Voices of Trips: James Lee ’13

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.

All in My Head

Hi there!

James Lee ’13, a government & geography major, is from Fairfax, Virginia.

Welcome to Dartmouth and thanks for reading what I have to write. This is a rare opportunity for me, so I’m so glad that you’re taking the time out of your busy summer to read this!  Back in the fall of 2009, I went on a DOC First-Year Trip (rock climbing!). If you want to know what it was like, you can read about it here.

As you can see and probably have already guessed, DOC Trips is F-U-N! No matter which one you go on and who you go with, you’re bound to have at least a little bit of fun. I promise.But that’s not what I want to talk about. Instead, I want to talk about what happened after my DOC Trip returned to campus.

I returned to Hanover after five glorious days in the wilderness expecting to see my fellow trippees 24/7. I thought we would eat together, go to see movies together, stay up all night doing typical college things together, heck, I even thought we would take the same classes together. In the days that followed my return, I was surprised to find out that this was not the case for me.

James getting ready to climb during his DOC First-Year Trip.

Back on campus, I was cordial with my trippees. We waved at each other when we saw each other on Mass Row (throwing some Dartmouth slang at you…get ready), talked about how many people we were meeting during orientation, and reminisced about how much fun we had on our DOC Trip. But a lot of these interactions seemed to stay at the surface. And all around me, everyone else I met seemed to be introducing me to his or her newest best friend who they met on DOC Trips. That just wasn’t my life.

For a while, I thought that I had done something wrong. Somehow, with classes not even having started yet, I thought I had screwed up Dartmouth. I failed to meet my BFFL through my DOC Trip.

However, looking back on my First-Year Trip experience, I came to an important realization: the idea that everyone was best friends with their trippees was an illusion I had created for myself in my head. This is important so I’ll say it again: IT WAS ALL IN MY HEAD!

There is no one way to “do” Trips. There is no one experience to have both during and after DOC Trips. Regardless of how well you learn the Salty Dog Rag (oh, you’ll learn…), how badly you smell (this will probably definitely happen to you), or how close you are with your trippees, at the end of the day, nothing can discount your own experience. Basically, there is no way to fail DOC Trips. Congratulations!


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