Feb 142015

When I came to Dartmouth, I decided that I wanted to learn Arabic. Let me assure you, I had NO prior experience in the language. In fact, the most exposure I had upon arrival was pronouncing the names of some of my friends from home.

So I was really scared when the first class in college that I ever attended was in a language I didn’t know, with an alphabet I couldn’t read. However, the Arabic Department was so warm, welcoming and supportive that I quickly embarked on my journey of learning to read, speak and write Arabic. Let me tell you: it was the best decision I ever made. 

The great thing about the Arabic department is how small it is. With only a handful of professors, students and majors, you really get to know your professors and your classmates. Best of all: everyone struggles together and offers to help one another. No one is going to let you fail here.

The first year professors are currently: Professor Mostafa Ouajjani and Professor Jamila Chahboun. You will literally never find two professors that are more invested in your success and who offer themselves to you in whatever way you need.

mostafa jameels

They are fantastic! I encourage you all to check out the rest of the department and faculty at the Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES) Website.

On top of great experiences IN the classroom, Dartmouth runs so many great study abroads!

We offer one language based program in Rabat, Morocco


and one cultural-studies based program in Fez, Morocco. For the former, all you have to do is take 1 year of Arabic and then spend your summer studying in the beautiful capital of Morocco, soaking in the sun and language skills. For the Fez program, you need to meet a 1-2 class prerequisite which you can choose! I will be there this spring and am looking forward to it! (I will definitely be posting while abroad so keep an eye out for my posts to come…)

To hear more about study abroad experiences, check out: the “Dartmouth in Morocco” blog and explore our Off-Campus Programming!


Until next time!

Why Dartmouth? Why not?

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Feb 132015



We are about a month and a half away from the regular decision release date. For most of us who applied RD, we had the privilege of choosing between different offers. Within a matter of minutes, the stress flips from “am I going to get in?” to “how do I choose between x and y?”. It’s a mixed blessing and ultimately an exciting time.

I entered into the admissions process not having a particular “dream school” or top choices in mind. During the beginning of senior year of high school, I thought I wanted to be an engineer but as the school year progressed, I found myself more interested in the social sciences. At the time of my application, I was still torn between engineering and business and applied to numerous engineering programs and a few business programs to hedge my bets.

I was fortunate enough to be admitted to a wide range of schools each of which offered a completely different experience. After some narrowing down, my list consisted of Duke Engineering, UC Berkeley Engineering, Dartmouth, and Northwestern Engineering. I was still unsure whether engineering was the right path for me and the idea that I had to commit to a discipline/major upon enrollment made me hesitant. Although many of the universities allow you to transfer outside of the engineering college to choose a different major, I felt it would cause a lot of division between disciplines.

I looked more into Dartmouth, the only liberal arts school I had applied to. At Dartmouth, you are free to study any subject you want and there are no caps for majors and students are free to seamlessly jump between the Thayer school of engineering and the College of Arts and Sciences. If I ever wanted to switch into or out of studying engineering, I could do so easily and effortlessly.

Beyond academics, I loved the idea of the D-Plan. I enjoy traveling and constantly doing different things throughout the year. With the D-Plan, I am able to study when I want and where I want. It’s always fun speaking to different people about their D-Plans because no two are the same.

I knew very little about Dartmouth until I got in and even after I decided to matriculate, there were always those looming thoughts of “did I make the right decision?” My own personal philosophy is that you can make wherever you go “the right decision” by embracing the place and utilizing all the available resources. Dartmouth was not the image I had of college and it was not everything I wanted it to be, but I realized there is no perfect place for me. Every school will have things you like and things you don’t like as much.

So why Dartmouth? My present self would say it’s the best place ever. My high school self would say “why not?”.

