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Integrated Living: Dartmouth Grad Life

by Xanthe Kraft **Blog Competition**



As someone who did her undergrad at Dartmouth, people ask me if I’m “sick of Hanover” or tired of Dartmouth, as I approach the 6-year-mark. Because I’ve changed my focus from Earth Science to Computer Science, then Philosophy, Digital Arts and now Music Composition, I could hardly tire of anything save the library KAF line. But even so, I recognize something special about being a graduate student that my undergraduate education lacked, that transforms the way I experience the same resources and place— Integrity, or ‘wholeness’, in an old way of understanding the word. Now, as a Master’s student in Digital Musics, my whole life encircles one focus, one meditation, one ever-growing framework on understanding Beauty, Art, and its interactions and implications in our technology-laden world.


I tell people I love grad school SO much more than undergrad, not because I didn’t love my A cappella group (which, honestly became a higher priority than my classes themselves), or partially enjoy those dramatic study buddy woes and all-nighters that defined “working hard” in that environment (an odd type of “hard-work signaling”, if you will), or taking spontaneous runs into the woods because I can (and because I’m some medieval fairy artist). But because now I live an extremely monotonous, cyclical, balanced, sole-purposed life. And I love it.


I have a regular sleep schedule, whereas I previously scraped the sanity of the wee hours for those juicy late-night thoughts and tunes that mostly aren’t that good, I just think they are because I’m tired. I work-out regularly, cook and make my own nutritious food (balancing good for the body with good for the soul), and *usually* stop researching at a reasonable evening hour. I get artistic inspiration between 9am and 12pm, writing like a madwoman until my alarm interjects, and then I flip to analyzing my Seminar’s readings for the week, or practicing voice. In the quiet moments from event to event, I casually sift my studies through mundane tasks, yielding surprising fruits. On evenings and weekends, with my grad school buddies, our jokes require a shared mastery of material, and we reap our common subjects for all their numerous humorous rewards. Yet, these reoccurring, regimented events all contribute to the singularly focused and free contemplation of my work.


Living such an integrated life enables me to somehow always further my academic goals, even when I’m doing something seemingly unrelated or taking a break altogether. By constraining myself with my schedule, and not being divided by so many superfluous tasks and decisions, I’m free to dedicate myself wholly to my work, and pursue it to highest degree possible, for me right now (I am, after all, only a Master’s student). While I still have many spontaneous moments, as one must, my life looks less interesting, but is more. I love what I do, I love what I study, and I love doing what makes that work. I can’t help but think this is always how school’s supposed to be.


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