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After graduating high school, I didn't really know what to expect from college. While people talk about the lifelong friends they make and the experiences they would cherish forever, I hadn't really known what would fill my college memory box. Excited about Dartmouth, I knew it would be a once in a lifetime experience in a small, cozy college. But what would make it that way? What makes Dartmouth different? Why do alumni flock to Hanover to sing about granite of New Hampshire in the stands at every Homecoming game?

Well, I don't have all the answers yet—I'm still a green little freshman after all!—but I'll tell you how I went from being an excited but unsure high school senior to a Dartmouth-crazed freshman after only 17 weeks!

Since Dartmouth is primarily a home of educational exploration, I think classes are a good place to start. While the courses are rigorous and are condensed into a 10-week term (not that bad, since you only have 3 classes per term!), the learning experience has been an enjoyable one for me due to the super interesting content we cover and the personality of the professors. The professors do a fantastic job of making what we cover applicable to daily life. For example, in my Earth Science class (EARS 002), we're learning about how Dartmouth was once a glacial lake! And in Computer Science, we're coding a moving model of the solar system. The profs also think of fun things I never thought I'd be doing at school. My English professor held a scavenger hunt for library books, and my Classics professor distributed little gifts in return for asking intelligent questions in class! If these aren't reason enough to get hyped for class, you also make friends with similar interests through your courses. So, Dartmouth's made me excited about learning and eager to know more about the world.

While I have been exploring my academic interests, something I'll take away is how to explore outside of the academic/professional realm. A lot of people who go to top schools are conditioned to push themselves in those fields, already—it's how we got in, right? But we're more than just our studies. Pushing past my comfort zone in the real world—putting myself out there and taking advantage of what the school has to offer—is what I'm beginning to take away. And already, my time has been filled with adventures of two kinds: day-to-day happenings and firsts! In terms of the former, some friends and I stumbled upon a homey little study room in the Russian department, complete with a teapot and a book ladder (like something out of Beauty and the Beast!!). We also found a collection of children's books in the dim-lit, serious section of the library: the Stacks. In terms of firsts, I made my first pot at the pottery studio, saw my first greenhouse, and am taking my first snowboarding class (hot take: snowboarding >>> skiing)!! I've been able to go on my first white-water kayaking excursion and even ventured out of the country for the first time on an weekend trip to Canada! In branching out, you get a feel for the things you love, and for an indecisive person like me, that's valuable! (experience = home remedy for indecisiveness? who's to say) And then, you meet people who like the same things and BAM friends!!

Which brings me to my next treasure: the people around you. While at any school you are surrounded by wonderful people to call friends, at Dartmouth, you are surrounded by people who contain within them a kaleidoscope of interests, opinions, and goals. And seeing their picture encourages you to build upon your own: by the way friends describe their accomplishments and plans for breaks, it motivates you to think bigger and inspires an uplifting community, rather than a cutthroat one. And you get to be a part of that. You get to share your interests, curiosities, adventures with the people around you, which can be really fulfilling for you and interesting for those around you!

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