually classy Dinner Theater performance at the Athenaeum.  “The name of the dinner theatre play is 'Finnegan's Farewell' and it is going to be performed the evenings of April 9th, 10th, and 11th,” says UTL President Jen Baute (CMC ’12) about this semester’s play, a comedy involving Irish drinking songs.  These students work hard for weeks to put on a professional and entertaining show, and they rarely disappoint. Plus, they always have great refreshments.

7. Go to Karaoke Night at Sushi Cruise or hit up El Ranchero for Mexican fare. Sushi Cruise, the restaurant shaped like a boat and home to the infamous Claremont Roll, Rainbow Dragon Roll, and many other California sushi fusion masterpieces, is also the home of Thursday night karaoke.  Not only does Sushi Cruise have a huge selection of songs for karaoke, they also have big screen displays for the lyrics and an incredible waitstaff that will participate in the festivities.  The Claremont icon has a great all-you-can-eat menu that is even more valuable with the 10% off coupon you can find on the CMC Forum - valid with a student ID.  El Ranchero, which is on the same block as Sushi Cruise, is another option for a fun night off-campus that is great for larger groups.  They have incredible specials, like the popular "dollarita," that make it a must for the tail-end of spring break. El Ranchero is big fun, small price.

6. Spend a day downtown.

Lots of people take trips to the beach, but fewer people take the time to explore downtown Los Angeles.  Although Claremont can feel far from the city, it’s quite accessible: by Metrolink train it only takes 50 minutes to get downtown (and it’s only about $7.50 each way, compared with $18.50 or more each way, plus parking, if you choose to drive).  L.A.’s Union Station is just walking distance from attractions like Olvera Street, an old-town Hispanic marketplace and the  the oldest part of Los Angeles.  The Walt Disney Music Hall is very close to the train station, as is the L.A. Museum of Contemporary Art, which charges just $5 for student admission every day (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays) and has free admission on Thursdays from 5 - 8 p.m.  For lunch, hit up Grand Central Market, an open-air plaza famous for homemade mole and the fresh, El Salvadorian specialty food, pupusas. Helen Kim, a senior who frequently visits the Los Angeles downtown area added, “You can take the Red Line out to Hollywood to see the Kodak Theatre and also the Purple Line if you wanted to go explore Koreatown.”  There are always new places to discover and there is always something going on downtown.  Whether it’s a museum exposition or a cultural festivity, the possibilities are almost endless.

5. Explore Mt. Baldy. The image of Mt. Baldy in its snow-capped glory standing majestically behind Bauer Center is one with which we are all familiar.  We see it on postcards, emails, and even the CMC webpage.  But how many students have actually been to the top of Mt. Baldy?  How many have been to the bottom?  Mt. Baldy presents so many possibilities. In the winter there are often online deals from or that offer discounts on lift tickets or snow-tubing passes.  In the fall there’s a swim-suit hike organized by Pomona’s On The Loose program (OTL, an outdoor activities organization).  The town below the ski area, named after the mountain, is a fun place to visit before or after making it to the top.  For upperclassmen, there’s the Mt. Baldy Pub, with the Mt. Baldy Lodge right next door for those who want to make a weekend of exploring the mountain.  In addition to great hospitality, the good people of the Lodge lead moonlight hikes.  And for students of all ages, there is Buckhorn Restaurant, which has live music on the weekends (and a free drink special on its website), and the Mount Baldy Trout Pool, where students can try out their casting skills.  The trout pool has all the rental equipment necessary, as well as bait and lures.

4. Impromptu road trip with friends. Whether near or far, a road trip with friends is a must in college - especially in Claremont.  Claremont is uniquely located, where it’s only a three to four hour drive to Las Vegas or Death Valley, two hours to San Diego (where there is great beach camping), and six hours to the Bay Area and great outdoor spots like Big Sur.  Companies like Zipcar have made it even easier to get away for the weekend, with cars in Claremont available for members.  With online discount sites like Kayak and Priceline and deals from Groupon and other community sites, it’s easy to find a last-minute place to stay.  And great camping spots are only a Google search away.  Don’t have the gear? The OTL gear room is open from 7-10 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and has everything you’ll need.


3. Go all night at the Marathon Party. It’s not uncommon to pull an all-nighter for class to write a paper or study for a midterm exam, but attending a party with friends and classmates that lasts all night is much more memorable, and much more fun.  The 24-Hour Party is planned every spring by ASCMC to involve activities that last an entire twenty-four hour period, from noon on a Saturday to noon on a Sunday.  Events range from swimming, to wine and cheese tasting, to karaoke, and even huge games of tag.  This event is also purposefully inclusive of students who choose the dry lifestyle; it's more about fun with friends than about anything else and designed for maximum participation by everyone.

2. Participate in Ski-Beach Day. Ski-Beach Day is the infamous day when a group of students ski for half a day and then hit the beach.  It’s an event unique to the Claremont Colleges, where students are close enough to the mountains to drive up to resorts like Mountain High and ski until noon before hitting the beach for some tanning, swimming, and good eats. This is an event few people will ever do outside of college.  Since it’s subsidized by the College and it’s planned out by the Student Life Chair (SLC), it’s well worth it to take advantage of this trip.

1. Get ponded or pond a friend. When I asked seniors what was the one thing they wanted to experience before Commencement (with the exception of the Fountain Party, Senior Week, and actually graduating), the majority of students responded that they had never been ponded.  This is probably the most unique of all the CMC traditions and it’s something that shouldn’t be missed - especially when we can all see friends' birthdays on Facebook.  Not many people will admit to it, but most people want to get ponded.  So get out there and drag your friends from their beds at night and get them into the fountain.  Just make sure to grab a towel for them, and avoid throwing electronics into the fountain as well.

Students ponding a friend on her birthday.

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