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On a morning in early February of this year, I walked into Baker Library at 9:17 a.m. I entered from the west, and I paused to take in the scene. Checkered tiles receded hypnotically into space; low winter sun slanted in from the windows. Blobby was quiet, serene. I hadn’t been inside any of Dartmouth’s libraries since sophomore summer, and suddenly, I had my favorite study spot all to myself. I experienced such intense joy, coupled with such poignant grief, at returning to a place I had loved throughout my first two years at Dartmouth, that I immediately stored the memory of that moment as a quasi-religious experience.
We’re in the final stretch of the term. This week marks many endings: the end of 21W, the end of a campus-wide COVID-19 outbreak and the final days of The Dartmouth’s 177th directorate. Here on campus, it’s nearly 50 degrees and sunny, and the promise of an imminent spring in Hanover has been getting us through the final days of the term (or distracting us from our work by tempting us to go outside — either way, no complaints here).
As winter term nears completion, campus feels like a ghost town. With active COVID-19 cases soaring to 140, students are locked down. Chairs stacked on tables reinforce that we can’t dine inside, and even outdoor activities have ground to a halt. But Dartmouth turns forth her silver linings on the night. The sun climbs higher every day, thawing the ground for spring. Berries and other rare snacks line the shelves in Collis. And before we know it, another round of finals will be behind us, as will the current virus outbreak.
Week eight is upon us, and the balmy mid-30 degree weather here in Hanover makes it feel like spring is approaching. It’s likely that the water puddles on the path to Baker-Berry Library will freeze up again some time in the near future, but we might as well enjoy it while it lasts.
Almost a year has passed since the pandemic began and campus shut down. By now, we have largely adjusted to the strange, timeless haze of remote learning. Or maybe time is racing by because we are just as busy as usual, jumping from Zoom class to club meeting and back again.
Does anyone else feel like we’re living inside a snow globe? Inches of powder cover campus, and practically every day more flakes fall from the sky. Ice sculptures line the walk to Collis, marking the start of Winter Carnival. Walking across the Green means creating fresh tracks, passing ice skaters twirling in circles — and of course, everyone’s favorite: donning a frosty mascara from the condensation in your mask.
Big things are happening — we’re in week five after all. We’re also in the midst of a nor’easter, and for those of us in Hanover, we’ve found ourselves surrounded by a stunning winter landscape. Black History Month begins this week, and the College is celebrating the achievements of Black women through a series of events.
Just like that — we’re already in the thick of midterm season, rush and the start of a new presidency. In Hanover, time seems to pass as fast as the snow builds up, and it looks like we’ve already gotten a few more inches. For those of us on campus, we’ve come to the end of our time in quarantine, and we’re all antsy to get out of our dorms. Thankfully, many of our favorite campus facilities have started to open up — although for now the excitement might be limited to studying in the library across from friends. But hey, we’ll take it.
In a time of many firsts, this week marked yet another novel experience for many Dartmouth students. Whereas setting up dorm room decor is usually a pre-term activity, move-in this term took place in six-hour time blocks last weekend, between weeks two and three of the term. Arriving in Hanover, the process was orderly but time-consuming. First stop: trek through Leverone Field House to stick a cotton swab up your nose. Second stop: haul luggage to your room. Third stop: wait.
Well, we’re back. In the past few weeks, many of us have celebrated holidays without the company of our extended families, we’ve seen the beginning stages of the COVID-19 vaccine dissemination, we’ve said goodbye to 2020 and we’ve watched the government run amok at the tail end of Donald Trump’s presidency. There’s a lot to process, but there is also a lot to be grateful for, including our health, our loved ones and being able to return to Dartmouth for another term, whether virtually or in person.
Well, we did it — we finished 20F. Whether that means completing your first term in Hanover or managing to stay sane while taking online classes in your childhood home, we all have something to celebrate. This fall was not without its obstacles and difficult moments, but we can all take pride in knowing that despite all that the world has thrown at us — a pandemic, a divisive election, remote learning — we managed to persevere.
