Voices of Trips: Kayla Kesslen ’15

Note: This post is part of the “Voices of Trips” series, featuring the individual experiences and perspectives of current Dartmouth undergraduates regarding DOC First-Year Trips. Check out the introduction to the series here.

Going Into This Alone

I couldn’t have been more excited going into my DOC First-Year Trip. By the time my trip was scheduled to start, most of my friends from home had already started school, and I was eager to begin my own college life.

Kayla Kesslen ’15 is a potential environmental studies & economics double major from Tenafly, New Jersey.

However, on my way to the bus that would be bringing me to Hanover, my dad and I hit a major traffic jam. When I started panicking that I was going to miss the bus, I began to think about all the other things that could go wrong in the next week. What if I don’t like anyone on my trip? What if was too physically demanding? What was I going to eat? Suddenly, all these fears were rushing through my head and I wasn’t so sure anymore if trips were going to be so great. The only problem was that I was already in transit, and it was too late to back out now.

When my dad and I made it to the bus stop, (we thankfully didn’t end up being late), I was hesitant to get out of the car. I saw a group of people walking to the bus together, and it looked like they already knew one another. I didn’t know anyone on my section of DOC Trips, and I feared going into this alone.

“Everyone feels uncomfortable in new situations…so I needed to be patient and let the situation play out…”

When I finally got on the bus, I went into a momentary panic as I had to make the snap decision of where to sit. As tempted as I was to sit alone, I sat down next to a random girl. I don’t know what prompted me to do so, but I couldn’t have made a better decision; we hit it off right away. Although the bus ride was longer than expected, I didn’t even notice. We talked for seven hours straight (busses are slow), and I completely forgot about everything I was nervous for.

Despite some initial worries, Kayla (center) ended up becoming close with her fellow trippees.

When we got to Hanover, I immediately clung to my new friend. However, she wasn’t on my trip and we were ultimately separated. I’m not going to lie – it was hard for me at first. My trippees were initially very shy and it was tough to get a conversation going. As we ate dinner together that first night in Hanover, I looked at the trips around me and saw them laughing and talking non-stop and I began to worry that there was something wrong with my group. Why weren’t we meshing as well as the other groups? I feared that the next few days would be painfully awkward and I dreaded our departure.

To my surprise, everyone started to become more comfortable with each other by day 2. Slowly, we all began to open up. Although it took us a little longer to form that initial bond than other trips, we eventually developed a great group dynamic. After such a positive experience with the random girl on the bus, I expected every introduction to go over as smoothly. However, I began to realize that the initial awkwardness is normal.

Everyone feels uncomfortable in new situations, and I just needed to be patient and let the situation play out before I went into panic mode. By the time we got to the lodge (where all DOC Trips conclude), I was having a great time on trips! I became really close with my trippees, and we still have reunions today!

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