’15 girl: My friends told me they thought the Arab Spring was a water source.
’13 girl at hop: I’m the only girl of the 20 people in this line.’15 guy: It’s like if you were a guy in line at King Arthur.
’13 girl: You know that awkward moment when you go upstairs to meet the dog and then there’s no dog?
’15 girl: It should be his responsibility to tell me that I might get dinged from Tri-Delt for hooking up with him.
’13 Italian major: I have “call me maybe” stuck in my head. I’ve started translating it into Italian.
’13 Guy on Wednesday: My plan is just to get on table tomorrow and never leave.
’13 guy: Remember when we ran from S&S and you almost died?’13 girl: That story isn’t even realistic because it involves me running.
’15 Guy: That smells good but it looks disgusting.’12 Guy: Well, you generally can’t have both when it comes to Chinese food.
Before Dartmouth, I lived in nine different homes in six different cities. So, upon coming to Dartmouth, I should have been ready for the constant change that comes with the D-Plan. I wanted constancy here, but I ended up with instability. In the past four years, I studied abroad four times. Between June 2009 and January 2012, I never lived in the same room for more than 10 weeks, usually less.
It wasn’t always this way, though. For my first five terms at Dartmouth, I remained in Hanover with no time away. Since then, I’ve only been on campus for six terms. But during sophomore fall, with the close group of friends I had developed, it all felt right.
Then fall rush put us in different houses, and winter put us in different countries. After the winter abroad, I lived in my fraternity for the spring and summer, growing farther apart from my old friends. At the same time, my friends were also disappearing more into their fraternities, making the gap even larger.
At the end of my sophomore summer, I realized I’d be spending the fall and winter abroad, and I barely had anything to show for it. My 10X bucket list was almost completely unchecked. I had barely met any new ’12s. Where had the time gone?
I wasn’t quite ready to leave, but I had no choice at that point. I spent seven months away. I went on two FSPs, spent 10 weeks in the western U.S. and Canada and 10 weeks in Costa Rica, replete with spectacular experiences and fantastic memories. And then I returned to Dartmouth.
Every time I returned to campus before, I felt that I was returning home. On the Dartmouth Coach, I found friends to sit near. I saw familiar faces as we approached campus. And that feeling when I first saw the Green in the evening twilight, with Baker-Berry towering behind it that was the best feeling in the world.
But by junior spring, I felt homeless. I knew nobody on the bus. I saw no familiar faces on campus. Over 1,100 people I had never met before were suddenly Dartmouth students they had already run around the bonfire and built the snow sculpture. I felt so distant.
My first week back on campus was an extended audition. My friendships were only as strong as the way I greeted people the first time I saw them, only as strong as those brief preliminary conversations. Some friends I had made during sophomore summer didn’t even seem to recognize me.
And it just got worse. I took three lab classes and went inactive in my fraternity, which was now occupied by 20-odd new pledges whom I barely knew. I lived in a single on an anonymous floor of upperclassmen. This was not home. Those 10 weeks were the loneliest and most miserable of my life. I spent many late nights lying in bed with pessimistic tears flowing down my cheeks. I wondered if I could ever enjoy this place again and how I would be able to make it through senior year.
But I still spent the summer here, relaxing, detoxing and doing research. And when I realized I didn’t need to take classes senior fall, I began planning my next term abroad.
Leading a DOC Trip this past fall, though, rekindled my love for this school and its students. Sitting on the Leech Field surrounded by happy people, I never wanted to leave.
But of course, just as quickly as I fell in love with Dartmouth, just as quickly as I could say hello to friends I hadn’t seen in over a year, I was leaving again. I experienced the best 10 weeks of my life abroad before returning to a cold and once again lonely place for the winter, forced to suffer through my least favorite class I have taken at Dartmouth.
