I remember the first time I set foot on campus.
August 31, 2013, approximately 2:15 PM. A somewhat breezy day, a clear sky with little sunshine.
It’s funny because I didn’t know I was actually on campus.
Shifting uncomfortably into and out of sleep during the 2.5-hour ride on the Dartmouth Coach from Boston Logan had left me disoriented and bleary-eyed, not to mention the 3.5-hour flight in from Miami. Add to that the fact that, for some reason, I expected Dartmouth to be bounded definitively by, I don’t know, fences or something. I expected to find wrought-iron gates that said “Welcome to Dartmouth College”, which would let me know I’d arrived. I certainly did not expect to land right in the heart of the campus.
So I got off the bus in front of the Hop, swiped my hair out of my eyes, hoisted my backpack up my shoulders and turned to my parents. “Okay, now we’ve gotta figure out how to get to Dartmouth from here. We can get a taxi -”
My dad just smiled and pointed over my shoulder, and I turned around and saw.
It was a strange feeling. It was like glancing at a painting; that moment of uncertainty and comprehension when you don’t quite know what to make of the image in front of you, that brief heartbeat of anticipation when you know it means something but you’re not quite sure what. That’s what I felt in that moment when I first sighted the Baker Bell Tower piercing the clear white sky, looming tall and proud above the surrounding buildings and above the treetops that shone with brilliant ruby leaves. I was struck, suddenly, by where I was; would it be a cliche to say that it felt like a dream? Because in that instant, it did. That image, that painting, I’d so far seen only on Google Images and in my daydreams, but this was real, it was real and it was happening to me.
I was here, I was at college; the transition from “college” to “home” was something I did not grasp in that instant, and I couldn’t have guessed at that time just how important to me that image of the Tower, with its lavender clock and its proud face looking out over the Green, would come to be in the following weeks.
Now, five months later, I hear the Tower chiming the Alma Mater at 6 PM, and sometimes I just stop and listen. This is saying something because in the mad rush of college life, between thoughts about dinner and scheduled meetings and homework assignments and to-do lists, one hardly ever has the time to stop and listen. But sometimes, when I’m feeling especially pleasant, I actually slow down, stop walking, and just listen. It’s in these moments that I literally close my eyes and try to relive that feeling, the one when I first laid eyes on the Tower, and imagine I’m back there, all disheveled and disoriented and nervous and just so darn excited. I see the bright sky and feel the breeze and watch myself turn around to behold the magnificent sight, and feel a twinge of nostalgia because that was the first moment of sheer, pure joy that I felt at finally coming home.
So that’s my story about my first memory of Dartmouth! Let me know yours in the comments below
Oh, I suppose I should also introduce myself, since I’m a new blogger and this is my first post. I’m Maieda Nadeem Janjua (yes, I like to mention my middle name because it’s my dad’s name and I love my dad a whole awful lot). I’m a ’17, and an international student from Pakistan. This is my first time in the US! And I am immensely excited everyday just to wake up and see what Dartmouth has in store for me. (Except during finals week. No one wakes up excited during finals week.)