Alexander Dillon ’17
As I write this from my old age, I am warmed with a fond nostalgia for those first glorious glimpses I was graced of Dickinson’s fine Carlisle campus. It is this nostalgia that holds me dear to that fateful time in my life when learning how to navigate the seemingly endless stream of possibilities that college had in store. I was also nervous and indecisive as heck. However, I had a clear picture of what I was not looking for in a school. This was key.
I knew that a large school was out of the question; to put it simply, they freaked me out. Being in a gargantuan auditorium with 200 students I didn't know did not sound like the college experience I had always envisioned for myself. So I started looking local. F&M was on the list of course. However not only because I live very close to Lancaster City, but because my sister had just graduated. Here’s some extra trivia for those of you still reading: Did you know that when writing out F&M they have to use the ampersand? It’s an official requirement!
I toured around at a few other liberal arts schools in the Centennial Conference when finally that one fateful snowy day, we parked the car and I walked through the same lobby you, dear reader, may have walked through yourself. And after a wonderful tour that was so pleasantly hi-jacked by one Professor Pfister, I was sold. I came back for an interview, applied Early Decision and by December 18, 2013, I knew I was going to forever be a Dickinsonian.
In my, now going on four, years here I can say with confidence I haven’t regretted that decision for a moment. I remember a major sticking point however—picking a major. “Fresh out of high school Alex” had never had so many academic possibilities at his disposal so it was a little overwhelming. However, after my first year and much deliberation, I was gliding in the direction of an East Asian studies major thanks in part to the host of wonderful professors I met through the Japanese language program. However I was always told there was more to college than just school so when I wasn't reading for class or memorizing vocab I set to work completely engraining myself in the parts of Dickinson’s diverse student life culture I knew would provide a perfect niche.
First was music, my only true love (sorry mom). I found myself at music audition night nervous at the sight of my new drum instructor, who I presumed would by my judge and jury in the veritable pantheon of musical gladiator-ship. This was not the case at all. After a warm welcome and a quiet tryout, he informed me I would have no problem getting involved in Jazz Ensemble, Orchestra, DICE and lessons with him. And with that, a huge weight was lifted: I can do music here.
Next was Improv. A thespian by blood, I had been on stage all throughout high school and I knew I didn't want to stop completely. However, time management is the most important factor when it comes to theatre. And with a host of new musical activities on my agenda I thought it would be best to start small. I went to the second day of auditions for Run With It!, the college’s improve troupe, and it all clicked. I got in, along with two of the greatest people I have ever met in my life, and these past years with the group has been immeasurably fun.
After adding the Mermaid Players, a Jazz Combo for hire, tour guiding and an Irish sea-shanty folk band to the list of my regular activities, I was ready to go abroad. Bound, not for Nova Scotia, but for the other side of the world, Akita, Japan. Studying in Japan for a semester is an experience that will with certainty be with me forever. I learned that I could not only function but also thrive in a completely different country, culture and side of the road than the one I had lived in for my whole life. The journey solidified my academic passion for Asia by giving rich complex context to the sterile straightforward texts I was accustomed to poring over.
While Japan was amazing, I was certainly ready to make my way back to Carlisle where I knew there were droves of fresh and familiar faces to return to. That semester came and went, no surprise it was busy, and ended with many a tearful goodbye. And now, dear reader, you are completely caught up. Up to now it should be clear that Dickinson has been more than a school that I picked out of a lineup. Dickinson has been a home. With the students, faculty and staff being the best family members I could have asked for.
Now it’s your turn.