Claire Park

fall back

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Nov 142014

To decry the absurdity of there being just 1.5 weeks left before the end of my penultimate (!!!) Dartmouth fall term, I choose not to recount what has passed this term. Instead, I will review past fall terms! In particular, my sophomore fall, which I spent off campus in Seoul, Korea.

falloff1The beginning of my off term was rough. I flew straight to Incheon International after my German LSA ended with nothing lined up for the term. No internship, no cool service project, no plans. The first week after Berlin, I spent most of my time inside. Korea is notoriously hot during August, the weather was only just cooling, and I was pretty tired of working and thinking. By the weekend, though, my parents were demanding that I look into labs at all Seoul universities and email professors who didn’t have more than ten people in their labs already. Of course, I only sent three emails by the end of the weekend, so it was with GREAT fortune that one of the professors got back to me later that week. That e-mail was my salvation, and I will never forget how grateful I was when I visited the professor the next Monday and she took me on as an intern. Unfortunately, my arrival coincided with one of the biggest holidays in Korea: Chuseok, Korea’s autumn harvest festival. I had to wait until the next week to start working, but with something to do set in place now, I enjoyed myself while I could. I visited my family, ate a lot of food, and met up with some friends who had come on exchange to Dartmouth from Yonsei University and one of my Dartmouth friends who was on exchange to that university.


Yum, shaved ice set. One of the many things I ate before the weather turned frigid!

Once work started, though, free time definitely took on a different meaning. I was in the lab from 9-6 Monday through Friday, and the travel time was a whopping 45-50 minutes one way. I would wake up at 7:20 each morning to make lunch, eat breakfast, dress, and then run out the door around 8 to catch the neighborhood bus that would take me to the subway station. If I made it out by 8, there was no traffic and it took ~7 minutes to get to the station. If I was running late and I got out at 8:10, I would be late to work. From that subway station there was a 15 minute ride, a 6 minute transfer, and another 5 minutes. If I wanted to walk to the lab from where I got off the subway, it took 25 minutes. If I took the bus up to the back of the lab building, 10-15 minutes depending on how full the bus was. There was a park on the way I would pass by which was beautiful in October/early November:



Admittedly there was a lot of sitting in the lab, and an hour long lunch break around 12, but the process of going to the lab and working totaled me. The first thing I always did when I came back home at 7:10-7:20PM (a full 12 hours for this entire process) was go to our fridge and take the first thing I saw. I would carry this item of food to the living room and scarf it down, then turn on the TV and watch blankly before stirring myself to eat a real meal (once my mother caught me in the midst of my very important vegging time and suggested I take the next day off). I would read a book before watching the latest episode of the Walking Dead (the only worthwhile show on from 9-10PM), and then go to sleep. Free time became the only way my body could catch up and wake up the next day, and I finally understood why my parents always insisted on making me do the household chores after coming back from work. It’s just really really tiring.

I did do a lot of great stuff in the lab though. The lab was focused on researching transcription factors of neural cells. There was a lot of stem cell research but mostly my duties were preparing DNA, propagating, transforming bacteria, and preparing eggs for DNA injection. Once I prepped a lot of eggs and took a picture ha:

IMG_1256The DNA was then injected into the spinal cord of the embryos, which was crazy. I had a chance to inject 12 eggs over the course of the internship and took maybe three hours total. The DNA being injected was dyed, and it was really easy to just squirt the dye in the sac and then not be able to see the spinal cord at all, which meant that injecting into that egg would not be happening. I also ran a gel before I left, which was awesome, and I got out a product that hadn’t shown up before.

view from the rooftop of the lab

view from the rooftop of the lab

Overall it was worthwhile, but I can’t say I didn’t miss being on campus. I didn’t really have that many friends in Korea, and was too busy to meet them regularly as well, which definitely made me feel a little shut up at times. Fall was beautiful but too short, and once the weather got cold it was difficult to make myself go outside (the way home was also very very dark and grim in the winter). I’m really daunted by the prospect of preparing for yet another off term in the spring, but I’m starting early on planning and am already thinking about where I want to be. Right now though, I’m perfectly fine being here on campus and taking classes. Being a student is truly the most straightforward occupation.

