Jun 232014
 

 In the whole history of everything, a cappella music is the most impossible thing to explain to an outsider. It’s deliberately cheesy. It almost always falls short of the original music. The choreography is frequently lackluster, predictable and flaccid. Often, the soloists are neck-craningly inaudible on the freshman-swamped first floor of a frat house, which, despite possessing the stunted acoustical virtues of giant, gritty shoebox, is almost always the site of a capella shows.

By all principles of common sense and ordinary taste, a cappella music and its contagious subculture should not exist on the planet, much less at Dartmouth, where accomplished pianists, brilliant opera-singers and the most stimulating flautists in the western hemisphere suffer daily of almost total ignominy, sequestered in the windowless practice rooms located seven miles below ground at the HOP.

And yet I find all my fluorescent common sense of little importance, for I am, at Dartmouth, the most passionate proponent of a cappella music under the sun.

Here’s why:

Last Friday, I sat down in the Ticknor room of Rauner Library and gave over an hour of testimony to the Upper Valley Oral History project. I answered, at length and in detail, questions about my experiences at Dartmouth as a freshman, a sophomore, a junior and now, a rogue senior on a mission to never graduate. I gave my two cents on recent events and my take on longstanding trends and changes in my time at this institution. I took advantage of more personal and philosophical questions about exclusion, tradition and community. For this third principle, I could give no better example of a perfect community than the Dartmouth Cords All-Male a capella group.

I grew up in a house full of song and I knew I loved to sing. Other than the occasional kiddy musical, I’d never performed in a formal capacity. So, more than anything, I was beyond excited to be one of a swarm of anxious freshmen in suit jackets flooding into the Hopkins center during orientation. My trip leader, a Cord in the class of 2014, had heard me singing in the woods. “You should audition for a cappella Pellowski! We always need more basses. You don’t even have to be that good.”

He didn’t have to ask me to audition, since it was already my number one priority. But like all dreams of the young, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. After forty-eight hours of being passed around like a dipspit cup among more a cappella groups than I could even now name, I felt fried, frazzled and a little bit afraid. As is chronically my habit, I had underestimated what large proportions of my nerditudinal classmates had as much talent as I had, in this case, it seemed like every other dude was gifted with great pipes and just an ounce more social aptitude than I had.

At 3AM, walking home from the final round, I was accosted by a skunk outside of Russell Sage, causing me to jump out of my pants in terror and, in my delirium, lose all hope in my chances.

So when, as I made my way to my first college class ever as good as drunk from auditions-induced fatigue, the sight of a Cord from the Class of 2013 approaching me on the Green caused me to just about pee myself.

“Hey. Welcome to the Cords!”

WHAT.”

“Uh, I said welcome to the Cords.”

“Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!! THANK YOU!”

I made it to Italian One with an extra helping of bang and bounce in my bottom. I recognized a dude down the row from me from the previous night. He’d made it into the Aires. It was with great mutual smugness that we shared our success stories, taking ten-story-tall pride in our new membership to the most uncool thing to which either of us would ever belong.

There are hundreds more stories that unfolded following that day, many of which would do more representative justice to the experience of being in a Dartmouth a cappella group. But those first few hours, in which I was privileged with my longest-lasting foothold in the Dartmouth community, have become increasingly endeared to me as I look over my shoulder at the past three years.

Winter tour is a blast, rehearsal is high-pressure, frat shows, despite their rampant audio flaws, make you feel like you’re in NSYNC and it’s still 2002. But as I sometimes find myself telling faces befuddled at the notion that it all could still be worth six hours a week of rehearsal, music is really only about 2 percent of what an a cappella group does.

More than anything, the Cords have been the best friends I’ve had in my entire life. Something about the intimacy of vocal harmony, or the painstaking process of working to turn sheet music into sound, or just the hundreds of quiet hours packed snug in a car going straight down a New England road, headed to a five-song show at who-knows-which-college-it-is-tonight, has led to a flourishing little world of twentysomething twentysomethings with backgrounds as diverse as a bowl of Gardetto’s.

Whether I am stressed, ecstatic, depressed or ready to toss back a few Cold Ones, the Cords are the Minute Men, the First Responders, the surrogate brothers, dads and moms. We can all make each other laugh ourselves to pieces, and we have, on evenings of safe, unashamed emotion and honesty, shared our most tender dreams and fears.

