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Your freshman year at Dartmouth has a special kind of glow. There will be moments in which it feels like the best time of your life — when you make friends with people from all across the country, when you experience the magic of four distinct seasons, when you uncover opportunities for learning whose existence you never fathomed. Dizzy with thoughts of friends from places like Taiwan and North Dakota, jewel-colored leaves and classes on everything from human-centered design to catastrophe and human survival and the ethics of reproduction, you will at times lose your breath to wonder.
“Hi. How are you?” “Hey. I’m great — what about yourself?” “Great!”
Unlike many other incoming first-year students, when Emma Chiu ’19 arrived at Dartmouth in the fall of 2015, she had previously heard the terms “flitz,” “FSP” and “BEMA” but only because she had watched a YouTube video of Conan O’Brien’s 2011 Commencement address at Dartmouth and heard him name-drop several examples of campus vocabulary.
Hanover is 1,815 miles away from my hometown of Watauga, Texas — a tiny suburb just outside of Fort Worth. A quick internet search shows that the drive would take a solid 27 hours, though I’ve thankfully never had to test that out for myself. By air, the journey from Dallas/Forth Worth International Airport to Boston Logan International Airport takes three to four hours, not to mention any time spent in the airports themselves or the three-hour Dartmouth Coach trip waiting for me when I land.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY FROM FRESHMAN YEAR?
22s, you’ll soon come to realize that at Dartmouth, we’re all hungry. Hungry for knowledge, success, friendship, and above all else, food. As far as eating is concerned, Dartmouth Dining Services, better known as DDS, has us covered. There are plenty of options to satiate our biggest cravings, from fresh salads for when we want to pretend to be fit to gooey cookies for when that sweet tooth occasionally (read: often) pops up.
Of all the wisdom imparted during my freshman orientation week, one suggestion resonated most. This wisdom was offered up during the Twilight Ceremony by a student on the eve of her senior year who stood in the BEMA, short for Big Empty Meeting Area before the corralled Class of 2021. She spoke of time at Dartmouth — how jam-packed schedules rendered the days short, how a 10-week term can feel like a single month and how lucky we were to be on the cusp of four entire years in this magical place. Her advice? Simple and concrete: each day, when the “Alma Mater” rings from the Baker-Berry Library Bell Tower at 6:00 p.m. each evening, pause and listen. Be present for those 30 seconds. Look up from the textbook in Blobby or from the phone in your hand as you cross the Green toward the Collis Center for dinner. Take a second, even glance up to the bell tower, and allow yourself to remember that you are here.
English and creative writing professor Peter Orner recently joined the College.
If you are not struck by love upon your first step on the Green, first Collis smoothie or first run around Pine Park — no fear. It can be a slower kind of love, a kind of love that you don’t notice until you’re sitting in your 9L, daydreaming about hitting the green, not hitting the stacks, after class.
Autumn. Leaves shift from their summer greenness to vibrant shades of red, orange and pink. As they span the color spectrum, aging steadily into a crisp brown dryness, the leaves abandon roots and fall one by one to the ground. For some, this scene merely signifies a climatic shift, a transitory phase between summer and winter. For others, it heralds what we have long called “sweater weather,” prompting them to fill their closets with clothes that are too thick for the heat, but too thin for the cold. In that short span of time between both seasons, even our closets become transient.
At work this summer, I was asked to write a card to a client’s daughter. She was about to start her freshman year of college. I was flattered that they considered me worthy of dispensing advice. But as I was writing, I realized I was the one who needed to follow my own advice. It is always easy to offer recommendations to others without actually practicing what you preach. The following is an extract of what I wrote to the woman just a few years my junior: “Remember that you are not alone in your uncertainty. No one really knows what they’re doing! New beginnings are scary. I was so nervous my first day. And some of that discomfort lingers, but growth never happens when we are wholly comfortable.”
Peter Orner is a new professor in the department of English and creative writing. Orner has authored acclaimed story collections and novels and edited various oral histories over the past two decades. He most recently released a series of essays and memoirs called “Am I Alone Here?: Notes on Reading to Live and Living to Read,” which was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. Orner is teaching Creative Writing 10, “Writing and Reading Fiction,” and Creative Writing 40.06, “Uses of Fact,” during the fall term.
Every September, over 1,000 first-year students come to Dartmouth. For many, the College provides an outlet to experience new things. For others, it provides a place to meet people from all different backgrounds. For some, it creates the perfect environment to foster a romantic relationship.
Welcome back to campus, Dartmouth! From the hints of orange, yellow and red on the trees to the crispness and coolness of the air, it is evident that 18F is finally upon us. Fall is my personal favorite season of the year. I’m a sucker for peak foliage, exciting activities and tasty treats. I have crafted a list of some must-dos on campus and around town this season. Trust me, once you start checking these items off of your Dartmouth bucket list, you’ll soon be wishing fall term would go by a little bit slower (if you weren’t thinking that already).
Unlike many other incoming first-year students, when Emma Chiu ’19 arrived at Dartmouth College in the fall of 2015, she had previously heard the terms “flitz,” “FSP,” and “BEMA,” but only because she had watched a YouTube video of Conan O’Brien’s 2011 commencement address at Dartmouth and heard him name-drop several examples of campus vocabulary .
The most conventional definition of “persistence” invokes some sort of struggle or challenge. To persist is to actively withstand, to toil and, in turn, to triumph. A dandelion pushing through an expanse of asphalt, claiming a crack as its own, persists. A young man fighting the magnetism of particles in a block of wood persists. Hikers trekking up the slope of a mountain, blanketed in dark, persist. Prospective corporate employees, pitted against suffocating odds and pressed for time, persist.
Define “persistence” in four words.
There are people at Dartmouth who apply to 20 or 30 companies over the course of the corporate recruiting process and get rejected from every single one. That’s a reality that most Dartmouth students are aware of when they decide to participate in the process, yet the hope of securing that one perfect internship still motivates hundreds every year to drop their resume and cover letters at any number of listings posted on DartBoard. The trade-off between the staggering amount of work some students put in and the shaky chances of success could be compared to a Pyrrhic victory: a victory that is accompanied by such staggering losses that it almost feels like defeat.