Tea Time: Hot Girl Summer to Swat Girl Fall

Dearly beloved, after three whole months of work, adventure, or relaxation, we’re gathered here today for some good old Swarthmore education and frisbee-tossing. On our wedding registry are discounted pen bundles, notebooks, and Command hooks readily available from Springfield Mall. 

Now, are you ready to take your vows?

Fall semester can be a difficult transition beyond hauling ten boxes to your new Mary Lyon room. Freshmen are plunged into a flood of unfamiliar faces, student activities, and Martin Warner emails. Returning students contend with new class schedules while bemoaning the old Essie Mae’s dining hours and lack of summer vacation freedom. 

But fear not: Tea Time is here to help you manage these challenges as you settle in to the flow of things. In this article, I will offer some quick tips on how you can get through the first few weeks of classes while keeping your health and sanity more or less intact. 

Amidst a period of change, no matter how big or small, it is crucial to keep an eye out on your schedule. Some Swatties use applications, such as Google Calendar or iCalendar, to keep track of their classes and extracurricular activities. Others may prefer to carry around a paper planner to pencil in their daily tasks. 

Whatever your weapon of choice, it always helps to note down all of the major dates throughout the semester, such as exams, competitions, or performances. Most professors will include exam and homework due dates in their syllabus. Setting up reminders for these dates helps reduce the chance of being caught off-guard in future. 

While you’re working out your schedule, try to set aside some blocks of time for your hobbies outside of academic work and student organizations. These could be used for exercising, taking walks in the Crum, cooking a delicious meal using a family recipe, or organizing a Parrish Parlor Party for a close friend’s birthday. 

You may enjoy your classes, labs, and involvement in student groups, but it is also important to define your life outside of Swarthmore. Most Swatties spend so much time on campus that it is easy to forget that Swarthmore is only part of our identity. Taking time whenever possible to indulge in non-Swarthmore related hobbies can help remind us that we have not yet sold our souls to the college, even if it sometimes seems that way when you get rudely kicked out of McCabe by the 2 a.m. buzzer. 

Once you figure out your schedule, reward yourself with a good night’s sleep. Try to go to bed and wake up at around the same time daily, even on the weekends, since this will help your body establish a sleeping routine. If you’re a light sleeper, consider using memory foam ear plugs or noise-cancelling earphones, along with an eye mask. 

It will take some time for you to figure out the optimal bedtime and waking hour because everyone is different. Some people need seven to eight hours of sleep per night, whereas others may survive on just four to five. Do not view the amount of sleep as a race to the bottom — listen to your body instead. 

Coffee may temporarily tide you through sleepless days, but in the long run, you have to make up for your sleep deficit. Whether that’s through sleeping in on the weekend or napping between classes, a sleep-deprived student’s body will find ways to get what it needs. Perhaps it feels less miserable to maintain healthy levels of sleep except in urgent situations. 

Besides sleep, you need one other thing to thrive — a balanced diet. Dining hours are posted on The Dash, and if you get tired of the food on campus, there are a few establishments in the Ville that provide a little bit of variety. If you want to treat yourself, Media and Philly are great places to seek out cafes and restaurants. 

Swarthmore itself does not have an extensive selection of food, but it is possible to eat healthy. Sharples has some pretty decent vegetarian options, such as the Tuscan three bean bake, roasted cauliflower, baked Cajun tofu, and sun-dried tomato quinoa. The Co-op has a lot of snacks, including veggie dips, dried fruit chips, and dark chocolate, that may be slightly healthier alternatives to potato chips, sodas, instant ramen, and other college staples. 

Although it can be tempting to skip meals, try to resist the urge to do so. Skipping meals may seem to save time but it is probably not worth the risk of stomach ulcers. If you are in a rush, grab a sandwich or piece of fruit from one of the snack bars. Alternatively, keep some snacks in your bag on days that you know you will be busy, just in case you have no time for a proper meal. 

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs dictates that after you have satisfied yourself with food, water, and sleep, you must acquire a sense of familiarity with the Swarthmore campus. Even though we all claim that our campus is miniscule compared to U Penn, there are so many buildings for us to explore. Some Swatties never venture beyond the Science Center or Trotter, which is a shame because they miss out on so many pristine bathrooms hidden in Pearson or Singer. 

The first few weeks of fall are wonderful for walking around campus under beautiful blue skies. Picture yourself wandering among the shade of tall trees as you attempt to sneak up to Val Smith’s house and invite her to sit on the Whispering Bench with you. Maybe you prefer to walk down South Chester Road, admiring the immaculate lawns on your way to scout out some amazing bargains at Goodwill. 

Regardless of how you choose to spend your semester, remember to take care of yourself, whether that means sleeping enough, exercising regularly, or practicing the Worm in the privacy of your room. New beginnings can be overwhelming, but Tea Time is always here for you. 

Lijia Liu

Lijia '20 is a semi-cultured heathen who believes sour cream is a kind of yogurt. She would rather spend hours making the computer do her math problems than 30 minutes doing the same things by hand.

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