Mar 212014
 

Dartmouth College is an exceptional institution with a lot of resources, even during spring break. Every spring break, there are some students who choose to reside on campus and I must admit, this spring break, I was one. It is believed that when the majority of students are not on campus, Dartmouth seems mundane. In fact however, there are many activities to fall in love with while others are not on campus. For instance, you could…

1) Learn to cook amazing rice and beans, or bake a delectable dessert dish.
2) Attend the yearly employee Art Showcase, just one example of the many great performances and lectures held at Dartmouth daily.
3) Go watch a movie, or two, or ten at Jones Media Center. Jones has many collections of movies you have only dreamed of watching but have never made the time for. What better way to complete your movie bucket list than with a spring break movie party at Jones?
4) Run to Kendal Senior Center and visit residents. The senior residents at Kendal have great life stories to share. They may even appreciate receiving greeting cards if you had the time to make some for them.
5) Take the Advance Transit to West Lebanon and see New Hampshire life outside of Hanover. West Lebanon differs from Hanover in that there are more stores such as JCPenney, Kohls, JoAnn’s Fabric, Ziggy’s Pizza, Sally’s Beauty Supply, Kmart, Five Guys and more.

As you can visualize, there are many ways to enjoy the great resources offered at Dartmouth College, even during spring break. I hope you can attend Dartmouth and take advantage of the plenteous opportunities offered here.

Best,
Irene

Mar 202014
 

Spring term is here in less than a week and I keep asking myself, “Where did the time go?” More importantly, what was I doing with my time? Let’s recap.

Hill Winds Society welcomes the Breezers after 5am wake-ups

Hill Winds Society welcomes the Breezers after 5am wake-ups

I boxed. I danced. I conquered. Well, I wouldn’t go so far as to say, “conquered,” for that last part, but some amazing things happened! Thankfully, I became a member of the Hill Winds Society and a tour guide this past term! Other highlights: I became involved with the Dartmouth chapter of She’s the First. UJIMA put on a ton of shows and I was able to dance in all of them. I participated in the Leaders, Attitudes, and Behavior program sponsored by Rocky. I finished SAPA training. I finished calculus forever (I hope). My friends and I adopted the song “#Selfie” as our 14W theme song. I discovered the bathroom code for the first floor of my building along with a new favorite burger from EBA’s. I purchased my first Snapback. I assisted in dyeing a friend’s hair. She dyed it back. I followed through with over half of the lunch/dinner/brunch/coffee dates I promised people in passing. You could say this term, while extremely busy and tiring, was overall pretty successful.

UJIMA performs for Stroll Show 2014

UJIMA performs for Stroll Show 2014

My favorite accomplishment by far was that I met truly amazing people during 14W. Some of them have become my closest friends here and I can’t wait to see what the next few years have in store for us. Unfortunately, for others, this will be our last term together. As a ‘17, I am so blessed to have had the wisest, most inspiring, mentors from the ‘14 class. I admire the ‘14s so much, and while I can’t imagine the campus without them next fall, I know that they have many wonderful opportunities ahead after graduation. As for me, I’m not going to be a shiny, new freshman for much longer, and that’s perfectly fine. I hope to use their imparted knowledge to make the most of my time at Dartmouth, constantly adding to a story that one day, a ’20 will deem worth telling.

Pre-Freshman Formal

Pre-Freshman Formal

See you in the springtime ~

Mar 142014
 

After three months of thrilling academic challenge and unpredictable cold weather, winter term has terminated; yet, the winter storms continue. The winter snow was plenteous this term. It seems every day, I could witness white, fluffy H2O precipitate on the ground, sometimes so highly elevated, it was hard to walk without getting my legs wet.  It may be hard for one to decide to attend Dartmouth because they fear the long-lasting winters will be unlivable and unconformable. I make no promises that this is untrue. However, unless you are like me and like to wake up at 6 am to go to the gym, there is no need to worry about snow pile-ups because Dartmouth does a great job about having the snow plowed as early as possible. Additionally, if you wear the right gear, you may even find walking through showers of snow can be magical, with soft, solid white spheres raining down to hug your face as you briskly pace to get to class on time. For me, the best approach to dressing well for winter snowstorms is simply to wear a cozy hat, warm mittens and a thick waterproof jacket. At Dartmouth, you can’t avoid the snow storms. But as the storms continue, just make the best out of it.

