The Still North in Our Hearts
Since coming home, I've missed a lot about Dartmouth: my friends, activities I was a part of, and even just the physical campus itself. One thing I didn't expect to miss was the Upper Valley.
A lot of students I know head to Main Street on the weekends to eat at the various restaurants or go to Lebanon to get out of the Dartmouth bubble. I didn't do much of that my freshman year and usually spent my weekends on campus—I went to the CVS at the end of Main Street for the first time in the winter term! And because I wasn't super integrated with Hanover and the Upper Valley, I didn't expect to miss it when I left. Since coming home, however, I've remembered the smaller things about being in the Upper Valley that often go unnoticed. While you may think of Hanover as simply being defined by its restaurants (and there are some pretty good ones), there is actually a lot more to the area! Below, I'll list some of my favorite parts about Dartmouth's location.
- Eating: Yes, I still have to point this out! In Hanover alone (actually within 5 minutes of the Green), we have Thai food, traditional American eats, two restaurants serving fusions of Asian cuisine (Chinese, Japanese, and Korean), pizza places (including a Domino's, a favorite for every movie night or study session), Mexican food, brunch places, and even Himalayan food! These restaurants become staples of the Dartmouth student experience, and because of the proximity of these places, you'll find yourself getting attached to the restaurant itself as much as for its food. Many students go to Molly's for their first legal cocktail, order Tuk Tuk Thai for school events, and use Dartmouth's Take Your Professor to Lunch program to get free Pine. Molly's bread has a personal mark of approval from my parents, so you know that it's good.
- Shopping: One thing I love about small downtown areas such as Hanover's is the presence of locally-owned shops. Back home in Michigan, many of the downtowns I frequented growing up were also like this, and I love going in to see the different things that they sell. Supporting local businesses over chains is really important to keep money in the immediate economy as well, and these stores are great ways to do that. There'll always be unique things that you can't find elsewhere, which makes shopping in Hanover fun when you're getting gifts for family and friends back home.
- Visiting other towns/areas: for some places that are just a bit too far to walk to, you can take Advance Transit (the free UV bus system). I went to Lebanon for the first time with Dartmouth Center for Social Impact and was surprised at how much I didn't know about this area. There are tons of ways to get involved with the society outside of Dartmouth as well, whether it be going to town hall meetings, volunteering with various non-profits in the area, or getting a job off-campus. The uniqueness of living in a rural place is something that many of us won't get to experience after graduation, so I'm constantly reminding myself to remember the importance of taking full advantage of it.
- Seeing the mountains: Walking just fifteen minutes outside of campus will greet you with the beautiful mountains of New Hampshire! I personally love mountains (think they might be my favorite geographical feature) and am so happy that I'm surrounded by them during the school year. In the fall, the trees turn golden and if you can get a high vantage point (the LSC is great!) facing the mountains, you'll be awestruck by how beautiful it is. Lots of students take a trip to Gile Mountain, a place around 20 minutes away by car, that has a tower that you can climb to skip the harder hikes and still get an amazing view. Mountains during the winter are also beautiful, and snow falls in big, large snowflakes that you can catch on your way to class. They definitely make the harsh winters more bearable.
- Community: I've sort of touched on this above but thought I would really drive the point home. My sister attends another small LAC just a couple hours away that is situated in a bustling college town right next to a huge state school. Whenever she talks about her weekend excursions, it feels like she's going into a different world as soon as she takes the bus and gets off-campus. For me, I don't have that same feeling at Dartmouth. Everything seems to be integrated into a cohesive community and the Upper Valley is as much a part of Dartmouth as we are of it. When I look back on my time at the Big Green, I'll remember eating at Lou's, getting to know the staff who run Advance Transit, and even feeling bizarrely invigorated after visiting CVS (because CVS feels the same wherever you are in the country and I thought I was back in suburbia/urban life for a second). These little things make up a lot of my memories from this past year, even though at first I didn't think they did. Hanover is charming, is the simplest way to put it for any prospective students or concerned family members. There truly is something special about the "Still North" and I love that this is my home-away-from-home for the next four years.