Erin’s Story- An English student’s study abroad experience with the Los Angeles Film Studies Center.

Erin Wolf
Junior at Whitworth
English Major
Film and Visual Narrative Minor
She is spending her fall semester studying at the Los Angeles Film Studies Center (LAFSC) in Los Angeles, California. The LAFSC is a semester-long program for students interested in finding a career in the entertainment industry. The program consists of an internship with a film company, as well as classes for short film production, screenwriting, narrative storytelling, and faith development in film.

 

Last weekend I sat on the beach at Santa Monica, camera in hand – a typical film student look. The battery was almost dead, the result of taking nearly 300 photos and videos in the few hours we’d been there. It was a sign that it was time to sit and enjoy what I was seeing with my eyes, not my lens. I was there with three of my roommates, and two of them had adventured onward toward the pier for food while I stayed behind with Alex.

Alex practices flow, which is a form of dance and movement that involves object manipulation (a little like a circus performer, almost like juggling, but cooler), using hoops, poi balls, or a levitation wand. It’s one of those things that looks a million times easier than it is (I may or may not have smacked myself in the face trying).

We’ve just hit the one-month mark of our semester at a film program here in LA. Alongside 21 other students from Christian universities around the country, we’re spending four months taking film classes and completing internships with companies in the real-deal film world at the LAFSC (Los Angeles Film Studies Center). It’s been an amazing month, filled with crowded tourist locations, In-N-Out Burger, beaches, theaters, movie nights, and lots of banana bread (thanks Mom).

But we were warned back in our first week that culture shock might begin to set in after about one month – Los Angeles often feels like a foreign country. As Alex flowed on that beach in the fading sun, she asked me how I felt about LA. Maybe it was the golden hour light getting to me, but I decided to answer her honestly rather than dealing in pleasantries: I love California, despite its traffic and weird trees and exorbitant prices on anything that isn’t an avocado, but I am conflicted. Part of the reason a lot of us are in this program is to determine whether Los Angeles is the place we can see ourselves building lives and careers. If we want to be in the film industry, it’s the place to be, and this program is our door into the business we’re after. And yet, I told Alex, I’ve been struggling with how to reconcile wanting this kind of life and still believing that I will always call the Pacific Northwest my real home. Feeling that I have two lives is odd; is my Whitworth life on pause while I build a new one here, waiting until I get back? Or is this my home now?

I spent the first eighteen years of my life in the same small town, which meant that there was only ever one place I could truly call home. When I got to Whitworth, I built that same sense of home; the house on Stevens Street, the study tree by the library, the same red door to come walking through at the end of every day. And then I packed everything I owned into my little blue Honda and voyaged to a strange land, one where the stars you’ll see are on Hollywood Boulevard and not in the sky, where the ocean is a stone’s throw away. I’ve created the feeling that I am divided between homes, and no matter which one I am in, I will long for the part of me that I left in the other.

The problem, I think, lies in believing that you can only have one home. It’s easier to find one place and stay there, never faced with leaving the people and places you grow to love, and I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to matters of the heart I am often inclined to choose what is easy over what will be worth the struggle. But thinking back to that beach at Santa Monica, watching Alex move gracefully to some unseen rhythm as she found her center of gravity, I can begin to believe that maybe I don’t have to choose. I can be at home in more than one place.

Written by Erin Wolf

Reflections on a semester with the LA Film Studies Center

We all know that internships and programs are great because they provide us with real life experience and allow us to make connections, but what makes them truly wonderful is when they help us to realize that we’ve got the skills and the passion to pursue what we love.

In the fall of 2016, film studies student and inspiring actress Sarah Cardel spent her semester at the LA Film Studies Center, and it was an experience she’ll never forget.

Interview with Sarah Cardel
By: Sarah Michelle Cruz

In the desert filming La Promesa

In the desert filming La Promesa

What is the program you were involved in and what made it unique?

I was involved in LAFC – LA Film Studies Center- It’s a semester film program that immerses you in the industry both as an intern while also teaching you how to work professionally on a set. It offers opportunities for anyone in the industry- weather editing, acting, or whatever specialty you want to get into on a more focused level. It allows you to work with others and form a team

For example, in one class me and a team of students worked together to complete a short film from start to finish using industry protocol (We had to provide meals for actors, pull permits for location use, etc). The classroom setting allows you to experience what the industry looks like on a smaller scale.

