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.
My New Home
When I was getting ready to go on my freshman trip, I was definitely not in the most stable mental state. I was terrified that I wouldn’t make friends, I wouldn’t fit in, and that my college experience would start off on a low, and my lack of outdoors experience and excessive stress about what to pack and being the worst paddler on my canoeing trip of course didn’t help ease any of my social worries.
When I got to the bus station, there was already a circle of 15s standing outside with all their bags, all of whom, like me, were probably trying to scout out their new friends. As more and more people arrived, the circle got bigger and more awkward as conversation across the circle became more and more impossible. Surprisingly, The awkwardness made me feel better about everything. It felt weirdly comforting to know that everyone else was just as unsure of where or whether they would find their place, or their people. So we talked about which trips we were going on, what we were planning on studying, what dorms we were living in, all of us scouting out potential new friends.
Once on the bus, I sat next to one of my trippees, and ended up behind two other girls, who miraculously shared my obsession and excessive love of Hell’s Kitchen. We spent the entire bus ride laughing and talking, and I remember being ecstatic that the conversation was flowing with barely any awkward pauses. I was so excited that I had actually made a friend! I thought to myself: “Good job! Now you just have do that some more.”
Once we pulled onto campus, I could not stop smiling as Hcroo members were chasing the bus, swinging on telephone poles, and looked absolutely ridiculous and amazing, all the while being so confident and genuinely excited that we were all beginning our Dartmouth experience with them. I could not stop smiling.
Later, after the salty dog rag, one of the Hcroo members, Winnie, came up to me randomly and started asking me questions about my background, what I was excited for, as well as telling me about her life at Dartmouth. No stranger had ever shown such a sincere interest in meeting me, and it made me feel so happy and like I was in the right place.
Soon after, I met my trip leaders and trippees, and it felt great to finally meet the people that I would be spending five days straight with, and work on getting to know them. My trip section was the section that the football coach allowed all of the players to go on so most trips had 2-4 football players on them. My trip had three, all of whom were big personalities as well as already really good friends. Unfortunately, I feel like this hindered one of the best part of trips, that everyone on your trip is completely new to Dartmouth and to each other, leaving an even playing field for making friends and getting to know each other. While I still had a great time while canoeing with my trip, we didn’t really mesh as a cohesive group. However, after trips, I became much better friends with a few of my trippees, as we had more time to bond on an individual level, instead of part of a group.
When we arrived at the lodge, the surprise and joy I felt at seeing Hcroo was mirrored in meeting Lodj croo, who were climbing all over the lodge, and immediately taught our trip a dance to Everytime We Touch. Again, I must’ve looked ridiculous because I could not stop smiling, having the time of my life, covered in dirt and sweat, dancing in the middle of a field. While all this crazy excitement and boundless energy made me have so much fun on trips, what really struck me was the sense of place talk at the lodge, where one Lodj croo member per section wears normal clothes and talks about finding their place at Dartmouth, in the world, or just in themselves. It was then that I fully realized that these students are more than dressing up in flair and dyeing their hair; they have great aspirations that are matched by intelligence, personality, and also insecurities. They are passionate about their education, their environment, and their relationships, all coupled with the willingness to have fun and be themselves no matter what.
I found my people and my place at Dartmouth after trips, well into freshman year, but regardless of not meeting my best friends on trips, the overall experience and feeling of trips is what made me realize I had come to the right college. What makes me appreciate trips so much is that every upperclassman involved in trips made me feel like Dartmouth wanted me. Like Hcroo’s adaptation of “Home” said, I really felt like I wasn’t just arriving at college, but arriving at my new home.
David Aspinall ‘15