Oct 202014

I’ve been really digging this song by Drake recently because of its beats (as per usual, I never listen to a song for its lyrics, though I do appreciate that they are there), and of the many repetitive lines there’s a couplet that Drake says only three times: “Just hold on we’re going home/It’s hard to do these things alone.” Then of course, there’s that line by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, “Home is wherever I’m with you”. Place is a funny space, particularly Dartmouth as a place and my place here. It took a roundabout trip to Korea, a winter term of a lot of angst and relief, an actually interesting class spring term, and a literal climax during summer term (I actually ran up a hill and ran back down) to get me to my current place in life. Which, frankly, I’m still having trouble defining but I’m much more at peace with where I am now than where I was before. Anyway, this whole rigamarole, this eventual homecoming, would not have happened without the people who have supported me throughout. I can’t imagine ever feeling at home at Dartmouth without the people who matter most to me, which means that some terms I’m more lost than others thanks to the D Plan, but with modern technologies like the internet and phones, we can still communicate.

Even so, I’m a bit of a cynic when it comes to the I LOVE DARTMOUTH thing, particularly when it comes to the rites of passage like the bonfire that, it is claimed, every Dartmouth student experiences equally. First of all, that statement is a total falsehood. Experiential equality is a myth that people like to live with because empathy’s hard. Plenty of people I know don’t like the bonfire, and plenty of people I know did NOT run around the fire freshman year. If you, dear reader, do not want to run around the fire, don’t run around the fire. If it strikes you as a little creepy and culty, you are more than welcome to pull the move of one of my friends and study during the bonfire. This was exactly what I was planning to do this past weekend until my closest friends told me that they would be in attendance, and I figured that maybe in their company I would enjoy it more (I did do my laps around the fire my freshman year, 16 of them, and the weekend was wonderful because my friend visited, but the events actually available during homecoming I found very average).

IMG_1550But… it was kinda cool! Maybe it’s because I’m comfortable where I am now, but the sense of community was pretty great near the fire. There were these alumni couples with their children and pets standing a bit farther back from the fire, I ran into one of my trippees, and my friends and I ran one lap around the fire and ate some kettle corn afterwards. The everyone running bit was scary in its group mentality, but at the same time, it was totally captivating to watch. How you get that many people to do the same thing, it’s a bit awesome.

My favorite part of this weekend though, was definitely seeing 20 people working on the field at the farm on a most beautiful Friday afternoon. 20 people!!!! And yes, we did follow up the workday with our signature pizza dinner, but it was simply amazing to see that many students who had willingly gone out of their way to help us out on the field. And so, like the majority of my posts, I end this entry with a snapshot of that glorious day:






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Aug 202014

In conversations of late, there’s a topic that my friends and I won’t broach. References to it with words like “thesis” and “eighteens” terrify. Someone informed me yesterday that the new freshmen would be arriving on campus this Sunday and suddenly the number sixteen did not strike me as a particularly nice number. Time is a funny thing at Dartmouth, seemingly going along at an average pace until you’re standing in line at Novack at 12:30 AM in the morning, refilling your cup of tea for the third time that night because you have 1294890 words to write in three days and finals on the same day and you have to pack and move out of your room and work on that group project and prepare that presentation and figure out what you’re doing for interim or how to maximize suitcase space for your study abroad next term. Until you are walking across the Green at night and you are shaking in the cold because temperatures have dropped and leaves have begun to change color. Time has taken away the claim you had on being a sophomore. As one of my friends stated, “Sophomore summer is the hump day of college”. While I am not so pleased about the prospect of falling action, I can’t say this hump day has been bad. There have been quite a handful of beautiful people, places, moments, my go to running hill in Norwich being one such beautiful place:

IMG_1265 blueberry picking at SuperAcres and the Norwich Farmer’s Market:



sprawled across a bed in a room with some friends and a flipboard, sitting in front of the VAC at dusk, making sunbutter&J sandwiches for the Fifty, or just walking home alone and looking at Baker Tower, already nostalgic for something that hasn’t ended yet.



Jul 222014

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:

Nubble Lighthouse in York, Maine. dreamy

Nubble Lighthouse in York, Maine. dreamy

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.

in love.

in love

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.

Jun 082014

I suppose the title of this post is a bit of a turn-off since it refers to this period of time in my life as “pre-“, but in some ways the entirety of college is pre, and I couldn’t really think of a better title for interim that didn’t include the word interim.