Behind the scenes of La Promesa (where I was DP) – not in this one

Editing my final scene for my acting class

Editing my final scene for my acting class

 What opportunities did you receive through this program that you might not have gotten elsewhere?

I was able to develop a community with the semester class I had, alongside alumni of the program. They provided me with the tools to network with others outside of the program and make connections with people in the industry.

 I got hands on with professional equipment to complete the films that we did. For example I got to be director of photography (the cinematographer) for our main short film and we used Red Dragon, which is a professional camera that’s used on television and movie sets.

Bloopers from Some Scenes With Red (another short I was in)

Bloopers from Some Scenes With Red (another short I was in)

 In what ways have you grown during your time in LA, and what have you learned that you wouldn’t have learned at Whitworth?

 Through my internship, I was able to see the business side of talent in the industry and was able to learn through the experiences of others’ lessons about how it all works, as well as the culture in Hollywood.

 By doing this, I gained a lot more confidence in myself as an artist and aspiring actress. Being in a community of filmmakers gave me an opportunity to do work with like-minded people who also want to pursue their goals.

 While Whitworth focuses on film theory and discussions about film, LAFC provides a creative outlet for transforming theory into reality. It’s more application-based, rather than theory-based.

The La Promesa cast and crew at the premier

The La Promesa cast and crew at the premier

 What are some of your highlights during your semester?

 Night-long/All-nighter film shoots, the relationships I made with the other students in the program, and the many guest speakers, such as different directors and actors in the industry. Doug Jones is one that stands out to me! He is a Christian actor in the industry who is also known for his role as the fawn in Pan’s Labyrinth. He has the most welcoming personality wherever he goes.

Doug Jones!

Doug Jones!

 In what ways have you seen yourself change?

Change is definitely a process, but I know I am more confident in my skills and in owning my goals and aspirations…seeing that it’s part of my purpose and not just a far-fetched dream.

Cardel is currently working as an assistant for a management company in West Hollywood and is taking some time to explore her creativity and expand herself as an artist.

Sarah Michelle Cruz is a Whitworth Alum (’16) who majored in English Writing and Psychology. She is currently living in California’s Bay Area, focusing on writing her second novel and readying her first book for publication. She is also a singer/songwriter working on producing her music just for the sake of sharing it.

A Better Love of Stories

By: Kristin Bertsch

I always knew I wanted to be an English major because I loved stories. I understood stories. I knew what they meant. I really felt like I had things figured out.

Picture it: freshman year, waltzing into Shakespeare Seminar, feeling pretty darn certain I already knew everything there was to know about the bard (I had read Hamlet AND Macbeth, thank you very much). I could read Shakespeare well enough, and I could tell you what the stories were about, and that seemed like the ultimate accomplishment for a Lit major. Then a blonde fireball came blazing in to change it all. It was in that class that Dr. Pam Parker started teaching me a better way to love stories:

“Don’t spend too much on what the story is ‘about;’ figure out what the story ‘does.’ That’s why we do this…”

Those words have resonated in the back of my mind for the last three years. Fast forward to my junior year, and I’m putting those words into action with my mentor, Dr. Parker. For almost two years now, I have worked with Dr. Parker as a research assistant, creating a digital archive of historical materials and, perhaps more importantly, helping create stories that “do” important things.

I work with a treasure trove of letters, photographs, books, film, and ephemera from early 20th century Christian missions in China. These materials are part of Dr. Parker’s family collection, from her grandparent’s missionary service in China starting in 1923. Perhaps you’ve seen me prancing around campus with a mysterious large, grey box. Yes, inside that box, are hundreds of 20th century documents, fragile and musty like an old library book. Yes, I am quite like a peacock when I have this box.

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The Mysterious Box and It’s Letters

My job is to create a digital archive of these materials, which will allow future scholarship and research to be conducted without needing to use the physical copies. This limits wear and tear, and it also lends to organizing the materials in a way that is conducive to a specific research project. Dr. Parker is preparing to use these materials for personal research on China Missions narratives, and part of my job is to prepare the materials for this kind of study.

