Coming to Dartmouth from Hawai’i has been an experience rife with surprises. Primarily were the icy winter conditions. No longer at a steady 80oF smelling and feeling like the inside of a tropical greenhouse, I stepped out of my dorm room into what must have been a raging blizzard, though the papers inexplicably remained mum about it and life went on as normal. The flurries of snow were so thick I couldn’t see my hand behind my back, and the icicles and ice-stalagmites formed a menacing set of jaws in the doorframe. I had to dig my way through the layer of snow that covered the Green (The lone ukulele I hear seeming lost and out of place) while enduring the odd looks of scantily clad coeds pretending it was still summer. The beams of sunlight froze and broke off with a tinkle as I pushed through them. On the path to Robo stood several ‘schmen from Florida and SoCal, encased in blocks of ice like carbonite. At last, after scaling the steps of FoCo and stumbling through the doors and past the food detectors I was prepared to eat all the mangoes I could.
But, lo and behold, the food here is also so different. Gone were the pigs roasted on spits over coals (I’ll have to wait to get that as Alpha Chi), the fish pulled out of the sea and cooked in front of you, the fruity tropical drinks (sometimes on fire) and the mountains of sushi and spam. Head spinning from the lack of luau foods I stumbled back out, into the midst of a tropical beach party. But it all seems a perversion of what I knew. The music is the cheesy stuff played in the airport, and all the Hawaiian leis and aloha shirts seem somehow fake. The avenues are not filled with open bars, hotels and steel guitar music. The tikis have lost their cultural significance, and the ‘Hawaiian’ punch and ‘Hawaiian’ pizza have nothing to do with the state. The campus as a whole has me bamboozled. People speak of these ‘airplanes’ and ‘motorboats,’ while I paddled here in a double-hulled sailing canoe. Dancing no longer involves multitudes of flower leis and coconut bras and grass skirts to the beat of a gourd drum, and coconuts do not grow on the trees. America is such a large and foreign country, I don’t know every other citizen anymore. My Hawaiian is no use here and I must learn this new language, English, and use American money rather than giant stone coins (Come to think of it, trading the actual currency rather than oral rights to the stationary coins could be an improvement). There are no waves on the Connecticut, and I cannot find the Dartmouth Surfing team. The region is filled with hundreds of small hills the locals call ‘mountains’ though none of them spew lava. The somber brick buildings rise forebodingly against my memories of grass-shack schoolhouses and the solemn nature of H-croo/Vox/Lodj-croo stands in stark contrast to the eternal bright clothing, song and merrymaking of my island friends. I will struggle adapting to this brave new climate, lifestyle, world, but I know I will succeed because, hey, it’s Dartmouth and we will go until we succeed, pass out drunk or get distracted with the next adventure.
—Jak O’Lantairn Contributor Nathanael Friday