I suppose I should recap the last bit of my spring term! There was this:

10272630_650716094983945_5687268962227919694_owhich went marvelously, I thought! A bit of a struggle with the death toll chimes in the Berlioz, which had me literally rolling my eyes on stage, but it was a great time regardless. I woke up the next morning with a nice little nacho belly from post-concert Murphy’s and the prospect of catching up on all the studying I had missed for concert week (four, 3 hour rehearsals that week plus the concert itself, and then not being able to do any work the evening of the concert), which was not so marvelous. I spent the following Monday getting trained to be a First-Year Trips leader, which sucked up another 9 hours (three, three-hour sessions back to back) of study time. The training was quite useful, though, seeing as I did need to learn about reading maps and wrapping ankles, and there was also a component called, “Community Building” that I found quite engaging! It was another opportunity to talk about some important features of identity that can come into conflict at Dartmouth, and the trainers also prepped us for different moments of Trips, from the moment that new students arrive at Robo lawn to when they’re back on the lawn after Trips. Anyway, after 9 hours of talking about Trips, I’m very very very excited for this thing to happen. Potential trippees, think about signing up for Section H cabin camping for some quality time in the woods!


Other than literally living at a KAF table studying for finals, which for me constituted a test on Friday morning, a test on Saturday morning, and an essay due immediately following the test on Saturday (this was, suffice to say, THE worst finals schedule I have ever had a Dartmouth), some actually tolerable moments in pictures:

deer crossing during a lunchtime run in pine park!

deer crossing during a lunchtime run in pine park. yes, I was frightened, but then I remembered this happening all the time back at home


evening at the farm


DSO end of the year brunch/senior send-off, this year replaced with a dinner instead


and pancake breakfast on my last full day on campus, featuring that maple syrup I’ve been going on about for so long!

Signing off to read more (for leisure! what a novelty!)


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May 192014

14S: There was contra-dancing the second (?) weekend of term when it was still snowing (in the context of our current weather, this is ridiculous), crashing birthday parties and meeting some great new people through them, meeting people in general, SO many new people, hosting three students for Dimensions, orgo, midterms, getting very sick, SUN, the end of sugaring season and actually having a bottle of syrup we made sitting on my desk, farm, running outside again, good breakfasts, totally confusing stats class situation, more sun, Green Key. In two weeks it will have been a year since my freshman spring term, two years since graduating high school. How did it get so late so soon?

Finals period is actually next week, so here’s a hefty posting of pictures before I wither away for a bit.

Campus looks like this right now (some of the time):


overdone but I can’t help it, so beautiful


lush patch feels like home. seriously, socks and sandals are very important in Oregon

Boring but exciting to me, One Wheelock has new mugs:


Been going on some short runs, here’s Occom Pond! I cannot run around it without seeing at least one couple walking along the path, but I guess love is also beautiful (sorry no pictures though, will work on creeping)


Funky tree on the way to Balch Hill, going underneath it makes me feel as if I’m adventuring in the wilderness which I guess you could say is pretty lame but I grew up heavily influenced by The Hobbit so now it should make sense:


In the midst of multiple midterms, meaning orgo, I suddenly found that it was Green Key and there was good music everywhere. Seriously, Collis and Programming Board REALLY stepped it up this year. I met a ’66 (50 year connection, bb, best classes ever) when Reckless Breakfast (folk-y band very well loved in this area) was playing on Collis Patio and we nodded our heads to the music together, most chill interaction I have had with a Dartmouth alum, it was great. There was Block Party on Friday afternoon (turnout amazing considering that it was definitely starting to sprinkle), Lupe Fiasco on Friday night, an event at the Farm and Lawn Party on Saturday, Chainsmokers on Saturday night…


shoddy picture but tall heights on the patio at the Hill Winds Lawn Party. Free food too!

Despite having all there is good to life available to me this weekend, I spent my days and nights at the library this weekend. My roommate and I were in KAF during the Lupe Fiasco concert (yes, judge, go ahead) and the guy managing took pity on us and told us to take as much food as we wanted out of this treasure-trove of a paper bag. So we did:


i ate it all

Speaking of kaf, I am now the last person working here tonight and therefore am going to sleep (also the library closes at 2AM so I guess I don’t really have a choice).


Next up: ???