Forming My Identity

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Feb 132015

As a senior, I have been reflecting a lot on my time here, and really, I think it’s unfair. It’s unfair that we can only take 36 courses throughout our time here. There are soo many wonderful courses that I now wish I had an extra year to take them all. One of my favorite classes was offered through the Geography Department titled “Social Justice in the City.” It was taught by one of the best professors I think I’ll ever have (yeah, it’s that serious), Dr. Sharlene Mollett. She was just great, I can gush about her for ages…

Anyways, in this class we explored many current and historical issues surrounding injustices in urban environments (hence the title “Social Justice in the City”. For me, it was more of a pivotal moment in my time here at Dartmouth that explained a lot about how I am as a person.

Born and raised in South LA, I always had experiences and feelings I never knew how to verbalize. Taking this class allowed me to explore how injustices are structural issues and learn more about the environment I grew up in. This class also challenged me to learn different ways of thinking and question why I think the way I do.

I feel like the majority of the classes I’ve taken at Dartmouth have challenged me in more than one way. They’ve opened new modes of learning for me, and have allowed me to study things I never even thought about!

Human Dogsled Race

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Feb 092015

 As part of the festivities of Winter Carnival this past weekend, the college held its annual human dogsled race. The snow storms in the northeast the past few weeks made it all the more appealing to me. The requirement to wear flare (wacky costumes of your choice) helped seal the deal.

I enlisted the help of 3 of my fraternity brothers to pull us to victory.

IMG_0640Face down, ready for the cold journey ahead.

IMG_0641 Momentum builds.

IMG_0642The turn is critical. The sled flips but I hold on for dear life. Recovery is made.

IMG_0643The homestretch. (Also I can’t breathe nor see from the snow)


Feb 072015

Here at Dartmouth College, Winter Carnival is a real holiday with cancelled classes and full days of programming. This weekend celebration can be a hectic time on campus with so many events to attend or traditions to partake in, so we’ll highlight some of the ones we think are pretty important.

1. 99-Cent Skiing! 

In 1957, the Dartmouth Skiway opened for business. With more than 30 trails and 100 ski-able acres spread out over two mountains, the Skiway has something from beginners to the most Olympian of skiers. It is customary for the Skiway to have a day when lift tickets cost only 99-cents in celebration of the weekend’s festivities! Take advantage of Dartmouth’s bus system that picks you up and drops you off in front of the HOP (Hopkins Center for the Arts). Busses run at 9 AM, 10 AM, 11 AM, Noon, 1:30 pm and 2:30 pm. Don’t know how to ski? No worries! We have the Snowsports School that is staffed with 35 instructors.

Take it from the staff over at the Skiway if you don’t believe us:  “No matter what your skiing style, the Skiway has something fun for everyone: a 968-foot vertical drop, affordable ski tickets, a full-service day lodge, superb grooming, and exciting terrain features.”




2. Polar Bear Swim

*Warning: not for the easily frozen* Around midday every Friday of Winter Carnival, Occom Pond is utilized for those who want the excitement of jumping into a below freezing pool of water. Make sure to Brrr-ing a swimsuit, towel, and warm clothes. No one is allowed to do the swim after 1 pm, so come early for a spot online! Take the plunge and claim your spot amongst the thousands of Dartmouth students who have faced the cold over many decades! But really, the pictures are epic….
Just take a look!
prof jump Pond
This longstanding tradition takes place on the heart of campus: The Green. Sign up with your friends, put on some flair (wacky clothes) and unleash your spirit of friendly competition! With snacks and prizes, this is an UNMISSABLE tradition. I mean, look at how awesome this is:
Vox clamantis in desert.
A voice crying out in the wilderness.
Feb 052015

The access to opportunities that further your Dartmouth academic experience outside of the classroom are ever present and very attainable if you know where to look. I would say one of the most valuable things you can do at college is learning how to make connections with your professors and the other Dartmouth faculty in your life. Doing this helps you gain access to so many more opportunities and  build a network of support and guidance on campus. This support and guidance is necessary as you move through college and begin to build a future for yourself, not to mention you build lifelong friendships with some amazing people! I had the honor of participating in a research project over Fall term last year and had the honor of presenting my findings along with my group members at a Sociolinguistics conference in Chicago.

