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When thinking about where to go for college, I was drawn to America because of the much-vaunted liberal arts education. I did not know what I wanted to study, so a school like Dartmouth seemed a natural choice. Three and a half years later, I’ve learned a little about a lot of things and wish I knew more about connections between fields of knowledge.
This column was featured in the 2018 Winter Carnival Issue.
One recent evening I wandered around a fraternity, stupefied, as a small human tragedy unfolded. Familiar faces flashed before my eyes. I wasn’t in the condition to make small talk, and neither were they. We were conducting the social whittling away that is endemic to modern existence. This process takes on added significance during the winter of one’s final year at Dartmouth.
This article started as a tirade against Dartmouth Dining Services. I know this is an overworn topic — The Dartmouth Editorial Board and The Dartmouth Review have already done a good job airing students’ fresh set of grievances for 2017. But it was 4:30 p.m. on a rainy Sunday, and the KAF line was a long, painful reminder of the inadequacy of our school’s dining options. And so I wanted to know: What exactly is DDS?
Robin Jayaswal contributed to this cartoon.
I spent the first week of my senior fall waking up early every morning determined to do work, only to remain in bed in the fetal position, paralyzed by stress. Thoughts of what I needed to do — apply for jobs, start my thesis, apply to fellowships — overwhelmed me. The weight of infinite futures lay heavy on my chest. And so the last rays of summer light were lost on me. If birds chirped, I did not hear them. If the grass gleamed, awash in early morning dew, I did not see past my bedroom window.
I recently returned from three months studying and interning in Beijing. I noticed something unsettling when I returned to America: I had stopped Googling things. When I had a question, I simply let it formulate and then vanish. In China, I did not have a VPN on my phone and relying on Bing is like being led by a blind guide through the ill-lit cave of the Internet. It once returned a WikiHow page on how to raise a child when I looked up some song lyrics. And so I stopped trying to find things out.
The two terms I took creative classes at Dartmouth stand apart in my memory. They were in the spring and summer terms, and the nice weather played a part in my heightened sense of well-being. But there was something stress-relieving about being graded for creating as opposed to analyzing. Instead of answering questions, I was exploring their meanings. One assignment asked that I write about a problem from a friend’s perspective. I ended up writing a cathartic short story where I articulated my homesickness for Singapore and high school.
This column was featured in the Green Key 2017 Special Issue: "Awakening."
While avoiding writing this article, I began to clean out my room. It started when I saw an engorged duffel bag oozing under my bed and decided to investigate its long-forgotten contents.
The experience of returning to Dartmouth as a junior is somewhat jarring. Most ’18s have realized, hopefully, that we will be leaving soon, and many will have gotten a taste of what will come next — probably through an internship where they brushed up against the previously inviolable Adult World. Part of what makes this experience more poignant than past work is the understanding that college will end soon.
My grandfather, known in our family as Pop-pop, left today after a two-week visit. Every year, he makes a pilgrimage to this part of the family in California, where he soaks in rays of sun that leave his pale skin riddled with basal cell carcinomas. Around twice a year he has these blemishes wiped off his body with blasts of liquid nitrogen. What is left are white scars the color of the moon.
Colorblindness: a cartoon.
One has to wonder at the fortitude of winter’s merrymakers. From the depths of January, on evenings worn black by nights already eight hours old, you can observe something strange. Scurrying about Webster Avenue in the freezing cold are spectral lumps. These creatures mill over icy roads and through weather-biting winds, and a stench of beer incubates beneath their heavy winter layers to be released as a heady perfume upon arrival at some familiar destination … The cold air often invigorates these inebriates, and it is perhaps at this moment that one of the creatures recalls those now indelible lines from College President Phil Hanlon’s Moving Dartmouth Forward plan: “Our vision is for Dartmouth to be a place of around-the-clock learning.” The student grumbles, to no one in particular, “Around-the-clock what?” before continuing a jumbled march onward, unsure about what this sentence could mean in a world as cold and confusing as ours.
Of all the leaks of former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s personal emails, one that attracted the least attention in the end was her description of having both a private and public stance on Wall Street. Clinton was articulating something deeper here: the idea of politicians having differing — perhaps untruthful — personas in public. In itself, this is not a bad thing. As long as public promises are kept, or there is at least an attempt to keep them, I see no reason to care about a politician’s personal beliefs. That said, this notion of a divided identity can only work when it is not public. And keeping it secret is increasingly improbable in a time of hacks and leaks — those grown-up offspring of yesteryear’s tabloid journalism. Today, politicians’ private lives are fair game for the public eye — but so are everyone else’s.