Emails, Midterms

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Apr 232014

Last week was probably the most traumatizing week I have ever experienced at Dartmouth. It was also the most humanity-affirming.

In short: Tuesday morning I woke up and basically couldn’t stand up straight without feeling like collapsing on the floor. I ended up sleeping through both my x-hours, woke up sometime midday with a violent fever, and made the bright decision of emailing my orgo lab prof to inform that there was no way I could stay standing, let alone for lab. She graciously let me miss lab, and I used up any remaining physical strength to email all my professors about missing their classes on Wednesday and writing a SERIOUSLY desperate email to both my orgo and gov profs about rescheduling my midterms. Seriously, so desperate, “I basically can’t stand without feeling like toppling over…”

Wednesday morning I woke up trying to swallow my spit. It felt like I was swallowing large arrowheads. So Saint Marg (my roommate) called S&S to ask if they could drive me to Dick’s House. The nicest officer in the universe picked me up in front of my dorm building and drove me to the nurse, who told me I had something viral and needed to miss class until I got better. I e-mailed this exciting news update to my orgo prof, who finally excused me from the midterm, and then got a ride back to the dorm by S&S. THANK YOU S&S FOR THE RIDES. I slept all throughout that day, with some brief conscious stints for soup, provided by Saints Esther and Marg. Guardian saints, seriously.

Thursday I got better by sleeping more in my room. Friday I had to make up all my midterms. I am still making up lab. I think I sent about 20 blitzes in the span of two days last week. The amount of work I have to catch up on is…

But life must go on here. Some exciting news! Sugaring season is officially over, I missed the final stage of boiling our basically-syrup-sap and bottling it thanks to that terrible illness that befell me, but apparently we’ll be having a bottle-labeling party soon. I’m psyched cuz the syrups looks GEWD. Here’s a picture from the boil we had going at the campus-wide sugaring event two weeks ago (which was, by the way, loads of fun. Get involved in sugar crew next year!!! Did I already talk about this event?):


Here is something exciting I received that Monday before I was sick:

best care package yet. Biscoff is a drug, basically (but not really, they're cookies, also known as Speculoos cookies)

Biscoff is a drug (but not really, they’re cookies, also known as Speculoos cookies)

Receiving a care package makes you feel so special. Anyone reading this who doesn’t get a care package his/her/ze/zer freshman fall, I will send you something through Hinman. Honestly. It is so uplifting to get mail.

The weather has been getting so beautiful, I went on a run (again, before last Monday) to Balch Hill, here’s a picture of the view of the top:

IMG_0574I maybe got a little lost on the way back down to campus, but after getting into some deer poop patches, I was home free. For those runners out there, there are a plethora of great running trails in the area here, some short, some average, some long, and you can keep up running with a group of people called the Dartmouth Endurance Running Team, DERT for short. You can also get PE credit if you attend enough DERT practices. I found myself to be unfortunately a little too slow for DERT, but I don’t mind because I still can explore trails on my own or with some other friends!

The best adventure of last week, disregarding getting sick, was probably the Friday Night Rock concert! Friday Night Rock is this super campus organization that invites little-known artists to perform at Dartmouth. My freshman year they brought in Marnie Stern, adore her:

recently, Delorean, also amazing:

and last Friday, one of my new favorites, very up and coming, featured on the NPR sampler of the music at SXSW… Mutual Benefit!!!

After they played, I was freaking out about getting the setlist* from them and one of the FNR organizers/booking manager said, “This is FNR. You can just go talk to them, you know.” I’m a total noob so no, I didn’t know, but now I do and you all do too!

Coming up: Sustainability and social justice dinner, Dimensions, maybe dish on my prospies? Kidding, you can all meet them in person when you are ALL 18s at this school.


*setlist currently on my wall of various tokens. Still fangirling. Whadda college win.


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Apr 102014

Some people, places, odd bits I’ve found or re-found this term:

1. Campus in the early morning light: I’ve been on this new life plan in which I go to sleep instead of staying up until my eyes burn, and waking up early in the morning to do whatever I need to do. For the past three weeks that’s meant going to the gym around 6:30 AM and getting a small workout in before the start of my day, which has really energized me. This schedule has made me markedly more positive and feel very awake for much more of the day than I usually do. The greatest thing about this routine, though, is that I can walk along the Green when the streets and campus are pretty empty, and there’s this gorgeous orange glow to the whole place. I can order real eggs at Collis (what I consider fake eggs being that pasteurized egg stuff they use for omelets at Collis and Foco) and then do work, sometimes admiring the daily bustle of people getting ready for the day. I love it.

