First, I'll explain who I am. I'm Nicholas Sugiarto, a '23 (freshman) 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.
This was honestly probably one of the most pressing questions on my mind when I got to Dartmouth.
I guess I don't seem like it, but I'm actually pretty introverted. I mean, I hate big parties and huge crowds. The ideal Sunday for me is barricaded in my room with a book, and Netflix. Homework? Eventually. But the point here is that even if I don't give off the appearance from my other blog posts, I like being alone much more than I like being around others.
But that's not the popular perception of college, is it?
You look at movies and TV shows, and it just seems like college is just a swelling population of people who hang off balconies and yell "whoo" a lot.
Though that's not what college is like. Or, at least, that's definitely not what Dartmouth is like.
The Dartmouth social scene is very, very diverse. I mean, of course you have your traditional mass gatherings. The kinds you'd find at any typical college, really. But at Dartmouth, there's not enough people who talk about the more lowkey events that are geared more for introverts. For example, I sometimes go to little lowkey comedy shows at Dartmouth's free (yes, free) coffee shop and performances by dance and a cappella groups. Even outside of official programming, some of my greatest weekends were spent relaxing in my friend's room. Four or five people, max. And just talking, you know? Talking about whatever pops up in mind.
But maybe that's unique to me. Who knows? Maybe I live in a bubble and Dartmouth really is filled with hordes of balcony-dwellers. Even if that's true though, that would reveal something actually quite beautiful about Dartmouth then.
Obviously, my story isn't typical. The campus isn't just a massive coalition of introverts like me. Of course, given Dartmouth's diversity in more ways than one, you'll have your good mix of your extroverts, introverts, ambiverts, whatever. But what that means is that there's something for everyone. So is it difficult to be introverted at Dartmouth? No, it isn't. All you need to do is just remember: people at Dartmouth are human. A quite diverse range of them, really. Each with their own experiences, personality, social styles; each wonderfully unique just like you. And once you're on campus? Well, maybe it's a human thing, or maybe it's something about Dartmouth, but somehow some way, you'll find your people.
There are so many things that come to mind when I ask myself what I miss about campus. The smiles as you pass classmates on the Green, the satisfaction of finishing a paper in the Baker Berry tower room, the sweet taste of a FOCO cookie.
I recently helped my sister plan an assembly in my hometown in Pennsylvania for a community discussion on race. "A Talk in the Park," as it was called, helped bring awareness to the lack of African American history taught in our schools.
Things I've learned in recent times: 'normal' is a figment of our imagination, and the new 'normal' isn't normal either. Reflecting on Dartmouth before a global pandemic and how I'm handling what it will be like now.