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Glittering trays of chicken nuggets, steaming hot waffles fresh off the press and ice cream — so much ice cream — await behind the doors to Foco. At the start of your freshman fall, I’m sure you’ll eat one, two, three or maybe four meals a day in Dartmouth’s only all-you-can-eat dining location.
Freshman orientation: For most, it’s a time of awkward introductions, forced smiles, getting lost and, if you’re lucky, the feeling that you might just have met someone who could be your new best friend. It’s also a time when it seems like your entire life has burst open with the opportunity to become a new person, develop new skills or concentrate on an interest that you haven’t yet had the time or courage to put out there. And so it was for me for a few glorious days of freshman fall — that is, until I was struck down by what I like to call the Freshman Plague.
As a new freshman class arrives to campus every year, students come bearing differing academic visions for their next four years at Dartmouth: some pre-med, some engineering, some humanities, others perhaps more focused on languages or social sciences. However, many — like me — come to Dartmouth their freshman fall knowing next to nothing about what to pursue academically or professionally. This can make choosing one’s first term of classes quite an endeavor.
Once upon a time, some Dartmouth fraternity brothers playing table tennis rested their mugs of beer on the table while they played. A few stray ping pong balls landed in the cups by divine accident, until someone proposed that it was more fun to aim for the mugs of beer themselves.
The painter. The poet. The nerd who owns it. The swimmer. The hiker. The party-all-nighter. The baker. The maker. The family caretaker. The bundle-of-nerves-for-this-term-long-icebreaker. You all have unique experiences that have shaped your identities coming into college. Every Dartmouth student — from those who come from “Just Outside Boston” to those who come from Rwanda — has their own world of memories and skills to share with the Dartmouth community. You are all so different, yet you all ended up here, in middle-of-nowhere New Hampshire, for the most transformative years of your lives.
As sophomore summer draws to a close, so do the days of lounging by the river, perusing the farmer’s market, driving to Ice Cream Fore-U and falling asleep in Astro 1. Sophomore summer is about relaxing, but it’s also about letting students pursue activities they haven’t tried before and subjects they haven’t studied. It’s a time to step out of comfort zones, unhindered by the stress that accompanies the typical Dartmouth term.
They say sophomore summer is different from all other terms — and it’s true. From June to August, Dartmouth students swim more, tan more, eat more farmer’s market kettle corn and in some cases, sing, dance and laugh a lot more than any other term.
On July 16, author Jayson Greene visited Sanborn Library to read excerpts from his new book, “Once More We Saw Stars: A Memoir,” as part of the English department’s Cleopatra Mathis Poetry & Prose series.
Picture a Saturday afternoon on the Connecticut River, friends laughing beside you and your toes growing numb in the water. It’s hot, it’s sunny, and you “forgot” to bring your reading for Jews 11. Now picture the river jammed bank to bank with rafts and tubes, your entire class drunkenly drifting downstream in a jumble of swimsuits, abandoned flipflops and floating kegs of beer. That is Tubestock, sophomore summer’s long lost “big weekend” tradition — and you’ll never see anything like it again.
For many students, Dartmouth is a place of ever-present change. For generations of students and alumni, four years at Dartmouth can be profoundly transformative.
The term we’ve all been waiting for is finally here. Since we arrived at Dartmouth — or even before, during tours or information sessions — upperclassmen and alumni told us that sophomore summer would be the best 10 weeks of our college experience. Expectations are high as we text home to convince our high school friends that summer school is a blessing, not a curse. But if two years at Dartmouth have taught us anything, it’s that 10 weeks fly by in an instant. How can we make each moment last, knowing that in two short months the Class of 2021 will disperse to foreign study destinations and internships around the country?
1. Finish up your Dartmouth bucket list
What does space sound like? How do we see space, and what does it actually look like? These are just a few of the questions raised by the Hopkins Center’s film screening “Portal to the Sky: Cinema and Space” on Monday.
What was the best summer of your life?
Most of my favorite evenings have ended the same way, talking to friends. These days, that’s sitting in the kitchen at the Sustainable Living Center, where waffles are usually present. But freshman year, that was right outside of my room on the first floor of Berry Hall in the McLaughlin cluster. A few of my newest college friends and I, sitting on the carpeted floor, backs up against the wall.
“I could’ve done better.” For a long time, that thought has been nestled comfortably into my headspace, surfacing with frustrating regularity. It’s what I told myself after every high school debate tournament in which I couldn’t conquer my anxieties, after every column I’ve written for The Dartmouth that didn’t convey the eloquence I wish I had, after every exam, every race, every interview. Recently, it’s a conclusion to which I’ve returned repeatedly when reflecting on my Dartmouth experience.
The first time I stepped into the Tower Room, I audibly gasped. It was during a late-night tour of Dartmouth, part of the Dimensions program, and I attracted some strange looks from my fellow tour-goers. But I couldn’t help myself. The hardwood floors and tables, the shelves full of dusty old books, the cozy nooks and alcoves, the vaulted ceilings, the warm glow of the lamps and the chandeliers — all of these things flooded into my vision, enamoring me and exciting me and overwhelming me. It was the kind of storied, iconic library that I’d only ever dreamed about, a real-life Hogwarts conjured up before my eyes. I couldn’t believe that this was a real place that mere mortals could casually enter.
Coming to Dartmouth, I had always known it was a school lauded for its political accessibility, as countless prominent figures across the political spectrum — both New Hampshire-specific and also on the national scale — often come to Hanover specifically just to engage one-on-one with the Dartmouth student body.