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Last June, NASA chief scientist Jim Green told USA Today with certainty that humans will be on Mars in the near future. The prospect of starting over on a new planet once we’ve decimated this one is beginning to feel ever-so-slightly less like science fiction than I’m comfortable with. The mere 12 years afforded to the world to stop climate change in its tracks by last year’s UN report can feel a bit like a death sentence. Meanwhile, evidence of historical bodies of water on the now-dry planet of Mars suggests that past life on the planet, at least, is not out of the question.
When I tell my friends from home that Dartmouth requires its students to pass a swim test in order to graduate, I’m usually met with several common responses: disbelief, laughter, pity and pure confusion being a few. Most people will respond with something like, “What’s the point of having a swim test at a college? You’re there to gain academic skill and knowledge, not to learn how to get from one end of a pool to the other!” At least, my parents definitely said something along those lines.
Until recently, I didn’t think it was possible to get sunburned in April ... at least, not in New Hampshire. On one of the first (and few) beautiful days we’ve had this term, I sat outside on the Green for over six hours, doing nothing at all but chatting and people-watching. By the end of the day, my back was striped red where my tank top wasn’t, because in my mind, sunscreen is for beach days in July when the heat is so strong that we pale folk just know we’re going to burn. In the summer, we prepare accordingly.
We’ve all heard the saying “age is but a number,” and we see it right before our eyes here at Dartmouth. Though we are mostly all in our early 20s, sometimes it feels as if we are running out of time. Deadline after deadline, term after term, we’re always looking one step ahead, and our time here flies right past us. We worry about our summer plans in winter, what classes we are going to take next term while we’re in the middle of this term and where we’re going to be employed when we’re still students. In the face of all this planning, graduation comes along right before we know it, and we’re left wondering what the heck happened to the past four years.
What has been your favorite Dartmouth memory?
At Dartmouth, we love our icebreakers, particularly ones that require us to go around in a circle and say a fun fact about ourselves. In order to avoid the awkward moment when it’s suddenly my turn and I’ve mysteriously forgotten everything about myself, I have built up a small repertoire of fun facts I know are foolproof. Here are my go-tos. My last name (Zhukovsky) means town of beetles in Russian; they filmed 30 Rock in my apartment building; I’ve never broken or fractured a bone (knock on wood!); and my personal favorite — my parents are 17 years apart. Yes, you read that correctly. My mother was taking her SATs when my father was born on the other side of the world.
Everywhere I go on campus, whether it be the Hop, Collis, Foco or any academic building, all I see are undergrads who appear to be the same age as I am. And it feels completely normal to see Dartmouth’s 4,410 undergraduate students walking around every day. However, it is easy to forget that there are also 2,099 graduate students on Dartmouth’s campus, especially when their experiences are less visible to someone like me.
"Oh, I’d love to visit, but don’t you go to college literally in the middle of the woods? There’s just so much more to do in the city.”
“I’m too old for this!” I have exclaimed in frustration time and time again as I open my phone and bounce between four different apps before eventually putting my device down in defeat. Why did I open my phone again? Mindlessness and forgetfulness can plague even the most Type-A college student. Though I am only 20, I swear on my life that my memory is not nearly as good as it used to be. But how much of that cod psychology can be written down to confirmation bias? In order to learn more about the brain of college students and the science of forgetting, I spoke to psychology and brain sciences professor Robert Santulli, who specializes in aging, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
It was 6 p.m. on the first Friday of fall term my senior year. It was a gorgeous end-of-summer day, and campus was buzzing with the excitement of everyone’s return and the start of a new year. Most of my friends were already drunk. I was lying on the floor of the Life Sciences Center laboratories having a panic attack.
How many times have you had to tell someone a fun fact about yourself? It seems like we are constantly meeting new people, having new experiences or playing one icebreaker game or the other. Having strong support systems on campus helps us ease into the process that is “icebreaking,” and we can form these systems even before freshman year.
Everyone knows that Dartmouth did not admit women until the 1970s. While this fact is well-publicized, its far-reaching implications regarding the treatment of women on campus are less frequently discussed within the student body.
Tell us about your worst fall/slip on ice at Dartmouth.
When we think of blueprints, a lot of things come to mind: planning, designing, rearranging. We use blueprints and their corresponding process of design thinking to construct the soundest building, to create the best D-Plan and even to solve our problem sets. As students, we like having steps to follow in order to ultimately be successful. Having things planned out provides us with a sense of reassurance, with the comfort of knowing that it will all make sense in the end. But sometimes, we hit a block in the road, and things don’t go exactly as planned. Even so, things have a funny way of working out.
Think about a recent conversation you had that was particularly meaningful. Maybe it made you reevaluate your own perspectives or reflect on your personal values. Maybe it was at 1 a.m. with your roommates over Domino’s buffalo wings, or with a mentor or with a friend from home. Mine was with an 8-year-old on a Caribbean cruise. Said 8-year-old was passing my friends and I when he suddenly stopped us and asked suspiciously, “Hey. What do you guys do at night time?”
Going to college is scary. Being in college is scary. I combat this fear with planning. On the drive from Alexandria, VA to Hanover, I opened the Notes app on my phone and made a list of goals that would allow me to become the version of myself that would thrive at Dartmouth. I’ve stuck to some of them. Some didn’t work out because I didn’t understand then what it was really like being here. Planning allows me to feel like I have a handle on the future, but I’ve accepted that I have to revise my expectations when life happens.
What's your blueprint for success?