Alex Libre

Aug 062014
 

While the title of this blog post is of course (mostly) a joke, I’ve learned an important lesson over the last 19 years and 11 months of my life, and I’d like to share it here. Before coming to Dartmouth–or any other institution, for that matter–think critically about the way you approach your own happiness. At the end of the day (or your life), your happiness will have mattered in a serious, serious way. And I firmly believe that the way you go about finding it should reflect that level of paramount importance.

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 (Photo: Kelsey Biddle ’17)

Throughout my two years at Dartmouth thus far–and especially this summer–I’ve heard complaints of disappointment and unfulfilled expectations. “I thought sophomore summer was supposed to be the best time of my life, but it’s pretty normal. Almost boring, actually.” “Dartmouth promised me a lot of things in its admissions brochure that didn’t quite turn out to be true.” “Everyone told me that college would be the best four years of my life, but it just doesn’t seem like it is.”

Before continuing, I’d like to clarify that complaints like these are not unique to Dartmouth, by any means. Many of my friends at other schools report similar feelings of disillusionment with their college experiences, and each thinks that it is the fault of their school or their environment.

Too often, the question seems to be: What did my school not do for me? However, it is much more important that we adopt a Kennedy-esque revision: What have I not been doing for myself?

While I acknowledge that my own experience does not necessarily reflect the experiences of others–I have certain advantages and disadvantages in virtue of being who I am that allow and prevent me from doing various things–I am led to believe that the vast majority of complaints about unhappiness at Dartmouth are unfounded.

I absolutely love it here. My friends are some of the best I could ask for. My professors and classes have taught me more than I ever anticipated. Sophomore summer has been a truly incredible time–not far from the “Camp Dartmouth” about which I’d heard so many stories. And the last two years I’ve spend in Hanover have probably been the best of my life.

And I genuinely mean that.

This blog post may seem like an attempt to justify the imperfections of Dartmouth; it is not. Instead, it is an attempt to show that Dartmouth gives us ample opportunities to live the fulfilling, happy lives that we all wanted upon graduating high school. It should be obvious that our happiness will not be handed to us in gift-wrapped boxes, but Dartmouth has left such boxes all around for us to discover ourselves.

And so, I may have been alive for less than two decades, but the lesson I wish to impart now is simple: Fulfill your own sophomore summer, college experience, and life in general. Dartmouth wants to help you do so.

Be outside.

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Eat with friends.

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Initiate meaningful conversations with friends.

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Initiate meaningful conversations with strangers.

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Write something for your own personal benefit.

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Go whitewater kayaking.

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Find rope swings.

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Study what you love. Learn outside the classroom.

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Listen to a new genre of music.

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Remember to smile. Laugh.

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Don’t just look at the glass as half-empty or half-full. There is water all around us–fill your own glass the rest of the way.

I’ll end this post as I have in the past. I love this place, and if you have any questions about why you might not, please email me @ alexander.e.libre.16@dartmouth.edu.

Have a happy, full-glassed summer, and I hope to see you on campus in the future!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apr 172014
 

campussunsetskiway sunlightLong blog posts often do not get read at all. But when choosing the college at which you will spend the next four years of your life, I think there are a few incredibly important things to consider. And so, I’ll try to keep this as short as possible.

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Some Possible Worries:

1. I don’t drink, and Dartmouth is full of alcohol-fueled animals who drink day in and day out. How can I possibly go to a school with fraternities?!

            Actually, drinking is much more moderate than you have probably been led to believe. Every college likes to brag about how lively its party scene is, as Dartmouth has done, but in recent years that reputation has come back to bite us. In reality, the majority of Dartmouth students do not drink excessively, and fraternities are merely one option of many, on and off campus.

2. I’m worried about being sexually assaulted, and Dartmouth seems like a pretty dangerous place. I even read an article about it!

            Of course, sexual assault is a real problem, like it is on all college campuses. However, spend one night out at Dartmouth and you will see the intimate respect between students against the common enemy of sexual assault. Dartmouth students are, in large part, good people. In light of recent events, the community has become hyper-sensitive, ensuring that we move forward together and against the evil of sexual assault. It is not something to take lightly, and I can assure you that we do not.

