Coming back to campus after a semester in Sydney is hard. Where is the warm Australian sun? The laid-back attitude? *Gasp* I suddenly don’t live right next to the world’s most beautiful beaches? Transitioning can be hard, but luckily there are many redeeming traits about Swarthmore that have made this transition back to snowy Philadelphia so much easier.
- The Academics and Classes
There are a lot of blog posts about Swarthmore’s academic culture, but I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I started taking classes here again. My courses in Sydney were great, but nothing is like being in a Swarthmore classroom. Instead of a lecture hall with over 200 students, I have a class with just five students this semester. I forgot how priceless close student/professor interactions are, and how being with other passionate students is both energizing and motivating.
I was admittedly nervous returning back to Swarthmore’s workload, but the transition wasn’t as hard as I expected. This semester I’m learning about classic American cinema, transmedia adaptations, reality television, and the psychology of humor, and I couldn’t be more excited. Plus, my professors are pretty awesome and one already brought in chocolate chip cookies as a snack during class.
2. The Snow!
I wasn’t ready for the snow at all, but man is Swarthmore’s campus beautiful. While the University of Sydney has an entirely different look, I forgot how nice it was to walk along snow-lined sidewalks on the way to class. I spent time my first weekend back sledding with friends and enjoying the cold before I start wishing it was warm again. Honestly, though, Swarthmore’s natural beauty and the fact that every day I wake up in an arboretum is something I really missed.
3. My Friends and Clubs
The biggest thing I missed about Swarthmore was my friends. The College’s small size encourages having diverse friendship circles, and I really missed the flexibility of Swarthmore’s social scene. On tours and in info sessions, I often get a question regarding whether Swat has insular or more fluid friend groups. Coming back, I was amazed at how easy it was to re-integrate into all my friend groups and extracurriculars. Of course I missed last semester, but everyone was willing to catch me up on all the happenings and news while welcoming me with open arms. This is really one reason why I love Swarthmore’s social life.
Okay, stay with me here. I never thought I would say this. Eating anywhere every single day for several years tends to get annoying, and my the time I left Swarthmore for Sydney I was ready to never look at twice-weekly Pasta Bar again. But then I experienced a dining hall with less options and inflexible hours. All semester I craved Sharples fare and simplicity. There was nowhere in Australia I could grab a copy of the New York Times, some over-medium eggs, and a tea to sit and do readings for class—but now I have it! Sharples is truly the social hub of campus, and I’ve already experienced two of my favorite Sharples dinners since coming back (Caribbean Bar and Indian Bar!) so I’m hoping this enthusiasm towards campus dining doesn’t fade before graduation.
These points are merely a short breakdown of some things I missed about Swarthmore. I could go on and on about little things, but I’ll leave it at this for now. