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The Dartmouth
June 17, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Leaving With Mixed Feelings

For the last couple of weeks everyone has been talking about "last times."

"This is the last time we'll be in Baker."

"This is the last time we ever have to eat in Food Court."

"This is the last time we will ever use the second floor bathroom in the Hop."

We're leaving. Today is the day we thought would never arrive.

Freshman year, graduation was beyond our realm of imagination. Caught up in our own little worlds of UGA meetings and LC IIIs, punches and field rushings, graduation seemed like the impossible.

Even last week graduation seemed impossible. I had nightmares about failing Engines 1 ("Toasters"), which I desperately need to complete my science distributive. Two days before graduation I still owed the library $75 for some flimsy pamphlet I misplaced.

I was lost in a sea of caps and gowns, barbecues and 97 cent beers, plane tickets and apartment leases -- graduation seemed not only the impossible, but implausible.

Today graduation is the inevitable.

I can't say I'm 100 percent sorry to be leaving. Hanover has been seeming a little small of late. I've pretty much reached my limit in terms of the number of hours one can spend in Murphy's in a single lifetime. I've definitely grown disenchanted with the town's dining options and the fact that people feel compelled to remove all clothing as soon as it hits 40 degrees.

I'm certainly ready to leave behind the inhumanity of frat basements and the insanity of the P.E. requirement. I'm happy to be leaving behind exams and papers and all-nighters and I am most definitely ready to leave behind a school where so many people feel the need to wear purple sashes to demonstrate against sexual assault -- and the institution's handling of it on campus.

I'm tired of living in a place where pretty much everyone looks the same as me -- Dartmouth is certainly a community with a capital "C". It's a place where everybody wears the same clothes and says the same things and those who don't are obvious stand-outs.

It's frustrating to live in a place where people feel compelled to be mainstream and where people with dissenting views are shouted down and ostracized by larger groups -- a place where conversations with the people who need to hear it most are almost impossible.

But the problems that exist at Dartmouth exist in the real world too. While Dartmouth may have its less appealing aspects, it has more than its fair share of people with ideas and energy to fix them -- something I'm not convinced exists in such abundance in the real world.

In our four years here we've seen the advent of Amarna, Dartmouth United and Colors. I'm not quite ready to leave a place where change can be made.

And I'm not quite ready to stop being a student, especially at a school like Dartmouth where classroom experiences are so personal. It's sad to leave behind spring afternoons on the Green, the ability to go days without hearing any news from the "real world" and the option of waking up whenever I feel like it.

Of course I hate the thought of leaving my friends. And even though I tell myself I am, I'm not really ready to leave the comfortable, cushy life of a college student in a small town like Hanover, where you can't walk 20 feet without seeing someone you know.

It's hard to leave a place where almost every single person is outstanding in some manner or another and where passion, academic or otherwise, runs freely. At Dartmouth you can be assured that the success stories will outnumber the failures and that you will rarely encounter mediocrity.

It's also difficult to leave a place where the opportunity to impact others is so great. That's one of the best things about Dartmouth's size. If you're willing to speak up, there are opportunities for you to be heard. If you're willing to take charge, there are opportunities for you to lead.

So I'm leaving with mixed feelings. Though to be honest, part of the reason I'm focusing on both sides is to make myself feel a little better about the whole business of graduation.

It's hard to graduate without knowing what's going to come next. All of our lives we've known what's going to come next. Or at least had a pretty good idea. And some of us do now, but some don't. Even so, it's difficult to leave that which has become so familiar and so comfortable even if it's not all fabulous 100 percent of the time.

But the day has arrived. It's the last time for last times -- probably just as well.