Friends From Afar: ’24s Navigate a (Mostly) Remote Second Term
The Class of 2024 was given priority to live on campus during the fall and spring of this academic year, which means that many freshmen are spending their first Dartmouth winter scattered around the world. Whether arriving on campus for the first time or taking Zoom classes in a busy house, ’24s are facing a strange second term at the College.
Zhory May ’24 is living at home with her family in Kansas. She stayed home in the fall term and plans to continue remotely in the spring.
“I would say I feel pretty detached from the Dartmouth environment,” May said. “I’ve actually never been to campus before. I applied and was going to do a campus tour, but because of COVID it was canceled. I didn’t feel like it was safe to go to campus during the fall, so I stayed home.”
May added that living with family and taking classes hasn’t always gone smoothly.
“My parents want to walk in while I’m in a Zoom and interrupt me, so I’ve had to kind of separate my school life from my familial life. We’re really close as a family and it’s been fun being at home, but I’ve definitely had to set boundaries,” May said.
Heather Damia ’24 took classes remotely in the fall but chose to come to campus in the winter, making this her first term in Hanover. She said that while finding other ’24s isn’t too difficult, there aren’t many other students new to campus, and the resources for getting oriented in the winter are not the same as they were in the fall.
“The main challenges I have faced being new to all of this is figuring out things like DBA, recycling and the meal swipes, because I think that most people assume that if you are on campus in the winter you have been here before,” Damia said. “Everyone is super helpful though, and the community has been very welcoming.”
To stay connected to campus and meet people, May joined Dartmouth EMS, the entrepreneurship living learning community and the Shabazz Center for Intellectual Inquiry. She also met friends in the First Year Student Enrichment Program through Zoom gatherings organized by ’24s last summer.
“I tried to apply for everything that I could see fit,” May said. “I came to Dartmouth with one of my classmates from my high school, so we talk occasionally, and then I’ve met people through classes. I’m not a part of FYSEP, but I really found a sense of community there. We like to play Mafia and Among Us a lot.”
Damia said that the on-campus experience feels like it requires students to “take your fate into your own hands.”
“There aren’t as many tent events as there were in the fall — most of the activities are outdoors. There are not a lot of good methods of meeting and socializing with people if you don’t already know them,” Damia said, though she added that the COVID-19 restrictions don’t feel too harsh and she’s been enjoying ice skating on the Green.
Colin Donnelly ’24 and Emily Levonas ’24 have had a completely different winter term experience. They have been living together with eight of their track and field teammates in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Donnelly and Levonas said they would have liked to live on campus for the winter quarter, but only two students out of their group of 10 received on-campus housing, and they wanted to stay together.
Donnelly and Levonas said they enjoyed living with the team, as their group of 10 is tight-knit and has been since the fall term. They said the group works well together, especially since they share similar priorities in terms of athletics and academics.
Donnelly said that the College’s restrictions in the fall made it difficult to meet many people, and being remote in the winter is not helping.
“Winter has been a big interruption to the whole freshman experience,” Donnelly said. “In the fall I think people felt the need to stick to their bubbles and groups of friends because so many people were sent home. It made you scared to socialize with groups of new people, as there was always a risk of getting into trouble.”
Levonas agreed a remote winter term has made it hard to maintain relationships from the fall.
“If you are not seeing people constantly it can be hard to sustain friendships, so we are lucky in the sense that our team is kind of like a confirmed friend group and we have been able to maintain that,” she said.
Sovi Wellons ’24 is on campus for her second term this winter. She said she has been able to socialize through outdoor activities, but that it’s been harder to find other ’24s than it was in the fall.
“There are so many upperclassmen that it’s kind of hard to find other ’24s unless you know people who are already on campus,” Wellons said. “I think they’ve done a really good job with Winter Carnival. I’ve met a lot of people cross-country skiing or skating. It’s definitely more challenging than the fall, but it hasn’t been as bad as I thought.”
Despite the restrictions on social life, Wellons said that she is happy to be in Hanover.
“I’m very, very glad I’m on campus, just because the environment here is better for learning. I get to go to the library to study and actually move around instead of sitting in my room for 10 weeks,” Wellons said.
May said she plans to enroll remotely for spring term in order to finish an EMT course at home. Once she arrives on campus in the fall, she is looking forward to exploring Hanover.
“I want to go to Baker-Berry Library,” she said. “I’ve seen pictures and it looks so nice. I want to check out Occom Pond and basically check out the whole campus. Maybe I’ll finally take an admissions tour.”