Time Travel: Forming Relationships at Dartmouth
Thanks to the small student population, the D-Plan, and the ever-important concept of facetime, friendships at Dartmouth are constantly forming and evolving. Freshmen arrive at Dartmouth Outing Club First-Year Trips without knowing anyone, while upperclassmen can hardly walk across the Green, much less navigate FoCo at dinnertime, without seeing a familiar face. In this timeline, we have highlighted some of the pivotal points for friendships at Dartmouth. Maybe you’ll find some commonalities, or maybe your friendships have followed a different path. Regardless, it’s probably time for a Trip reunion.
Trips is when many Dartmouth students form their first friendships on campus. Since students do not have access to phones or internet during Trips, it is almost impossible to appear busy or be antisocial. It is not uncommon for trippees to become close friends, as Danielle Moragne ’17 found.
“Two of my best friends are from Trips,” Moragne said. “It’s kind of funny because someone decided to put us together.”
Some Trips friendships, however, fade as the year goes on. Kristy Fan ’17 said that her trippees still greet each other and occasionally meet up but are not close.
Some people are excited to meet and befriend their roommates and might even email or message them to start planning their living arrangements before the start of the term. After all, this is the person whom you will see every day for at least three terms.
While many freshman roommates part ways at the end of the year, some students get lucky with the housing system and remain close friends with their roommates. Roommates that were selected at random became good friends and have even continued living together. Kevin Ma ’17 has lived with his freshman roommate “all through freshman year, all sophomore year and then for part of junior year and now senior year,” he said.
Ma said that he and his roommate get along well and their rooming relationship has continued to work, even four years after they were randomly assigned to the same room.
After trips comes Orientation (sometimes referred to as O-week). This is one of the most facetimey Dartmouth experiences. Moragne said that she encourages incoming students to take advantage of Orientation to make friends and meet as many people as possible.
“Making friends at Dartmouth involves taking advantage of Orientation Week because everyone is trying to make friends,” she said.
However, O-Week friends don’t always last forever. Fan said that she probably met over two hundred people during O-Week, making it difficult to form close bonds. Though freshmen are initially excited to befriend everyone on campus, that energy may fade away as classes intensify.
Alexis Wallace ’17 also met a large number of people during Orientation. While these people might not become close friends, they continue to be acquaintances and familiar faces on campus.
The beginning of freshman year is also when connections form between floormates. Similar to roommates and trippees, some floors stay closer than others, while others will just see each other at weekly floor meetings.
Fan and Ma were freshman floormates and have remained friends. They still live in close proximity to each other along with a few of their other freshman floormates.
Fan said that when she was a freshman she heard an alum talk about how the same people that you will meet on your freshman floor will also be at your wedding. In fact, this turned out to be true. One of Fan’s floormates is planning on getting married after graduation and invited her.
After a long winter break, a freshman student’s winter term can seem like an abrupt transition. While some acquaintances from freshman fall fade away, other friendships become closer. As freshmen become more comfortable on campus, joining clubs and organizations, friend groups begin to fall into place.
Sophomores see freshmen going to social events and reflect on their freshman selves, hoping that all of the people who they haven’t talked to for months still remember them.
After the hectic first year of college, friendships can occur more naturally. Moragne mentioned that being in a class with someone is a common connection, thus giving “permission to make friends with them later.”
The friends that you make in your classes can also slowly become the people whom you study with.
“I’ve definitely got a good group of friends who are bio majors, and we study together and try to motivate each other for exams,” Ma said.
Fan also said that she has made a lot of friends though her classes, because classmates often share common interests.
The start of sophomore fall also means the beginning of rush for Greek houses on campus. For those involved, rush is a hectic time and involves abundant, if somewhat forced, socializing.
After joining Greek houses, many students become close with other members. However, Wallace said that although she has become good friends with some of her sorority sisters, these friendships would have formed even if she was not affiliated, because she would have gotten along with them regardless.
“One common misconception is that because these people are wearing your same letters you have to become friends with them,” Wallace said.
Moragne, who is also affiliated, said that Greek house members form friendships mainly because they spend a great deal of time together and have many mutual friends.
“There is a better chance of liking people that you are introduced to by people that you already like,” she said.
Neither Fan nor Ma is affiliated. Fan said that she has not felt left out due to being unaffiliated — she simply has made friends outside of a Greek house setting.
Sophomore summer is one of the most distinctive features of the D-Plan. Since most students on campus are sophomores, it is easy to get to know one’s class — especially when everyone is spending time outside on the Green. Moragne said that sophomore summer is a good time for forming friendships, because the weather is nice, so it’s almost impossible to be in a bad mood, and you are surrounded by your classmates.
“It’s kind of like O-week again,” Moragne said. However, she noted that, unlike O-Week, she was busy with classes during the summer.
Wallace added that this is a good time to bond with people that you have not really bonded with yet.
“[That term] allows you to deepen relations that are already existent,” she said.
Study abroads and internships. Job searches and major classes. If D-Plans don’t line up, you might not see some of your friends for up to nine months.
Liz Gold ’17 was “nervous to be off for three terms in a row, especially junior spring when most people come back to campus,” she said. However she spent two out of the three terms back home, so she was able to reconnect with old friends and be with her family. She also met many people on the geography FSP in Prague.
“I actually came back to campus after nine months with many more friends instead of losing friendships,” Gold said. “I think the D-Plan teaches you to be flexible and to keep in contact with friends while you’re away. Once you get back to campus, you can pick up from where you left off.”
Senior year is another college milestone. Wallace said that by this time, many students are concerned about post-graduation plans and have a close-knit group of friends, so they might not put as much emphasis on making new friends.
Wallace said that students should realize that it is important to be open to the experience of forming friendships throughout their Dartmouth experience.
“I wouldn’t say that friendships at Dartmouth come to an end,” she said.
But new friendships still aren’t impossible: Moragne said that she is using her senior year to reconnect with her freshman roommate.