From freshmen year on, it was a Cord I talked to on Facebook at 2am, home from the frats, distraught at an unreciprocated crush, Cords I met up with in Boston to smoke hookah and shoot the breeze about love, rap music, phil classes and finance. A Cord let me sleep over in his room for days during the darkest winter of my life, when I was too sad to sleep alone, and it’s with a Cord that I’m currently living off-campus all summer.

I can’t speak for other a cappella groups, though I trust they could tell similar stories. And I know that even if it’s only one of many forces, music has a power to unify and cohere people into communities in a way that dispels the tenacious restrictions of class, masculinity, anxiety, affiliation, religion and ideology. You learn that any voice, however excellent it is in its own right, is brightened and empowered by the empathetic addition of another voice seeking harmony. Unconsciously, the lesson translates from melody to humanity, and you find all the calcification of feeling towards other people drop away.

Whatever I’m saying here is probably too far-fetched or, worse, even too obvious to claim any profundity. But I can’t grasp any better explanation for how I feel about the Cords. Maybe this gives words to a sensation that somebody reading this has had before in one way or another, or maybe I sound like I’m advertising an experiment for those folks just starting, untethered, on their undergraduate exploration. But throughout all its neverending, zany nonsense and tutti frutti narcissism, being in an a cappella group has taught me one true thing: that to create a true community, you must treat people like music.

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

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evening at the farm

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

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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!)

Jun 062014
 

Home Sweet Home Yall’

 

I am back home in Texas for a bit before the start of a new term and I must say, I am very happy to be home. It is great to see family and friends. What amazes me though about returning home is how quickly time has passed in between now and my last visit home. It just goes to show, life is short, so it is up to us to make the very best of each and every day with our family and friends at home, and more importantly, at a great school like Dartmouth.

Enjoy the summer everyone!

Texas Sky

Sincerely,

Irene 

<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3

 

Jun 062014
 

 Sleep

 

Hola! So I have decided to post three theme-based question and answer (or pregunta y respuesta) articles. See below for more!

1)   Do you sleep at Dartmouth? Why?

Duh! It’s needed. Really. How else could you tackle all the great opportunities at Dartmouth without energy to experience the Dartmouth life?

2)   What inspired you to sleep at Dartmouth despite your desires to excel academically and devote all your time, even sleeping time, to learning?

In lieu of explaining why I choose to get 8 hours of sleep at Dartmouth, (with the exception of finals week and/or examination periods :) ), I will summarize some important points from a Ted Talk. In becoming sleep deprived, one has poor judgment, loss of memory and is prone to more accidents and weight gain. Thus, sleep is important to me because it allows me to more efficaciously focus on and complete my academic work at Dartmouth College. Apart from academic benefits, sleeps helps me to stay alert to observe the beautiful things that surround me at Dartmouth as well.

3)   What advice would you recommend to other Dartmouth students about how to institute an effective sleep schedule?

You need sleep every day so that you can have the full energy to reload and do your best at Dartmouth. Thus, watch this Ted talk for more motivation to sleep longer, particularly after 9 minutes  :) . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWULB9Aoopc

 

Best,

Irene

Jun 062014
 

Food

Hola! So I have decided to post three theme-based question and answer (or pregunta y respuesta) articles. See below for more!

1)   Where do you eat on campus? Why?

There are three main dining facilities to eat at on campus: Collis Café, Courtyard Café and 53 Commons. In addition, one can find great baked goods and sandwiches at these inner-library dining shops: King Arthur Flour and Novack Café. For all the dining spaces, the food at Dartmouth is pretty great. If I had to select my favorite dining facility however, I would choose 53 Commons (also known as FoCo) because 53 Commons always has a variety of foods to select from and combining the varied foods can create tasty, novel dishes that are out of this world.

2)   In the midst of your busy schedule, what do you do to compensate for learning how to cook whilst in college?

At Dartmouth, because of the numerous opportunities to get involved in activities, it is easy to never cook and only rely upon the great dining facilities for regular meals. However, I think it is really important to learn how to cook, even in the midst of a typical Dartmouth schedule. Fortunately, there are many cooking organizations on campus that provide an opportunity for students to learn how to cook, while hanging out with crafty people with a food mission. Amongst these organizations are Spoon University, Students Fighting Hunger, affinity houses and more. If not able to attend some of the cooking events of these organizations, one can still learn to cook on their own. Just set aside an hour and a half of your day, select dishes from Pinterest to cook and pay a visit to the Dartmouth Coop to purchase needed ingredients to prepare a wonderful meal for yourself and friends.

