Julia in Taos

Julia is a senior finance major with a specialization in alternative asset management, a concentration in risk management & insurance, and a minor in economics. This is her second time to study in Taos.

Missing Taos


As I sit alone working in my New York City room, all I can think about is how much I miss Taos. Images of the picturesque New Mexican landscape fill my head despite the illustrious skyline of Manhattan outside of my window and the breathtaking madness on the streets below. NYC does not have that precious vibe found only in Taos, and while I love finance, the busy hours of Excel modeling, and business dress codes, life is so wholesome and simple in Taos.

mstnghallSMU-in-Taos offers student opportunities unlike anything other schools provide.  On a recent off day, I wore one of my SMU-in-Taos t-shirts around the city. During our outing, a few of my fellow interns asked about the program. Throughout my explanation and stories of Taos, their eyes continued to widen.  They were shocked SMU had such an expansive campus in such a special locale so different from a “typical” college property.

One coworker compared our campus to a summer camp for celebrities.  While I thought it was a humorous remark playing into one of SMU’s stereotypes, he had a good point.  Who else can explore the luxurious mountains through so many activities in an often unknown and exclusive location while still being productive and getting a few classes accomplished?  Sounds like special treatment to me!

Julia2If you are a current SMU student who has never been Taos, I strongly encourage you to consider the opportunity.  You may have excuses – I had them, too.  However, you cannot dismiss the advantages offered by the quick schedules offered during the May and August terms.

IMG_4619Scholarships are available, and you can even be an RA, like me, to further cut down on tuition!  SMU-in-Taos enables you to have your extraordinary summer internship as well as having an educational vacation in Taos.  Grab a group of friends and go have the best summer experience to date. The professors are incredible, the food is outstanding, the town is adorable, the people are absolutely precious, the weather is perfect, and the potential adventure is unparalleled.  Do it.  Take the step and branch out, even if “nature” is not really your thing.  I promise you won’t regret it.

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Food upon Food upon Food

Turkey & Green Chili Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Turkey & Green Chili Grilled Cheese Sandwich

The food at SMU-in-Taos, and in town, is always crazy delicious and wholesome. If you plan on eating in the Plaza before a Taos Plaza Live show or shopping, I’d recommend The Gorge or Graham’s, but honestly who wants to miss Ginny and Lilian’s creations in the campus Dining Hall?

Everything they prepare is all natural, organic, perfectly delicious and wonderful every meal. The kitchen staff here is composed of the sweetest people who make it their mission to ensure you’re satisfied and ready to tackle your classes, hikes and other New Mexican excursions. Being a self-proclaimed foodie, I love to capture the beauty of the food on-campus. So many colors, textures, smells, tastes…YUM!  I wish I could share a bite with you, but enjoy a few pics of my favorites!

Berries are a breakfast staple in Taos; my favorite!

Berries are a breakfast staple in Taos; my favorite!

Cookouts are on Sunday evenings, when classes take turns preparing dinner.

Cookouts are on Sunday evenings, when classes take turns preparing dinner.



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Eclectic Experiences

Me at Taos Plaza Live

Me at Taos Plaza Live

Every Thursday evening in the summer there is a musical event in the Plaza called Taos Plaza Live  (TPL). This Thursday night we made the trip an RA program since Max Gomez was singing. He is a very popular hometown boy, so we were excited to go see him along with his adoring fans!

The Plaza was an awesome place full of eclectic people and delicious food to keep you satisfied for days.  In fact, I think I’m still full from my Butter Pecan Rocky Mountain Ice Cream…..time to go for that run along the creek on-campus.  TPL was a big party with dancing, friends, and laughter.  I think the entire town was there!  People of all ages attended with many of their precious doggies in tow.

Rocky Mountain ice cream

Rocky Mountain ice cream

The performance was great, and I cannot wait to return to the festivities again next week!

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Extreme Regret

As a Resident Advisor in Taos, I often drive one of the vans transporting students to their Wellness activities. Through this experience, I have learned that not taking my Wellness class in Taos was one of the biggest mistakes of my life! Today I drove a van for Anne Weil’s class to a rock climbing adventure.

Rock Climbing

Rock Climbing

First, Ms. Weil is one of the most amazingly wonderful, super remarkable people you will ever meet. Second, rock climbing was so much fun!! Not only was the view incredible, but the 100-foot climb was thrilling. The expert climbers who guided us were incredibly helpful, but encouraged you to reach out of your comfort zone – literally!  My sunburn is quite severe and excruciating, but that is all a part of the experience, right?  Wear your sunscreen, y’all!  Good thing Ginny, the Executive Chef, has plenty of genuine Aloe Vera to share.

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SMU Luxury Juxtaposition

Today was our final day of field trips for the course. We visited El Monte Sagrado Resort and the Blackstone Ranch Institute. Because of our recent study of permaculture and biomimicry, we were off to explore the sustainability practices taking place at these two luxurious locations in Taos.

First stop, El Monte, we found to be breathtakingly gorgeous both inside and out. If you are ever visiting Taos with your parents for a ski vacation, you have to stay here! Our tour guide explained the challenges the resort has had within the Taos community because of the strong cultural beliefs against such opulence and high standards of living.