Finally, this spring, my last term on campus, things have started to fall into place. I am not taking classes, and with my free time, I am trying desperately to rekindle friendships that died during my many absences. I’m also trying to experience more of the Dartmouth I’ve missed, but what I have realized is that there is just too much of it. I need 12 more terms here, 35 more classes. I want to get involved in organizations I never tried or fully committed to, to meet new friends and to spend time with old ones.
I would love being on campus if it meant spending time around those who really matter to me. But whether it is school work, extracurriculars or love of basements (which I don’t share), I’ve found that people have very little free time for me.
But in spite of it all, I fully encourage everyone to study abroad multiple times. More generally, though, be sure to take advantage of the ridiculous amount of opportunities Dartmouth has. But don’t be afraid to slow down. Get a meal with that friend you haven’t seen in weeks or years. Go to that cool event you read about in the D2U blitz. Eat that free food in Rocky. But, most of all, do what feels right. Not just what feels right in the moment, but what will feel right tomorrow, maybe even next year.
And you know what? It felt oddly right to go abroad four times and to move every 10 weeks at Dartmouth. It feels right to be on campus now, and it will even feel right to commence my new life on June 10, no matter where that new life will take me or how often that destination will change.
I can only hope your life feels right, and you are ready for your June 10, whenever it comes along.
**Rohan Chaudhary ’12 knows very little, aside from the fact that he knows very little. Blitz him before he graduates and maybe you can teach him a thing or two before the real world tears him apart! He would be honred to meet you, learn your story, and share his.*
A drunk alum tells me to enjoy this while I can. The real world, he says, is a lot less fun.
I get this piece of advice, in one form or another, every year during Green Key. He, the alum, will inform me, the one who is lucky enough to still be in college, of thenature of the real world; the hard facts of life that will hit us like a ton of bricks after graduation. It is their duty now that they have left bucolic Hanover for New York or Boston or San Francisco to give us fair warning of what to expect out there.
We are sitting on a bench in a basement, or perhaps standing next to the bar. The scene is in full force by this time in the afternoon. Students dance and romp drunkenly, reveling in sloppy handfuls of food, chugging two or three cups at a time. The alums have been at it for hours, having played harbor at 11 a.m. A freshman guy tries to talk his way onto a pong table, insisting to a doubtful upperclassman that his trip leader is a brother here. He wants in on the action, to have as much fun as everyone else seems to be having. I remember that feeling well.
The alum is speaking in an almost regretful tone now, as he looks out at a life that is no longer his. He would kill to be in my position, he says, which is funny for meto hear because, a few years ago, when he was a senior and I was a freshman, he never would have said that. What I didn’t realize at the time was that our perceived differences in maturity, capability, even of self-worth, were just that perceived. A senior isn’t necessarily smarter or funnier or cooler than a freshman. But it’s almost a guarantee that he’s better at Dartmouth.
I didn’t fully grasp that back then, though. I thought the ease with which he seemed to exist, the self-assured way he moved through the basement, the attention he garnered from women, the respect of other men, could only be earned through climbing the slippery status pole. He had something I did not, but eventually, if I played my cards right, picked up on the right cues, learned to embody the same suave ethos, I could find that same happiness. Back then, if he had stopped in the middle of a party to sit on a bench with me and share his insights, I would have taken it all at face value, eaten it up while I could. But now, when he tells me his nutshell version of reality that the real world sucks and Dartmouth is heaven I have a harder time believing him. The myth of happiness that enshrouded him when he was a senior and I was a freshman has been lifted.
The list of things you can do at Dartmouth that you can’t do in the real world is a long one. When you go out on a Saturday night in a city, you can’t play pong or spit on the floor or throw cups of beer. If you boot and rally you will likely be met with looks of horror rather than laughs and a pat on the back. More is asked of you in social interactions beyond small talk of where you’ve been that evening or how much booze you’ve managed to consume. The alum tells me, in a regretful tone, what sucks the most is that you have to, like, actually talk to girls. It seems that being good at Dartmouth doesn’t mean you’ll be good at making it in the real world. In fact, it seems to hinder your ability to adjust to the next stage of life.