2. Old friends and hopefully new ones: Some oldies have returned from their wonderful off terms doing fabulous things at home or abroad and it’s been SO nice having them back on campus. From an old floormate to my darling LSAers (LSA= language study abroad. LSAers= people who were on my German LSA last summer), to my stand partner in DSO, my life here is so much greater with them than without. Here’s a picture from one of our last Exkursions to the Potsdamer Stadtschloss:

beautiful friends in beautiful place

beautiful friends in a beautiful place

I’ve also been meeting some new people, which has also been really great! I crashed two birthday parties within the last week, meeting friends of friends who are part of different communities on campus. This past Saturday I went contradancing in Montpelier, VT (HIGHLY recommend this activity, like, can we all think about what grinding really accomplishes?) and met some susty folks in the car ride to and back! Susty being short for sustainability, which I didn’t even know because I’m not really one of them, I guess, but I do care about sustainability regardless of whether or not I’m a member of a recognized green group on campus. There are other ways to be environmentally aware, basically through just living your life with that mindset, since we’re all inhabitants on this earth.

3. Places: One Wheelock has continued to be a great place to study in. Look, here’s a mug picture:

IMG_0373I mean, free tea/coffee/hot chocolate/froth after 3 ish? Why would I ever study elsewhere??? Last term a ’17 introduced me to this recently refurbished place in Russell Sage, a dorm which I have been in all of three times in my entire Dartmouth career: IMG_0369There were these funky stove boiler plate sculptures on the walls, along with some obscure mural. It’s a little dark down there, and there was no table when I went, but I’m sure they’ve added more stuff by now. The sofa area was great regardless. ’18s, this place could be just the place for you! Basement of a freshman dorm, how convenient is that?

I also studied in the Hornig Environmental Studies library for the first time. The desk there is HUGE! Been finiding solace at the farm, particularly at the Sugar Shack. I was there late at night last Tuesday with some farm people and sugar crew members, replacing our leaky sap tub. After we finished all our work, we laid down in the snow and looked at the stars. The night sky was so clear and dark, you could see so many of them… It was gorgeous, I really could have fallen asleep there.

4. Good soil: Speaking of farm, lame plant metaphor: I’ve been spreading and digging my roots into opportunities that I think would be rewarding for me in some manner, whether that’s socially, for personal growth, whatever. There’s no guarantee that everything I find will work out for me, but I think it’s good for me to try things out nonetheless! This term I joined America Reads, which is run through the Tucker Foundation here at the school (the Tucker Foundation organizes and offers a lot of social, volunteer, spirituality, etc opportunities). Every Monday I get in a car with three other students (one of the students being also the driver), travel to Samuel Morey Elementary School in Vermont, and read to a new second grader each week. It’s been rewarding so far. I love getting off campus to read with the kids, who have all been really nice to me. I also joined this fairly new Tucker program  called Journey Inwards, Journey Outwards, which is co-led by an old floormate of mine. We had our first discussion last night and I’m already excited for the next meeting. The general theme of the group, to my understanding, is that we turn our inner selves out to the world, make our selves equal. It’s going to be great.

5. Some 18s! It has now been confirmed that one ’18 has read at least one post of mine on this thing, which is extremely flattering. She’s the first ’18 I’ve met, my first Dimensions prospie is coming in tonight, which will make it the fourth time I’ve hosted a prospie at this school! My main aim as a host is to facilitate a prospective’s own experience here, not at all to promote my school. I’ve had a very singular experience here and I don’t aim to misguide by making Dartmouth the Dartmouth that I’ve experienced. I don’t think this school is all good, nor all bad. Again, if you’re here for Dimensions this weekend, the next, or two weekends from now, feel free to contact me: I’d be more than happy to meet up for a chat! Even if you won’t be here, and you have some questions, I can also address any concerns through e-mail. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I promise honest responses, at least! And to encourage people to speak out, here’s the very last bit of “A Litany for Survival” by Audre Lorde my roommate sent out the first day of spring term:

So it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive​


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Mar 282014

At 5PM EST yesterday, I was sitting in One Wheelock doing orgo problems as students across the world were receiving word about some of their college acceptances.