Our professor and presentation group having a celebratory dinner in Chicago after presentations.

Our professor and presentation group having a celebratory dinner in Chicago after presentations.

Our project centered around Native American dialects of english and the construction of Native American linguistic identities in North America. I learned so much through this experience and was able to do research that I really cared about as it made me feel like my experience as Native person is extremely relevant in a field that I love (Linguistics).This opportunity was facilitated and put into motion by my Sociolinguistics professor who saw potential in our project in class and took the time to meet with us and discuss how to further our classroom experience into some awesome, real-world experience. Communication and dedication are key in aligning a strong network of people to help you grow!!!

Presenting our findings!!

Presenting our findings!!

Feb 022015

I just made the trek from my on-campus apartment (near the Connecticut river) to the Undergraduate Admissions Office (near the College Green) in some pretty dense snow. My trek is shared by many students in Hanover during the winter. The first snow is always pretty and delightful (especially if you are from the west coast or a typically warm region), but after about the 5th straight snow day and realizing that you actually won’t see any sort of greenery until March, traveling adventures become less of an option and more of a priority. Hence, my list of the top 5 places to visit during winter at Dartmouth.


1.  Boston

While some may say that Boston isn’t the most appealing or entertaining city, it is the easiest major city to access from Hanover. The Dartmouth Coach (http://www.dartmouthcoach.com/) offers daily trips to and from Boston for just $50 round-trip. As a result,  Boston, for many students, is a quick weekend getaway with all of the major US city amenities at an affordable rate. Just imagine escaping the frozen tundra to visit friends at any of Boston’s 100 colleges and universities, checking out revolutionary America (say hi to Paul Revere for me), or indulging in some of the best chowder and oysters New England has to offer at the historic Union Oyster House. There are a lot of cool things to do in Boston and if all else fails, you have easy access to Logan Airport which will take you just about anywhere around the world. Wheels Up!

2. New York City

This was a tough one. I really enjoy NYC, so the Big Apple almost made number one on my list of places to visit. Of course, the city that never sleeps is within close proximity to Hanover. Like Boston, the Dartmouth Coach also makes daily trips t and from the Big Apple for a relatively low price compared to other travel options. Once you’re there, the world is yours. Not only does NYC have a pretty tantalizing social life, but there are tons of places to eat and sights to see. A substantial number of Dartmouth students are from the NY metropolitan area, and you’re almost certain to run into a Dartmouth alum while cruising the streets of NYC.

3. Montreal

Though this is a trip I have yet to make, I’ve heard far too many friends say that Montreal constitutes their favorite weekend getaway from Hanover. Montreal is slightly closer to campus than NYC, and is all the buzz in Canadian tourist destinations. The Programming Board at Dartmouth organizes annual trips to Montreal with hotel stay and many suggested options for entertainment. Ice bars, a plethora of eateries, and that french Canadian accent–what else is there to want in a trip from Hanover. This place is definitely on my bucket list before graduation in June.

4. Burlington

Burlington is Vermont’s major city. With the state literally bordering campus, the 1.5 hours it takes to get to Burlington is light work. Burlington is certainly smaller in size and population  than NYC, Boston, or Montreal, but that’s what makes it special. You’ll have access to a lot of the same places and things you would in your hometown without thousands or even millions of people surrounding you. Burlington is surprisingly diverse in comparison to other small northeastern cities, and University of Vermont (basically the nucleus of Burlington) might just give you that big university experience without the commitment. You’ll be right back in happy Hanover in no time.

