pumpkins spelling Dartmouth
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Thrilled as I was to leave behind school bells for stuffing and jingle bells, classes hung heavy over high school vacations. Master of procrastination, I avoided AP US History chapters or math problem sets until the last moment possible (when all hell broke loose). Nevertheless, even my sharpest postponement skills couldn’t entirely dispel the thundercloud of my to-do list. Dartmouth breaks couldn’t be further from that storm. Unlike at semester schools, where finals are late December or mid-January, Dartmouth exams finish before Thanksgiving, leaving six weeks of open time before winter term starts after New Year's. I love the ability read, run, cook, and walk my dog with friends and family without having to worry about schoolwork, both during Thanksgiving and after other schools go back to cram for finals. Winterim is also a great time to earn money: December is the height of holiday shopping, so many retail stores (and family friends and neighbors!) are excited to hire college students as extra help. I worked at my local bookstore and walked dogs and ran errands for neighbors to save for upcoming travels.

two friends at sunset walking dog
onto the sidewalk and by the marsh, to walk my dog [my high school friends and I] go...

 Speaking of travel, winterim is also a great time to explore. Last winter, my friend Max road-tripped throughout New England to see high school friends at school, and my friends Rachel and Alex (who live in Bulgaria and England, respectively) met up for a week to explore Amsterdam. This year, my friend Lauren visited her sister in Iowa, and Max (and Zack and Katie and many other Dartmouth students) went on Birthright, a national program that sends Jewish students to see Israel. I hiked last winter in Texas’s Big Bend National Park and climbed this year on Arizona’s Mt Lemmon, stopping in Dallas last year and Denver this year to visit old friends on the way.

Sarah in Dartmouth sweatshirt with puppy
Post-Big-Bend delight: a friend, a Christmas tree, and a puppy!

two women in park
Pre-Arizona visit to Colorado College--one of my top favorite runs!

These DOC break trips have been highlights of both my winterims. I met fantastic people and learned new skills (technical and personal), all for less than my siblings spend in a month on deli sandwiches and pizza. Both week-long trips cost $120 for food, gear, lodging, and instruction, with up to 70% financial aid available for students who qualify on both trip costs and flights. From hiking in Hawaii to climbing in Thailand, from kayaking in Ecuador to nordic skiing in New Hampshire, DOC break trips offer unforgettable experiences.

woman at top of climb
waving hello to winter break like

Always wanted to travel but not excited about camping? Dartmouth clubs and classes also offer opportunities for winterim travel. My friend Arjun, a member of Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network and the pre-health club GlobeMed, worked last year with small business owners in Morocco and this year with sexual health educators in Nicaragua. Certain classes also offer experiential learning components: Anthro 70: Experiencing Human Origins and Evolution and Econ 70: Immersion Experience in Applied Economics and Policy offer on-site winter break “extensions” in South Africa and Poland or China, respectively.