My work as a research assistant is largely technical, in that most of my time is spent scanning and digitizing letters, photographs, etc, and collaborating with other students and specialists to create a digital commons for storing and displaying the materials. I have developed an unforeseen number of technical skills (which I had always hoped to avoid by pursuing English), but more than that I have practiced the lesson I began with Dr. Parker my freshman year. I’ve been studying what stories “do” and how to use them.

While I’m digitizing with the letters, I also read them. They tell stories about the world from the perspective of a Christian family a century ago on the other side of the world. Stories about food shortage, disease, and violence. Stories about Christmas parties, friendships, and welcome rainfalls. These letters are about beautiful and tragic experiences of life. But what these stories do is even more profound. These stories tell us about ourselves. They tell us about the world we live in yet never seem to fully know. They tell us about our values and beliefs, what we love and what we protect, what we fear and what we lament. Working with Dr. Parker on this project has given me an opportunity to explore the world vicariously and to expand my perspective by looking through another’s eyes. That’s what stories are meant to do, and that’s something to love.

An excerpt from one of the letters…

“The rice fields were so beautiful, like checker boards, each small section ripening at a different time. The bunches of rice stalks coming up in such regular rows and all of the same size that the seeds must have been carefully set out by hand… From Chinkiang to Nanking we were in a region of very low, flooded land, where the tillers of the soil wore shirts and gee-strings only and were up to their shins in water, following the everlastingly slow old buffalo and wooden plow in the rice field; or sitting in large tubs gathering a nutty root from a water plant, which the children buy at the stations like peanuts…”

 

Kristin Bertsch (’17) is a junior English/Writing major at Whitworth, pursuing a future in graduate school and a career in travel writing. Kristin studied abroad last year in Britain and Ireland and will study English at Oxford University during spring of 2016. In addition to her studies and contributions to the English Department blog, Kristin works as research assistant to English Professor Dr. Pam Parker and as archiving assistant to Library Director and Art Professor Dr. Amanda Clark. Kristin is an active supporter of local art and theater and a frequenter of Spokane Poetry Slam.

Oxford Commas & Siam Crispy Chicken

By: Hanna Martin

Free food – the (perhaps literal) carrot on a stick that all college students follow…

My summer internship as an editorial intern at Spokane Coeur d’Alene Living magazine, though unpaid, was full of free food (and a bunch of other cool stuff).

Looking back, my daily schedule seemed to be: 1) Edit. 2) Write. 3) Eat!

When we met our sales goal, the entire office went to O’Doherty’s for lunch. My first article was for the “Signature Dish” page of the magazine so I got to go to The Ivory Table, the only restaurant in Spokane that serves traditional buckwheat crêpes. Over an amazing salmon crêpe and fresh lemonade, I got to chat with the owner of the restaurant about her life and her aspirations. For the next month’s article, I went to a Thai place out in Airway Heights where I was served amazing chicken and perfect white rice. In lieu of a plate, the dish was served inside half of a pineapple! One day, we went to a restaurant owner’s office for lunch, where he literally spread dressing on each individual salad leaf by hand, made mango salsa, and BBQ-d us chicken lavished with African spices. Each year the magazine puts on one or two major parties to celebrate publication. The Hot Summer Nights 20s-themed party was up at Arbor Crest, where we feasted on greasy pizza, fancy chocolate and Arbor Crest’s signature Riesling. Then, naturally, we had a huge dance party under the stars. On my last day of work, to send me off into the school year, we all had tender pulled pork BBQ sandwiches, coleslaw and baked beans for lunch.

One of Hanna's delicious meals on the job

One of Hanna’s delicious meals on the job

Who knew the publishing world could be so filling?

Of course, there were also the realities of my life as an editorial intern. I did immense amounts of research on the topics we featured in the magazine each month, on everything from prohibition and Silverwood attendance to heart health facts and the hours of local restaurants. My favorite part of the job consisted of copyediting the entire magazine the day before publication each month. I’d sit at my desk poring over page after page, trying to make the issue perfect by catching every single spelling error, every Oxford comma (which Spokane Coeur d’Alene Living doesn’t use), every instance where sentences had two spaces instead of one between them.

Obviously I was thrilled when I was given my first feature-length article, a 20-page spread on a historic home in Spokane. I got to tour the home and interview the owner, meet their dog and then write about it all! The home is in the Rockwood district and was designed by Spokane’s first city planners and architects. The oldest ginkgo tree in Spokane is on the property, which also includes a mini putting green, a swimming pool, tennis court, and 11-car garage! It was a home worth writing about.

