Story and Photo by Kimberly Hsueh
Dartmouth College’s athletic slogan, “Welcome to the Woods,” didn’t make sense to me — until I realized during my visit that I was literally in the woods, surrounded by student dorms, classroom buildings, and a lot of green. While there is not much to do in the small town of Hanover, New Hampshire, where Dartmouth is located, it was surprising to see such beauty encompassed in the details — from the potted plants on Main Street to the architecture of Baker Tower. I also noticed that while New Hampshire is known for its vast emptiness, there is actually a beautiful landscape of baby blue skies and vibrant green hues scattered throughout the area’s natural plant life; not to mention the glittering stars sprinkled throughout the night sky.
As my family passed the Connecticut River where students were kayaking, we entered a two-lane road leading up to the town of Hanover. I widened my eyes to take in the beautiful houses and dormitories decorating the sides of the roads. After capturing dozens of pictures, we finally came upon the majestic sight of the College Green. With students and families bustling around the streets, the town exuded a comforting charm, and I must say, I definitely felt welcome in the woods.
As I looked around, students lovingly greeted their families and led them to alluring stores, gift shops, and restaurants that were lined up along North Main Street. With Hanover being such a small city, it was nice to see restaurants offer delicacies from different cultures, including Korean and Thai food. Personally, my favorite part about the New Hampshire visit was the 0 percent sales tax — my overjoyed family immediately splurged on touristy clothing, magnets, hats, and frozen treats from Morano Gelato, a crowded gelato shop with plenty of delicious flavors waiting to be scooped into our cups. Over the following days, we attended my sister’s graduation, where we listened to Yo-Yo Ma’s speech at her commencement ceremony and helped her move out of what was her home for the past year.
After the graduation ceremony, my family and I took a road trip to Canada, where we spent three days wandering the bustling neighborhoods of Montreal, Canada’s largest city. We first made our way to Notre-Dame Basilica, the monumental Gothic Revival church located in the district of Old Montreal famously known as the chapel where Céline Dion got married. The moment we walked into the basilica, the towering ceilings and intricately designed stained glass windows surrounding the walls immediately caught my attention. After taking what must have been billions of pictures, we wandered towards Chinatown and Little Italy. Chinatown was comprised of authentic Asian restaurants, along with boba shops and markets. Little Italy, on the other hand, had packed gift shops and cozy restaurants, many of which sold poutine. This classic Canadian snack is an indulgence of salty fries drizzled with savory cheese curds and hot gravy.
Visiting the Old Port was my most memorable experience in Montreal. The original venue for the first Cirque du Soleil show in the world, the Port is always packed with people either on their way to the show or bringing their children to the adjacent Science Center. We wandered through the tiny, packed area of boxed shops and food trucks, where visitors can go to the little shops, take a ride on a Ferris Wheel looming over the Montreal skyline, or cool down at the sitting area by the food trucks. At night, the Port at night was just as lively, with fairy lights everywhere and music playing from nearby bars. A prime location for photo shoots and dates, I could see why the Old Port was one of the most recommended attractions by the locals in the area.
Venturing off to the East Coast to meet new people and explore new and beautiful settings was just what I needed. Even as I prepare to return to my everyday responsibilities, I know that I have made unforgettable memories with my family and gained a new sense of excitement to meet the next adventures to come.