Top Ten: Swarthmore Favorites

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens. Here are just a few of my favorite things about Swarthmore that might make you understand why it’s so wonderful here.

Favorite Swat Tradition:

This one is a tie. First Collection wins for the sentimental, and Screw Your Roommate wins for a mixture of funny/cute/cheesy. Everyone goes through First Collection during their first days as a Swattie at Orientation, and we experience Last Collection before we graduate. We all light candles together in the Scott Amphitheater and, for me, it was the first time I really felt like I was starting the journey of being a part of the community of Swarthmore. I also really like that it comes full circle — that we graduate in the same amphitheater where we began four years earlier. On the other hand, Screw Your Roommate happens yearly during the weekend of Valentine’s Day. The basic run-down of the event is that your roommate(s) and friends set you up on a blind date in a creative, themed costume. For example, if you’re getting dressed as Pikachu, you’ll want to look for your Ash; more pair ideas include Romeo and Juliet, Mario and Luigi, coral and clownfish, etc. Want to know more about Screw? Look no further than to one of my other blog posts.  You’ll only find these traditions at Swarthmore!

Passing the flame candle by candle through the Amphitheater.

Favorite *best-feeling-ever* Moment:

When your professors know your name within the first week of the semester and say hi to you in the hallways — score!

Favorite Sharples Bar:

Indian Bar! Palak paneer, chana masala, butter chicken, and the always-delicious naan. An exception to this monthly favorite is Local Foods Night, which happens in November before we go on Thanksgiving break. This is when Sharples celebrates the autumn season with delicious organic food and locally-grown produce, and there’s also apple cider!

Favorite Thing to Do on a Friday Afternoon:

The NYT Crossword. This became a weekly habit for me last semester and it’s a nice way to decompress after a busy week. Swarthmore gets a subscription of the New York Times, so this means you can have your fix of the news + cognitive amusement! Even better — go to one of the many awesome coffee shops in Philly and puzzle over your crossword there.

Caffeinating and crossword-ing at La Colombe.

Favorite Place:

Lang Music Building! I can study in the Underhill Library, walk up a few flights of stairs to iron out some Chopin passages in the practice rooms, and listen to anything from a cappella to classical in the Concert Hall. *Note: Not to be mistaken as the Lang Performing Arts Center or the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility.

Favorite *Secret* Place:

The balcony/alcove right before you walk down toward the Ampitheater. You’re surrounded by trees, and it’s a good place to be if you want some quiet. Plus, there’s a shortcut from Underhill that you can take! You can go from the door of Underhill that leads outside (near where the front desk is), and walk through the beautiful path in the Crum. This cozy spot is especially nice in the spring, when the rhododendrons are beginning to bloom and happiness is in the air. (:

Dappled light in the Scott Amphitheater.

Favorite Class I’ve Taken So Far:

Evolution with Professor Vince Formica. I took this class expecting something very boring since all I knew about evolution was from high school bio. Little did I know that it would turn out to be my hands-down favorite class at Swat. Our labs were so fun — we took trips down to the Crum Woods to sample soil bacteria, did field research on jewel weed fertility, and presented our own phylogeny poster! Also, Vince is one of the best people on the planet because he is so easy-going, so relatable, and so incredible as a teacher. He helped make our classroom environment very open, which made it comfortable for us to ask him questions in the middle of lectures. Our final project was to write a grant proposal as if we were submitting it to the National Science Foundation — super challenging, but I learned an incredible amount beyond just the evolutionary concepts! I would definitely recommend taking Evolution!

Favorite Professor:

Professor Bob Paley. He taught Organic Chemistry II and, even though it was an extremely tough class, Prof. Paley is brilliant and makes learning difficult material more bearable. He is incredibly dedicated to his students’ learning, holds extra review sessions three times a week, and is motivated to help you through anything. On top of that, he is an amazingly clear lecturer.

Favorite Indescribable Feeling:

The feeling of coming back from winter break to see your friends and finally being able to catch up with them over long Sharples dinners. It’s also the feeling of coziness, like last December when my friends organized a huge Secret Santa. We decorated a room in Kohlberg with lights & paper snowflakes and brought hot chocolate, candy canes, cookies, and exchanged presents!


Ultimate Favorite Thing About Swarthmore:

The people. Swatties are a unique bunch and there really is no comparison. I have found friends who love fun facts and baking banana bread, friends who make me laugh until I’ve (literally) fallen over backwards in my chair, friends who sing and play piano with me, friends who are similar yet different and are each so awesome in their own ways — friends, who have become the reason that Swarthmore is so near and dear to my heart.

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