3)   What off-campus dining facilities would you recommend and why?

All of them are great in my opinion. The site below is also helpful for selecting restaurants to eat at in Hanover. Lastly, I would recommend visiting a food both during Hanover’s Farmers Market, which occurs every summer and fall.

http://www.hanoverchamber.org/view.members.php?c=cat_eat

 

 

Jun 062014
 

Classes 

Hola! So I have decided to post three theme-based question and answer (or pregunta y respuesta) articles. See below for more!

1)   What classes did you take this school year?

As I progress through my Dartmouth career term by term, it is really hard to remember all the classes I have taken. Nonetheless, fall, winter and spring term, I took the following courses: Biology 12, Chemistry 51 and 52, Public Policy 45 and 91, History 6 and 78, Math 8 and Physics 3.

2)   What aspects did you enjoy the most about your classes?

I  enjoyed all my classes this year simply because the professors at Dartmouth are amazing, dexterous and teach beyond the textbook. Professors help to enhance the learning material by applying the subject matter to real-life examples, as a result of their expertise in the fields they teach. For instance, I took Chemistry 52 with Professor Gribble winter term. He did not only teach the foundations of organic chemistry, but rather, he gave my classmates and I knowledge about natural carcinogenic compounds in our world so that we may apply our understanding of chemistry to be safe in our environment. As Professor Gribble exemplifies, all Dartmouth professors are cool and informative and I am really grateful to be able to learn beyond textbook material, through their courses.

3)   What advice would you give others for selecting courses or managing pressing classes?  

Simply put, don’t worry.

If you want to take a class, go for it. All you have to do is put in the effort to make the arduous course load work. It is important to have a balance of classes and not take 3 classes that require every minute of your time, giving you no room in your schedule to relax or dine. However, if you look for an escape to your class schedule by avoiding the classes you need to complete your academic goals at Dartmouth, you will place yourself in a situation of trouble. In sum, if you are willing to put in the time and effort to learn, don’t worry yourself to not take a class that seems challenging. You will enjoy classes your heart desires to peruse, despite the hard workload, so go for it! Besides, in the long run, those challenging classes will pay off in ways you never imagined. Don’t be afraid to learn :).

Jun 062014
 

Spring roams out at Dartmouth well

The sun shines gold, the flowers are swell

People lay out on the Green

They share time with friends and enjoy their cuisine

Frisbee, soccer, jogging, biking

Tennis, skateboarding, football, kiting

Many things to do, so much to see

Happiness lures by every tree

Occom Pond

The point of this poem is to allude to the fact that there are many outdoor activities to enjoy at Dartmouth during spring term, due to the amazing weather in the spring. In addition to enjoying recreational activities outdoors, there are also fantastic barbeques planned throughout the term. For example, near finals week in May, Dartmouth’s Programing Board planned an event where music, kettle corn, Dippin Dots, and other delectable items were offered. In sum, spring term, like all the other terms at Dartmouth, is enjoyable. The weather is truly refreshing and one should ingeniously fabricate outlets of fun for taking advantage of the good Dartmouth weather.

 

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.  stefan.j.deutsch.14@dartmouth.edu

See you in the fall,

Your vox clamantis interneto

Jun 032014
 

Freshman Year: Check.

I am writing this final post on my way to Logan International Airport, to catch a flight back to Beirut, Lebanon. Although I am excited to be with family and among high school friends, I leave with much nostalgia at all the great memories and experiences I’ve had this year.

The last couple of days before Move-out Day, and after finals were over, everyone was wrapping up the year and enjoying the beautiful summer weather as they please.
My friends and I went kayaking on the river (the Connecticut River is a ten-minute walk from campus), visited the Dartmouth organic farm (totally run by students and only 3 miles off campus), and soaked in the sun on the Green. 20140603_163949 20140524_181414

For my very last night on campus, we stayed up all night to watch the sunrise from a fourth-floor balcony in one of the residential buildings.

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These last few days after the hectic finals period reminded me of what I love most about Dartmouth: the people. I am so incredibly thankful for the friends I’ve made here, and I can not wait to come back, get to know them even better over the next three years, and make new friends along the way.

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Happy Summer!

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!