If you take a look at any of the maps posted around campus, you can generally find where you want to go. The campus is pretty easy to follow – the lower half of campus is student life, the upper half is classes, and Parrish stands in the middle. With the Science Center at the top and the Field House at the bottom, Swarthmore is an easy-to-navigate campus where you can get anywhere in seven minutes.
Nevertheless, when you put a bunch of high-achieving minds together, there are always a few oddballs here and there. It’s never as simple as it seems, and these outliers have fashioned their own distinct reputations. For instance, I’m currently writing this article in Woolman, the northernmost dorm tucked in a residential area. Woolman has a feeling of home unlike any other dorm, partly because used to be an actual home. However, my home is a 30-minute leisurely-paced walk from Woolman, at the very opposite end of campus. Yes, Mary Lyons: the dorm that doesn’t even show up on the campus map. With a reputation as the dumping ground for low lottery numbers and a place for recluses, ML doesn’t quite have the sort of glamour that a dorm like Woolman has. It’s got a fantastic community, but it’s down side is … well, let’s just say ML would be the most popular dorm if it were on campus. But what makes it worth the 15 minutes you lose by having to get up early and lug all your stuff for the day to campus? Because it’s home.
Today, I’d like to share with you the ten things that make this place home for me.
Sophomore singles. There is very little on campus that is more stressful than trying to learn the housing system after your first year. I loved my roommate, but she had gotten a GA position and was moving to Wharton. I wasn’t very close to others of my own gender, and I had no idea who would be willing to spend a whole year with me. I was missing the privacy of my own space, too nervous to room with someone of a different gender, and had no desire to bumble my way through the lottery system. ML is one of the few places that has singles open to sophomores. I was lucky enough to block with my friends, and we have become closer since living farther away from campus.
In-dorm breakfast. What’s better than waking up to the smell of breakfast in the morning? How about being able to get breakfast without stepping outside? Well, every Saturday and Sunday, the breakfast room throws open its doors and serves anyone craving a homemade meal. Between crepes, omelettes, pancakes, and the continental spread of cereal and bagels, ML Breakfast truly has a decadent selection for everyone.
Private bathrooms. Most of ML is suite-style rooming, which means private bathrooms. Private bathrooms means fewer awkward interactions between people when going about your business. Besides having to negotiate a suite-mate contract and knocking on the door to prevent accidentally walking in on someone, it’s great to have your own space.
A different party scene. Random board games! Nerf wars! Screenings of random movies/anime/whatever we want to watch at the time! Whether it’s the constant game of pool that never seems to stop or the group of friends sharing stories on the couches until 3a.m., ML truly is an alternative sanctuary for anyone who enjoys a different kind of party.
Space, and not just from campus. Rivaling the size of most doubles, ML’s third floor singles are some of the most spacious singles on campus, rivaling the size of most doubles. Leaving ML is hard because it feels like I have my own apartment sometimes. Granted, I can’t complain about the dorm’s distance from campus either. I use this to put away school work and just focus on destressing after a long day. It’s also nice to be able to sleep in on Worthstock Weekend.
The walk. This is particularly relevant in the fall and spring. On that trip to campus, you get to see the trees in all their colors. In the spring, there’s a cherry blossom tree off of Harvard Avenue that makes everything smell wonderful. In the fall, you get to see the Crum turn different colors. Every so often, there’s a really heavy fog that covers the campus and looks stunning from the bottom of campus. Plus, it’s nice to have the extra bit of exercise.
The Shuttles. If you have never experienced a ride in the van with Mr. Robert, then you’re missing out. We have a rotating cast of characters, all wonderful people, who drive us in the morning and back at night. Each driver has loads of stories and their own music preferences. The shuttles are also super helpful when it’s cold outside.
Proximity to amenities. We may not be close to the Sci Center, but we are close to the Matchbox and Sharples. It’s been easier for me to make sure I have dinner and to start a habit of going to the gym. ML also feels closer to the Ville, which has its own perks.
Amazing RAs. There’s something about this dorm’s RAs. RAs in ML tend to get together for dorm-wide events, which are just amazing. We have a game of Assassins nearly every semester. I have a habit of crashing other halls’ MMKs within ML.
ML froshlings. Now admittedly, I’ve only seen it happen once, but ML has a long, long history of developing tight-knit communities. This seems especially true for our first years. There are a handful of first years in ML that seem to find each other and bond wonderfully, each with their own personality.
It’s hard to explain why ML is such a great place to live. There’s just something that makes the place its own unique experience. I wish I could tell you more, but it’s one of those places for which you have to be to understand. So consider this an open invitation to come check the place out, poke around, and make your own.