COLLEGE. After many years of attending schools in various countries and very different parts of North America, college did not seem like a huge deal. Patty was trained to survive big changes, make new friends even when old and dear friends were still in her mind, and above all, she was prepared to learn on the go. As she embarked on her last year in high school, Patty started to think about what would be after high school. Many friends had their minds set in specific colleges. After all, it was the next step if you wanted to get anywhere. She remembers settling around the idea of attending college in a rather informal fashion: she wasn’t planning a lot where would she wanted to go for four years.
Would it be in Miami, close to home? Or would it be somewhere far away? She remembers learning about a college in New Hampshire, an Ivy, through a friend of her then boyfriend. This alum from her high school who was attending Dartmouth at the time would spark her interest in a far away college. He talked about it all the time. Patty finally caved in and started to look into Dartmouth. She remembers how easy of a decision to apply was. Given that the college does not have a required essay outside of the Common Application package, Patty saw in this a good chance. At first, she thought she wouldn’t get in, or that the forest environment would not be of her like. New Hampshire? Where in the world is Hanover? Is it a boring town? No cities for a couple of miles? Patty retained a dash of hesitation. Yet, after being admitted, she visited campus and fell in love with it: The nature, the people, the buildings all seemed a great match with her. Diverse and full of opportunities, Dartmouth it would be for four years.
Now, four years later, as the last finals of her undergraduate career are behind her, Patty realizes that college was a challenging place in a myriad of ways. Coming out of high school, she felt confident she was going to excel in college, even if she was a little behind in certain subjects like chemistry or biology. She felt mentally prepared to take on the many challenges of college life. She knew well she had to focus on her academics and balance everything else; being a good and organized high school student she knew hard work. Nevertheless, her optimistic outlook was slightly hurt when she had the first stumble of freshman year: failing the first test in Biology 11. A bucket of cold water, this setback however did not stop Patty from carrying on. After adjusting to studying in college, she was able to take on bigger and tougher challenges. She knew she wanted to study brain sciences since before coming to college, and it would be a long road in the major she planned. Patty tasted a little bit of everything before setting in on her neuroscience major, adding a lot of breadth to her education.
College, as she reflects back on four years of rough times and fulfilling experiences, has been truly a mix. There has definitely been stress that originated from intense workloads, some anxiety with too many things that had to be done, and a general feeling of keeping up with a fast-paced college lifestyle that never ceased to slow down. She remembers feeling overwhelmed by some challenging courses such as Chemistry 5, over the winter of her senior year, where she had to learn something from scratch and climb up the learning curve with all her strength. Nevertheless, juggling with jobs and academic demands was not all that Patty had on her plate: she also had a myriad of great experiences. In a way, most of these experiences of joy and peacefulness are connected to nature: going on Freshman Trips, canoeing down the Connecticut with her friends over Sophomore summer, and even completing the jocose “Ledyard Challenge”, a popular tradition that involves swimming across the river and quickly crossing back over the Ledyard interstate bridge. To this, the natural setting of Dartmouth has nestled her passion for the outdoors. As an unaffiliated student, Patty has taken time to develop deep bonds with friends outside of the Greek social scene, hosting lounge parties and creating random study nights and cooking events all by herself. Even away from campus in her foreign study program (FSP) in Madrid, Spain, Patty took advantage of the relationships she created at Dartmouth and had many opportunities to socialize casually with professors outside of the classroom, or when meeting up with her good friend Rochele in Spain. Indeed, her experiences at Dartmouth have been marked by friendships and bonds that she will take wherever she goes.