Chance Encounters: Dartmouth’s Best Friend Meet-Cutes

Three seniors reflect on leadership positions and passing the torch.

by Gretchen Bauman | 3/8/23 2:20am

by Caris White / The Dartmouth

I’m taking my off term this spring, so in fewer days than I’d like to admit, I’ll have to say goodbye for 10 weeks to the people who have become my best friends. In the face of my impending departure, I’ve spent much of this term reflecting on friendships at Dartmouth. After five terms here, I can confidently say that I have grown closer with my best friends than I ever thought I would, especially considering how nervous I was before my freshman fall about the prospect of making friends. 

Oddly enough, I met many of my closest friends through chance. For example, I met one of my best friends because she was seated behind me at a required orientation lecture on our second day at Dartmouth. I turned around to introduce myself before the lecture started, then we ran into each other again at a club callout a week later. Afterwards, she texted me to get lunch, and the rest is history. 

Another one of my closest friends went on the same DOC Gile hike as I did freshman fall. Though we introduced ourselves on the hike, I didn’t see her for the rest of freshman year. We didn’t become close until this summer, when we ended up on the same sea kayaking trip in August, which was planned by one of our mutual friends. I can confidently say that nothing builds a friendship like spending eight hours paddling a tandem kayak across Lake Superior. When I asked other students how they met their best friends, many agreed that it was through lucky coincidences. 

Adam Tobeck ’25 also met one of his best friends at an orientation event, and it turned out that she was also a floormate of his.

He met another one of his close friends through mutual friends in his dorm. 

“Our paths crossed a lot, and over time we became friends with each other,” Tobeck said. 

The two also became much closer after having a heart-to-heart. 

“We had a deep, meaningful chat on the floor of the Mid Fay basement hallway,” Tobeck recalled. “Though we had just met that night, he was pouring his heart out.” 

In Tobeck’s case, his friend group coalesced primarily through the coincidence of proximity, as all of his closest friends were randomly assigned to live in Mid Fay. Yet, many students also find their friends through common interests and extracurriculars. I asked Maya Grudman ’25, a member of the track and field team, who she considers her best friends. 

“The girls on the track team,” she said. “Outside of the track team, the girls in AXiD.” 

Some students make friends even before coming to Dartmouth. Kenna Franzblau ’26 said her now-best friend DM’d her on Instagram before coming to campus.

“We were both taking gap years, so a dialogue was opened that way,” she said. “She was also one of the first people I coincidentally saw once I set foot on campus, and then we just started hanging out.” 

In addition to virtually meeting her best friend before arriving on campus, Franzblau’s friendship situation is unique in another way — she and her best friend, Benna McDermott ’26, have rhyming first names. 

“I think it’s so awesome because neither of us have common names, and then they rhyme and we’re best friends,” Franzblau said. “It’s a little embarrassing when we have to introduce ourselves directly after each other and people think we’re joking, but we’re not.” 

Ultimately, it seems that friendship at Dartmouth is often built on putting yourself out there and being open to new opportunities. Saying yes to attending a club callout led me to reconnect with the friend I met at orientation, and we are best friends today because of it. Agreeing to spend a week in the Apostle Islands gave me two more of my closest friends and my future roommates. 

Many of the students I spoke with emphasized the importance of never closing yourself off to making new friends, even after you’ve found a friend group.

For example, Kourtney Bobb ’25 was originally part of a friend group that “didn’t work out.” Yet, once she realized she wasn’t happy in her initial friend group, she was able to branch out and spend time with other friends. 

“I was able to lean on the other people around me, and I realized those were the people I actually enjoyed being around and my true friends,” Bobb said. 

Her advice for making new friends, as a result, is to “put yourself out there, say hi to everyone, and introduce yourself to everyone,” she said. “You never know who you’re going to meet, so just be kind to everyone.” 

Franzblau echoed this sentiment. 

“Once you make friends, even if you think they’ll be your best friends forever, don’t close yourself off to meeting more people. It’s nice to keep your social network super open,” she said.

Similarly to Franzblau, Tobeck pointed out how college is the ideal time for meeting a wide variety of friends.

“Don’t get caught up in feeling like once you’ve found one friend, you should stop there,” Tobeck said. “The whole point of college is that you have four years to meet all of these people who have interesting backgrounds, stories, and life experiences, and especially freshman year, everyone wants to meet each other.” 

As I begin to say my goodbyes before the spring, I’ll continue reflecting on the friendships I’ve formed during my time at Dartmouth. One of the reasons I chose this school was its size — I always see people I know around campus, yet there are still so many students I have yet to meet. 

Franzblau agreed, saying, “the cool thing about Dartmouth is that you can make a new friend every day.” 

Since many Dartmouth friendships begin through pure coincidence, I’m counting down the days until I return for summer term and can experience more chance encounters — and potentially kickstart a forever friendship.