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My friends and I at the Homecoming Bonfire

With the excitement of starting a new chapter at college, many first-years share the anxiety that inevitably comes with meeting new people. Luckily, Dartmouth is an extremely friendly school. And the small undergraduate size of about 4,000 students encourages such bonds. Only a fourth of these students, however, are just now being introduced to the Big Green. Finding community with them makes all the difference.  

My friends ('26s!) and I at the Homecoming football game!
My friends ('26s!) and I at the Homecoming football game!

Meeting other '26s has been just as exciting as I had anticipated. Though I don't think of myself as coming from a particularly niche background, I am constantly reminded of how diverse our student body is. Yet, people are eager to find common ground. And Dartmouth makes it so easy to find spaces to connect with peers. Of course, sports, clubs, and classes would be among the first places we think of. They allow us to meet people that live outside of our housing community. But, some might also expect Greek Life to provide social opportunities.  
For every first-year class at Dartmouth, students are not allowed to enter any Greek Life House for the first half of the Fall Term. This "Frat Ban'' helps ensure that strong friendships are safely established within the class well before venturing out to unfamiliar spaces. Alongside the ban, the rush process begins sophomore year, for the same reason. The centralization around first-year housing gives us the chance to meet people and form a harmonious social network. I must admit though, it feels weird to randomly meet someone on campus after following each other on Instagram for so long prior. 

This being said, first-year and upperclassmen relationships can prove to be fruitful as well. Classes as young as '25s are always eager to help '26s navigate the various quirks of Dartmouth. The "big brother/sister" vibe is especially comforting when we feel homesick or otherwise disoriented. 
Still, there's nothing like making friendships with people in your shoes. They might not show it, but everyone feels just as nervous as you. I doubt you'll regret opening up to your peers. After all, you'll end up spending the next four years with them. I've definitely surprised myself with all the close friends I have already made here.  

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