This past weekend, the nation breathed a sigh of relief. Even if the election results didn’t satisfy everyone, at least the process was over. After long days and longer nights of refreshing electoral maps, tracking vote counts and listening to news anchors drone on in the background, Dartmouth students could finally turn back to our studies and buckle down for the final weeks of the term. In many cases, we cracked open our textbooks after popping champagne, satisfied that our campaigning efforts had paid off.
It’s week eight. But more importantly, it’s the week of the election. And, well, that’s as much as we can say. Without a clear winner called at the time we write this, as ballots continue to be tallied and the prospect of recounts loom, the U.S. is trapped in a twilight zone. Whether you’ve been obsessively following election coverage since Tuesday morning or occasionally checking your phone for breaking news updates, we’re all feeling the stress of being in a state of limbo. Is it time to cry? Should we pop the champagne? Do we even know? When will we know?
They call October “spooky season,” and this year, it’s not hard to see why. Dartmouth students are nearing the end of our third term since COVID-19 began. Finals are approaching, and exams and essays are always spooky. Next week, Americans will head to the polls to determine the trajectory of our nation, and many students can only hope their absentee ballots get counted. Spooky. And of course, Halloween is right around the corner, but can any costume be spookier than the masks we’ve been wearing for months?
The election is coming up, midterms are in full swing, the new season of “The Bachelorette” has started — oh, and it’s week six. At times it feels like the term is flying by, whether that means realizing we’re past the halfway mark and your professor still doesn’t know your name, or coming to terms with the fact that you’re never actually going to “catch up” on lost sleep.
In the age of COVID-19, we have often looked for comfort in generalizations. For instance, take the sentence you just read. Since March, our society has defined the current moment as a distinct “age” — novel and different from everything we knew before the pandemic. And to understand this bizarre time, we’ve relied on the most mundane of phrases. These are “unprecedented times.” We struggle through “an era of uncertainty.” We adjust to “the new normal.”
Week four is always hectic with midterms, club tryouts, realizing it’s definitely time to wash your sheets and other timely reminders that we’re almost halfway through the term. Although this fall is obviously different, Dartmouth students — whether on or off campus — tend to find themselves in a similar state of overcommitment, teetering on the brink of having too few hours in the day to complete everything they have on their plates. And yet we manage to push through, albeit with fewer hours of sleep under our belts.
This week at Mirror, a student living off campus reflects on feeling like an outsider when visiting Dartmouth. We look at how a revived club, Dartmouth Classical Ballet Theater, is taking on the challenge of hosting virtual dance lessons. We also speak with our writers about how they’ve settled into the fall term.
The leaves are nearing their peak fall colors, plenty of the students living in Hanover have already hiked Gile Mountain and apple picking is in full swing. Week four is stressful, but the fall season is a beautiful distraction. We’ll get through this week, just like we have in terms past. If you need a break from studying, take a step outside and breathe in the crisp, fall air. You might just develop a new appreciation for the outdoors. Or you might have an epiphany about that essay you’ve been stuck on. Either works.
For our generation, technology is second nature. We’re at least as comfortable gripping a laptop as a book, and thanks to auto-correct and iPhone calculators, our spelling and mental math skills have fallen by the wayside. The internet is where we seek information, entertainment and even connection. While older generations might not understand how we make friends or find love online, for many of us, virtual spaces form a real and robust world.
As students get into the swing of a new academic term, this week marks the end of quarantine for many living on campus. For some, this may provide the excitement of increased freedom and flexibility. But for others, these additional privileges may incite feelings of uncertainty. With the pandemic standing at odds with the desire for human contact — especially for freshmen seeking to make friends — will we be able to conduct social interaction in a safe and responsible manner?
People often talk about New Year’s resolutions as if Jan. 1 marks a logical date to start eating clean and hitting the gym. For students, however, the new year starts in September. As the trees begin to repaint themselves in flaming colors, Dartmouth students can remake themselves by trying out new classes, activities or ways of living.