            Furthermore, see what the College has done already: http://www.dartmouth.edu/sexualassault/

3. I’m not outdoorsy. Dartmouth is in the woods. I don’t want to spend four years foraging in the wilderness for my education.

            While there are a bunch of awesome outdoor opportunities here, the notion that you must be an outdoorsy person to enjoy your Dartmouth experience is simply false. Although Hanover may be surrounded by (beautiful) mountains and woods, the town itself is like any other: we have lots of people, lots of fun things to do, and normally functioning toilets.

4. I’ve just read too much about Dartmouth’s bad side recently. I think it’s probably a safer bet to just go somewhere else.

            There is something profoundly special and beautiful about Dartmouth. While I cannot prove this to you in a blog post, I hope you take it to heart. The College has gotten a lot of flack about various aspects of its culture recently, but it is my favorite place in the world–and countless others share this sentiment. The people I’ve met, the things I’ve learned, and the experiences I’ve had here are not simply things that I would have gotten anywhere. Dartmouth is special in a sense that I will never be able to adequately convey. Trust me.

Of course, as you may be thinking, I am biased. I am a current Dartmouth student, and I want the incredibly talented accepted students to go to my school. However, I was not always a Dartmouth student. I chose to come here for a reason, and I think that many of those reasons have been tainted and devalued by the media in the two years since I’ve been here. To truly choose the right college for you, you’ll have to look past the exaggerations and outright lies that have been spread about Dartmouth College. Why do I care so much about these exaggerations and lies? Because they are about my Dartmouth–and I want it to be yours, too.

I love this place, and if you have any concerns about why you might not, please email me at alexander.e.libre.16@dartmouth.edu.

Looking forward to seeing you on campus next year, and all the best until then!

- Alex Libre ’16

Mar 272014
 

To the newest members of Dartmouth: Congratulations, ‘18s!

Image of Baker Library Clock Tower with Green in Front

I wish I could give you some awesome, all-encompassing, inspiring advice for what to expect in the next chapter of your life, but to be honest, I can’t. No one can. As clichéd as it may sound, every person has—and will continue to have—a different experience as they transition into college. But what I can tell you, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is that lots of things are about to change.

You’ll be a Dartmouth student. You’ll probably share a bathroom with complete strangers, and frequently find hair in the drain that doesn’t belong to you. You’ll take classes with professors who redefine your idea of “smart”. You may drink (your first?) beer, and quite possibly do a stupid thing or two as a result. But even those “stupid” things that you’ll regret will be valuable—in some sense you shouldn’t regret them at all. There are thousands and thousands of people who would give up their lucrative careers and prestigious positions to be you right now. Don’t forget that.

Also, having gotten into Dartmouth, you’ve done pretty well so far. So relax, you no longer need to be the valedictorian or chess guru or class president or cancer-curing scientific prodigy. These may have been important parts of who you were in high school, but you now have the opportunity to be exactly who you want to be.

Sure, many aspects of life here will challenge you in ways you can’t adequately anticipate. You’ll be surrounded by people who will seem to be better than you at everything you once thought made you great. You’ll learn not to compare yourself to others for self-esteem; it doesn’t go over well here. Instead, you’ll make some good friends, some great friends, and some people who make you feel so good you won’t care about the fact that the guy down the hall can bench twice as much as you and scored two standard deviations above the median on that Econ test you barely passed. You’ll make mistakes, forget to do your reading for the philosophy class you didn’t think met on Tuesdays, and probably end up kissing a few of the supposed strangers who share a bathroom with you.

But in all seriousness, college will present a completely novel set of challenges. For many of them, you will be grossly unprepared (but so will everyone else, regardless of how well-prepared they may pretend to be!). Furthermore, there will inevitably be times when your self-esteem suffers. Regardless of how self-confident you are right now or how easy school is for you or how great you are at singing or how many girls you’ve hooked up with or how you can shotgun a beer faster than any of your high school friends, everything is about to change. But don’t worry—it’s for the better. I promise.

