On to the Next One

I’m going to be completely honest here. I have no idea how to summarize my 1st year at Dartmouth College. But I guess I have to start somewhere (considering my post is already late). Depending on how you get there, Hanover, NH is 1000 miles form my front door, give or take a few. I didn’t know what to expect from this college in, very literally, the middle of nowhere. But when people ask me if I have second-thoughts about being so far from home, I can say with certainty that I’ve never had a doubt in my mind.

As a sort of orientation, I went on a camping trip, as I’ve mentioned before. On my trip, we had to write a letter to our older, wiser, end of 1st year selves, which I completely forgot about until I checked my mailbox. I’ve gleaned two bits of college wisdom from my letter, which I’ll share with you all now.

First, your messy handwriting, or lack thereof, will not improve just because you’re in college. Embrace the scribbles in the same way that you should embrace everything about who you are as a person. You are you; it’s an amazing thing. Second, “Do the new things that you want to do, and don’t feel like you need to stay the same.” If I hadn’t listened to my own advice, I wouldn’t have made the amazing decision to join the Dartmouth Women’s Rugby team in the spring. Without that, I know my first year experience would have been much different.

I took so many interesting classes this year and some that were not so fun, met so many new people, tried out as many things as I possibly could. More importantly, I made a home for myself up in New Hampshire. I know not everyone gets that from their college, but I’m so glad that I did. There’s not a minute of it that I regret: from staying out until a ridiculous hour to staying in to study until a ridiculous hour. Every minute I spent studying in my favorite spot in Sanborn library was worth just as much as every minute I spent with friends. My dorm room was very literally the size of a closet, my roommate continues to be rad, and she and our “honorary roommate” are all living together next year. I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better experience; there’s not a thing I would change.

In my move in post, I said that there were so many things, that I didn’t know what I was most excited for. Now that I’ve seen a years worth of Dartmouth, I’m still excited about everything. I can’t get back there soon enough.

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It’s About Who You Know…

After high school, adults advise, “don’t miss an exam,” “you should probably study,” and “this is your time to explore.” Everyone claimed college will be the best four years of my life. I’m going to make so many friends. I’ll get to take classes that truly interest me. It’s going to be nonstop fun!

Don’t get me wrong, I had fun.

But I also struggled a lot this year.

I went to Iowa State for a degree in Animal Ecology but soon realized: not for me.  Keeping up with classes was difficult.  My grades tumbled and I kept a lot to myself, suddenly aware that I made the wrong choice.

I tolerated people more so than befriending them.  No one could replace people I loved already.  Besides, everyone was BFFs already and I didn’t want to intrude.  So I coexisted with my roommate and struggled academically, relying on the occasional care package and online shopping shipment to brighten my day.

By winter, I even considered transferring, my gut telling me to get out.  But that felt like quitting; I would change my major and see what happens.

During this time, what kept my spirits up was the Motion Sickness Dance Team, a hip hop club.  Fellow dancers brightened my spirits, I couldn’t bring myself to part with them.

To change my major, I had to fit an entire year’s worth of a core design program in just one semester.  Everyone said I was crazy.  Professors thought it shouldn’t be allowed, yet this spring of 2015 had a record amount of students doing that exact thing.

I got a job, too. Coworkers insisted I’d go insane if I stayed there.  But I stayed.

I wanted to prove I was capable.  Even though spring was way busier than fall, somehow, I knew it would be better.

My year developed into something positive; coworkers, classmates, and club members taking my mind off the negatives.

Unfortunately, during the last full week of school, something happened.

As the Motion Sickness club turned into family, we were blindsided with a tragedy.

My good friend, dance partner, and future roommate passed away.

She was amazing.  Practice was never dull when she was around.  A music major, I could relate to her creativity.  Though she would deny it, she was a talented dancer, too.  How someone so bubbly, talented, and unique could leave this world so suddenly will forever remain a mystery.  Sometimes I think about her and picture her playing her piccolo in the afterlife, grinning down at us.  The Motion Sickness family flocked together during such a difficult time.  We were there to console, to hug, to remember the good times.  Now, I’m sure, I can’t leave them.

This year, packed with ups and downs, was a blessing in disguise; it made me stronger.  I grew from this experience and developed friendships that I know will last.

I’m proud to say I’ve been accepted to the Integrated Studio Arts program at Iowa State University and could not have done it without massive support.

My take away?  Make good friends and good things will happen.

That’s my first year at college, how did yours go?

-Frankie :*