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Sophomore summer holds a spell-like fascination in the minds of Dartmouth students. When talking about the upcoming term with my peers, many of them voiced not only excitement, but also trepidation that the summer would end too quickly, and the thing all of us have been looking forward to for so long would suddenly be finished. Dartmouth students have heard so much about the traditions surrounding sophomore summer that most of them look forward to it long before the term is even close to beginning. However, while sophomore summer has existed in its basic form for many years, it has evolved with each class that experiences it.
During an especially introspective stretch of time, my 15-year-old self jotted down several quotes that fell within the boundaries of what I perceived to be profound. One of the first to appear was the phrase, “The only thing I know is that I know nothing,” derived from something Socrates may or may not have once said.
A writer for The Dartmouth once joked that staffers only know two things about me: that I’m from Hawaiʻi and that I have consistently arrived late to campus each term. While the second point did not always happen by choice — some of my flights back to the east coast really did get delayed, guys — the first bit of information is certainly one that I conscientiously shared with everyone I met at Dartmouth.
College is weird. Part extended summer camp, part boarding school for semi-grownups, part elitist neoliberal institution, part academia machine, college means different things to different people, but no one really knows what it’s going to be like until they’re there. My first impression of Dartmouth was of miles and miles of trees. On the drive up, my mom and I felt like we were headed to the middle of nowhere — coming from dry, dusty southern California, I had never seen so many trees in my life. It felt like I was entering a different world.
I remember the first time Dartmouth felt like home. I remember the day — Jan. 3, 2015. I remember my outfit — a recently-bought wool sweater littered with pretzel crumbs. I remember where I was sitting — about halfway back the Dartmouth Coach in a window seat. I don’t remember the movie playing, but I do remember the screen was right above my head and I do remember the Coach’s headphone jack didn’t work.
As they prepare to graduate from Dartmouth, seniors might feel the need to make a lasting impact on the college where they’ve spent four years of their lives. That is the basis for the senior class gift, the yearly tradition of pooling money through the Dartmouth College Fund to contribute to financial aid for the College’s incoming class. The Class of 2018’s class gift will support financial aid for the students of the Class of 2022, half of whom will be receiving financial aid from the College. Students can donate any amount of money they choose, though a common donation is $20.18
When I was looking at colleges, I asked current students a lot of questions. Their responses were plentiful, varied and usually helpful. But when I asked Dartmouth students what stood out about their school and why they seemed to love it so much, I got one answer over and over and over again: they loved Dartmouth because of the people.
The last word. When everything is said and done, what is left? You spent four years here. Twelve terms. 2,103,795 minutes. 126,227,704 seconds. How do you condense it all — the friendships, lessons learned, heart-to-hearts, sweaty dance party nights and 2 a.m. cram sessions — into just a couple of words? Once you graduate, how will you look back on your time here? Will your time here by defined by terms? Defined by that term you fell in love, that term you met the people you can’t imagine life without, that term you decided to pursue your passion? Or will you define it by year? Will you look back on your second year as a “sophomore slump” or reminisce fondly about lazy days on the Green during sophomore summer? Those who won’t be graduating any time soon, how will you choose to spend your remaining time here? Luckily for you, members of the 2018 directorate of The Dartmouth impart some of their wisdom in this issue of the Mirror — the ’18s are back for one last time, for one last word.
As of Week Nine my senior spring, it has finally hit me that I will soon be leaving this place for good. Some things that I already miss include: the plentiful piles of DBA I use to supply, guilt-free, my daily caffeine fix; my student discount; New Hampshire’s lack of local taxes. Some things that I will definitely not miss include: the KAF line (actually, any line on this campus); a nagging sense that I should be finding a passion that sustains me in the way everyone else on this campus seems to be sustained.
Last week, when I learned that Philip Roth had died, I searched my Notes app for the line from “American Pastoral” that I’d copied down last spring: “And since we don’t just forget things because they don’t matter but also forget things because they matter too much ... each of us remembers and forgets in a pattern whose labyrinthine windings are an identification mark no less distinctive than a fingerprint...”
When I walked away from my parents on Robinson Hall’s lawn for Dartmouth Outing Club First-Year Trips, laden with a heavy backpack leftover from my father’s Eagle Scout days and several items of mild contraband, I knew that I wouldn’t be talking for a while. Faced with the prospect of introductions and icebreakers, I contemplated how I could survive the next few days saying as few words as possible. When faced with the opportunity to make a bad impression or a good impression, I tend to split the difference and do my best to make no impression (at all).
Believing in a defined Dartmouth is a flaw on our campus and one almost every student sinks into. There are the Dartmouth rampers, those who build up the College to be something it never can fully be: a place of traditions and pong and brotherhood. Then there are the detractors: to them, Dartmouth is ever oppressive, a place of privilege to be dismantled.
I ask a lot of questions.
Ever since I was a child, in response to practically any concern I have, my parents have always given consistent, simple advice: be yourself. Worried about fitting in at summer camp? Just be yourself. Scared about that job interview? Just be yourself. Nervous about making friends at Dartmouth? Just be yourself.
2:40 p.m. I step into the main line of King Arthur Flour, placing myself right behind the other three customers extending outside of the entrance. It’s a Monday afternoon and 2s started half an hour ago, so I’m not expecting the in-between-classes rush. The line’s a little longer than I’d prefer, but I’ve seen worse.
ABSTRACT: The purpose of this research is to further develop the theory of the origins of relative time, which can be synthesized from absolute time. It is thought that relative time and fun have an inverse relationship, and the experimental results are consistent with this hypothesis. The study was unable to identify the physical structure of the substance that causes this relationship.
I have a cheat sheet that helped me trace David Harbour ’97’s theatrical journey through Dartmouth and back to the stage of Spaulding Auditorium last Sunday. The Dartmouth has catalogued the actor’s early ascent through the ranks of theater at the College. Harbour landed a lead in “The Beautiful People Die Twice” during the fall of 1993. Only a month or so later he performed in “Measure for Measure” as “the undisputed star of the show” Then, after a brief hiatus he returned to the Hopkins Center for the Arts, this time to co-direct Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” in the spring of 1995 and in the winter term of 1996 to direct “’Tis Pity She’s a Whore.” The write-up on the latter describes Harbour’s desire to use theater as a medium to bring up universal questions about love and revenge. After two more excellent performances, one in a play by German playwright Bertolt Brecht and another one by English playwright Samuel Beckett, Harbour culminated his theater experience at Dartmouth by directing “Hamlet” in the spring of 1997. The production was dark and inventive.
“We have some bad news for you all. This is never an easy thing for us to do.”
Dartmouth is a school full of traditions and these traditions are what bind our community tightly together. Passionate alumni often revisit campus to share their tales of triumph, trial and tribulation. For some, a significant aspect of their “Dartmouth Experience” includes falling in love. (It seems like every week students can be found either running around fires, jumping in freezing ponds, pulling all-nighters to go to Lou’s Bakery or even confessing their unrequited crushes on Last Chances.)