 

Best,

Irene

Mar 132014
 

20140312_175407

 

Just as the weather was warming up a little here in Hanover, a blizzard hit and rendered Dartmouth Winter W onderland again. Say what you will about the cold, but snow- in good times- can mean adventure.

I say good times because the academic term just ended, and the snow storm hit while I was leaving my last final for the term.

Finals are stressful anywhere I suppose, but perhaps more so here because the terms are only 10 weeks long and it always feels like there isn’t enough time to study. That said, a lot gets done to ensure that you don’t get too over your head; study groups, study breaks, and q and a sessions are organized by various offices… My chem prof got us clementines during our chem final- so we won’t “get vitamin c deficiency in case we get stranded in the classroom!”.
In any case, back to my earlier point, being done with finals feels great! And then when the storm started, a few friends who were also done with finals and I headed over to the BEMA and then the golf course to sled. Super cold, snow was too thick, but was so great to be able to go outside and enjoy the nature that the Dartmouth campus offers.

Next post will be about spring term! They go by so fast :(

 

20140308_101537

Mar 132014
 

Among many other things, this term has been a term of bananas. As a food that’s eminently portable, fun to eat, provocatively-shaped, available at every one of Dartmouth’s dining locations, bananas have long exerted an occult power over me that reached its climax in the early days of Winter Term, 2014. I’ve been eating bananas non-stop, in and out of class. As I write, a pile of peels sits next to me on the desk, looking for all the world like the corpse of a black and yellow octopus. I’ve also discovered that a banana makes for a handy apparatus for gesturing vigorously at a fellow student who’s just said something out of line, or as microphone when conducting a hard-hitting interview with an important campus figure. I’ve littered my text messages with the banana emoji, in singles and pairs, leaving my conversational partners to wonder at the tantalizing meaning of my messages.

I have even come to identify with a particular banana, whom I met mid-way through January. On the back porch of the Black Visual Arts center, which I’ve passed each Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning on the way to class, lies a banana. This miserable specimen of fruit has escaped custodial eye, stranded endlessly on the chilled cement like a high-potassium Ariadne. As the temperature has swung up and down, the banana has repeatedly re-frozen and thawed, causing its process of putrefaction and blackening to get drawn out agonizingly over a period of ten weeks, that should have lasted no more than ten days.

When I wake up in the morning, the first thought that enters my head is “Humanity is doomed. You are doomed. Facebook, yolo, Real Housewives, Kindles, Upworthy, Miley Cyrus…these are the reasons God doesn’t talk to us anymore.” With these grim and menacing thoughts clouding my mind like a wreath of bats, I shuffle out of Topliff and in the direction of class.

image

[Pictured: Aaron Pellowski '15]

But then I catch sight of the banana. “Hello again, banana,” I think. “You’re looking a little limper than last time. If it weren’t for the hard cold air, I’m sure your odor would be sweet and violently pungent. It is only your lack of segmentation that distinguishes you from a turd in the eyes of passers-by. But I know what you really are, on the inside. And I’m proud you’ve survived.”

This has been a trying term for me, but like the banana, I’ve resisted rotting into a dark puddle of despair. In all seriousness, the banana hasn’t been more than a symbol, but it is a symbol for the real phenomenon of collective angst. We here at Dartmouth understand ourselves to be high-achievers, the smartest cookies in the box. We set preposterous expectations for ourselves, seemingly for no better reason than testing the limits of our raw human capacities. Happiness, self-care, therapy of any form: these aren’t just forms of giving up, they’re forms of selfishness. I was sick for nearly a third of this term, but I still attended class with an ear infection that made it almost impossible to hear. I wanted my friends to see me persisting in spite of my difficulty, just in case any of them were dangerously close to completely giving up. We inspire each other with our success, but we grasp our collective humanity when we suffer.

This term saw superhuman achievement on the part of our student athletes at the Olympics and the Ivy Heptagonals. As a community, we enjoyed explosive, unenvious pride at their accomplishments. But this in this same term, we lost a son, and then a daughter of our family. And another daughter was made the victim of unspeakable violence that came from within our own ranks. It was in those wordless hours when we brought our fists of celebration down to our hearts and held them there, feeling the ebb and throb that remind us that we are human, and that we owe each other everything.