5. The New Hampshire Wilderness

Alright, I know this list primarily consist of cities, but even as a city-boy, there’s something about the NH wilderness that is just as, if not more fun than going to a city for your getaway. Luckily, Dartmouth is highly invested in the preservation of the surrounding wilderness. The college maintains several trails, cabins, lodges, a ski way, an organic farm, and so much more. The Appalachian trail cuts right through campus and snow-shoeing is actually a thing around here. I never thought that the wilderness would offer anything worthwhile, but my friends and I make cabin camping, hiking, canoeing among other outdoor activities a priority. This getaway is right at the border of our campus and span across the entire state pretty much. With a membership at the Dartmouth Outing Club (DOC), you can get access to our immediate surroundings for little to nothing.

No matter where you decide to go, I hope this short list serves as catalyst for your regional adventures. Though many associate Dartmouth with being isolated, you have more access to some really cool places in comparison to most colleges. So if you ever find yourself tired of the snowy trek across campus, or the snow globe in which we live for 3-4 months each year, one of these places can serve as that overdue getaway that you won’t regret!

– Kevin

Feb 022015

Hi everybody!

One of the great parts of Dartmouth is the opportunities for research. Though Dartmouth is a small liberal arts college, students still have access to research resources in all different disciplines and different forms.  Whether it’s your first year or your last year, you can do research. Whether it’s working in an off-campus lab at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center or assisting a professor on their academic research or working closely with a faculty member to develop your own project, it is possible to do research throughout your time at Dartmouth. If you seek out the opportunities and want to get involved, you can!

Here are  two ways I’ve participated in research at Dartmouth.

1. WISP– Women in Science Project (http://www.dartmouth.edu/~wisp/): This program allows freshmen and sophomore women students interested in Math, Sciences, and Engineering to work on research projects as a paid internship for two quarters. At the end of the internship, students present at a symposium. The program also provides mentoring and additional academic resources to help students succeed in these fields. As a pre-engineering student freshmen year, this program was a dream. I worked at CRREL (Cold Regions Research Engineering Lab) on a snow modeling project in the Northeast. It allowed me to gain hands on experience and develop important academic skills. How many first year college students can say that they had a research opportunity?…Dartmouth students can.

2. Thesis Research– My love for research and more academic engagement in a specific topic area is culminating this year through my senior thesis in the Anthropology department. My project (Race and Socioeconomic Class in Dartmouth Off-Campus programs) allows me to work closely with a faculty advisor, Dartmouth administrators, alumni, and current students. I am loving my work and excited for completing my project this Spring. During my winter off-term exactly a year ago, I was collecting my thoughts and proposing ideas to my potential faculty advisor. After narrowing down my interest, I did an Independent Study (many students do an Independent Study to further engage in a topic of great interest to them) last Spring which allowed me to delve deeper into the subject and gain a better understanding of the thesis process. Since then, research has gone well and I’ve felt very well supported by department faculty members and external resources.

Other Resources you should be aware of:

Dartmouth Undergraduate Research-  http://www.dartmouth.edu/~ugar/undergrad/ – For all things about research procedures, grants, and funding!

First Year Research In Engineering Program– http://engineering.dartmouth.edu/academics/undergraduate/ab/first-year-research/ 

The John Sloan Dickey Centerhttp://dickey.dartmouth.edu/global-engagement/funding-opportunities

You Can do it

The Nelson Rockefeller Center for Public Policy- http://rockefeller.dartmouth.edu/ 

Here are some links to get your exploration started, but remember if you don’t know where to start ask a professor in the field you are interested in. If they don’t have any student opportunities in their research, they typically know somebody who does. Don’t be afraid to ask. For you, here at Dartmouth- Research is possible. 

Til next time,


Feb 022015

It’s currently snowing. Oh, snow, you….

Usually, I’m really put off by snow during the winter, but to my surprise I am extremely excited that we’re able to get a couple of inches right before Winter Carnival!

What’s that you ask? We have a carnival during the winters? Yeah, we do! 

Dartmouth has a big celebratory weekend every term (Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer). It’s usually a time for joy and laughter and all the good wholesome festivities one can imagine.

