The Freshman Year Bucket List

by Alyssa Mehra | 8/13/17 11:40pm

This article was featured in the 2017 Freshman Issue.

Time flies quickly inside our little bubble of Hanover and your first year at college can be overwhelming with all the various things grabbing your attention. This list consists of experiences and activities that are Dartmouth specific and easy enough to be spontaneously added on to your busy calendar. While it may feel like you can’t do it all, hit these 14 things and you’ll be on your way to immersing yourself in a quintessential Dartmouth experience.

1. Stargaze on the golf course: The rural nature of our school means less pollution and clearer skies. Pick a warm night with a couple of good friends and head to the golf course. The Shattuck Observatory, located behind Wilder Hall, is open every Friday night as well.

2. Lou’s challenge: The famous Lou’s challenge involves an all-nighter that ends with you chowing on pancakes or eggs at Lou’s at daybreak. The diner opens at 6 am and this may very well be the only time the line isn’t out the door.

3. Go to a football game: While it may sound cliché, you should definitely go support the Big Green and watch our football team. Sitting in the stands as everyone cheers them on automatically makes you feel a little bit more a part of the Dartmouth community. The student section is a lot of fun. Plus, admission is free for students.

4. Get a fracket stolen: Nights get cold here quickly in Hanover and that means you’ll need a jacket that you don’t care about to wear out. A frat jacket, or “fracket,” is a warm article of clothing that you might not care about losing. Despite your best efforts to hide it in a frat, it will be taken at some point. It’s a rite of passage to have one stolen. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should steal someone else’s.

5. Sunrike Gile: If you manage to find a car to borrow, a sunrike (sunrise hike) up Gile Mountain fire tower is more of a leisurely walk and a set of stairs, allowing some of less crunchy Dartmouth students to get in on the fun. Make the extra effort to set that early alarm because the view combined with the surrounding foliage is hard to beat.

6. Actually run around the fire: Twenty-two times or you didn’t do it. A highlight of your freshman fall will be Homecoming weekend, of which the Bonfire is a main event. The tradition ensues you run around the fire with the rest of your class for 100 laps with the addition of the last two digits of your class year. A long-standing custom, running around the fire is an experience you won’t forget. You don’t need to run 121 laps, but 22 will suffice — your class year quota and one more for good luck. Just remember not to touch the fire.

7. Check out the Hop: The Hopkins Center for the Arts puts on a multitude of wonderful shows and acts that are worth seeing. Dartmouth is able to get fantastic visiting performers to our secluded campus and it’s a shame not to take advantage of it. If you’re feeling inspired to make some art, the Hop has a ceramics studio, carpentry shop and jewelry making studio open to students.

8. Paddleboard or canoe on the Connecticut River: While the weather is nice, go out on a paddleboard or canoe on the river. Grab Foco-to-go or Collis and bring it out there for an aquatic picnic. Bonus points for the rope swings: For the more adventurous, make it to Pine Park for the ropes or Gilman Island for the swings.

9. Ice skate on Occom Pond: When winter comes around (and it will come around sooner than you think), don’t be bogged down by the cold temperatures and snowy ground. Occom Pond turns into an ice skating rink — the perfect afternoon activity for you and your friends. Head to KAF, the coffee shop and bakery in the library, after to warm up with hot chocolate and marshmallows.

10. Visit the Dartmouth Skiway: Make the most of the snowy days and sign up for a skiing P.E. class. One of the unique things about Dartmouth is that it has its own place to ski. Buses run everyday during the winter term and day passes are as little as $20. Any beginner can learn on the bunny hill and advanced skiers can race down the harder runs.

11. Join a club: The club fair will take place early your freshman fall and it’s one of the most important things you can go to. Various student groups and organizations on campus will set up booths for you to get on their email lists and learn more. Try out for a performance group or sign up for a club that you wouldn’t have been involved in during high school. It’s an amazing way to meet upperclassmen. Fill your time outside of academics and get more involved with our community.

12. Go to office hours: Even if you can’t find the time to do all the others on this list, go to office hours! The accessibility of professors is one of the great things about Dartmouth — take advantage of it. Even if it’s not class related, ask questions about their experiences, their work and learn about their lives. They’ve done some pretty cool stuff.

13. Bring your teacher to lunch: Continue the conversation and bring your teacher to lunch at Pine, the restaurant in the Hanover Inn. If you’re intimidated to go by yourself alone, ask up to three classmates to join. These conversations can turn into future research opportunities or lifelong mentorships. And the best part is that Dartmouth pays.

14. Explore different departments: Try any class that piques your desire. Don’t be constrained by a tentative major plan or class distributive credits because an awesome class is always worth it. Classes you’re genuinely interested in will always be the ones you remember the most. Ask upperclassmen for their favorite recommendations and don’t be afraid to shop around.