I want to jump up and tell the freshman guy, who is now standing by himself as he idly watches a game of pong on the table he thought he had next on, to ditch it and go find someone who wants to listen to him. Go seek people out who are curious about your life. I want to tell him that his happiness is not quantified by how many eyes are on him while he has fun, or whether or not he pursues his fun in the same way as everyone else.
Don’t hide your oddities behind a veil of drunk apathy, I want to tell him. They’re what make you interesting and worth being around. They’re what make you entertaining. Don’t worry about being good at Dartmouth. Mastering that game might get you to the top of the totem for the time being, but soon enough we’ll be at the bottom of another ladder. A way better, cooler, more fun game is the one where you try to kick ass at being yourself.
This is the story of Green Key.
Green Key is the best big weekend. Freshmen are finally a real part of the community and rage as such. Seniors use it as their last real chance to destroy themselves for the love of the game. And it’s nice out, so all the other kids like it too. It’s the part of the term when you play hardest, and you squeeze in a spring fling or two. You’ll enjoy it. Great. Have fun. Moving on.
This is the story of toys.
My grandparents loved getting toys for my brothers and me. My mom did too. My dad said it was a waste of money, but I think he secretly kinda loved it too. We had a lot of toys. We played with most of them at least once. We played with some of them more than once. Like the cardboard boxes and the wiffle ball bats. Because you can make forts and hit each other with those kinds of things, and that’s just a great time. Sometimes I wish we still made forts.
I don’t really think that the rate at which I got toys ever slowed. I don’t think it really does for anyone. They just start looking a little different. I think that words are toys. I have fun playing with them. And yeah, I guess I probably look clumsy and graceless when I do, but I’ve never really cared. I’m OK being the “Star Wars kid” of words. Thirty million views is hella facetime.
I used to love kaleidoscopes. They’re those things that look like telescopes and have little colored beads in them that make everything look trippy. You look through them when you’re eight and curious about what tripping on shrooms is like. The best toys change your perspective. They put you in a new place. And the nice part about toys is that all of them do that. That means that all toys are the best toys. It’s kinda like how no one is ever wrong in grammar school English class. Everyone just has a different perspective.
The sciences are really into toys. Much more so than the arts or the humanities or wood shop. I think it’s because the kids in the sciences don’t really deal with nihilism and Foucault and all that crap. They play with these toys that get rid of everything that we don’t understand. This is how a 10-kg block moves on ice. That’s how a spring oscillates in the absence of air. This is how gravity shapes the motion of the planets. Stuff like that. Details are ugly. No. Actually, they’re beautiful. But they’re complicated, and, really, only masochistic phil majors like dealing with that stuff.
Things tend to be intricate. They’ve got lots of parts. Maybe they have no parts, but that’s still pretty intricate. It’s hard to grapple with emptiness because there is nothing there. I remember there was a kid down the block who had a toy fire truck. He would always play with that when we hung out. He’d patrol our towns of blocks and Legos, zipping around, ever vigilant. The house he’d grown up in had burned down before his family moved into the neighborhood.
It is easy to see the forest around us through a lot of the windows on campus. It’s harder to see the trees. Some people go on hikes to see the trees. And, yeah, they’re OK. They’re all unique and pretty and stuff. I’ve never cared too much about seeing either the forest or the trees. I would rather see some people in the forest. Maybe make some s’mores among the trees. Maybe streak a trip. Maybe pitch a tent and hang out for a couple days.
I’ve built houses and cities and countries. I’ve built planets and solar systems and galaxies. I’ve built universes. They’ve been full of people and history and politics and romance and magic. Some of them have survived years. Others seconds. Some people say that ignorance is bliss. That’s ignorant. Understanding, complete understanding, is bliss. Because instant gratification is great. And that’s why I always read the last page of mystery novels first.