People don’t call it the best four years of your life for nothing. In fact, I truly believe that my freshman year was the best of my nineteen so far. Take a deep breath, remember who you are, and join the club.

Welcome to Dartmouth—and in the meantime, enjoy your senior spring!IMG_3388image-2

Belonging in Hanover

 Posted by at 10:14 pm  No Responses »
Feb 232014
 

Many things in my life have changed over the last 19 years, but my appreciation for the people around me has not. A sense of community and belongingness has always remained a top priority, even when my life has changed in various drastic and important ways. As I’m sure many prospective students are aware, the transition from high school to college will be one of those times–times in which change itself can seem to jeopardize our existing feelings of community and belongingness.

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Nonetheless–and this I can promise you–I have found precisely that at Dartmouth. It is a diverse and eclectic community, yet one that is intimate enough to make genuine friends and find support in groups of good people. In the various sub-commmunities I’ve joined at Dartmouth, I have found the belongingness I desired when I left home.

Since the beginning of my freshman year, I have been in an all-male a cappella group, the Dartmouth Cords. The guys I’ve met through the group have served as mentors, role models, and above all, friends. Then, this past fall, I joined a fraternity. While the media portrays the Dartmouth Greek system with mixed reviews, I have had an overwhelmingly positive experience with my fraternity. The other brothers have taught me many things about how to succeed at Dartmouth, how to have fun, and more generally, how to be happy. Since rushing in September, an indisputable feeling of welcomeness has surrounded me.

While this post may be filled with clichés and corny descriptions of camaraderie and community, I hope that my central point still stands: Dartmouth has become my home, and many of its students feel like family.

I genuinely believe that I belong here. And guess what? You will, too.campussunset

Feb 142014
 

 

 

            Like anything else in this world, Dartmouth is not perfect. We face the same issues on campus that plague societies around the globe, and there are aspects of our culture here that many people wish to change.
            However, one of the most beautiful aspects of Dartmouth’s social climate is that people genuinely care. They care about each other, about the surroundings, and about the future of the College and the world at large. Hence, students actively and passionately try to improve the aspects of Dartmouth that would not necessarily exist in an ideal society.
            On Monday night, this phenomenon became incredibly clear. In light of recent events, several hundred students gathered on the Green to rally against sexual assault. College campuses in every corner of the world struggle with this issue, and Dartmouth is no exception. However, Dartmouth is an exception in that, at least since I’ve been here, students wholeheartedly fight for change.
            It was dark and cold, but a substantial number of students huddled together on the Green to show their desire for positive change regarding sexual assault. Students spoke, the crowd responded, and the event concluded with the singing of the alma mater. Sure, this event alone will not entirely prevent sexual assault from happening at Dartmouth, but it does mean that we’re moving in the right direction.
            I am proud to go to a school where students consciously evaluate the climate and culture of campus, and work to improve the quality of life for everyone. I am proud to go to school where people genuinely care.
            And I am extremely proud to go to Dartmouth. ​

 

Feb 062014
 

image-2People often ask me what I love so much about Dartmouth. When I try to give a general description of the atmosphere on campus, the friendly people, or the high quality of academics, I somehow fall short.

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Sure, many of the things I love about Dartmouth can be found on other college campuses—but days like today cannot.

After last night’s fun (unofficial) commencement of Winter Carnival, I woke up at 9am to attend my PE squash class. I played for an hour, and then grabbed brunch with a few friends before attending my chemistry class. From class, I raced back to my room to change into snow clothes and grab my skis, and then took the free shuttle to the Dartmouth Skiway. It was sunny, warm, uncrowded—and did I mention the 8 inches of fresh snow that have accumulated on the slopes over the last 36 hours?image-2 skiway sunlight image-1image-2

As I came down the mountain, riding through powder and carving between trees, I stopped to think about what was actually happening. This moment, right now, is my college experience. I ski, play squash, take interesting classes, and get to enjoy Winter Carnival with great friends.

So if you ask me what I love so much about Dartmouth, I’ll keep it simple: days like today.