lone pine
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Hanover Walk

It goes without saying that things are far from normal in the world right now (I'm sure you all are just as sick of this "unprecedented times" talk as I am, so I'll save you from that). I was already nervous about moving 12 hours away from home and starting college without a single familiar face in sight. The pandemic only heightened such anxieties. However, the transition into Dartmouth has been smoother than I could have ever imagined. Dartmouth's COVID-19 plan for the fall involved a 14-day quarantine upon arrival, stuffed with multiple tests and virtual activities/events. To be fully transparent, before arrival, I was not looking forward to spending the first two weeks of my freshman year of college trapped in my dorm, but actually I ended up having a really great start to the year. 

One of my largest concerns about starting college in a pandemic was the lack of social mobility. Opening up my housing assignment on my computer a week and a half before arrival, I was disappointed when I learned I would not have a roommate for this term. I became nervous about college, afraid I wouldn't be able to meet anyone and would end up upset and lonely. However, after arriving here, these fears went away pretty quickly. Through virtual meetings every night, I became extremely close with my orientation group, and we have been able to safely hang out and get meals together since quarantine has ended. I've been able to make other friends and meet more people in other formats as well. Being here made me realize that my feelings of social deprivation and excitement to meet new individuals are shared by most other freshmen, so we have all been extremely outgoing and friendly to each other. 

Here's a flashback to move-in day, standing in front of Richardson Hall!

During the first two days on campus, students weren't allowed to leave their rooms for any reason as we were awaiting our first test results. That was definitely hard at times because I am an extroverted person, so not having another human to talk to face-to-face for 48 hours was a challenge. But, as I kept myself busy with orientation activities and a lot of room-decoration, time passed much faster than I expected. After those two days, we were allowed to go outside on solo walks or for exercise, and I used that opportunity as much as I could. I went on many different walks and runs through and around campus, discovering many beautiful scenic views. I have gone swimming, stargazed, and taken advantage of the last few hot days here before it permanently starts to cool down for the fall and winter. 

This was captured on a sunset walk next to the Connecticut River.

If I had told myself a year ago that my first few weeks of college would look like this, I would have never believed it. Facing the college transition in the middle of a pandemic is not easy, but I have genuinely enjoyed every minute of my life here. If my first few weeks here in quarantine have taught me anything, it's that it is possible to meet people and have fun while still following the rules here in college. 

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