Past Dartmouth Direct Blogger

Jun 052014

So Senior Week and Graduation are finally upon us here in Hanover.  I wish I could give you some dazzling, worldly advice, but I can’t come up with much that hasn’t already been said.  I guess all I’ve got is

1.  Don’t be evil.

2.  They’re spelled ‘Novack’ and ‘Occom’, not ‘Novak’ and ‘Occum’.

A lot of my first couple years here was spent trying to be the kind of person who would be able to give advice once I graduated.  I saw the ’11s and the ’12s and the incredible things they brought to this school, and wanted to be exactly like them.  I joined a ton of clubs, took hard classes, had countless auditions and interviews, wrote a questionably-articulate admissions blog, and realized that I wasn’t very good at most of the things I did.  I got rejected from a lot of things, and was mediocre at the ones I did.  When I became social chair of my fraternity, I took the ego gratification of a executive position over the moral gratification of doing something I actually cared about, and I was miserable.  I’d finally found the one thing I was good at, and I hated it.
It was a weird experience, but as I’ve probably mentioned before, the friends I made and the skills I gained along the way made it worth it.  Sometimes, it really is the side effects that save us.  Dartmouth has been nothing if not humbling, and at this point, I don’t feel like I can say anything that wouldn’t be more meaningful if you learned it on your own.
(Though I will reiterate that both evil and misspellings are generally frowned upon at this institution.  Just a heads-up.)

Anyway, I’ll be back here in the fall for the fifth year of the engineering program, but I’m still saying goodbye to a lot of things.  A lot of my friends, a lot of my extracurriculars, this blog.  I’m passing on a lot of institutional memory to the younger members of the clubs I do.  (GET IT??  THE TITLE IS TOTALLY A PUN!!)  It took four years of humbling myself and learning from people who were actually passionate and good at things, instead of blindly trying to one-up them, but now maybe I am a little bit relevant.

In keeping with that theme, I’ll be helping organize Orientation in the fall, so i’ll probably meet you then.  Enjoy your summers, enjoy Trips, and, as always, blitz me if you have any questions whatsoever.

See you in the fall,

Your vox clamantis interneto

May 232014

It is so wild to think that I have only one more week as a freshman! Man, how did that happen? Things are coming to a close so fast. Wednesday was the last day of organized practice. Next Wednesday will be my last day of class. One more set of finals, and then I’m on my way home. It is a sad feeling coping with the thought of parting ways with this campus for the summer. Just as the warm weather is starting to become a regular thing, we will all (except the sophomores) pack our bags and head home or on to a new adventure for the summer months. This has been a year of highs and lows, laughter and cries, sunshine and snow, and the list is endless. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world. My time at Dartmouth has taught me so much about who I am, how I can grow and who I can become. And its only been a year! Check in with me in three and THEN ask me what I’ve learned.

As I reminisce, I remember my first Foco cookie. I remember sweating like I have never before as I ran 17 laps around the homecoming bon fire in a Superwomen outfit. My first time in a frat. That time I spent all day in the library I didn’t realize we had received our first snowstorm! Training at the Dartmouth Skiway. The Game of Thrones snow sculpture in the middle of the green and climbing up the throne to get a picture at the top! That time when the snow finally melted. My first trip to the river. Spring study sessions in the woods by the Lone Pine. Green Key (enough said).

The start of Winter Carnival

The start of Winter Carnival

Dartmouth has provided me with an experience that exceeded my wildest dreams. I was given an opportunity to let my creativity reach new levels. I took classes that questioned the ethics of our medical policies, I learned about the attractive forces between molecules, and even analyzed in great detail the major questions and events of the Cold War. The liberal arts education here shapes students into well rounded and knowledgable individuals. I have been taught how to carry myself, express myself and speak for what I believe in. I am so thankful to have been given this opportunity to spend four years of my life in Hanover.

A perfect Spring day in Hanover!

A perfect Spring day in Hanover!

May 222014

It’s been a pretty hectic couple of weeks, which is interesting because I’ve had a lot to write about but very little time in which to write it.  Accordingly, this’ll probably end up as kind of a double post.

