Two months ago, I opened mySwarthmore portal for first-year students. As an incoming first-year student, I was anxious about everything: I wasn’t sure how well I performed on my placement tests, I couldn’t figure out which classes I wanted to take, and I didn’t know who my roommate was or where my dorm would be. A few weeks later, my housing arrangement was announced. Gregory Lee would be my roommate, and Mary Lyon would be my dorm.
To see what ML looks like, I googled “Swarthmore Mary Lyon,” with the assumption that I would recognize something about this dorm because I had attended Swatstruck and toured around Swarthmore campus several times already; however, I did not. The search, therefore, raised a more important question: “Where in the world is ML located?”
Curious, I searched “Swarthmore Mary Lyon.” Here’s what I found: Swat History — The Mary Lyons Buildings, Residential Communities, Floor Plans :: Living @ Swarthmore, and Pro/cons to Mary Lyon (i.e. Are there any pros??).
Indeed, the fourth result, a forum about Swarthmore’s dorm, sounds interesting. Although the title “Are there any pros??” sounds ominous by itself, that the forum appears on CollegeConfidential makes it sound even more so. Surprisingly, many people on that forum claim ML’s distance from the main campus is the only downside of the dorm. My move-in experience during the International Student Orientation warrants this claim.
When I first arrived, my body was aching because I had flown non-stop for twenty-four hours. After checking in, receiving my dorm keys, and completing some immigration documents, I had to carry two gigantic, fifty-pound luggages from Parrish back to ML. Moreover, while some folks can walk to every building (except ML) within five minutes, it requires me at least 10 minutes to reach Parrish Hall. Even though the Garnet shuttles run from ML to Parrish every day, they operate only in the morning and the evening, which means that any ML resident who wishes to take an afternoon nap in their room must walk all the way back. Admittedly, it took me several weeks to adjust to ML’s faraway distance.
Nevertheless, after having lived in ML for three weeks, I saw many perks of living away from Parrish Beach. First, ML teaches people to become much more organized. Because travelling back and forth from ML to the main campus takes virtually half an hour, forgetting to bring one important item equates to wasting the time that could otherwise be spent on a more meaningful task, which disrupts one’s schedule significantly. Hence, ML residents must pack everything they need before they leave ML for a day. Had I followed this advice, my transition to Swarthmore life would have been much smoother than it was. Forgetful and disorganized, I was not used to preparing all the items I need for tomorrow’s class until tomorrow begins. Therefore, on my first few days, I found myself constantly racing against the clock, trying to finish my breakfast at Sharples, catching up on the assignments I should have completed the day before, and sprinting to my first class all within an hour. In this commotion, I often forget to bring some important items with me before leaving ML, be it my math homework, my Chinese workbook, or my water bottle. Time is precious, especially at such a rigorous, fast-paced institution as Swarthmore. ML teaches me to manage my time more efficiently and to be more organized.
Another benefit of living in ML is that it has an extremely tight-knit and diverse community. Because the dorm is so remote, once the residents finish their activities and head back to their dorm room, many choose not to travel back to the main campus unless it is necessary. As a result, the sight of ML residents chatting, playing board games as Avalon and Settlers of Catan, or finishing homework together in the ML lounge during the evening time is not uncommon. In other words, while residents of other dorms enjoy their proximity to the main campus, those in ML enjoy the benefits entailed in their dorm’s faraway location.
Last but not least, ML has excellent amenities: spacious living arrangements, breakfast on weekends, foosball table, pool table, and private bathrooms. This package of amenities, while not unique to ML, compensates for the dorm’s remote location. Although ML residents need to walk some distance to Sharples every morning on the weekdays, they are just a few steps away from their breakfast on the weekends.
Up until this point, I hope many readers of the Phoenix will begin to appreciate ML and its perks, but for those who have yet to be convinced, that’s alright as well. However, please bear in mind that there are people who voluntarily choose to live in ML. ML is amazing in its own way and needs no condolence from anyone. Rather, it needs more love.