One of my personal favorites is the Winter Carnival Snow Sculpture.

That’s right, current undergraduate students join together with engineering students at Thayer to construct a huge snow sculpture relating to each year’s different theme. The sculpture is not unveiled until the beginning of Winter Carnival, so I am anxiously awaiting its reveal as I type this.

Last year’s sculpture was Game of Thrones themed.



Dartmouth students get pretty creative with these sculptures. My freshman year, it was a cupcake. My favorite was created when I wasn’t here. It’s a CASTLE. That’s right, a castle.


Needless to say, the more snow falls, the bigger and better sculpture we have. With this year’s theme being “Superheroes and Villains”, I’m hoping for something big and awesome.


Jan 312015

Let me be the first one to tell all you Prospective and Early Decision students that college is HARDER than high school. No, but seriously, it’s hard. You will no longer be able to do your spanish homework in the hallways on your way to class or skip studying for exam because you think you paid enough attention in class. NEWSFLASH: everyone studies here and most people actually enjoy it and go above and beyond what is required of a course (they’re still considered overachievers, so no worries there).

Dartmouth, for me and for a lot of students who are here, was definitely a transition. On top of going to class for 9-11 hours a week, you have extracurriculars, homework, personal time, meals, friends, and distractions around every corner. My biggest advice is to establish good study habits and stay on top of your reading from the get-go.

If you don’t know how to or want help figuring your life out, Dartmouth has lots of organizations, people and departments that were built to help you succeed! So let’s run down some of the more important ones!

1. Academic Skills Center (ASC)- This place provides everything and anything you need to succeed academically. The Academic Skills Center is home to the Tutor Clearinghouse which offers a variety of study help. From conversation partners in whatever language you’re learning to private tutors for any subject, they do their best to match you up with someone who is best going to help you achieve your goals. The ASC also offers one-on-one academic coaching with Dartmouth Staff to help you create a personalized list of goals, a study plan, and regular check-ins. Or if you’re more into group studying, bigger introduction courses (like Economics 1 or Math 3) will have study groups set up by professors through the Tutor Clearinghouse so that students can sign up. All students hired by the ASC have earned high grades in their classes or are fluent in the language they are teaching. And on top of that, if you’re on financial aid, your costs will be covered!

2. You Professors- Have a question on something covered in class? Who better to explain it to you than the person who is an expert on the subject and will be testing you! All Dartmouth professors hold open office hours on a weekly basis. You can go and ask questions or just go and introduce yourself! They are all really excited to meet their students and very helpful.

3. RWIT Institute for Writing and Rhetoric – RWIT is the best resource for anyone who needs help with a paper! From scientific reports to creative writing to research papers, these students have been trained to help your organize and

The best advice I can give is to reserve your appointment as far in advance as you can.

4. Undergraduate Deans Office – Upon enrolling, based on where you live, you will be assigned a Dean. He/She is there to provide you with guidance and support in all aspects. They’re like your high school guidance counselor! I’ve gone in to talk about what classes I should take and how to solve relationship problems. They make for great listeners and are a good place to get questions asked and problems solved. They’re also the person who can give you certain permissions to move around your schedule! The Deans office also has DOSCs (Deans Office Student Consults). Hand-picked by the Deans, these seniors are trained to assist you when the Deans aren’t around. So when you find yourself freaking out about what classes to take at 10 pm with a midnight deadline, you can pop on right over to wherever they’re set up in the library and ask them for help.

5. Your Undergraduate Advisor (UGA)- the upperclassman who lives on your floor. UGAs are a great resource and have chosen to offer themselves as such. They are trained on a weekly basis and kept up to date on what residents should know. Even if they don’t personally know the answer, chances are they know where to refer you to!

Being in college is going to be challenging in many ways. Luckily, Dartmouth College really cares about making sure you transition well and continue to do well academically! You have all of these wonderful resources at your disposal. My biggest suggestion is to just: use them!

Feel free to ask questions below!