Apr 172014

campussunsetskiway sunlightLong blog posts often do not get read at all. But when choosing the college at which you will spend the next four years of your life, I think there are a few incredibly important things to consider. And so, I’ll try to keep this as short as possible.


Some Possible Worries:

1. I don’t drink, and Dartmouth is full of alcohol-fueled animals who drink day in and day out. How can I possibly go to a school with fraternities?!

            Actually, drinking is much more moderate than you have probably been led to believe. Every college likes to brag about how lively its party scene is, as Dartmouth has done, but in recent years that reputation has come back to bite us. In reality, the majority of Dartmouth students do not drink excessively, and fraternities are merely one option of many, on and off campus.

2. I’m worried about being sexually assaulted, and Dartmouth seems like a pretty dangerous place. I even read an article about it!

            Of course, sexual assault is a real problem, like it is on all college campuses. However, spend one night out at Dartmouth and you will see the intimate respect between students against the common enemy of sexual assault. Dartmouth students are, in large part, good people. In light of recent events, the community has become hyper-sensitive, ensuring that we move forward together and against the evil of sexual assault. It is not something to take lightly, and I can assure you that we do not.

            Furthermore, see what the College has done already: http://www.dartmouth.edu/sexualassault/

3. I’m not outdoorsy. Dartmouth is in the woods. I don’t want to spend four years foraging in the wilderness for my education.

            While there are a bunch of awesome outdoor opportunities here, the notion that you must be an outdoorsy person to enjoy your Dartmouth experience is simply false. Although Hanover may be surrounded by (beautiful) mountains and woods, the town itself is like any other: we have lots of people, lots of fun things to do, and normally functioning toilets.

4. I’ve just read too much about Dartmouth’s bad side recently. I think it’s probably a safer bet to just go somewhere else.

            There is something profoundly special and beautiful about Dartmouth. While I cannot prove this to you in a blog post, I hope you take it to heart. The College has gotten a lot of flack about various aspects of its culture recently, but it is my favorite place in the world–and countless others share this sentiment. The people I’ve met, the things I’ve learned, and the experiences I’ve had here are not simply things that I would have gotten anywhere. Dartmouth is special in a sense that I will never be able to adequately convey. Trust me.

Of course, as you may be thinking, I am biased. I am a current Dartmouth student, and I want the incredibly talented accepted students to go to my school. However, I was not always a Dartmouth student. I chose to come here for a reason, and I think that many of those reasons have been tainted and devalued by the media in the two years since I’ve been here. To truly choose the right college for you, you’ll have to look past the exaggerations and outright lies that have been spread about Dartmouth College. Why do I care so much about these exaggerations and lies? Because they are about my Dartmouth–and I want it to be yours, too.

I love this place, and if you have any concerns about why you might not, please email me at alexander.e.libre.16@dartmouth.edu.

Looking forward to seeing you on campus next year, and all the best until then!

- Alex Libre ’16

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 152014

Freshmen: a delight to behold

All newly freed from the mold

Of those halcyon days

of highschooler haze

Most of them eighteen years old!

Sophomores: they know the rules

Or think they do, surely not tools

Who crush P-Sets all night

The Op-Eds they write

Leave readers in puddles and pools


Juniors: hold terror at bay

Graduation a few terms away!

What will Bridgewater say

Of my resume?

When I drop it on Dartboard today?


Seniors: begin to diverge

Experience emotional surge


“The Green I’ll always abhor”

To each his own method of purge



Apr 132014

After a 13-week period of indoor training, the men and women of Dartmouth Rowing are finally beginning their racing seasons.  This weekend, I travelled with the lightweight squad down to Cambridge, where we would face off with perennial powerhouse Harvard and perennial under-achiever MIT.

Harvard's historic Newell Boathouse. (taken from www.gocrimson.com)

Harvard’s historic Newell Boathouse. (taken from www.gocrimson.com)

The results were as expected.  My boat (the 3V 8+, for those of you who understand such code), beat MIT’s crew handedly, and fell to Harvard’s crew even more handedly.  The race, which took place over a stretch of the Charles River known as “the Basin”, saw relatively kind conditions and flawless logistics.  No delays, no disqualifications, and (thankfully) no last-minute injuries.

The experience of racing at Harvard, however, was unlike any other.

We launched out of Harvard’s historic Newell Boathouse, which, as I should have mentioned before, could be considered a shrine to great rowers, past and present.

Pictures of national-champion crews, flyers from international competition, and acknowledgements of individual achievements cover the aging, wooden walls.  The face of legendary coach Harry Parker looks down from framed portraits on almost every wall.  The few empty spaces tempt the current rowers, as if to encourage them to fill the space with their own historic achievements.