You’ll probably hear a lot about Green Key from any current student, but very little in the way of an explanation.  I’m not going to break with that trend here, Green Key is hard to describe, but easy to experience.  Pretty much anywhere you go on campus, you’re bound to find some sort of celebration or adventure or diversion from the usual rhythm of college life.  This year, we had performances from Lupe Fiasco, the Chainsmokers, and a ton of local and regional touring bands which meant that there was music happening somewhere on campus pretty much continuously for the entire weekend.  Even my old roommate decided to get in on the action and presented his senior piano recital on Saturday afternoon.  The music, combined with the fact that President Hanlon must have finally found Jim Kim’s weather machine and kept the weather sunny despite the forecast, made for a phenomenal weekend to be outside.  (Seriously though, it’s always good weather here when it needs to be:  Green Key, Homecoming Bonfire, Dimensions… except for Fieldstock my sophomore summer. We don’t talk about that.)

I might have tried to take advantage of the outdoors a little too much and ended up in the ER after taking a Frisbee to the face, but I got ice cream after my stitches so I guess that worked out ok.

Note, this is a size small cone at ‘Ice Cream Fore U’ in West Lebanon. For obvious reasons, I highly recommend it.

It’s weird how the term seems to be wrapping up already.  My friends are presenting their theses, we’re getting Commencement instructions in the mail, and I’m booking flights for my research job at Case Western this summer.  I just finished the last paper for my architecture class, which will probably be the last non-engineering paper of my life.  Around this time four years ago, I was researching dorms online, so I guess it’s appropriate that I finish by researching Dartmouth dorms again for a paper on the design of the Choates.  While I was writing, I got sidetracked and ended up reading the Wikipedia article on all the buildings at Dartmouth.  I hadn’t even heard of a pretty big chunk of them.  After four years here, I still have places left to explore.  I’ve been trying to check all of them out without being egregiously creepy.  Of course, most of them are just classrooms and offices.  I probably should have expected that.  There have been some gems though:  crazy artwork, underground tunnels, that greenhouse on top of the biology building.  I found a secret society house while attempting to chase a rogue moose.  Heck, I found the secret hiding place of the Keggy the Keg suit once, but got sworn to secrecy.  Even if it isn’t Green Key, the possibilities on this campus are hard to describe, but easy to experience.

I’m still kind of holding out and looking for some sort of Harry Potter-esque Room of Requirement, but it’s probably not going to happen.  Then again, I would never have been able to tell the story of climbing on to the roof of my high school if the seniors hadn’t told me there was a pool up there.  So yeah, there’s a pool on the roof.

May 092014

The Dartmouth experience revolves a lot around the phrase that I have been told time and time again, “it will be fine.” Up until this point, this has not been an outwardly acceptable way to go about life. But in college, it is greatly applicable. Many people have had exams over the last couple of weeks; the last before final exams. For me, this consisted of two challenging exams Wednesday and Thursday that I felt nearly unprepared for as of last weekend. This ultimately led to a life in the library until the hefty exam period has passed. You’ll fuel yourself with baked goods and coffee from KAF, hoping to make it just an hour at a time. I find it helpful to switch up study spots every day so that I can get a new perspective and to try to catch my brain before it seems hopelessly lost. But as the clock strikes closer to your exam, utter panic may start to seep in. However, most people in your class are in a similar situation. Everyone feels slightly unprepared and as you consult one another, or even your other friends, they will all tell you…”it will be fine!!”

During the end of Winter Term, a mother and daughter walked around Baker handing out flowers to the students who were studying

During the end of Winter Term, a mother and daughter walked around Baker handing out flowers to the students who were studying for finals

I’m not going to try to convince you that grades aren’t important. But, college is a different beast than the high school education.  Your grades may not be flawless. You may never see a 4.0 again, BUT so long as you are taking classes you enjoy, or that one hard class to get to the exciting classes on the other side, “it will be fine!!” Try your best, know that you did as much as you could and enjoy your Dartmouth experience.

