I’m now four weeks into my sophomore summer, a term commonly considered as some sort of golden time, the last term to make the most of my youthful vigor before I’m officially a junior in college and all that’s left for me is the tribulations of the real world (or grad school, which is like half-real world). Summer term certainly differs from other on terms. There is a lot of physical freedom that seems to translate well into the free spirit of summer. With 3/4 of the undergraduate population off, there’s more campus land available per person. I can actually walk normally in Collis after 11s, and save Sundays before a week of midterms, each floor of the library is inhabited by maybe ten people. With less students, Dartmouth feels less like an academic institution and more like an academic summer camp. Provided, of course, that you have a less strenuous course load. This has unfortunately not been true for me and most of my friends, but despite the work, I’ve managed to do something somewhat interesting every week. Programming Board sponsored a trip to Maine this past Saturday, thus allowing me to fulfill my longtime dreams of vacationing in Maine:
Programming Board also provided us with a free towel and 14X tank top apiece, which was a truly delightful surprise! We were only there for five hours or so, but it was nice to decompress and be in a completely different landscape from campus.
The previous week, my friends and I went to the Andrew Bird concert at the Hop. Students pay a flat price of $10 per ticket for all visiting artists, and $5 for student ensembles. The first time I saw Andrew Bird, I paid around $35 for my ticket. If you’ve never seen him perform or even heard of him, it’s high time you did. He’s simply amazing, creates many of his songs through layers of looped tracks of whistling, violin playing, singing… If I had been at Northwestern 20 years ago, I would have insisted on marriage.
Before that was Fourth of July weekend. My roommate and I went to Boston and ate a lot. We were supposed to have gone to the Red Sox vs. Orioles game, but it was raining VERY heavily that day and the game was postponed. So instead we ate pizza, walked around the Harvard area, ducked into a used bookstore, and had frozen custard.
And before THAT was STRIPS weekend! STRIPS is the sophomore summer version of First Year Trips. It runs from Friday to midday Sunday, and you can choose what sort of trip you’d like to go on. I went on a moderate hiking trip that encompassed part of the Appalachian Trail. There was a really neat moment coming back to campus on Sunday when I ran across a hiker we had met somewhere on the trail in Vermont the previous night. He and his friend had just graduated high school and were hiking the Vermont Long Trail, part of which coincides with the Appalachian Trail. They wanted to get to Hanover by 3-4 ish the next day so that they could get food in town and spend the night at Velvet Rocks shelter (Velvet Rocks is a great hike just a little off of Main Street). We told them that we would be coming back from Moosilauke Lodge around that time, and my STRIPS leader offered up his phone number, suggesting that they call if they wanted a ride from Norwich, VT (the town just a bridge away) to Hanover. It was kind of surreal to see the boy in the basement of Robo, refilling his water bottle at the tap when just ten hours before we had all been filtering water from the stream, swatting away the mosquitoes, eating our delicious non-perishables (snacks provided by the Dartmouth Outing Club are usually great, we just didn’t have much left besides raisins and granola). I will have fond memories of adding an entire block of Cabot cheese into our three courses of Annie’s mac and cheese.
So the mystique of sophomore summer? A bit of a ruse, really. Occasionally I hear about Masters games, weekend visits to the copper mines or to the original KAF in Norwich, other traditional sophomore summer things I have no clue about, but as for me, I’m not sure I’ve found Camp Dartmouth yet. Less people, fewer course selections, no Hop café, more construction, all offset by more sun: that’s really 14X.