I often idly dream. I actively dream too. I’ll dream about what the future holds. I’ll think about that one time on the Green or that one time at the river or that one time at the golf course. I’ll think about what would happen if dinosaurs were still around. Or if I were a pirate. Or if I could fly. I’ll make models of new places or people, imaginary toy soldiers. I’ll dream about everything and nothing and things that were and things that might have been and things that aren’t and things that never can be and things that might be and things that weren’t and things that are and things that will be. And then I’ll open my eyes, and I’ll see you, and nothing makes sense anymore. We play with toys. A toy fire truck makes sense. So do forts made of cardboard boxes. So does Newton’s law of general gravitation. So does “work hard, play hard.” So does a spring fling. You don’t. I only love reading mystery novels when I don’t read the last page first.
If you’re doing it right, half of Green Key is already over by the time this article made it to print. If you’re doing it wrong, don’t worry. Half of Green Key still lies before you. Quick get out of class and mass-text everybody you know to see what they’re doing. This is the best weekend of the year, so to help you out here’s a guide to doing it right.
Do take pictures. Document this. Yeah, everyone hates the girl who makes her friend pose during a pong game so she can take a sick mupload, but this weekend I say, haters gonna hate. You’re going to want to remember how cool and ragey you were when you’re old, gray and boring, so tell everyone else to suck it and smile for the camera!
Do not go to class. I mean if you have a 10 or 11 that’s fine, but if you have weird x-hours or a 12 and a 2, you need to skip out. I fully support Dartmouth giving us a Green Key holiday on Friday. We get one for Winter Carnival, and what’s the point? Everybody is too cold and miserable to enjoy their day off anyway. If you’re ever going to skip a class, this is the one time to do it.
Do stay thirsty. That’s a given. This weekend is all about imbibing with your friends and keeping hydrated. Hold on to those water bottles, kids, you’ll need them!
Don’t get Good Sammed. Nobody likes to get put on probation because some kid couldn’t keep it together, nobody likes to get puked on and nobody likes to get so Green Key-ed out by Thursday that they miss out on the rest of the weekend. Plus, who wants to pay hundreds of dollars for Diversions? Not this girl.
Do spend your time outside. The Green Key weather report is looking fine 75 degrees today, 80 tomorrow and 87 on Sunday. Go play outdoor pong! Go jump in the river! Go tan on the Green! If you need to study, do it on Collis Porch (or in Heorot’s kiddie pool! Too soon?)! Green Key is one of the happiest weekends of the year, so take advantage of literally everything you can. Go to Block Party and Lawn Party, go to Gammapalooza and make time to sit on the porch of your favorite frat or off-campus house. You can hang out in a grim, dingy basement every other day of the year.
Don’t spend time in the library. This is Green Key. This is not midterms week. Even if it is midterms week, I hope you spent time doing extra work on Monday and Tuesday so it wouldn’t come to this you looking sadly out the window as the laughter and music from the outside world filters into your sad cubicle. You only get four Green Keys as a Dartmouth student. Use them wisely.
Do the Green Key challenge. I’m not sure if this is a real thing, but an ’11 told me that he spent his sophomore Green Key weekend eating only food from the free barbecue events and general grilling that happened all weekend and didn’t need to set foot in DDS locations once.
Don’t eat salad this weekend. This is a time for grill food and stuff that will sustain you. You are going to need protein and carbs if you are going to last hours on your feet being social. That being said, try to avoid drunkenly devouring an entire large buffalo chicken pizza from EBAs that’s really not cute.
Do stay out all night. Shit gets real weird at this school, especially between the hours of 3 and 7 a.m. Green Key is one of the weirdest times of the year do not treat it like any other weekend. Say yes. Say yes to everything. Pound that Red Bull at 2 a.m., play singles tree with your best friend at four in the morning, say yes to champ-harbor at noon the next day and go to Lou’s or the Fort in between. If you can still order EBAs and you’re considering going home, it’s too early.
Don’t sleep the whole day. Throw on some sunglasses, run a comb through your hair, pop some Advil and head outside to fight your hangover. Sleep during Green Key is for the weak, the boring and the lazy. You can nap when you’re waiting to get on table.
Do get excited. Do say yes if you’re not sure if something will be fun or not. Do go crazy and do everything you can to make this weekend memorable. Do take pictures, even if they’re selfies if you don’t remember this weekend you’re going to need some record of it. ’15s, you’re going to want to make your first Green Key special. ’12s, you’re going to want to make this Green Key one for the books. Get excited, kids it’s gonna be a hot one.
Wednesday: 11:45 a.m.: Pregame 12s with the besties, four shot minimum. 12:30 p.m.: Arrive at your 12, turn in your paper, proceed to online shop for the next hour. 1:30 p.m.: Setalarm on your iPhone. Five. Minutes. Left. 1:35 p.m.: The marimba sounds while your prof is mid-sentence ignore it and sprint out of class, screaming “YOU CAN’T CATCH ME NOW, BITCHES! I AM THE SPEED!” 1:36 p.m.: Bask in the glory of the sunshine. 1:37 p.m.: Realize you are bored with sunshine and disappear into Heorot’s basement for three rounds of harbor. 4:30 p.m.: Announce to the entire basement that harbor is “sooo much better than pong!” 4:31 p.m.: Lose third straight game, get kindly escorted back home by your partner. 4:44 p.m.: Escape sight of well-meaning partner, ask kindly to borrow Heorot’s kiddie pool for “hazing purposes.” 4:45 p.m.: Upon being denied kiddie pool, shout, “YOU WOULD GIVE IT TO ME IF I WERE A HOT SKANKY CHEERLEADER!” 4:46 p.m.: Abscond with kiddie pool while nobody is looking. 5:00 p.m.: Bring pool back to the apartment for safekeeping, pass out inside. 10 p.m.: MEETINGZ 10:01 p.m.: Literally who are you old people and why are you attempting to beat me at my game. 10:02 p.m.: OH EM GEE I LOVE ALL OF YOU NEW BEST FRANDZ! 10:03 p.m.: Mup mup(load) city, bitch. 11 p.m.: Explore the Greek scene with the new besties. 11:30 p.m.: Enough exploring, back to [insert favorite fraternity here].
Thursday: 9 a.m.: The alarm is going off. 9:01 a.m.: Why is the alarm going off. 9:02 a.m.: Curse iPhone batteries and their horrible habit of dying before memorable snapshots but managing to stay alive to wake you for your 10A. 10 a.m.: TOO HUNGOVER FOR THIS PROF. 11:05 a.m.: Take “bathroom break,” pass out on lawn outside Silsby. 3 p.m.: Wake up on lawn, get four cinnamon buns at KAF, eat all of them in a corner while doing your best Gollum impersonation. 4 p.m.: Realize you have nothing to wear for Cutter. 4:30 p.m.: Invade Drawing 1 class, demand to be covered in charcoal, offer to nude model in exchange. 5:30 p.m.: Black out somewhere on Webster Avenue. I’mma let you finish, but you have vague memories of JYK’s living room.
Friday: 1:00 p.m.: Wake up in the kiddie pool, in the river, somewhere in Vermont, decked out in America gear, next to someone unrecognizable, with Keystone as far as the arm can reach. 1:02 p.m.: You look at your finger. 1:03 p.m.: Stop. 1:04 p.m.: STOP. 1:05 p.m.: Spoiler alert: You got married. To your bestie. 1:06 p.m.: It’s OK, you muploaded everything. 1:10 p.m.: Chalk it up to practice for the big day. 1:20 p.m.: Fashion paddle out of the Keystone cans. 1:55 p.m.: Declare to all your friends that you’re “never drinking again.” 2:00 p.m.: Spike your Dirt Cowboy iced coffee, hit up Block Party. 4:30 p.m.: Fill up your SmartWater bottle with batch, take tons of pictures. 4:35 p.m.: Trade out SmartWater bottle for milk carton, don’t ask questions. 5:00 p.m.: It is way too early in the night for this
Saturday:1 p.m.: Black in at some house on West Wheelock Street with a hospital wristband. 1:03 p.m.: “Name: Stephen Colbert.” 1:05 p.m.: Your big walks in with a huge bottle of Gatorade, coconut water and vodka. 2:00 p.m.: Stop by Lawn Party, cause a scene. 3 p.m.: You and one of your bigs/littles/hookup/wife/husband/miniature giraffe eat an entire pig while your friends stand guard. 3:30 p.m.: Bond with nostalgic alum over pig shreads and Keystone.
