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When it came time to start visiting colleges as a high school junior, I had no idea what I was looking for. I knew I wanted to study something relating to international relations, study abroad at least once during my college career, and attend a school that would challenge and stimulate me academically. Other than that, however, I left my mind and options open.  

It's hard to imagine a world where I'm not friends with these people. Had I not chosen to come to Dartmouth, I don't think we ever would have crossed paths.

After visiting a number of schools, I began to notice a pattern emerging. I started to dread traveling to colleges in cities or walking around schools that had more than 10,000 undergrads, yet I looked forward to exploring quaint campuses tucked into cute towns. Coming from a high school that sends most of our graduates to nearby colleges, I knew I wanted to break that mold -- and I realized that my childhood dream of attending an Ivy League school was still very much alive.  

The picture I posted on Instagram the day I received my acceptance to Dartmouth!

You might be thinking that all these factors point to Dartmouth being the perfect school for me. It's located in beautiful Hanover, NH, a small town that also provides access to plenty of nature-y things to do, its undergraduate population is around 4,000, and it is an Ivy League school. Thinking back on it, I probably should have seen that all signs pointed to Dartmouth. However, after I googled Dartmouth and saw that there was not an explicit International Relations major, I wrote off the school because it didn't check that one final box.  

The fact that you could fit all 1,115 students from the class of 2019 onto one lawn really appealed to me

Fast forward to spring break my junior year of high school when my parents and I traveled to Boston to visit a number of universities in and around the city. My dad had a meeting at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center and, despite the snowstorm, insisted that I accompany him to Hanover just to make sure that I wasn't writing off Dartmouth too soon.  

I think we visited Dartmouth on one of the coldest days of the year...but something just seemed to 'click.'

It may seem very cliche to say, but walking onto Dartmouth's campus changed something for me. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I experienced a sense of comfort as I walked around the college and spoke with students passing by. I brought my concern about there not being an international relations major to an admissions officer and was surprised to hear that there were a number of ways to pursue international relations at Dartmouth, both through an official minor or a special track within the Government department (I can't help but laugh thinking back on this considering that I'm now a very happy Chinese and Economics major).  

I ended up visiting Dartmouth again my senior fall and posted this picture with the caption, "once a dream, now a goal, hopefully soon a reality."

So, Dartmouth had me hooked. I kept researching the school again and again, but I really couldn't find anything that could change my mind. Dartmouth had what I wanted---I would be able to study what I wanted where I wanted, I'd be academically challenged at a prestigious Ivy-League school, and I would be surrounded by incredible, down-to-earth students in a picturesque New Hampshire town. I can't imagine choosing any school BUT Dartmouth. As you can probably tell from my other blog posts, I've used the past two and a half years to take advantage of many opportunities at Dartmouth and beyond, and I couldn't be happier to have found a college that allows me to customize my own academic journey and that supports me every step of the way.