As my first term in college draws to a rapidly approaching close, I'm compelled to look back at the past few months and try to piece together as best I can what the heck it was all about. (Oh yeah, this is also a convenient cop-out--who really wants to have to carry one coherent thought all the way through a column?) So, without further ado, some random thoughts from the mind of a first-term freshman. (Please remember that I am a freshman, and accordingly you can take most of this with a shaker full of salt.)
College is hard.
College is fun.
People drink in frats, people drink in dorms -- either way, people will drink and there will never be a shortage of parties.
There are many more issues facing a college campus than admissions literature would have you believe. I don't think it's just Dartmouth.
There are ways to offend people I had never even conceived of before (oops, I apologize to whomever I just offended).
There's plenty of room for grade inflation. You have nothing to worry about, professors.
You know what? High school never really resembled Saved by the Bell.
It really really sucks having all the athletic facilities on the opposite corner of campus from the Choates.
How come when I tell people I live in the Choates, the first thing they say is "I'm sorry?" I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I'm telling you, you're all missing out.
No matter how calm and collected your fellow students look, they're all probably as stressed out as you. Probably more.
Not everyone says "pop" like they should. "Soda" is such a random, sketchy word, don't you think?
The East Coast, if Hanover can be called the East Coast, isn't nearly as hostile and mean as I was led to believe.
The reserve corridor is the happiest place on earth.
Ten week terms are intense!
One tends to learn the names, locations, and reputations of the frats pretty quickly.
I've never learned more in such a short period of time. And lots of what I learned came from random discussions in the dorm at crazy hours of the night.
What's with this "getting dark in the middle of the afternoon" business? Is this Alaska?
Everyone here has so much to contribute. I never realized there were so many cool people in the world, and they all happen to be here.
I never realized how ignorant I was before or that there would be so much out there I have left to learn. I also never realized that there would be so many people just as ignorant as I am. I guess there's a lot I can teach too.
Yes, even in 1999, close-mindedness and bigotry are still forces with which to be contended. I hope whoever wrote those slurs on Charles Gussow's board doesn't think that that kind of thing is going to be tolerated anywhere, not just here.
What's taking them so long to tear down Bradley and Kiewit?
It must be something in the air responsible for the downright giddiness permeating the student body. Some way or another, the atmosphere, the academics, the social life everything mysteriously combines to create this "Dartmouth" thing that everybody just worships. Is it really a good idea to tinker with a good thing? I've found no other college campus in my correspondences as flat-out happy as this one.
I've personally found plenty of non-alcoholic social options to keep me busy. You don't have to drink to have fun.
I never knew s fire could get so big.
The DOC trip remains the highlight of my college experience thus far. It brought out the atmosphere and sense of belonging that you can get by no other means. I like the DOC office where it is. Oh yeah, Collis and Thayer both seem to be perfectly adequate as they are too.
Everything has a way of working out in the end. I never would've believed that if you told me as I was turning in my college applications last winter, but tell me, could things have worked out any better?
Wait, it doesn't always work out. Too often things don't work out as we would like, and then we have to go and fix the new problem. How about this: don't take anything for granted. In the end there will always be something there that we have to live with, so we might as well try to make it something we all want to live with. This is not one of those times where you just sit back and let everything "work out," tempted as you may be. Dartmouth will still be Dartmouth 10 years from now, but we want it to be our Dartmouth.
There are way too many ways we can go wrong now and end up with something completely unrecognizable, some sort of social experiment engineered by others to create a place similar in name only. Would it really be what we consider Dartmouth? Aren't we already a happy student body? There are always ways to improve on well enough, but there are other times when you just want to leave it alone before you create something that can only be defined as bad enough.
And one final thought: I couldn't be looking forward more to the three and two-thirds years ahead of me.