Shot of the north end of campus from the top of Baker Tower
« All Posts by this Blogger
A photo overlooking a lake near Armington Cabin

Earlier this week, I, along with a group of friends, set off on an overnight trip to Armington Cabin, which is 33 miles from Hanover. The cozy one-room cabin did not have any outlets, running water, or indoor restroom facilities. In short, it was an opportunity to live off-the-grid (or, as off-the-grid as we can be in a world where technology surrounds us and has become a necessity). As we stuffed our sleeping bags and backpacks in the back of the DOC (Dartmouth Outing Club) van, it sunk in that this was the first and last cabin overnight of my freshman year. 

If I were to think of a list of ways to describe myself, outdoorsy would not necessarily be one of them. Now, don't get me wrong. I went on a couple of DOC trips here and there by signing up on Trailhead, a platform that advertises trips available to all of campus. But that happened once a term at best. The day before, I had gone on a different DOC excursion—a short hike through Mink Brook and back with three other people, all of whom happened to be the leaders for the trip. You see, all of the other trippees had dropped, likely due to the sheer amount of work they faced following the liveliness of Green Key weekend. I, too, had several deadlines that night, but opted to follow through with the trip with (mostly) no regrets. To go on yet another DOC trip the day after was unprecedented for me.

 A photo of Mink Brook
Mink Brook

The morning after, we groggily stepped out the DOC van and trudged into FoCo to get some semblance of a hearty breakfast before making our separate ways to our morning classes. I had not gotten much sleep — the pitter-patter of the raindrops hitting the windows had kept me up for a good portion of the night. However, the exhaustion was a small price to pay for the memories I made in that cabin — playing board games like What Do You Meme and Codenames, catching up and chattering late into the night as we snuggled in our sleeping bags on top of our bunks. The cabin felt homey, somehow. 

I firmly believe that the people make a place a home. It feels like yesterday when I stepped out of the Dartmouth Coach onto the bus stop at Rauner Library, suitcases in hand, wondering where to go. Directions had never been my strong suit. Will I be able to walk around campus without getting lost? was my first concern, along with Will I be able to make friends? and Will I find belonging here? 

Yes, I am able to walk around campus without getting lost. The stop at Rauner Library, which had been oh-so overwhelming, is now a quaint location that brings me a smile at the thought of my panicked self. I've been fortunate enough to find some of my people during FYSEP and orientation week, and I am even happier to say that those relationships have lasted. Not all friendships from orientation or freshman fall last—I count myself lucky for not having to go through that. Funnily enough, my strongest friendships have been forged through a meal at FoCo, whether it be someone sitting at my table and saying hi or encountering the same people over and over again while passing by the salad station. (More conventional ways of finding friendships include: dorm floors, classes, first-year trips, and clubs.)

Have I found belonging here? My first fall, while exhilarating, was challenging. I came in wanting to potentially major in six different areas of study! Adjusting from a full-year to a quarter system was no easy feat. I went from cruising by in high school to actually having to put hours and hours of work and studying in to get a grade I deemed satisfactory. My earliest class was at 8:50 in the morning, something I thought I could confidently handle only to find it harder and harder to wake up on time as the sun rose later and the days grew colder. The next term (winter), I crossed "CS major" off my mental list of majors. I learned my lesson and took a more balanced courseload, but I was not prepared for the cold. Coming from North Carolina where temperatures were around 30 degrees Fahrenheit at its lowest, Hanover was a place where I would be lucky to have a high of 30 degrees Fahrenheit was jarring. The last time it snowed in my hometown was on March 2023 with a whopping 0.25 inches of snow. I had to walk across campus to my classes with my feet sinking in snow, slush, and sometimes even ice. There were a few close calls where I would have slipped and fallen had I not caught myself on time. Thanks to the abundant snowfall, I was able to have my first snowball fight on the Green with my friends. Early on in the spring term, we were greeted by a huge snowstorm with more than 2 feet of snow. What do you mean it snows that much at the end of March? That's practically spring! Fortunately, the weather started getting warmer and more spring-like starting mid-April. The sun actually shone, and the skies were blue. People started relaxing on the Green while basking in the warm weather that finally graced our small college. We were blessed with warm weather and sunny days during Green Key weekend, and we used that to our advantage. Throughout the 10-week terms, I narrowed down my fields of study one-by-one and am now (mostly) confident in what I want to major in. I grew as an artist—I've made my mark as a designer for The Dartmouth and drew in a style I wouldn't have utilized otherwise. I drew the poster and program cover for Displaced Theatre Company's production of Spring Awakening

A collage of artwork I made.
Left: Cover of the 2024 Winter Carnival Special Issue for The Dartmouth. Middle: Cover of the 2024 Green Key Special Issue for The Dartmouth. Right: Poster and program cover for Spring Awakening.

There are so many things I did, but have I found belonging here by doing those things? As of this moment, I think I have, but the answer is fluid. Sometimes I am overcome by impostor syndrome and find myself doubting whether I am meant to be here—who doesn't? But then I am reminded of the moments when I did succeed, when I did find my place through my friends and various clubs on campus. I have only touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to social life, as students are not eligible to go through Greek life recruitment until their sophomore year. My answer may very well change throughout the years, but one thing is for certain: I've had my ups and downs here at Dartmouth, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I love this place, after all.

Posts You Might Like