May 062014

If you’re one of the 55% or so of prospies who chose Dartmouth this past week, congratulations!  At least in my opinion, you made the right call.
You’ll hear a lot about the Dartmouth Experience in your next four years.  A lot of it will be true for you, a lot of it won’t.  A lot of people will tell you it doesn’t exist, which is to some extent accurate.  There’s no singular Dartmouth experience, everyone takes different paths in some way or another.  Some of the people who would look the same as me on paper (same house, same major, same extracurriculars) have been the most different from me.  I guess statistics can lie in that way.  It’s never a good idea to break a person down to a couple numbers and descriptors.
That said, I like statistics.  They can tell you a lot.  And I guess they’d lead me to say that even though there’s no one ‘Dartmouth Experience’, you’ll share a lot of memories with the rest of the ’18s.  In all honesty, you’re gonna do a lot of the same stuff.  Statistically, around 95% of you will go on First-Year Trips.  Statistically, most of those people will remember it four years later.

No matter how many times they’ll try to forget….

A lot of you will probably run around the bonfire.  You’ll eat in Foco.  You’ll have a snowball fight.  You’ll try to get a job.  You’ll go to the river.  Probably.  You can’t say any of these with certainty, but they’re pretty likely.
Some of them are more interesting.  You’ll learn things.  You’ll create things.  You’ll make mistakes.  You’ll make decisions.  Big decisions!  Bad decisions!  You’ll critically reexamine your principles.  Or at least you should.

Anyway, what’s great about the Dartmouth Experience is that it gives you the leeway and the ability to make your own experience, but still have enough in common with your classmates that you can connect with any given person on campus.  You establish your own identity, instead taking a pre-existing one.  And that’s at least 150% cooler than anything else I can think of.

On another note, apparently none of the other bloggers have posted this yet.  Check it out.


Apr 272014

Classic New England weather obeys the infamous saying, “April showers bring may flowers.” So what on earth is there to do on a rainy weekend in little old Hanover? Well, let me just lay some ideas out for you, just so you don’t have to think too hard.

Personally, food is the first thing that comes to mind on rainy days.

Lou’s- Breakfast made from heaven. What else screams to you on a Saturday morning after you have stayed up way too late the night before but stuffing your face with a short-stack of pancakes? Or “Rachel’s Favorite” Country Breakfast? Going to Lou’s on a rainy weekend is more of a destiny than an activity.

Morano Gelato- What better way to top off your breakfast filling (or realistic noontime breakfast) than to walk down the street and get a dose of decedent gelato? Morano also has an excellent location with multiple sidewalk windows in the seating area that provide excellent people watching opportunities. Just because I gave up cookies for Lent, it didn’t stop me from having some biscotti flavored gelato to celebrate the end of my first Spring midterm week.

Moving away from food….

Hop Films- Each term the Hop brings 30+ films to campus for student and public enjoyment. Check out the current listings and dates. Bring your Dartmouth ID and tickets are just $5.

Your Own Films- Have a movie day with friends! Find a friend with a futon, select a movie on Netflix and order some EBA’s (sorry back to food, can’t help it). Rainy days are supposed to make you feel lazy, so execute in good form!

Ceramics Workshop- Ever thought about unleashing your crafty side? Want to make a nice bowl for your mom? Check out the Davidson Ceramic Studio! Open Tuesday-Saturday from 1-5 Pm it makes for the perfect rainy Saturday afternoon activity. Learn how to work with clay and sculpt pottery for yourself or create the perfect gift.

For the go-getters….

Baker Tower Room- Who doesn’t want to have a Sunday Funday in the Library? (I admit, this is me today). My favorite rainy day study spot is the Tower room. Dreary weather and the quiet serenity of the dark room provides a perfect combination that takes you back to the old days when you would hear the horse and buggies outside and the crackling fire in the fireplace at either end of the room. Well not exactly, but it leads for great day dreaming when you can’t seem to focus on a Sunday afternoon.

Tower Room

Looking out on the Green from the Tower Room

Off Campus…

Farmway- I am giving you the holy grail of the Upper Valley. Located just 20 minutes from campus, (up I-91 N exit 16), Farmway is life. Although not open on Sundays, Farmway has everything you could hope for, except for farming equipment. Good one guys. However, it is worth the trip and will definitely burn up a couple hours of your time. If you catch them on a good day, they supply free cookies under the tent. Don’t forget to check out the sale loft upstairs!


