Freshman Fall Bucket List
You’ve probably seen dozens of listicles with titles such as “48 things you must do in college.” But not all lists are created equal. This one consists of Dartmouth-specific activities that are actually worth doing in your freshman fall. More importantly, this list is actually feasibly accomplished in the short span of your 10 week fall term.
1. Try out for a performance group: Student performance groups like a cappella, improv and dance troupes are big at Dartmouth and their auditions are open to anyone. It’s a good way to do something outside of your comfort zone even if you don’t get into one of the groups. If you do get accepted, you can find an enjoyable artistic outlet and a close group of people who share a common passion.
2. Stargaze on the golf course: One of the great perks of a rural college is the lack of light pollution and the resulting opportunities for star gazing. The open expanses of the Hanover Country Club golf course really allow for the full panorama of the night sky. Do it early in the term when it’s still warm enough.
3. Go get yourself some culture at the Hop: The Hopkins Center for the Arts (aka “The Hop”) is the home for high-brow performing arts in campus. The Hop plays host to all sorts of visiting artists as well as broadcasts of everything from Met operas to West End plays to art films. Generous student discounts apply.
4. Order EBAs when everything is closed: Okay, so it’s 2 a.m. and you’re hungry. This being a small and almost inconveniently bucolic campus, you will need to look to the greater metropolis of Hanover for food. For that you will need EBAs pizza. It’s probably not the best pizza in town (that’s Ramunto’s), but its open later than just about anything. It’s famously open until 2:10 a.m., to be exact, and they do delivery.
5. Do the Lou’s Challenge: If you’re having such a late night, whether from work or revelry, that it’s turning into an early morning, you can attempt one of Dartmouth’s various “challenges,” of which the Lou’s Challenge’s is arguably the easiest. Stay up the whole night, then go to Lou’s Restaurant once it opens at 7 a.m. to complete this challenge and enjoy the pancakes. Just allow a few days for your sleep schedule to recover.
6. Eat some Thai/Cambodian food: The Hanover dining scene may lack something as simple as a cheap fast-food burger, but it does have three (rival) Thai restaurants — Thai Orchid, Tuk Tuk and Kata Thai — and a Cambodian food truck. It’s all highly recommended.
7. Smell a fraternity basement: Greek life may not end up being the thing for you, but you should at least have the experience of going into a fraternity basement and smelling the mixture of beer, water and grime that creates part of the atmosphere of the Greek scene. It may be gross at first but if you choose to stick with Greek life, you will grow accustomed to, and even fond of, the smell. The stench really is something to be experienced.
8. Get a bike/fracket stolen: This is not so much an experience to seek out as it is a right of passage. At Dartmouth, it seems that some people have decided we’re living in a commune with no private property when it comes to certain objects. If you put your jacket in a fraternity (your “fracket’) and don’t hide it, someone will eventually take it. The same goes for bikes without locks. That isn’t to say you should take other people’s stuff, of course.
9. Go to the Life Sciences greenhouse: Fall in New England may be beautiful but it can also be cold and dark, especially as fall term drags on. For a change of scenery, visit the Life Sciences Center greenhouse, which is full of abundant and exotic plant life. It’s also a great (warm) study spot. Find it on the top floor of the Life Science Center.
10. Go to a football game: Okay, its not like you’re going to school at Alabama, so don’t expect 80,000 fans in a massive stadium. Still, Dartmouth football games are an engaging diversion from many student’s routines of classes and clubs and a great outlet for school spirit, complete with singing the alma mater and speaking ill of the other Ivies who visit Memorial Field. And admission is free for students.
11. Go to office hours: THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING ON THE BUCKET LIST. You’ll hear a lot from a lot of upperclassmen who say they regretted not talking to their professors earlier in their Dartmouth careers. You don’t need to make the same mistake. Dartmouth professors generally love getting to know their students and few schools in the world offer you a better opportunity to establish personal relationships with world-class scholars. Getting to know a professor can help you in a class, lead you to research opportunities and even help foster a lifelong relationship.
12. Run around the fire 20 times: Your first big weekend will be Homecoming, the centerpiece of which is the Homecoming bonfire. The traditional thing to do is to run around the bonfire as many times as your class number (so that’s 20 for you folks) while being lightly roasted by the bonfire and bedecked in Dartmouth green. It’s really just a light-to-moderate cardio workout that’s a great way to bond with your class in the process. For the more intense ’20s, aim to do 120 laps.
13. Do not touch the fire: In the weeks before Homecoming weekend, as well as during the bonfire itself, you will hear upperclassmen telling you to touch the fire. They’re messing with you. First, the bonfire is, in fact, a very large fire and as a result is burn-inducingly hot. Second, if you attempt to touch the bonfire by breaking the circular barrier around it, the friendly officers of the Hanover Police Department will tackle and arrest you. Don’t do it.
14. Do assist anyone attempting to touch the fire: My single favorite moment from my own Homecoming was watching a mob of about a half a dozen students pull in a kid who had been tackled by the police right next to the circle’s perimeter. It may have technically been obstruction of justice to snatch him out of the jaws of law enforcement, but it was a great show of class spirit. Help out your classmates who are brave/stupid enough to touch the fire. Within reason.