One of the many hardships that first-years face is the task of creating a comfortable living space. And no, I am not talking about the dilemma of finding extra-long mattress padding in department stores. Let’s scratch Webster’s definition of a dorm being “a building, as at a college, containing a number of private or semiprivate rooms for residents, usually along with common bathroom facilities and recreation areas.” Blah — Your dorm isn’t just a building or a room, it’s a space uniquely ‘you’. And it will never again possess that same uniqueness as when you and your dormmates occupy it. But let’s be honest, making a space your own is easier said than done. It is an art form with the power to evoke warm tributes to home and childhood nostalgia. Depending on what you chose to hang on your walls, your decorations may also generate lively debates about sports teams or much-needed motivation when midterms come. Home-making in a dorm is quite a gift, and some students have it down to a science —
Edward Jones ’19, a resident of Parrish Third West, is one of those people. Jones put a classic spin on his dorm décor by decorating according to his passions and interests. One poster, a framed Picasso rendition of a scene from Don Quijote, is mounted slightly to the right above his bed.
“I read the book in 7th grade,” he said. “I had come across the poster and picked it up, thinking it would make for a nice tribute to my favorite book.”
In addition to the Picasso, he also boasts his favorite T.V. show through a poster of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”
He also decided to showcase something a little different…
He led me out into the hall where a life-sized cardboard cutout of pro-wrestler John Cena stands at the hall entrance in his legendary pose with arms crossed and fingers splayed in front of his face. Yes, John Cena. This peculiar hall décor has become a hub of hall bonding on Third West, where residents frequently crack jokes about its presence.
Another resident of Parrish, Valerie Blakeslee ’19 of Fourth East, decided to go a different route with her dorm decor by decorating her walls with images of her hometown, Seattle. She proudly displays an 11×17 poster of the city’s most prominent attraction, the Space Needle, adorned with a pinkish-lavender skyline and the esteemed Mount Rainier in the background. “When I look at it, it reminds me of the skyline I’m familiar with; I recognize a lot of the buildings in the poster from whenever I go into downtown Seattle,” she says. But her tribute to home doesn’t end there. On another wall hangs a poster of a 747 Boeing with the inscription “I’m In!” in her football team’s blue and lime-green colors.
“I received the Seahawks poster from a job shadow I completed in Seattle,” she shared. When asked what prompted her to bring it all the way to Swat, she immediately began to talk about the upcoming football season, saying:
“I want to be ‘twelving’ for Philadelphia. Which basically means being supportive of the Seahawks wherever I go — even if I’m not in Seattle!”
She then turned to the far wall where an inspirational banner hangs against the closet door. In the center of the banner is the Chinese character, fu, meaning good fortune and blessings.
“It was a gift from my family,” she explained.
Our homes away from home at Swarthmore are so much more than what we may see them as at this present moment. They are not places where we simply rest our heads after a long day, but where we dream of the many wonderful things to come as emerging citizens in our communities. They are not just where we hurriedly finish up a reading before an 8:30AM class, they are the places in which we conceptualize our thoughts and find ways to apply our newfound knowledge to our passions. Nor are they spaces for brief encounters with acquaintances, but the foundational setting for the creation of binding ties between folks we once called strangers, but have come to call family. From Jones’s quirky method of bonding with hall mates over John Cena jokes, to Blakeslee’s hometown repping by way of her posters, students are finding their own ways to represent old homes and create new ones. It’s your turn now, create your unique space!