Voices of Trips: Mark Widerschein ’17

Note: This post is part of the “Voices of Trips” series, which will provide perspectives and stories from upperclassmen’s own experiences with Trips. To learn more about our great group of trip leaders, check out the introduction to the blog’s series here.

Just Do What You Feel

Mark is from Columbus, OH.

The introduction to campus I had through trips was fantastic, far better than even my best-case vision of it. Walking up to Robo, where your trip will start, if the music doesn’t help set the tone, the friendly H-croo greeting (there is dancing, oh is there dancing) will calm any tension you may be feeling. I was incredibly nervous heading into trips, running a variety of “what-if” scenarios, that thankfully, turned out not to happen. I was at the point where I was mildly considering just taking up residence in the West Leb Marriot instead of heading to college… Luckily my parents sold me on throwing on my hiking pack and heading for campus! The beauty of trips is that it makes Dartmouth seem possible by breaking the overwhelming life change into small chunks – learning traditions, meeting people in the same boat (sometimes literally, depending on your trip), and putting you in a safe place to let down your guard and begin the adventure. My trip included students from seven states and several countries, so we had lots to talk about as we hiked! We slept under the stars until they were obscured by rain, a bonding experience I would not trade for anything. The struggle of not having showers or deodorant out on the trip was definitely a learning experience, but in the best possible way. Dirt as the world’s best equalizer, that’s a thought that occurs to you on hiking trips. I don’t want to spoil it toooo terribly much, but any number of things can and will happen out on the trail…

All the trips culminate with a warm lodj welcome. Getting to the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge was filled with surprises, fantastic ones. It was the first time I knew without a doubt that I had chosen the right school. All these incredible people all in this one building way up in the White Mountains was exactly the right way to be introduced to what makes Dartmouth unique. And the upperclassmen, willing to cut their summer a month short to act completely crazy and welcoming, cements this point. In fact, I made some of my best friends on trips and at the lodj!
The shared experience of the trips is an instant icebreaker with, “so what trip were you on?” being a classic Dartmouth fall-term question (ok, every-term question). Embrace it – it’s much better than the classic “what’s your major?” when literally everyone knows that it’s way too early for that to be decided. The broader purpose and value of trips to me is twofold: a welcome that embraces the natural beauty of Dartmouth and establishing a smaller group of new friends to learn about the traditions and opportunities here. I’ll limit myself on offering up advice on what to do once you get to campus, though. Dartmouth is what you make of it, and I’m still working on solving what that is too. I do know, however, that you are all coming to one of the absolute best places on earth, and I know you’ll all make something incredible of it. Welcome home, 18s! I can’t wait to see you out there!

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