Apr 212014

One of my favorite things about Dartmouth was that I woke up every day thinking that anything could happen before I went to bed that night.  To some extent, that’s still true.  You never know what random interaction is going to lead to a lifelong friendship or what split-second decision is going to lead to the discovery of a new passion.  That said, for the past couple terms, I egregiously overscheduled myself (it’ll happen to you) and my days got a lot more structured.  Not that structure is inherently bad, but I lost the excitement that came with every morning.  Now that I have some more free time, I’ve been trying to recapture that excitement.  It’s been harder than expected though.  People look at you funny when you’re a senior and you ask them “So, what do people do for fun around here?”  Now that I’ve found a place or an identity or whatever, I feel a bit more constrained when I figure out what I’m going to do on a given day.

Which is why we have bucket lists!  Ideas on how to break out of my comfort zone in a convenient list format!  You’ll probably get one freshman year with typical stuff like ‘run around the bonfire’ or ‘have a snowball fight.’  I’ve done 75 or so of the 101, and since it’s an old list, a lot of the rest aren’t really feasible (RIP Lone Pine Tavern).  However, there are still a few that I haven’t done yet, which kind of surprised me.  I’ve never gotten tea in Sanborn, I’ve never gone to open hours at the observatory, I’ve never climbed the Gile Mountain fire tower, and the list goes on.  There might be reasons I haven’t done these yet, (namely that I don’t like tea, I think stargazing is kinda boring, and I’m terrified of heights) but breaking out of my comfort zone might be the point of the list.

Besides, I don’t think that just halfheartedly checking things off the list is really the point.  Remember that movie ‘The Bucket List’ where Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson do all that cool stuff before they die?


They enjoyed all the stuff on the bucket lists that they did, but the real point was all the relationships they formed and mended as they were trying to finish their lists were what mattered.  I think that’s why I want to finish my bucket list before the term ends, not entirely because I really want to do stuff that some admissions employee thought constituted the ‘Dartmouth experience’ but because maybe those things will lead me toward my own Dartmouth experience somewhere along the way.



Lastly, I’M SO HAPPY THAT PEOPLE ACTUALLY READ THIS.  THOUGH IT DOES ADD A BIT OF EXTRA PRESSURE WHEN I’M TRYING TO WRITE.  Anyway, feel free to email me at with questions, concerns, Sporcle challenges, or if you want to meet up at Dimensions (5 days away ahhhh!)

Apr 152014

In high school, I heard a lot about how nobody really stays involved in religious life when they get to college, and I got a bit worried.  I had been pretty involved in church groups growing up, and I didn’t want to lose that aspect of my life or that sense of community.  As it turns out, there  is ample opportunity to get involved in religious and spiritual life at Dartmouth, and it has been more rewarding than I could have imagined.

In my last post, I mentioned an Alternative Spring Break Trip.  These are programs, now common at many universities, where instead of travelling somewhere different to party on the beach, students travel somewhere different to do community service.  I had no idea that this program existed until I went to an informational meeting freshman fall while trying to impress a girl or something.  I left the meeting with a stack of forms and a vague interest that this might be an interesting way to spend a week.  I ended up applying to an interfaith service trip, “working to serve the homeless population in the San Francisco Bay area and exploring service as a shared value across religious and cultural lines.”  Helped along by my half-Christian, half-Jewish family (I remember describing myself as “a walking interfaith dialogue”), I was accepted to the program and met the rest of the group.


Coming from a pretty homogenous part of the country, it was an eye-opening experience to be able to share experiences and perspectives with such a culturally and religiously diverse group of people while working together with them for a good cause.  I learned a ton about other people’s spiritualities and was able to redefine my own beliefs.  When I got back to campus, I joined the Multi-Faith Conversations discussion group, which brought the same discussions back to campus, and I’ve been coming to meetings ever since.