I could have stayed and looked around for hours, but I had business to take care of.  As a Dartmouth rower, it was my goal to try to beat these guys.

The greatest Harvard rowers look down on this training room from three walls, providing motivation for its current inhabitants.

The greatest Harvard rowers look down on this training room from three walls, providing motivation for its current users.

We rigged, rowed, and stowed the boats.  We weighed in on an ancient scale, and went to dinner at the local Cheesecake Factory.  All was going smoothly.

We returned to Newell Boathouse the following morning at 8 AM sharp, dressed and ready to race.  The atmosphere had changed; whereas before I was a guest, an observer, and an admirer of Harvard’s successes, I had now become its antagonist.  The air was charged with all the fire of competition.  It was time to take down the giant.

But despite our bravest efforts, the Harvard Goliaths proved why their very name has become synonymous with success (results available here: http://www.row2k.com/results/resultspage.cfm?UID=6619084&cat=1#.U0rUuV5UHF8).  They swept us in each event, handing the Dartmouth crews our second disappointing loss of the season.

We will not compete against Harvard again until Eastern Sprints, on May 18th.  Until then, I can go back to admiring all that the members of Newell Boathouse have achieved.  I can also guiltlessly encourage anyone who gets the chance to visit this boathouse to do so.  It’s like a functional museum, a factory of Olympic-caliber athletes, and it is certainly worth your time.

Many thanks to Harvard for hosting us so kindly and comfortably, and to MIT and Harvard for making the racing possible.



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Apr 102014

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

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

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

beautiful friends in beautiful place

beautiful friends in a beautiful place

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

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

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

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

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

5. Some 18s! It has now been confirmed that one ’18 has read at least one post of mine on this thing, which is extremely flattering. She’s the first ’18 I’ve met, my first Dimensions prospie is coming in tonight, which will make it the fourth time I’ve hosted a prospie at this school! My main aim as a host is to facilitate a prospective’s own experience here, not at all to promote my school. I’ve had a very singular experience here and I don’t aim to misguide by making Dartmouth the Dartmouth that I’ve experienced. I don’t think this school is all good, nor all bad. Again, if you’re here for Dimensions this weekend, the next, or two weekends from now, feel free to contact me: claire.park.16@dartmouth.edu. I’d be more than happy to meet up for a chat! Even if you won’t be here, and you have some questions, I can also address any concerns through e-mail. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I promise honest responses, at least! And to encourage people to speak out, here’s the very last bit of “A Litany for Survival” by Audre Lorde my roommate sent out the first day of spring term:

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

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

Apr 012014

To start off,
Congratulations to the great (potential) class of 2018! It honestly feels like yesterday that I was on cloud 9 thinking about Dartmouth and the future and it all seemed so faraway and too good to be real! I hope you all share these sentiments and are excited about the Big Green! We, “upperclassmen” I suppose, are psyched to welcome you all at Dimensions and to have you stay with us and meet us and contact us, and hopefully join us next term.

For those of you that did not quite make it, I am sure you must be frustrated- take the time to be upset/disappointed. Your feelings are totally valid. That said, Dartmouth is obviously not the only school in which you can enjoy yourself and have a great experience- and I wish you the best of luck! And please remember that not being accepted somewhere does NOT define you as a person! So many other factors – some outside your control- come into play and you should not take it personally.

On another note, this is the second week of Spring Term. One thing I love about those first few days of the term is how easy it is to start fresh; make new friends, take new classes, and join a new organization! At the same time, the terms go by so fast that it already feels like we’ve been back for a while. This weekend, the Dartmouth Model UN club hosted its ninth annual conference for high school students, and it was really fun to be part of a big secretariat team and to spend all weekend together trying to pull off a successful event. So yeah, that was definitely a big part of my Spring Term (despite it lasting for just 3 days) that I wanted to share with you all. dartmun


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Mar 282014

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

The most important relevant of these being Dartmouth. To all the ’18s, congratulations!!! If you haven’t decided yet whether you want to be an ’18 or not, please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns at: claire.park.16@dartmouth.edu. If you’re planning on visiting, I’d be happy to meet up with you for tea/coffee (on me, of course) on campus!

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

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

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

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

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

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



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Mar 282014

This short post is sent with a lot of love:

Welcome to Dartmouth 18′s! We are very excited to have you as a part of the Dartmouth community! You all are great and talented! Welcome, welcome, and another big welcome to Dartmouth :).




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 sjd@dartmouth.edu 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.