For all the good parts of the job, there was one sad truth:

Working anywhere in the modern world, you will spend half your life waiting for other people to email you back. Nearly all the communication, coordinating, and even some of the interviewing that I did was via email. It is 2015, and email should accessible in literally 2.5 seconds on your phone…It should never take you more than a day to reply to someone’s email. I assume that people who operate successfully in the professional world will respond to emails as soon as possible.

For you seniors, I have to tell you that I did in fact get this job because of a connection. I didn’t even know I had the connection when I went into the interview, but it turns out that the editor-in-chief is friends with my dad’s colleague’s wife. Crazy. But no matter how distant the connection, try and find one! They’re valuable.

In all seriousness, my time at Spokane Coeur d’Alene Living was immensely rewarding. Seeing my name in print on a glossy, colorful page sent my self-esteem through the roof. I got to wear fancy dresses, heels and lipstick every day and tell people at the grocery store that I had just recently become a published author!

More meaningfully, I was able to build community in the city that I love. Being the youngest in the office, (and with the magazine demographic geared towards 30-40-year-olds), I brought a fresh, new perspective to the summer issues of the magazine. I interviewed people in the city that otherwise might never have received the recognition they deserved. In a personal article, I was even able to share my belief in God and my wonder at His creation with readers.

This internship unearthed the deep desires that push me towards a career in editing and publication. I’ve always loved reading and I’ve always loved words. Now I understand more fully that words hold incredible power. I’ll make sure that the questions and issues raised in literature and media are important and valuable to our readers. I encourage you, English majors, to make your words meaningful, too.

Hanna pictured with her dad on the summit of Mt. Adams holding the magazine

Hanna pictured with her dad on the summit of Mt. Adams holding the magazine

Click the link to read another one of Hanna’s online articles about mountaineering.

Hanna Martin is a senior at Whitworth. She is double majoring in English Literature and French, and she is studying abroad next semester. Hanna got addicted to adventure last May-Term, and has since devoted her time to traveling, reading, and doing as many outdoor activities as possible.

 

This post is part of the Looksharp Internship Blog Competition. To read more about the competition and view other posts go here.

Internship Spotlight: Jennifer Rudsit (’16) at She’s Charming

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Earlier this semester, Jennifer Rudsit (’16) gave us a snapshot of her internship. Here she is again, looking back on her spring semester as a blogger for She’s Charming:

Hello, again! I’m back, having finished my internship. She’s Charming, a blog centered on holistic living for women, was created by Katie Palmer and Dani Erickson, two Whitworth English department grads. Working with Katie and Dani was a unique and beneficial experience, because as recent grads, they understand the Whitworth experience and could give me a lot of advice about classes, internships, and post-college life.

While I’ve always known how influential other people’s writing is in my own life, it never occurred to me that words I write could possibly reach out to someone in the same way. Having my words published online was terrifying, but hearing how people connected with Katie and Dani’s posts, and even mine, reminded me how powerful words can be, and how cool it is that we have the ability to connect with people through writing.

Being a part of the She’s Charming team has also made me appreciate Spokane a lot more. Their Explore section on the blog features local coffee shops, restaurants, and stores, and exploring their recommendations has helped my displaced Western Washington heart enjoy this city in new ways. They emphasize community and investing in where you live, as opposed to passively living day to day in your city. You can’t love something until you give it a chance, and She’s Charming has laid great groundwork for anyone wanting to explore and fall in love with the major cities in the Pacific Northwest.

Thanks for reading – I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time at She’s Charming, and I hope you’ll check out the blog.

Jennifer is a sophomore English writing and literature major, and theatre dance minor. In her free time she enjoys working at the HUB Info Desk, journaling, having nerdy conversations, and, of course, reading a lot of books.

Internship Spotlight: Jennifer Rudsit (’16) at She’s Charming

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Earlier this semester I began an internship at She’s Charming. She’s Charming, a blog started by two Whitworth English department grads, Katie Palmer and Dani Erickson, is a space for women to celebrate all facets of their lives, embracing the idea of holistic living. Their articles are broken up into different categories: style, explore, cook, decorate, self, and career.