Conspicuous consumption the idea of buying lavish goods and services to display one’s wealth is a hallmark of contemporary America. If the credit crisis of 2009 revealed one thing about our cultural identity, it was our obsession with the acquisition of things. Clothes, shoes, property, the latest and greatest in technology: We want them all, and we want to flaunt it when we have it, particularly on college campuses where much of a person’s social identity is formed by their socioeconomic identity. Dartmouth’s culture of consumption particularly as practiced by those among us with the means to fully engage in it makes students on financial aid and those from low-income families particularly visible and, paradoxically, simultaneously invisible on this campus.
Most obviously, students on financial aid may work on-campus jobs that involve interacting with their fellow students. DDS jobs in particular make these students’ financial circumstances readily apparent in a manner that not everyone feels comfortable with. However, while these students’ employment is so visible, their fellow students often seem to treat them as if they are somehow different and less worthy of note when they wear their neon green DDS shirts at work. In many ways, the treatment of student workers in our dining facilities affirms an observation that I’ve heard a number of times: that “Dartmouth makes you really aware of the fact that you’re on financial aid.”
Even in their day-to-day lives, students’ financial circumstances can also make a huge difference in how they experience Hanover. While eating out or ordering EBA’s on a regular basis may not be a problem for those of us who can rely on our parents’ credit cards, doing so may not be an option for students who rely on their work-study money to support their education and whose parents cannot afford to bankroll extra frills on top of their tuition. In this way, the ability to eat out without using meal plan money or participate in shared-expense activities with their friends can become a barrier for students of lesser means.
Compounding this is the fact that many people are uncomfortable discussing money, and so when someone proposes that a group of friends should split the cost for a purchase, or that they should participate in an activity that carries a certain monetary cost, it may be difficult to acknowledge one’s circumstances to one’s friends. In this way, students of lesser means often find themselves in the uncomfortable position of needing to acknowledge their financial constraints but not knowing how to enter into that conversation.
For many, the difference between those of greater and lesser means is also often evident in the way they dress. The insularity of life on a college campus and in dorms, where friends see each other multiple times a day and come to know each others’ wardrobes in a way that generally wouldn’t happen in the “real world,” makes the clothes people wear a significant marker of their socioeconomic statuses. Since many students are brand-conscious and many embrace a certain “look” to affirm their socioeconomic statuses, the clothes they wear often become yet another way in which those with the eye for it may distinguish between those who do and don’t have consumption power.
When out of Hanover, the differences in students’ financial situations can become even more apparent when it comes to where we respectively vacation, travel with our families and call home. Hearing their friends casually discuss going on trips that they personally can’t afford can be an alienating experience for students who can’t share those experiences. Study abroad programs, where unexpected costs often crop up in the form of weekend outings and touristy expenditures, are uniquely problematic for students of limited financial means. Thus, some forgo them altogether. For those who go on study abroad programs, finding themselves in a foreign country without the opportunity to work an on-campus job for some extra cash exacerbates the have and have-not dichotomy that is already inherent to life in Hanover.
These problems, however, are not insurmountable. Although the administration can’t do anything to change students’ families’ spending powers, there are numerous adjustments, including providing more low-visibility work-study options and providing a stipend for students on study abroad programs to make up for their lack of work-study opportunities, that could make the experience of being a lower-income student at Dartmouth more comfortable and less alienating.