Life in the Residence Halls
Residence Halls are often much more than merely a place to live. First-years often form their first group of friends at Dartmouth around the people who live in their building. Your UGAs can also be a source of invaluable advice as you navigate this new environment.
About half the first-year class will live in the Choates and River clusters, which are all first-year, while the rest of the class will live in the Russell Sage, McLaughlin, and East Wheelock Cluster.
The first thing to know about residence halls at Dartmouth is that there are a lot of them, many of which house only upperclassmen. Here's a map for all of them.
The River Cluster
French and Judge, the two first-year halls of the River Cluster, are about ten minutes walk from the Green. Although that's the equivilent of living in Siberia in this small campus, the good news is that its not really that far. Most rooms are two or three-room doubles. Along with the Choates, one of the nice things about the River is the experience of living among all first-years. You can always find somebody going through the same exact thing as you are, whether it be having trouble adjusting to college life, going to a frat basement, or signing up for classes for the first time. And when it's nice outside, you don't have to go on a hike to take a dip in the river!
After you figure out exactly how you drive your car full of all the freshman dorm essentials close to the Choates, you will be astounded and amazed by their unbelievably attractive architectural design. In fact, the buildings are of such caliber that the Office of Residential Life has neglected to place pictures of these magnificent dwellings on their website so as to not divulge their beauty to the population at large. Cube-like concrete-and-brick blocks with suspended hamster-cage-like connecter tunnels – this will be your habitat for the next 9 months.
Don’t be dismayed by physical appearance though! "Choatopia" is a great social place where you can partake in beach volleyball, basketball, hallway golf, and other activities of a similar nature. You definitely bond tightly with not just people on your floor, but many folk from the whole little community. The rooms are definitely not bad – the doubles are slightly squished but altogether cozy, and the singles are very decently sized. You are close to Occum Pond (the location of the Polar Bear Swim and ice skating in the winter), the golf course, running trails, the library, and literally in the back yard of half a dozen frat houses. All in all, living the Choates is a fantastic character-building experience and, whether or not you like the architecture, you will undoubtedly make some very close friends.
At Dartmouth, you will have a lot of support from your community, especially from the people living on your floor. Every freshman floor consists of your fellow classmates and one Undergraduate Adviser, or UGA. UGAs are upperclassmen that will be your source for anything from how to apply for Foreign Study Programs (FSPs) to adjusting to life as a first year. UGAs provide general support and advice, and will facilitate a strong sense of community and friendship within your freshman floor through floor meetings and other fun events.
One thing unique to the first-year experience at Dartmouth is floor unity. With almost everybody coming in having no friends, the closest place to find friends is on the floor that you live on. One way that the floor comes together every week is during floor meetings. Your UGA will hold weekly meetings with all of the residents on the floor, all first-years like yourself. At these meetings, your UGA will keep you informed on any important things that are going on at Dartmouth as well as tips for how to survive freshman year. Some of the potential topics include: any deadlines coming up, how to study for finals, how to manage your time better, how to choose classes, how to decide whether or not to study abroad, and other helpful tips. Floor meetings often include icebreaker activities that help you get to know your floormates, such as highs and lows of the week. Many freshmen enjoy these floor meetings, and they certainly can be useful to transitioning into Dartmouth life and making the most of your freshman year.