As their intern, I write one post a week, switching between the different categories. It’s exciting to have a lot of freedom to write within these categories, and that freedom is helping me create a more productive brainstorming process. Working with She’s Charming has taught me a lot about how ideas can come from a variety of unexpected places. I even caved and got a Pinterest account – turns out pinning provides great inspiration!

I’m also learning a lot about using visual media to complement my writing. It’s more than just writing the article; the post must also be visually compelling and interesting to the reader. With help from Katie and Dani, I’m learning about using pictures, quotes, and more to enhance my writing, and to help my posts fit into the aesthetic they’ve created for the blog.

Since starting my internship with She’s Charming, I’ve also become more aware of the strong blogging community in Spokane. There are meet-up events for bloggers in the area to connect with each other, and a lot of resources for people who are interested in or want more information about blogging. She’s Charming also focuses a lot on promoting local locations, restaurants, and companies in the Pacific Northwest, adding a unique community feel to the blog.

Blogging is becoming an extremely popular forum for discussing current events, opinions, trends, and lifestyles, as well as creating another way for people to connect and share ideas through the internet. It’s been exciting to join this community through my internship.

If any of this sounds interesting to you, you should definitely check out She’s Charming.

Jennifer Rudsit is a sophomore English writing and literature major, and theatre dance minor. In her free time, she enjoys working at the HUB Info Desk, journaling, watching BBC television, having nerdy conversations, and, of course, reading a lot of books.

Internship Spotlight: Josie Camarillo (’14) at SpokaneFAVS

josie camarillo photography

At the beginning of October, I wrote a post about my initial forays into a copy editing internship that I am doing for credit this semester. Well, now, I’m back to update you all on that same internship at Spokane Faith & Values.

I have continued to learn ever more about AP Style and Religion Style as well as about various faith perspectives. I have attended another mixer, at No-Li Brewhouse this time, and it was just as filled with interfaith dialogue and friendship as before. I have also recently invited my editor, Tracy, over for dinner at my house and used her as my guinea pig for a new vegetarian enchilada recipe.

Additionally, I finally visited the infamous Indaba Coffee for SpokaneFAVS’ most recent Coffee Talk. Indaba’s baristas make a mean chai with foam art hearts (see photo). I’m pretty sure that one of the baristas used to work in the Mind & Hearth coffee shop on campus, actually. Anyways, Indaba will be hosting the SpokaneFAVS Coffee Talks for at least another month or two. The next Coffee Talk will be at 10 a.m. on Dec. 7. I am usually one of the very few college students who attends these events and will be unable to attend the December one due to my obligations as a senior psychology major, so they’d love to have you!

The most exciting news that I have for the English Department’s lovely readers, though, is that I have been published on the website! Tracy has been coaching me on the skills necessary to turn long press release into briefs. Brief writing is an artful mix between copy editing and actual writing. The press releases that we receive from some places (like Whitworth, I am proud to say) merely need pared down, but other press releases use ill-conceived diction and grammar or just ramble on for pages. If you check out my author’s page on SpokaneFAVS, found here, you can peruse all of the lovely briefs that I have written in the last month or so.

Well, that’s all that I’ve got for you beauteous readers for now, but don’t worry … I’ll be back! I plan to check in at least once more with the English Department fan base before the semester gives way into Christmas break.

Happy Thanksgiving (a wee bit early)!

Josie Camarillo is a senior English writing and psychology double major at Whitworth. Her hobbies include horseback riding, writing poetry, drinking copious amounts of tea, and photography.

Internship Spotlight: Josie Camarillo (’14) on Spokane Faith & Values

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I recently began a copy editing internship at Spokane Faith & Values. SpokaneFAVS is part of the Religion Newswriters Association. Basically, SpokaneFAVS is a website that provides news for and from different faith perspectives. It is not only a news website, but a platform for community discussion.

So far, in the month or so that I have been working with Tracy (who is a fantastic boss, by the way), I have learned more about AP Style and Religion Style (yes, that is a legitimate thing in news writing) than I ever imagined I would want to.  I have also learned about the existence of some awesome coffee shops in the Spokane area (i.e., Morning Sun Bakery and Revel 77), become an Oxford comma Nazi, fallen in love with the invention of hyperlinking and most importantly, learned about some perspectives outside of my own.

