I talked to Annika and Sam, who called in to chat from different coasts, on what was a chilly night in Hanover, New Hampshire, and a gorgeously sunny afternoon on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.
Annika, an Art major from Connecticut, joined the call first from a building on Dartmouth’s campus, explaining that Sam would be joining shortly. The Detroit native and Anthropology and Earth Sciences student was studying in Hawaii for the time being, which prompts a time-zone difference of five hours and a physical distance of 5,000 mile for the call.
(He was also stuck on the wrong bus at the time, but that’s beside the point).
The funniest part about the two Dartmouth juniors (or ’23s, as they are aptly called due to Dartmouth’s quarter system), is their proximity over the years despite having never met before the Marriage Pact. With just over 4,000 undergraduate students, Dartmouth is not a large school. However, despite an unbelievable network of mutual friends, and countless opportunities for their paths to almost cross, Annika and Sam didn’t know each other before they were matched.
Annika: What’s super ironic about our match that we realized afterward was that we have extremely close mutual friends. Not just one or two, like, 15 or 20 very close friends, and yet we had never met each other. We also are both in Greek Life houses that are directly next to each other and had never met, but we have talked at length and realized that we have been in the same room many, many times and just never realized the other was there.
Sam: There are lots of times we should have met before the Marriage Pact. And one time I took a ferry in Alaska that her family members were on… really weird stuff.
When the Marriage Pact came to Dartmouth’s campus, Annika didn’t really have much in the way of expectations. Whether it resulted in a funny story to tell friends or another Instagram follower, she filled out the questionnaire and left it at that. When more female students signed up than their male counterparts, Sam took the questionnaire last-minute to help the ratio.
Sam: It was fun, taking it, I’ve never considered a lot of the things it asks, not in the same way where you rate it.
After matching with a quality percentile of 99.47 in September, the two followed each other on Instagram. For a while, that was it — until yet another shared circumstance revealed itself.
Annika: For months after we matched, we didn’t talk. Nothing happened. Then I saw on Instagram that he was working on Mount Washington as an intern for the weather observatory. I’m a really big climber and hiker, and I was going to work at an observatory before COVID, but that kind of got in the way of my opportunity. I sent him a message really with no ulterior motive, like, fully forgetting we matched…I was like, ‘oh my god, I see you’re an intern at Mount Washington, I was gonna do that, how was it?’
Sam: She had said she was very passionate about that place as well, and we both just think it’s cool. We started talking based on that, but of course, we wouldn’t have been connected if it hadn’t been for the Marriage Pact getting us following each other in the first place.
The two immediately hit it off, continuing to get to know each other through DM, and later, text, as Sam was on the mountain for several more weeks. The two didn’t meet until weeks after when he returned to campus in early December.
Despite half a foot of snow and the sub-freezing temperatures, the two met for a late-night walk and ended up wandering for hours, relishing in their first face-to-face meeting. Annika remembered feeling incredibly anxious before meeting him — they’d exchanged hundreds of texts and had gotten to know each other for weeks without ever having interacted in person.
Annika: I remember being extraordinarily nervous. Like, there’s so much chemistry online, but what if it’s not there in person? We were both a little awkward at the beginning, but we settled into it pretty easily, which is great. But it was super nerve-wracking because when you build up this rapport with someone online…What if they don’t communicate that way in person?
Luckily for the couple, the chemistry across mediums remained, likely due in no small part to their similar interests, hyper-compatible friend groups, and “freakishly identical” questionnaire answers.
Annika: We both have really similar interests. Like, almost to a freakish degree in really niche interests that I would not expect the average person to be interested in. But we’re both really into mountains, really into weather, and the climate in general… We have a lot of really solid overlaps in really random areas.
Sam: I think one of the biggest ways I knew I would get along with Annika was that we had a lot of mutual friends. Like, if you can get along with my friends, then I can get along with you — that’s a very important thing to me. I think we both like to spend our time in similar ways, and we both see the world in a similar light. I always find myself interested in the things that she has to say and what’s going on in her mind. I’m curious about her as a person. We’re not exact replicas of each other, but at the same time, we’re just so compatible that there’s no friction.
Annika noted one of their main differences coming from the way they think, describing it as two people arriving at the same place from different pathways — an apt metaphor for their own relationship. Only slightly less poetic is Sam’s admiration of lizards and Annika’s personal vendetta against them.
Speaking of different pathways, it’s not hard to imagine that the current physical distance between the two is something of a challenge. While the time difference can be difficult for the busy students to coordinate around, Annika believes that their relationship has only gotten stronger.
Over winter break, Annika flew out to visit Sam, spending the days together hanging out on the beach, eating delicious food, and occasionally spotting some local wildlife.
Annika: I saw a giraffe for the first time, that was a big deal for me, I’m not gonna lie. We were talking with our Uber driver, who was super chill, when he was like, “Oh, if you look over there, you can sometimes see the giraffes,” and I have never seen a giraffe in my goddamn life, so to look out over the trees and see a giraffe head… my jaw literally dropped. I flipped my lid in the Uber and was absolutely ecstatic, and then the next day we went to the zoo and I got to see the giraffes in person… I still think about it at least every other day.
The two are planning even more adventures for when Sam’s study abroad program ends, including a summer road trip around the west.
Annika: We’re both super excited about that. I keep the Google doc for the plans open on my computer and I look at it when I’m not paying attention in class.
Sam: I’m also looking forward to most immediately and importantly being back in the same city.
Annika: Or state. Or time zone.