There’s an amazing degree of religious openness here, which you might not expect from a place with so many educated and opinionated people.  So many people are still looking and searching, trying to redefine what they believe or just trying to understand their friends on a deeper level.  Sometimes, like in my house’s Passover Seder today, they’re just looking to partake an interesting slice of cultural heritage.


Besides, Manischewitz tastes just like Communion wine.

Apr 072014

I never went abroad.  I never really got around to filling out the application and engineering takes a lot of time anyway.  I was ok with it though; I like it here.  (It’s like I’m an admissions blogger or something.)  I can deal with the winter, my friends are usually back at Dartmouth, and I don’t speak any foreign languages particularly well.

Sometimes I feel like I missed out.  My friends got to do some pretty incredible stuff.  They’ve gone to France and Argentina and Thailand and South Africa and all over the world.    I have some pretty nice postcards.

That said, postcards have always confused me a bit.  They’re a bit small to say anything besides “Hey!  I’m somewhere unusual right now.  How’s home?  Wish you were here!”  And if the purpose of a postcard is just to advertise that you are somewhere unusual, that just seems unnecessary.  You should probably know the person that you’re sending a postcard to, and they should probably know where you are when you don’t show up to classes for ten weeks.

Then again, maybe postcards are more of a symbol than anything.  Maybe they’re more a way to show your friends that you’re thinking about them than a way to make them be jealous of you.  Maybe they’re a way to commemorate a friendship that endured across distance and time.  Maybe they’re a way to say “I care enough about this person to wish they were here.”

I don’t send a lot of postcards, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t travelled.  I’ve been to the poorest neighborhoods in San Francisco through an Alternative Spring Break program and a swanky hotel in Silicon Valley through the Thayer School.  I’ve interned in a cubicle farm in Chicago and danced at a nightclub in Montreal.  Just last weekend I went to Philadelphia for a club track meet. 

I’ve been incredibly lucky to have so many opportunities to travel even without a formal study-abroad program.  I’ve brought back hats and t-shirts and little hotel shampoo bottles and more than a few scars.  Of course, they’re just stand-ins for the memories I’ve made while acquiring them.  And those are a lot more than you can fit on a postcard

Mar 282014

First and foremost, congratulations to the Dartmouth Class of 2018!  Your hard work has paid off and we couldn’t be any more proud of you.  Even though you’re objectively the worst class ever, we’re pretty impressed.

It’s gonna be hard to say something that the rest of the bloggers haven’t already covered, so I’ll keep this brief.  Dartmouth is real, it’s scary, it’s exciting, it’s happy, free, confused, and lonely in the best way.  And you’re gonna rock it.

Taylor Swift did not go to Dartmouth, but she probably would have written some good songs about it.

Due to a combination of factors (impending graduation, fundraising for the senior class gift, writing this blog post, watching “Garden State”) I’ve been pretty nostalgic lately.  And I couldn’t be happier about that.  I’ve made memories strong enough to last me until now.  I have something that makes it hard to say goodbye.  So I guess that’s the best advice I can give you – spend the rest of high school making some memories that will make it hard to say goodbye (or at least give you good stories when you get to college).

South Park describes my life disconcertingly well.

You’re on the verge of one of the biggest steps in your life – enjoy it.  Seriously, don’t overthink it.  Do what feels right when you’re making your college pick.  You’ll be ok.

One of my favorite parts of “Garden State” is when Natalie Portman tells Zach Braff that he needs to do something ridiculous because “…this is your one opportunity to do something that no one has ever done before and that no one will copy throughout human existence. And if nothing else, you will be remembered as the one guy who ever did this…”  Nobody else is going to take the same path through Dartmouth that you do, so all you can do is make it count.  Of course, don’t worry too much about making yourself unique, you already will be.  The biggest realization I had during my freshman year was that I spent so much time trying to figure out who I wanted to be that I forgot to be myself.  (It was also the most cliche moment of my life.)

Anyway, congratulations again.  Enjoy senior spring.  Come to Dimensions.  I’ll get a meal with you.  I’m not kidding, email me at and say you read this on my admissions blog.  I will be so happy that people actually read this that I’ll probably buy you a cookie or something.  Most of all, welcome home.