Anika Smuts ’27 Posted on January 23rd, 2024 by

This First-Year From Palo Alto, CA, on Snow, Tater Tot Hot Dish, And Life As a Gustie.

Folks have bets on when Smuts is going to pull out her parka. “My roommate’s from Hallock, MN, like 30 miles from Canada. Her guess was Oct. 12,” Smuts says. But as of Oct. 30, Smuts has kept the parka in the closet.

She was prepped on the Minnesota weather by her dad, a pastor whose first church was in Alexandria before the family settled in California. “Lots of my family went to California Lutheran, but I was looking for something else, something new and different,” Smuts says. “After my first visit to Gustavus, I was pretty set.”

What attracted this California girl to the Minnesota River Valley? “The people I met with made a big difference. I could see myself here.” On Admitted Student Day, “I got to sit in on a class. I got to see how things work. The professor was super nice. The other students in the class were nice.”

Gusties, she’s noticed, are nice.

“People go out of their way to say hi and ask how you are. We talk about our weekend before class starts. That didn’t happen at my high school.” And the profs? “The professors [are what] I like the best about Gustavus. They make it so it doesn’t feel like a formal class setting. I’m more willing to participate and talk than in high school.” If she has one complaint about Gustavus, it’s that classes don’t last long enough.

Right now she’s taking music theory and keyboard skills, comparative politics, and Nordic theatre travels. She’s also playing trumpet in the Gustavus Wind Orchestra as well as the Gustavus Symphony Orchestra. She admits that the first two weeks were “a lot. Orientation, getting to know people, it was also really hot and humid.” (Another bit of prepping from dad: “It’s not the heat that gets you, it’s the humidity.”) Still, she’s jumped right in to experience everything a Gustie life has to offer. So far, it’s been a really great fit, with very little to fear.

Except the salad bar. “The salad bar in the Caf is scary. There is ‘cookie salad’ and ‘Snickers salad.’ I visited one of my Minnesota friends over fall break and they made tater tot hot dish. I was scared of the green beans. But it was actually really good.”


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