 

Wrapping Up

 Posted by at 2:06 am  No Responses »
Mar 102014
 

Winter term is finally coming to a close in Hanover, which means some pretty big changes in my life.  We finished our capstone design project (and it mostly worked!), so we’re anxiously waiting on the review board of professors and professional engineers to decide our fates.  I’m ending my tenure as social chair of my fraternity, which took up a significant portion of my time over the past year.  Even though it was frequently stressful and constantly frustrating, I definitely grew as a leader and learned a lot of real-world skills I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.  The club running team will be gearing up for our spring racing season, and I’ll personally be preparing to tackle my first marathon over Memorial Day weekend.  The days will get warmer, leaves will return to the trees, and the melting snow will combine with the nostalgic tears of the last-term seniors to reduce every non-paved surface to mush.

Of course, between spring term and now comes spring break in all its glory.  I’ll be travelling to Georgia with the ultimate frisbee team for a week – camping out,  practicing, playing in tournaments, and getting to know the team better.  It’s an important tradition to the team, and definitely one that the rest of campus has heard about.  This trip is really everything a spring break trip should be:  road trip singalongs and spur of the moment detours, late-night swims and early morning jogs, new friends and old.  Also fake moustaches and dyed hair.

I for one think that we are an upstanding group of gentlemen.

I for one think that we are an upstanding group of gentlemen.

Now that I’ve gone and made myself all daydreamy, I need to get back to studying.  One exam and one paper stand between me and Georgia.  And a thousand or so miles.  But really, that’s the fun part.

Mar 072014
 

IMG_5815IMG_5863

“It’s just that I feel so sad these wonderful nights. I sort of feel they’re never coming again, and I’m not really getting all I could out of them.” — This Side of Paradise // F. Scott Fitzgerald

One week left in the city of light.

A few weeks ago, I realized that I spend about 3/4 of my time in the same areas in Paris — the traditionally chic, bobo, touristy ones, unfortunately — and that I had neglected to even ride the metro through half of the city. So I furiously researched suggested walks / things to see / places to eat in the areas I hadn’t visited yet, and I came up with a long list. These areas around the periphery are more “popular” in the sense that this is where you’d find your “average Parisian” — the one that doesn’t necessarily wear a Hermes scarf, Louboutins, and chignon everyday.

Surprisingly, the more I walked, the more I realized that this is the side of Paris I truly enjoy. Even though I explored some of these parks, streets, and neighborhoods on my own, I never felt lonely. This might be extremely trite, but I felt like the real charm of the city is the one gained from discovering it through your own eyes, reflecting while wandering, and finding beauty in the less-gentrified streets. Instead of seeing the Paris that others have created for you, you create your own impressions and your own appreciation….not exactly a completely successful way to describe the feeling, but it will suffice.

I became obsessed with street art. I’ve always been very interested in it, especially after learning about artists like Shepard Fairey and Banksy in high school, but I’ve never been able to really dig into the scene. Here, for one of my final papers, I’ve decided to write about art squats in Paris, which give rise to street art/graffiti. Squats are essentially abandoned / reconverted buildings that have been occupied (illegally), usually in response to high rent. Many of these locations have been converted to studio spaces for artists, thus the origin of art squats. Many of the art squats in Paris have been closed by the government, but some have gained “legal” status, so that they receive some support from the municipal government and are allowed to exist but only as work and not lodging spaces (such as 59 Rivoli). In all of these places, you will find a treasure chest of art — dancers, musicians, actors, painters, sculptors, graffiti artists, etc.

Today I ran to an abandoned warehouse-turned-lodging-and-studios in search of a graffiti exhibit, where I met 3 street artists — Maxime Aum, Codex Urbanus, and Shadee.K — who showed me around the exhibit and introduced me to the pieces of graffiti. Some of them were familiar motifs that I had seen around the city, and it was really exciting to finally meet the mysterious faces behind the characters and words that decorate Paris.

