An International's D-Plan
Can an international student enjoy the D-Plan to the fullest? The short answer is that it depends. The long answer is pretty complicated. For starters, international status is a limiting factor for D-Planning. A domestic student can choose to spend back-to-back terms off Dartmouth and has an easier time fitting Sophomore summer into their schedule, things an international struggles with because of our visa status. We must spend at least three terms on campus at a time, or face the process of re-doing our visa. For more in-depth information on this, I encourage you to contact OVIS – the Office of Visa and Immigration Services. The details are too intricate for this post, but do not let them scare you. The D-Plan is more limited for us, but that doesn't mean it's not awesome!
As I enter my sophomore year, my prime concern is cementing my D-Plan. I got the opportunity of going to Beijing on a Language Study Abroad+ (LSA+) this Fall. Such programs count as an on term, even though I am not studying on campus. That's because I will be taking classes that count for courses at Dartmouth. Therefore, this trip does not trouble my visa. Sophomore summer is a whole other story. If I decide to stay on campus, I will inevitably miss out on spending 3 consecutive on terms at some point. That means I will have to go through some immigration procedures. Is it worth it? I think it is, and therefore my current plan is escaping the Hanover cold for my junior winter and hopefully finding an internship somewhere warmer. The visa situation is intimidating, but I like to think that the opportunity of getting an internship on the winter, where I can extend my work into Winterim vacations (a whole 5 weeks!) makes up for the hassle. Moreover, enjoying sophomore summer with my fellow 22s is an experience I will carry with me for life.
An unsung benefit of being an international at Dartmouth is that we get the opportunity of forming an extra tight-knit community. We spend a lot of terms together, since our D-Plans are inevitably quite similar. I have said numerous times that this community is one of my favorites on campus, so I consider this another point for my experience navigating the Dartmouth term system.
All in all, for an international to enjoy the benefits of the D-Plan, extra effort is required. Between the complexities of the visa situation, sophomore summer and study abroad, it can all get overwhelming. However, if one makes use of OVIS, there is nothing to fear. Marcia and others in the office are happy to help, and one can set up a meeting time with them anytime to discuss the D-Plan! Don't let the superficial hardships fool you, there's a whole lot waiting for you in each Dartmouth term!