First, I'll explain who I am. I'm Nicholas Sugiarto, a '23 from San Diego, California. Second, a quick disclaimer. I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. Prior to Dartmouth, I've never hiked, skied, or seen snow. So yeah, you could say that Dartmouth is quite a bit different from what I'm used to. You'll probably find me on campus lost. I have no sense of direction. Please help.
A class studying how Christian language has permeated into how we as a society talk about economics. I have virtually no interest in either field as a major, nor am I really religious, but the class is super fun! It challenges you to think in ways that aren't outstandingly obvious, but get more and more interesting if you're willing to put the time in to thinking about them. It's by no means your traditional class. At least in the high school I came from, the idea of dedicating an entire term to a topic as niche as this is unheard of. But honestly? That just makes it so much more fulfilling. Like most Dartmouth classes, there's a ton of freedom to explore topics that interest you. For my final term paper, since I'm a huge hip hop fan, I wrote about the religious and economic underpinnings of Kendrick Lamar's "How Much a Dollar Cost." Without diving too deep into the jargon, I argued that money according to Kendrick Lamar, is defined by Western capitalism heavily intertwined with American Prosperity Gospel; its true nature, on the other hand, is a form of spiritual exchange. I loved this class so much that I was able to take my professor out to breakfast (on Dartmouth's dime, of course. Quick college lesson, never, ever pay for food. Live life Aladdin style.).
For those that don't know, Writing 5 is a class that's mandated for all Freshman. It helps you adjust to college writing, research, all that good stuff. There's a ton of topics to choose from, ranging from the criminal justice system to how food affects your mind. I personally chose "Pursuit of Happiness" because, well, who doesn't want to be happy? This class was my first intro to what the Dartmouth academic experience is really about. It was a small class of only 16 strong where classes were discussion-based and the professor's door is always open. It goes without saying that the course was immensely interesting (is there really a way to make happiness boring?), and we studied a vast majority of topics from Aristotle to Voltaire to Biochemical research studies. I tell incoming students all the time that if you want to make the most of your Dartmouth experience, take classes that interest you and make what you do with those classes interesting too. There's nothing more painful than having to write a paper on a topic you find absolutely mind-numbingly dull. Given my fascination with stand up comedy, I focused on viewing comedy as a form of happiness, starting from comedy in relation to Camus's absurd, the higher prevalence of mental illness in comedians, and what kind of comedians deserve happiness. Honestly? Even though this class was technically "mandatory," I would have taken it regardless.
This is the class I'm currently taking, and it's by far my favorite. You couldn't tell by my posts, or my favorite classes I listed earlier, but I'm actually a huge STEM guy. I'm a biomedical engineering major for a reason, and Dartmouth classes really make STEM fun. They're also so easy a child could follow them. Literally. I'm using the computer science 1 curriculum to teach my little sister coding. At a slower pace of course. She's not THAT smart (yet). I've never tried coding before, but the task-based approach of the CS department really makes things interesting. So far, we've drawn a children's book/ logo, a chalkboard drawing (I drew the Kanye bear), and a retro pong game. There's something fun about solving puzzles for a grade, and even though the course is admittedly pretty challenging at times, it's so worth it.
For those who are away/have been away from campus: what do you miss most about Hanover and Dartmouth?
This is a really good question! I've actually been away from campus for a really long time. I was gone in the Spring because of the pandemic, the summer because of break, and decided to take the Fall off. So not only have I been not taking classes for two consecutive terms, but I haven't actually been on campus for three. Being back on campus, and taking classes again really helps me put into perspective why I love this school so much, and why I'm so happy to be back.
Obviously, there are physical experiences I miss that I'm now getting back. Seeing a familiar face on the first floor in Baker-Berry library while I'm studying, grabbing lunch at a friend at FoCo, or really just seeing my friends in general. Those are experiences that, while out of the classroom, are something that is important to me and my college journey.
I also really missed my clubs too! I like to be involved in extracurriculars, and so being away from them was really hard. Even in the midst of this pandemic, we've been trying really hard to safely hold in person meetings. For example, the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern actually just recently held an in-person meeting this term, where I got to finally see familiar faces I hadn't seen in an entire year.
Now I'll be honest. A criticism I hear leveled against online school and staying in the dorms during times like these is that you're still taking online classes, except now you're in your dorm. And while I don't have a good argument for that, I think there's more to being on campus then going into lecture halls. It's about being surrounded by brilliant people, who you will consider yourself lucky to share an amazing four years with.
I often think back at the Why Dartmouth essay. Would I answer this question differently now? Yes. Would I know how to squeeze everything in 100 words? Still no, but I would love to share my new "Why Dartmouth" as a Dartmouth first-year.