People silhouetted on the summit of Moosilauke
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DOC spelled out in the night by glowing lights

If Dartmouth's 6-week winter break (dubbed "winterim," winter + interim = winterim) feels too lengthy, the Dartmouth Outing Club (DOC) has a perfect solution for you: winterim BREAK trips. Organized during every break, the DOC offers trips that take you to various destinations in the United States and sometimes around the world, lasting anywhere from a couple of days to multiple weeks. Let's delve into the unique experience of the "Winter Hiking Extravaganza At The Same Time As Regular Cabin Hopping" break trip (that title equates to the acronym WHEATSTARCH), which I had the pleasure of attending. 

There are various break trips for the Dartmouth Outing Club's many sects, including domestic and international trips. Some examples include Ledyard Canoe Club's white water kayaking trip in Ecuador, People of Color Outdoor's (POCO) Grand Canyon trip, Dartmouth Mountain Climbing Tucson, AZ trip, and many more!

WHEATSTARCH is a four-day break trip that explores the breathtaking winter landscapes and mountains of New Hampshire and the Rangeley Lakes region of Maine through day hikes. The trip offers a serene escape from the usual Dartmouth hustle, with participants staying in a cabin on the Second College Grant, completely removed from the outer world.

The trip coincided with New Year's, so we ended up celebrating it by ourselves without any technology to distract us from the moment. The rustic cabin featured gas lanterns, setting a unique New Year's atmosphere. The gas lanterns were a big shock for me because, until this trip, I had never seen one in person. The schedule of WHEATSTARCH was very choose-your-own-adventure, so we went for some hikes, sat by the frozen river and reflected on life, cooked a significant amount of pancakes, and read many books. If you need a book recommendation, I suggest "Factfullness and On Trails" by Robert Moor. 

On a more personal level, it was a really lovely way to start the new year by slowing down, meeting new people, and being introduced to some new traditions. In the end, it is these moments, people, and traditions that make Dartmouth your new home. Being at college alone from your home country can be challenging—barely being able to speak to anyone in your mother tongue. The challenge of being away from home is not limited to international students; students from the US experience loneliness. Nevertheless, students find ways to battle homesickness; I have discovered that finding good friends makes Dartmouth feel more like home!Me climbing a mountain with a beautiful sunset in the background

Another way I combat homesickness and hardships is through working out in the Alumni Gymnasium—the campus gym—or by interacting with the Dartmouth Outing Club community. 

One thing I have truly appreciated is how welcoming the DOC is! One remarkable aspect is the affordability, with Dartmouth ensuring that these opportunities are accessible to students of all backgrounds and experience levels through its financial aid office. Financial aid applies to the DOC, so students can request aid for these trips! My entire 4-day trip only cost around $12!

Additionally, whether you're a beginner or an advanced adventurer, the DOC trips cater to everyone. If you are more experienced with the outdoors, a category I tend to favor, there are usually opportunities for you to go on harder hikes. For instance, one day of WHEATSTARCH, a group of advanced hikers hiked up Old Spec (4,170ft). The side trip was cold, icy, and totally awesome, to the point that my eyebrows froze! Who wouldn't want that? 

The DOC has various opportunities for adventure throughout the academic year and even during breaks! Hopefully, I will get to meet some of my readers on the next WHEATSTARCH!Group of students pushing a DOC van on a snow trail on Break trip

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