The most important relevant of these being Dartmouth. To all the ’18s, congratulations!!! If you haven’t decided yet whether you want to be an ’18 or not, please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns at: If you’re planning on visiting, I’d be happy to meet up with you for tea/coffee (on me, of course) on campus!

As for what advice I have to give, or anything I have to share about acceptances, just two:

1) Have an amazing senior spring (if you are in high school) and summer before college. Go crazy within reason and be sure to spend time with your people.

2) With orgo weighing heavily on my mind, I’m reminded of what Professor Aprahamian says at least three times a class period (literally), “If you don’t understand this concept, solve problems. If you do understand it, solve problems. Solve problems, solve problems, solve problems”. I’d like to say that wherever you decide to commit, I hope that you will take college as an opportunity to grow and be better prepared to solve problems. That’s what I look forward to from you ’18s. No evil, as one blogger put it, and much much good!

I’ll end with a froofy little picture of my friends and me after decorating our high school graduation caps, and congratulations again!

my friends were clever in decorating their caps backwards...

my friends were clever in decorating their caps backwards for the sake of our paparazzi parents during graduation…


Mar 052014

With just finals/studying for finals/complaining about finals/killing the soul for finals left for this term, I’d like to offer myself a brief reprieve from forming premature wrinkles to focus on something that’s provided me with what I like to think of as my main, my little bit of eternity, my “other”: music!

WOW. SO BEAUTIFUL (the violin).

WOW. SO BEAUTIFUL (the violin).

I held a violin for the first time when I was four years old (okay, more like a tinny wooden box with some holes and wires on it) and haven’t given it up since. Apart from a premature mid-music-life crisis when I was eight, during which I had to decide whether or not I really wanted to continue practicing and playing even when I didn’t want to (the ordeal was quite lengthy but was eventually resolved after a few hours of tears and compromising), playing the violin has been the one constant in my life. The violin in the picture and I are reaching five years of a happy marriage, which we’ve been able to further explore here at Dartmouth with our relationship counselor, Mr. Princiotti, in both private lessons and in the symphony orchestra.

If you play any sort of instrument, whether it be brass, wind, string, percussion, or your voice, Dartmouth offers a free Individual Instruction Program. Translation, free lessons if you just sign up! Here’s the link for more info:

My freshman fall I didn’t enroll for lessons. I did, however, audition for the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra (DSO) and am now very enthusiastically involved in it. Here’s a picture to express my feelings on my musical group affiliation: 469253_10151388436716780_488359831_o

I’m the sigma, be jellin’. We had a great concert this past Saturday, our soloist played an amazing Tchaik (I would LOVE to be that good) and Mussorgsky’s Pictures was fairly awesome as well. You may not believe me, dear reader, but attending DSO concerts, or seeing any sort of performance in general, is really encouraged here. It’s a thing to frequent the Hop for a show on weekends, and/or go out to acapella and dance group shows at some frat on weekdays. I think it’s really inspiring to attend a school where young people, my PEERS and not just the old crogies I always see at classical music concerts, support the arts.

That said, the two other goons you see in the picture above are my best friends who I got to know through DSO, and they successfully convinced me to ask Mr. Princiotti (DSO conductor) if I could take lessons with him starting winter term my freshman year. He agreed, and I’ve been studying with him since! I’ve found Mr. Princiotti to be much more understanding of my busy schedule here at college than all my old violin teachers were of busy-ness in my life, and I’ve really appreciated how relatively relaxing violin lessons here have been. The most stressful aspect of taking lessons, I would say, is performing at a recital appropriately termed, “End-of-Term Recital” because it occurs at the end of term and all violin students are required to perform the piece that they have been learning throughout the term (unless the piece is really difficult, in which case you can ask for an extra term to practice). Despite the fact that these end-of-term recitals are incredibly low key affairs, and the fact that I’ve been performing for years, I still get really nervous about performing. Thankfully this past Monday I played the first movement of Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No. 4 with my friend playing the piano part, so performing was a lot more fun than usual.

I’m sorry that all my photos this time had my mug in them, I’ll try to post more interesting and coherent content next time.

Until then, FINALS!


*if at all curious… song referenced to in title is Amy Winehouse’s “Cherry”.