The posts that I edit are written by Protestant Christians, atheists, Buddhists, Mormons and Religious Scientists, just to name a few of the worldviews represented at SpokaneFAVS. I edit opinion blogs, news articles and poetry (if you’re interested in spirituality in poetry, check out Christi Ortiz). My role is much more diverse and personally diversifying than I could have imagined.

On September 16, I was privileged to attend the first ever SpokaneFAVS mixer at the Lantern Tap House (my life was greatly improved by eating their sweet potato fries with parmesan). I was able to meet some of the writers for whom I edit and a few of their families. It was a beautiful thing to see so many varied faith perspectives in a room together, chatting amiably: atheist, pluralist, Jewish, Protestant, Catholic, etc.

Speaking of which, if you’re interested in stimulating, intellectual discussion about faith and ethics among a variety of different perspectives, attend a SpokaneFAVS Coffee Talk. These are engaging forums open to the community. The bloggers write on a specific subject for a few weeks; then, once a month, a panel of people from different perspectives convenes in a local coffee shop to bring the online conversation into the local community. The next one is at Chairs Coffee on Indiana Ave. on October 5 at 10 a.m.

Throughout this fall semester, I will be back to update ya’ll on my further adventures as a religion news copy editing intern. Until then, ta-ta for now, and check out my author’s page on SpokaneFAVS, here.

Josie Camarillo is a senior English writing and psychology double major at Whitworth. Her hobbies include horseback riding, writing poetry, drinking copious amounts of tea and photography. She wrote a post about rodeo photography for the English blog last year.

Internship Spotlight: Ana Quiring (’14) on The Pilgrim’s Way

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I may be (rather suddenly) a grown-up of some sort, but I’m still writing essays about what I did on my summer vacation, and I can’t say I mind.

I suppose this summer qualifies for a coveted position on the Whitworth English department blog because it was a singularly English-y time of my life (rather like all of them). My plans for the summer were to somehow find a job as a barista, which meaner critics of the English major would call “living up to my potential.” Regardless, it seemed a nice enough way to while away the summer in Carmel, CA, a beach town full of quaint shops, dogs, and Texan tourists.

With my expectations firmly managed, you can imagine how excited I was to find a job at an independent bookstore, of all places—specifically, Pilgrim’s Way Community Bookstore and Secret Garden. Pilgrim’s Way has been around since the 60s, and hasn’t changed owners in twenty years.

That owner is Paul Fridlund, a man with the kind eyes and slow-moving calm of a manatee, who answered me in very friendly monosyllables when I came in to apply. His wife and now co-owner, Cynthia, is a firecracker with her own radio show and the paper-goods-conservation skills of a UC Berkeley Ecology professor.

When these lovely people agreed to hired me, I was invited into an entirely new world of books. See, Pilgrim’s Way used to be called Pilgrim’s Way Metaphysical Books. They’ve changed the name and added a lot of paperback novels to widen their appeal, but Paul and Cynthia’s hearts remain with their hearty metaphysical, new age, self-help, and Buddhist sections (not to mention an incense collection that would make the Himalaya mountain region jealous).

These sections were totally new to me, but I soon learned about Tarot cards, Vedic astrology, personality archetypes, and past lives. A hearty crystal and jewelry collection led me to recommend to a German tourist the cleansing power of citrine, or the general good energy of pink quartz. This is not the kind of stuff they teach us at Whitworth.

Of course, along the way I got to recommend a lot of John Steinbeck (a local celebrity), David Sedaris (a personal favorite), and James Patterson (because there just isn’t anything we can do about it—he’s everywhere). Between the books, crystal, and backyard spiritual garden, it was a busy and interesting summer. For example: my favorite customer was an old-timer named Scott Macbeth who ordered copies of Montaigne’s essays and delighted in recounting to me his adventures climbing Mount Everest.

What’s so great about this place, and why I wanted to tell you this story, is this: we have to remember that places like Pilgrim’s Way still exist. There are still quirky, eclectic stories in otherwise snooty beach towns. There are still places for English majors to feel at home, and find a way to pay their rent.

And I didn’t even make a single cup of coffee.

Ana Quiring is an English major specializing in British literature, writing, and compulsive book-buying.