Half a term gone by – A moment of reflection

Our dual-degree engineering coordinator described Dartmouth’s rapid terms as “painful, but short – like ripping off a bandage”. And just like that, over half of a term has already gone by and I’m already beginning to count the days until finals.

Speaking of exams, midterms also last the whole term here – I’ve already had two for one of my classes. Back at Colby, I thought the use of the word “midterm” to describe a final exam was crazy. Now, the word has taken on a new level of meaning.

Since this is a more “lengthy” kind of blog post, I’ll outline what I intend to cover:

  • how classes are going
  • how life outside classes are going
  • how Dartmouth is shaping up compared to Colby

Classes:

Most of them have been fine. We get information overload because to compensate for taking only 3 classes a term, Dartmouth schedules classes almost everyday and tries to squeeze in what should be covered in 15 weeks in 10. The result is having to absorb a lot of information in a really short time. It doesn’t help that the default class block is 65 minutes and my attention span is only 50 minutes.

ENGS22 (Systems) is actually really interesting, and I can see the extremely useful applications of applying the differential equation systems to stuff in my daily life. Not that I’d need to know how my mountain bike fork is oscillating when it hits a ramp, but it would be really awesome to verify that physical systems do actually obey rigorous mathematical theory. I didn’t really know about how you could model electrical systems as differential equations, but we’re exploring that right now and it’s really interesting, especially as I want to do electrical engineering. Now if only we had a professor who could explain things…

ENGS50: It’s been OK. Software implementation is what the title sounds like – you figure stuff mostly on your own – Googling and stackoverflow. The flipped classroom style is interesting but I think the lack of face-to-face lectures is a bit disappointing. I liked Prof. Scott Taylor’s MA274 where even though the classroom was flipped, he would still schedule class and talk about nuanced points of the readings.

PSYCH1: Intro class. Basically the same as a Colby intro class.

Life outside classes:

Haven’t had much to be honest. I joined the club squash team, and although during the initial weeks people seemed eager to play often, as time went on, I found I was often one of a handful that showed up to practices. Next item.

To make up for the lack of events going on in my life right now, here is a cool husky photo I took visiting an antique store in New Hampshire:

Apparently heterochromia is relatively common amongst huskies.

How Dartmouth is shaping up vs Colby

Despite being an Ivy-League college, I don’t really feel the grandeur of the whole experience. Sure, there are big football games vs Princeton or Yale, but I don’t feel like Dartmouth is so much more well-equipped or prestigious than Colby. That might be because I’m new here and don’t know where to look for things though.

In terms of academics, I don’t like how Dartmouth is so rushed. I feel like Colby’s semester schedule let things sink in more. I also like Colby’s timetable more – packing classes into a tighter schedule allows greater freedom throughout the rest of the day. Here, I have large breaks in between my schedule that make doing work kind of pointless.

This is a brief glimpse of the general “vibe” at Dartmouth. My next post will address the cultural differences, including the *cough* taboo topic of fraternities and sororities.

Conclusion

To conclude, my first half-term at Dartmouth has had its ups and downs. I do feel like I could have used my time more productively here and there. Having said that, realizing that I have room for improvement is a good sign, and I hope I implement some changes to make my latter half more fruitful.