Snow-capped mountains
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a patch of occom pond and some orange foliage. there are three canada geese in the water

Finding a college is a bit like dating. During your senior year of highschool, you're looking for your college soulmate, and the process is speed dating–you go online and look at loads and loads of colleges. You text them–send them applications–and they text you back. Sometimes, you even get to go on a date with the college before you commit; you get to see their campus, their labs or sports facilities. If you're creepy and stalk-y enough, you might even track down the college's best friends and parents on social media and text THEM, too. (You can totally text ME about Dartmouth.) Or you can go on People Places Pines and hear first hand what Dartmouth's like in real life.

During my college "speed dating" process, I didn't get a chance to go on a real date with Dartmouth–it was a little difficult for me to come all the way from Bulgaria to New Hampshire–yet I was quite a stalker. I spent hours on Dartmouth's YouTube page, and I read People Places Pines. I was also a big creep and followed Dartmouth's mom on Instagram (that is, Undergraduate Admissions) and Dartmouth's grandma even (i.e. the Dartmouth Outing Club). I had such an obsessive crush on Dartmouth that I applied ED. I got lucky. Dartmouth liked me back.

My college application process, in other words, was quite a contemporary romance novel. There was some tension, some anxiety, some euphoria, and finally, a happy ending. I found the love of my life, and we're now living happily ever after.


Kalina's laptop and the sky after sunset visible outside the window
The view from the Stacks (great procrastination, uh-hum, study spot)

Good. Only that contemporary romance novels don't really say what "living happily ever after" means. You lived through the horrors of high school and applying to colleges, and then what? What happens once you've tied the knot and you're now stuck with the same person, I mean, college, for life (that is, for four years)?

First comes the honeymoon. At Dartmouth, that's your first year trip and the week of orientation. You make new friends and you explore the campus and it's all fun and games. You and your love move in together.

Then classes start. Gone is the honeymoon phase, and gone is much of your free time. What's going on between you and the college is no longer a romantic comedy. Now I've got your attention, don't I?

"So what are the tiny annoying things about Dartmouth that you don't like, Kalina? You falling out of love already?" you ask.

It's time for a small confession. Back at the beginning of this term, I was TERRIFIED that at some point, the magic will wear off and I'll fall out of love with Dartmouth. Why was this thought so terrifying? For one thing, it meant that one day I might stop enjoying being a Dartmouth student, but it also meant that I might have to be insincere in my People Places Pines posts. What if there wasn't anything positive I had to say about Dartmouth?

Kalina in the climbing gym
Just before I fell

It's Sunday night, and I'm about to embark on my eighth week of classes. Up to now, I've had tens of headaches (because I don't sleep enough and go on trips when I should stay in and study). I've cried twice because of academics (first time, it was out of frustration because I couldn't solve a computer science problem for three days straight, and second time, it was because of a movie I watched for my Humanities class that made me homesick). But I've also fallen in love with climbing (I'm writing this just as I got back from the climbing gym and my fingertips still hurt a bit); I've got the perfect DOC trip streak (at least one trip a week), and I've seen 31 species of birds we don't have in Bulgaria, all thanks to the Flora and Fauna Club (just counted them). I can (kind of) play Magic the Gathering. For the first time in my life, I carved a Halloween pumpkin, and I've had at least three dinners at the Ravine Lodge. And! Last Friday I was on top of the world because I submitted my Humanities essay and my CS assignment before it was even 10 PM (now THAT I call productivity)!

a carved halloween pumpkin by Kalina's feet
My first Halloween pumpkin

You see, the thought that it's Sunday night and I still have 100 pages to read due Monday morning is truly unpleasant. The CS midterm exam I'll have next week is also trying to mess with my peace of mind, but neither of these thoughts cross my mind when I cross the Green every morning and look at Baker's brickred tower. These "relationship stressors" can't really reach me when I'm at the Ravine Lodge, carving a pumpkin, or in the White Mountains, hiking, or in Vermont, looking at a flock of rare snow geese. True, at the end of the term, my love Dartmouth and I will have to sit together and design a new plan to be more productive (and less procrastinating), but I can gladly tell you that we're still very much in love.

A field with a flock of snow geese in the distance
The said flock of snow geese in Vermont

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