If Commencement Speakers Told the Truth

conan obrien

Well, ladies and gentlemen, you made it. You, the graduating Class of 2016, are about to enter the terrifying world the rest of us have been screwing up for quite some time now. Don’t listen to the people who tell you the Middle East is imploding, the migrant crisis is unsolvable or the economy is on the verge of crumbling again. (Those people worry too much.) Instead, hold your head high and embrace your imminent enslavement to the market, corporate overlords and student debt. Want to know almost no one, work your ass off for scraps and be responsible for paying for absolutely everything? Whether you answer “yes” or “no,” it doesn’t matter—the future is inevitable, and there is nothing you can do to stop it from screwing you where the sun don’t shine.

Maybe you’ll make some Cash Cash after graduation, maybe you’ll head home and stay there indefinitely. (Is that anticlimactic or what?) If I could give you any advice, I would. But since speaking at this commencement ceremony is the highlight of my resume, I hesitate to really say anything at all. Honestly, I have no idea why I was picked to give this speech, and from what I gather, you feel much the same way. But let’s forge on together and finish this thing. (I’ll spare you the depressing tale of my own complete failure in the big city and consequent move-in with my parents.)

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Beyond the Bubble: Blood, Sweat and Diarrhea

Park Guell in Barcelona, Spain

“It’s so funny how everyone’s totally comfortable telling people they have food poisoning, and everyone pretty much knows what they’re talking about, but no one can ever just say they have diarrhea.” This observation came around week two of the term, when roughly two-thirds of our group had fallen at the hands (fins? hooves?) of meat purchased from open-air markets. (Europe, you invented refrigeration. Use it.) However, as the term went on, I found it became a particularly apt metaphor for my experience abroad as a whole. Stick with me.

The only way my expectations for my term abroad could have been any higher was if someone had promised a pile of zero-calorie doughnuts and a literal unicorn waiting for me upon my arrival. The stories I heard about the Barcelona program were carefree and peppered with hilarity. Everyone I spoke to who had gone abroad described it as, at best, the peak of their Dartmouth experience and, at worst, poignant and rewarding. Even when I was applying to college in the first place, I made sure to nix any school that didn’t boast an extensive list of easily accessible study abroad programs.

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Dealing with Streakers


Ahhh, streaking. Dartmouth has a weird obsession with it that I’ve never quite understood. The idea of public nudity is incredibly unappealing to me for a lot of reasons, but some people around here seem to love it. I would guess that they think it’s liberating? Maybe they like the feel of air in places that don’t usually see the light of day? Or the adrenaline rush that comes with the fear of being arrested? Maybe they just want a tan? I don’t know. To me, running around naked just seems like a jiggly mess. But regardless of how anyone on this campus feels about streaking, one thing is for certain: as the end of spring term approaches, the probability of seeing someone in the nude increases exponentially.

Having taken some lecture classes, I’ve seen my fair share of naked bodies. (It’s funny how that statement will make sense to anyone who goes to Dartmouth.) I remember the first time one of my finals got streaked. As an unsuspecting freshman, I was horrified. I don’t know what I was expecting to see when I heard the yelling, but it definitely was not six people in their birthday suits. The experience was rattling, to say the least, but streaking has become pretty normal to me since I’ve been at Dartmouth. Still, for those ’19s out there who have yet to have their final streaked, I’m willing to offer up some suggestions for dealing with streakers. (I’ve never actually done these myself, but maybe I can achieve my goals vicariously through Dartbeat readers.)

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Trending @ Dartmouth

Formal flitzes: That moment before you press “send” – arguably the most stressful event of the term.

Finals: Prepare yourself for Novack dinners.

Memorial Day Weekend: An extra day off – so much fun! (Yeah, we wish. See above: finals.)

Green Key recovery: Yes, this weekend was awesome. But now we pay for it with all-nighters, random bruises and searches for lost items.

DBA struggles: You’re either that person begging people for money or you’re the person buying KAF cakes for fun.