Snow-capped mountains
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Campfire in the dark with people around it.
The silhouette of a girl running through the fields with golden flowers and a pinkish sunset in the background.
Three trail-workers are holding a fir they've just dug out in the woods.
Sunset in the woods, the sky is cloudy and the sunlight streaks through the branches of a spruce.

A few weeks ago I was sitting at home going through my things and deciding what was worthy of flying with me across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States and what had better stay at home in Bulgaria. I'm not going to tell you about all the books I had to abandon (I'm still getting over the fact that I could squeeze in only three in my suitcase), but I'll tell you about the things that were absolutely not leaving without. Winter clothes for the cold winters, you guess? No. I mean yes. You do need warm clothes. But the things that were absolutely a must for me: a good backpack, a sleeping bag and a mat, a pocket knife, a pair of hiking boots… You know, vital things you just can't live without.

The Dartmouth Outing Club (DOC) was one of the reasons I applied ED to Dartmouth, and while I never quite knew what exactly I wanted to study here (my hypothetical major changes every week, and that's okay), I always knew I wanted to be a part of the DOC.

So the first week of classes rolled in, and we got to learn about all the things you can do at Dartmouth (note, there's a ridiculous amount of activities you can do here). Some people started auditioning for a cappella groups, dance troupes, theater groups. Others embraced marketing programs, started writing for the college newspaper or did tryouts for the soccer club team. And I… embraced the one thing (okay, one of the things) I wrote about in my Why Dartmouth essay a year ago—the DOC.

The DOC has so many subclubs—from Farm Club to Cabin & Trail to Surf Club—that by the end of the first week of classes my head was spinning: there were so many club meetings I wanted to attend, and there were so many trips I wanted go on that I just had to admit to myself, Okay, that's a little too much…

BUT WHO CARES? I'm doing it all!

You'll probably experience this feeling of sweet frustration even if you're not interested in outdoorsy stuff. There's just so much to do, and the DOC is just one example.

So what happened with my spinning head, you ask? Did I get a headache? Um… actually, yes. I did get a headache. I thought it would be a great idea to squeeze in three—yup, three—trips into just two days (on one of these days I had classes as well), and by the end of the third trip, I was exhausted… and I had a headache. But I was also thrilled.

These two days—the Friday and Saturday of my first week of classes—were amazing. I went on a trip with the Flora and Fauna club, and I met these amazing people who know the scientific names of a ton of fungi; I almost sat on some poison ivy (don't tell my mom that) and saw a bunch of things we just don't have in Bulgaria—from red-backed salamanders to blue mushrooms to white-tailed deer. I also went on a trip to the Organic Farm, where I had marshmallows by the campfire and saw the most gorgeous sunset I've seen in weeks. And the highlight of my week—trail work near the Moosilauke Lodge. Trail work is by far my favorite thing here. I got to hike two miles and then spend a few hours with some wonderful people, doing what I'd call "forest gardening." The people were hilarious (only the best of hikers choose to spend their Saturday doing trail work, after all), and the food was delicious (we had dinner at the Lodge), and it was all marvelous—I'm holding on to this memory for a long time.

So my headache was totally worth it. (Okay, I see the adults out there narrowing their eyes—doing three trips in a roll in the span of two days is not sustainable. I agree. Don't try this at home. Try it at Dartmouth.) But the one thing that makes me smile as I write this post is that even if I feel a little overwhelmed at times (and it's only been my second week of classes), it's things I love doing that overwhelm me… And I dare say that's the case for everyone here. There are loads of things to do at Dartmouth—from your regular classes to all sorts of clubs and activities—but it's things you've always dreamed of doing! Just try not to get headaches too often ;)

P.S. You don't actually need any of the things I listed above—backpack, sleeping bag, etc. The DOC provides everything you need, including transportation and food (yay!). I just knew I'd be doing loads of hiking, so it made sense for me to pack all my mountain gear, too.

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