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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.
I was raised under the sun, yet I wasn’t really supposed to be. My skin takes after my mother’s, who grew up in northern China, where the sun hides for a large part of the year. When my mother was younger, her skin was pale and spotless like porcelain. After living in California for over 20 years, her skin is now adorned with a lovely arrangement of spots and freckles that bear witness to her strength and adaptability.
My first term at Dartmouth was mostly spent grabbing meals. Like many, I was unaccustomed to, but excited by, the ability to eat at all hours of the day. The Class of 1953 Commons and Collis Café saw much of my DBA in my first few weeks here. More engrossing to me, though, was the chance to meet and talk with people from so many different backgrounds. Hearing my new classmates tell stories of places I’d only once imagined was both exciting and overwhelming.
I have a habit that often annoys my friends. Before watching a movie or starting a TV series, I have to read the Wikipedia plot summary first so I know the ending. I try to do the same with books if there is a plot summary available online. One could call this a bad habit, but I never saw anything wrong with it. This practice maximizes my enjoyment of media because I can watch or read things without having to be stressed about whether my favorite character would die. Suspense has never been my cup of tea.
There was a moment a few terms ago when I was trekking back home after another long night in the library. It was snowing and I was miserable and exhausted, my paper still unfinished, my anxiety acting up in full force. The walk from Baker-Berry to the Lodge was a long one, made even longer from the construction at the Hood Museum of Art and because the Hopkins Center for the Arts is closed after midnight. I remember stopping for a moment, looking at the empty street at 2 a.m. and thinking to myself that perhaps this would be a moment I would still remember and miss after my time here ends.
“Game of Thrones” ended last Sunday, and people hated it. The next day, while hot takes exploded across the internet, an ’80s-style remake of the final scene made the rounds on Twitter. As Jon Snow rides north, he looks back over his shoulder one last time — and then Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” slides in. A character montage rolls as tongue-in-cheek “Where are they now?” text flashes on the screen. “Arya found land west of Westeros and named it Westereros,” we learn. “Bronn was stabbed and killed in a bar fight three days later.”