Sep 112012
 

Every Fall at Dartmouth, I’m reminded just how old I am.  As I walk around the beautiful Green, I hear the classic flair, loud music blasting and seemingly clueless ’16s wandering around!  And that’s when it hits me – I’m a junior!  In a way, Fall symbolizes a period of renewal.  It’s an exciting time to be sure — everybody coming back to campus after a lengthy break (except for the sophomores over summer!) and life at the Big Green continues.

Not for me, though. For me, Fall 2012 is something new, something exciting. With three other guys and a vision, I am finally taking the Fall off to launch a start-up with $16,500 in capital raised from the Dartmouth Entrepreneurship Competition (if you’re curious, see here http://thedartmouth.com/2012/04/06/news/des). With an early prototype engineered and our value hypotheses validated, we’re currently pursuing different techniques to tighten the validated learning feedback loop between customers and our start-up. Ultimately, whether the start-up succeeds or fails by conventional metrics of valuation is personally irrelevant. In my mind, success stems from personal growth and evolution. What really finalized this decision to pursue the start-up path was the realization that as someone with a vision and capital, I really had nothing to lose and everything to gain!

So Fall still, to me, is a renewal in some senses.

Dec 052011
 

I love tennis, as you probably gathered from my quick bio on this website.  When I was at home, I used to play tennis with my brother every single day it did not rain and was above 30 degrees.  We would play matches against each other and USTA tournaments as well.  I was a little hesitant of what I would do without tennis up north at Dartmouth, especially during the winter.  What I did not realize was how many clubs and facilities there are to use for students.

Photo credit to DartmouthSports.com

I knew there would be a gym, but I’m not a big fan of running on treadmills or lifting weights – it was always too boring for me.  I like strategy, competition, and winning.  I learned just yesterday that there is a badminton club on Thursdays at 9 pm in the Alumni Gym, which sounds awesome, considering that my love for tennis spills into all other racket sports.  A friend also showed me the indoor squash courts at Alumni Gym, which are open to the public for a large part of the day.  If I start shaking and sweating because of tennis withdrawal, a friend and I could each pay $5 to play on at the Boss Tennis Center when the varsity teams are not training.

I haven’t tried out that many other facilities, but the gym is nice – it has all the equipment you would need.  There is also a swimming pool, which I personally have not tried out, but it looks at me alluringly every time I pass by it on my way back from the racquetball courts.  I’ve also seen the indoor basketball courts and track.  I’m sure there is more that I’m missing, because there are multiple floors, and the staircases and hallways are like a maze.  I’ve gotten lost my fair share of times (I’m not the best at directions), but I don’t mind because it means we have a large gym.

There are also a ton of club and intramural sports.  I did tennis in the fall, naturally.  Many kids from my dorm did intramural soccer and had fun facing other teams in matches.  There are also PE classes that span areas that aren’t offered otherwise.  For example, there are classes in yoga, many types of dance, fencing, and a whole lot of other activities that I have never done.  I plan on taking one this winter to ease my tennis withdrawal.

Overall, I guess I can live without tennis.  It would have been excruciating had Dartmouth not had so many awesome activities, though, so I’m thankful.

Nov 212011
 

When I arrived on campus, there were so many clubs and activities I wanted to try. Even though I am in no way qualified for a hip-hop dance group and I don’t really know what Boggle is (yes, there’s a club for that), I eagerly watched as blitz after blitz poured in to my inbox during the early weeks of September. I’d joined the Cheer Team over the summer, but I was looking for a non-athletic campus activity that was totally different than anything I’d done before.

I found what I was looking for in the Great Issues Scholars program, run through Dartmouth’s Dickey Center for International Understanding. If the title sounds vague, that’s because the program is so broad– we basically learn about the most pressing concerns of people all over the world through speakers, lectures, and discussions. GIS is just for first-years, which is one reason why I’ve enjoyed it so much. I’ve met other students my age whom I might not have met on my floor, in a class, or on a team. To get to know each other, our first event of the term was a retreat!

We left in school buses on Friday afternoon and drove about forty minutes off campus to a beautiful camp in Vermont. We started out with icebreaker games in a barn and then had a delicious dinner in the main lodge. Though I’m still having my honeymoon period with the food here at Dartmouth, the home-cooked meals at this camp were amazing.

Next we got down to the main part of the retreat: a simulation of the conflict going on in the South China Sea. Most of us had never even heard of that region, so we attended a lecture by Dartmouth professors Jenny Lind and Daryl Press, about a week prior to the retreat. At the lecture we were all assigned to different country groups involved in the issue. In the week leading up to the retreat we read news articles with more specifics on our particular country’s motivations and involvement. The simulation was run by Fred Hill, who makes simulations for the U.S. Department of State. We are so spoiled here at Dartmouth.

After a talk from Fred Hill we split into our seperate “countries” and began planning what we would say in conference with each of the other countries the next day. It was a lot of information to take in, but we had been provided with the necessary resources to sort through it. After the meetings we made s’mores in the barn and then headed to bed in the cabins.

Before breakfast the next morning, some other girls and I went on a morning walk around the camp grounds. There was a fresh autumn breeze, and the leaves on the trees were absolutely gorgeous. This part of the country is so stunning in October. As if the natural landscape wasn’t enough, we found a small wooden castle up on a hill! We ran around inside of it and posed on the top like little kids on a playground. That morning was easily one of my happiest moments at Dartmouth so far.

