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“Winter Carnival” was a low-budget Hollywood production set at Dartmouth that was released in the summer of 1939. It was an escapist romance movie that included a fleeing heiress, a heartthrob professor, plenty B-reels of ski jumps, ice sculptures and historically accurate newspaper headlines that exclaim “SMOOTH BABES INVADE CAMPUS.”
“From Gurgl and Obergurgl to New Hampshire comes Dr. Wolfgang Schlitz. Touring the White Mountains, he sees Mount Washington, famous for high winds, terrific storms, many climbing tragedies.”
We have different ways of dealing with stress. Some will write down everything they need to get done in the next 24 hours and go down the list, chipping away at a seemingly large mountain of to-dos and don’t-forgets. Others will push off what they need to get done — “Hey, I haven’t cleaned my room in a while, let me rearrange my shelves instead of starting this paper due on Friday.” But it’s almost universally understood that being told to “chill out” is, in most cases, unhelpful. No, taking a chill pill won’t help me ace this test or interview tomorrow. Wow, does it sound like we need to calm down? Excuse you, it’s week six, the part of the term when things aren’t fun anymore. If you’re like us and are in desperate need of a break, explore this week’s issue and chill out with us.
I first heard about Comparative Literature 42.01, “Prada, Chanel, Ferrari: History and Literature” during the tail end of this past fall term. Long enough into the term that I’d begun to feel that itch: the one that you feel when you have just finished midterms and major projects, but have yet to begin finals. The calm before the storm, a lull right before things get crazy, prompts me to start looking at the course timetable for next term. Fantasizing about classes that I didn’t currently have to worry about, the escapism trickled into conversations with friends. Soon, our mumbled grievances during rushed meals turned into almost giddy, romanticized exploration of courses we didn’t have to do work for yet. Somewhere along the way, appearing almost out of nowhere, the mythos of “Prada” was created, and it was felt everywhere on campus. As soon as course selection period began, the class filled up instantaneously, perhaps based on the assumption that it was graded entirely on attendance and four pop quizzes. The class limit was increased from 30 to 60, then again to 200. On the first day of winter term, not accounting for unregistered attendees hoping to get off the waitlist, the class numbered somewhere around 230 people.
Sitting in the library, surrounded by a mountain of textbooks on Theories of Government, I pull out my phone for some momentary distraction. I begin to scroll through my Instagram feed, mindlessly gazing at all of the expertly edited, effortlessly posed pictures that pop up on the screen. Sipping my cup of coffee, I pass pictures of gleaming bikini clad girls, friends clutching red solo cups and groups of attractive music festival goers. Suddenly my cup of King Arthur Flour leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. How can it be that these lives look so perfect? When do they have free time to do all these fun things? Are they actually happier than me?