In order to develop a love/hate relationship with the people of Taos, El Monte established itself as an ecological preserve. They utilize a system known as the Living Machine, which blends cutting-edge science and engineering with plants and beneficial bacteria to efficiently treat and reuse wastewater, which enables El Monte to provide a lasting water solution in an area where conflict over water rights is common. By modeling the entire facility through permaculture, El Monte is able to provide an indulgent resort and be ecologically mindful of the epistemologies of the neighbors and surrounding cultures.

Blackstone Ranch

Blackstone Ranch

Next stop was the Blackstone Ranch.  After traveling along a winding road, we turned onto a gorgeous piece of property that extended into the mountains. From the comfortable meditation room, to the horse stables, lush green house and two industrial kitchens, this multi-million dollar facility needs to be my future home! What started as a think-tank for environmental exploration has turned into a place for groups to come, stay and explore green ideas.  The Institute provides grants to organizations that are exploring cleaner and more efficient ways of life in hopes to revolutionize some area of our world.

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Culture Maintenance: The Pueblo and the Puye Cliff Dwellings

In my CFA class we have learned that culture is not static and is, in fact, quite dynamic – evolving all of the time in response to outside influences and events.

Today we visited the Taos Pueblo and the Puye Cliff Dwellings. I definitely have a deeper appreciation for the amenities of our modern lives after learning how these two groups of people survived yet still maintained their strong cultural beliefs. Because I’m in a sustainability course at the Taos Pueblo, my class did not just go on your typical tour. We were given a tour by the Pueblo’s Environmental Manager who oversees all regulations from the United States government that must be implemented while making sure they do not conflict with the Pueblo’s deep and spiritual beliefs.

Puye Cliff Dwellings

Puye Cliff Dwellings

As a sovereign nation, the Pueblo often finds itself in a difficult position, juggling traditional principles with those of the modern world located just outside the wall and over the mountain.  That the sacred beliefs of this culture have been maintained for so long displays the pride of the people who still live without electricity, indoor plumbing, or other amenities we take for granted.  They do not live this way because they cannot afford such luxuries. It is considered an honor to live in the original Pueblo without such modern conveniences because of the sacred and historical relevance of the community.

After leaving our tour with a greater appreciation for the people of the Pueblo, we began our road trip to Santa Fe to visit the Puye Cliff Dwellings.  Traveling by the scenic High Road and weaving through the mountains, we saw views some only dream of witnessing.  I wish I could have filmed the entire journey.  Now I am only left with the scenes replaying through my mind.

Upon reaching the outskirts of Santa Fe, I was excited to enjoy a picnic lunch with my class and the opportunity to explore the Puye culture. Once we arrived at the dwellings, I was in shock and awe! While the homes are no longer inhabited, the remains are left and continue to surprise all visitors.  Around 1000-1200 A.D., these astonishing humans carved their homes out of the volcanic rock of the Pajarito Plateau.  The details and pictographs that remain tell their life story before and after the Spanish conquistadors came and conquered the region. Our tour guide, ancestor of the Puye, currently resides in the Santa Clara Pueblo just down the road.  He conveyed that his people have also worked very hard to maintain their culture from long ago as well as their respect for the Earth’s environment.  Being able to climb the mountain and walk where such history was made was a marvelous research opportunity for my class.

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A Whole New World

Yes, I stole the title from Jasmine and Aladdin.  What can I say, Taos IS a whole new world to this born ’n raised Texas girl!

This is my second summer to come to Taos, and I’m still learning new things about the surrounding area and history that shaped it.  One of the greatest aspects about Taos is the opportunity to get out of the SMU Bubble found around the Dallas campus.  Being exposed to different cultures, ways of life, and people makes for an eye-opening experience you’re sure not to forget.

Campus on a typical lovely afternoon

Campus on a typical lovely afternoon

During the 2013 May term in Taos, I’m taking Sustainability and the Environment, CFA 3385, taught by Dr. Faith Nibbs. During our course we have been discussing the environmental movement throughout the country and different consequences felt in the Taos area specifically.  From the Hippie communes to the ecovillages in the surrounding areas today, Taos definitely has a culture that supports ecological movements and strives to maintain them.

Today we visited the Earthships, an ecovillage that has built some of its incredible structures around the globe.  This community lives in radically sustainable buildings made with recycled materials constructed in a surprisingly beautiful manner. More concisely, they live completely off the grid.  The people of the residences in this community survive with electricity from the sun and wind, water from rain and snow, heating and cooling from the sun and earth, and feed themselves with food grown with only their own resources in their homes!

The architecture and raw knowledge of the Earth’s natural cycles is absolutely mindboggling.  The research necessary to construct these homes is amazing, and the larger structures are truly remarkable artistic masterpieces.  They are quite luxurious with some priced in the upper millions.  This community is something I definitely recommend you check out, and I’m glad SMU-in-Taos afforded me the opportunity to be exposed to such a community in a learning field trip.

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