The morning was spent doing teamwork exercises in the woods, and the afternoon was full of diplomatic meetings amongst countries. I have no debate or Model UN background, so I wasn’t really expecting how intense some of the meetings became! I was a representative of the United States; we were trying to support countries like Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia without coming into direct conflict with China. We ran from meeting to meeting, trying to keep up with new developments amongst countries and prevent ourselves from committing to anything too hastily. Even though we’d known next to nothing about the South China Seas conflict only a week before, we still managed to take many different viewpoints into account. We didn’t reach an overarching solution by the end of the afternoon, but I know I still enjoyed playing diplomat for a day. After the concluding summit, we ate another delicious dinner and headed back at campus in time for Saturday evening.

The retreat was such a fun part of my freshman fall. It sort of felt like DOC trips all over again. We’ve had several other GIS events since, and it’s been great catching up with the friends I made during the retreat. I’m so thankful that I’m in GIS this year. I knew next to nothing about international affairs when I came here, so it’s been great to learn a bit about topics as varied as human trafficking in Kyrgyzstan or U.S. policy towards the conflict in the Middle East. I’m already looking forward to the rest of the year with GIS.

Oct 292011
 

After being on campus for only a couple of weeks, I am already active in Dartmouth Humanitarian Engineering and Hillel (the Jewish student organization).  Already, I’ve been able to make contributions to each of these groups.  In Dartmouth Humanitarian Engineering, I work on the Marketing & Development Team.  I am currently working on our team’s application to the Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition, which has a grand prize of around $30,000.  The projects that the group has implemented — such as water purification in rural Tanzania and hydro-power in Rwanda — have made significant impacts on communities around the globe.  Getting funding is necessary to continue to have this impact.  In Hillel, I am serving as VP of Religious Affairs and Education, which has put me in a position to give back to a community that has given so much to me–the Jewish community.  It’s been incredibly fulfilling to have become entrenched in these organizations so soon after arriving on campus.

Joining a club is a great way to pursue a passion or a hobby, but it’s also great for meeting other students.  It’s awesome to be able to meet other first-year students who you would not have otherwise met.  It’s also nice to get to know sophomores, juniors, and seniors who can give you valuable advice on life at Dartmouth.  One of my best friends here is a sophomore, and he’s definitely helped ease the transition from high school to college.

At Dartmouth, it’s easy to do what you love and meet new people at the same time; all you have to do is join some clubs!

Oct 022011
 

While lying in bed at night, I always like to reflect on the day’s happenings.  Recently, I’ve been having to fulfill this tradition while brushing my teeth or walking back to my dorm at night because I’m so exhausted by the end of the day that I sleep nearly immediately after slipping under my sheets.

What makes me so exhausted, you ask?  At the moment, it’s not my homework (not yet, anyway).  It’s the fact that I’m always in motion and there is always positive energy buzzing around campus during the day.  Between walking back and forth to my dorm (yes, I live in the River, and yes, it is amazing), bonding with my floor, staying on my toes and participating in my classes, going to office hours, going to club tennis practice, and going to one or two club meetings a night, I get exhausted.  Then there’s the eating at FoCo with friends, studying in the tower room of Baker Library (I love studying there because it makes me feel like I’m in Harry Potter), etc (I’ll stop listing now).

Everyone at Dartmouth warns freshman about getting involved in too many clubs, but I think it’s a mistake that most freshman make anyways because of the type of people who come here.  Dartmouth students love being involved and love dipping their toes in new things.  Based on conversations I’ve had with upperclassmen, it seems like just trying one new club can open up an unknown world of talents, whether they be in fencing, improv comedy, or woodworking.

For example, I’ve never done Parliamentary Debate, which is awesome in case you were wondering.  There’s nothing like interrupting your opponent with a question by standing with one hand on your head and your other hand in the air (fun fact: one of the captains said that this is custom because Members of Parliament used to hold their wigs with one hand and show that they weren’t bearing arms with the other).  I actually just came back yesterday from a debate tournament in Boston for novices and had a great time bonding with the team.  Both the student body and the administration is so supportive of students to try new things, which is one of the great things about the environment here.

I guess being tired is something I anticipate I will deal with a whole lot more at Dartmouth over my next four years, but it is the kind of weariness that gives me satisfaction.  At the end of the day, I know that if I’m exhausted, I’ve been active and involved.  So, thank you Dartmouth.  If nothing else, you give me a whole lot to think about before I head to bed and you give me the deepest sleeps I’ve ever had.

Sep 252011
 

Wednesday morning, September 21, 4:30 am. In just over four hours, my first day of classes at Dartmouth will officially begin. I’m sitting on the red circular seat at the entrance of the Hop, which I’m convinced is simply wood with one layer of upholstery draped over the top, as alert as I can be after being abruptly woken from a state of quasi-slumber. Men’s a capella auditions, second round.

After not making it to the third, final round of auditions (yet still sleeping through the paroxysmal beeping of my alarm clock and my first class), I was justifiably upset. I had never sung in a choir before, let alone an a capella group, but I was convinced that I had a wonderfully melodious voice. After all, my friends and family had insisted on it, and they wouldn’t lie to me. The truth was that the standards had simply changed. Everyone had 18 years of life experience before we met, and everyone had devoted themselves for years to their extracurricular passions. For some, it was singing. It dawned on me what it really meant to leave my public high school in suburban Wisconsin.

I felt as though I was the subject of a grave injustice. I too, had literally spent every waking hour during my final two years of high school on Academic Decathlon, and Dartmouth didn’t even offer a near substitute. I was left to carve a new path out for myself, while everyone else continued what they’d been doing for ages. But slowly, I began to see it for what it really was: unbridled opportunity to discover my true self. Although I still have no clue about what new interest I’ll stumble upon next, I’m ever grateful for the strange conspiracies of fate that brought me to where I am today.