With so much to discover, so much to inspire, so much to absorb, Paris is a haven for anyone who has ever tried to create something. I wish I had a few more weeks, even a few more free hours to spend here, building relationships with interesting people from all walks of life and letting the enchantment of the city mold me into someone more reflective and appreciative.

The 1902 Room

 Posted by at 5:41 am  No Responses »
Mar 072014
 

Flanking the lawn before Baker Library is a large, one-room building of two-story proportions. It’s called the 1902 room and it’s always open. It contains about ten long, broad wooden tables, each paired with a portrait of an important figure from the college’s history. Their expressions range from stern and stoic to friendly and bemused. They’re all men. One of them is named Craven Laycock.

When, just before 2AM hits, Baker’s PA system plays its startling announcement that the facilities proper are about to close, a moribund train of book-weary students begins to shuffle into the 1902 room and set up shop for the rest of the night. While some prefer Novack cafe, also a 24-hour space, and others retire to dormitory study rooms, the atmosphere of the 1902 room sustains a ghostly appeal to others. Just why is an engima. I don’t know whether the 1902 room has anything like a self-aware culture surrounding it, though some of us talk about it like it does. But the mere mention of a night spent laboring in the 1902 room evokes near-universal recognition of what is considered a thoroughly punishing experience. There is no bathroom, and only one door leading to the outside. When that door opens, especially during the winter, a gale of freezing air enters the room, causing students to grimace and pull their pants further down over their ankles. The 1902 room is quiet, but not silent, so while conversation is instantly met with a host of hostile turned-around stares, the littlest cough or spurt of flatulence is audible to all. There is a ceaseless chorus of chair-creaking and inadvertent sighing. The lights, which never turn off, are so bright that in the brain of the sleepless they emit an oppressive noise of their own.

Last winter I took Intensive Ancient Greek, a choice which, while intellectually rewarding, turned out to be titanically masochistic. In order to succeed on the final exam, I spent the last weeks of the term camped out in the 1902 room surrounded by a books. 20 half-empty coffee-cups and unwashed clothing. I only left to go to class and eat once a day. I slept in sporadic cat-naps on a couch near the front of the room beside a defunct fireplace. Over the course of that period, I developed a supernatural, delirious attachment to the 1902 room which, though it was forged in agony, gave rise to great feelings of nostalgia the following term when I was abroad.

Finals period looms like a mouthful of fangs and once again I find myself serving out huge terms in the 1902 room. This space represents one component of my Dartmouth experience that, compared to the first five I’d name off the top of my head when asked, is relatively minor. Nevertheless, it is one I’ll never forget, and one which, as I reflect on it, has a unique sheen to it. As a budding freshman, I would have never anticipated forming this kind of queer relationship with an otherwise uninteresting room. And that raises a question which we should all be asking ourselves as we undertake and begin to exit the turbulent, four-year project of college: what familiar things have become strange, and what strange things familiar?

 

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: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~music/performance/

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”.

 

 

 

Mar 052014
 

At Dartmouth there are of hundreds of possible classes one can take, yet which ones are the ones that stand out, the “must-takes”? Every Dartmouth undergrad may have a different list, but one that crops up a lot and is on my personal list is ENGS 12: Design Thinking.

What is this ? Weird name, huh? Well, Design Thinking is actually exactly what it sounds like… you think about how things are designed – anything and everything from objects (ex: a table) to technology (ex: iPhone). And you not only think about design, but think about how to improve design and come up with your own!

My second design project. Can you guess the theme?

Yet what skills do you learn, how does this happen? Main skill: learning to be creative! In class you will find out all types of different brainstorming activities, lateral thinking, and so much more! This is also a project-heavy class, so you get your hands dirty, and group-based – at times frustrating, but an invaluable skill.

Myself modeling one of the many ways you can wear the modular bag – the bag everyone has been waiting for!

This class is not only fun, but the skills you will learn (anything from working intensely in a group to photoshop!) will be invaluable in other aspects of your life: other classes, job interviews, new solutions to old problems… You will not regret taking this class.

The App You’ve Always Wanted: Tinder for Exercise Buddies!

To wrap this post up, this is just one of the many Dartmouth classes that has made an impression on me and changed me for the better. But who knows what gems you will discover? Take-away message: take classes outside your comfort zone – you might be amazed at the rewards.