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I first heard about Comparative Literature 42.01, “Prada, Chanel, Ferrari: History and Literature” during the tail end of this past fall term. Long enough into the term that I’d begun to feel that itch: the one that you feel when you have just finished midterms and major projects, but have yet to begin finals. The calm before the storm, a lull right before things get crazy, prompts me to start looking at the course timetable for next term. Fantasizing about classes that I didn’t currently have to worry about, the escapism trickled into conversations with friends. Soon, our mumbled grievances during rushed meals turned into almost giddy, romanticized exploration of courses we didn’t have to do work for yet. Somewhere along the way, appearing almost out of nowhere, the mythos of “Prada” was created, and it was felt everywhere on campus. As soon as course selection period began, the class filled up instantaneously, perhaps based on the assumption that it was graded entirely on attendance and four pop quizzes. The class limit was increased from 30 to 60, then again to 200. On the first day of winter term, not accounting for unregistered attendees hoping to get off the waitlist, the class numbered somewhere around 230 people.
Sitting in the library, surrounded by a mountain of textbooks on Theories of Government, I pull out my phone for some momentary distraction. I begin to scroll through my Instagram feed, mindlessly gazing at all of the expertly edited, effortlessly posed pictures that pop up on the screen. Sipping my cup of coffee, I pass pictures of gleaming bikini clad girls, friends clutching red solo cups and groups of attractive music festival goers. Suddenly my cup of King Arthur Flour leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. How can it be that these lives look so perfect? When do they have free time to do all these fun things? Are they actually happier than me?
Milestones. Sometimes, milestones are a good thing — who can forget the joy of their first day of starting college, of a baby’s first “mama,” of buying one’s first apartment?
When we think of the milestones, most people think of birthdays, graduation, marriage — significant and recognizable turning points in our lives. Milestones, good or bad, are often celebrated with community, be it for a wedding or funeral. However, one notable life change is often marked by isolation rather than celebration: divorce. Is marriage really a more significant change in people’s lives than divorce? If not, why is one announced in newspapers, celebrated with one’s community, while the other is finalized by one’s signature?
This year is all about celebrations on campus. With the 250th anniversary of our college, Dartmouth students and alumni are celebrating an event dear to their hearts. The celebration of Dartmouth’s milestone pops up amongst the many celebrations ccelebrated on campus — different days with meaning for different people.
My older brother taught me many valuable life lessons: which words not to say in front of my parents, how to climb every tree in our backyard and the correct way to change lanes on a highway. Something he failed to pass on to me, however, was his hatred of birthdays.
1769 College Charter signed, establishing Dartmouth as the ninth college in the United States
My shelves at home are filled with journals, some dating back to elementary school. I no longer write about love triangles exposed on the playground, but the need to record my life has stayed with me. I feel like if I don’t write down the things that seem like milestones to me, I’ll lose part of myself to the past.
The College’s 250th anniversary celebrations have already begun, and among the concerts, free food and green-lit photo ops that some students have had the opportunity to enjoy, there is another aspect of the celebration perhaps more relevant to the Dartmouth student experience: special 250th anniversary courses.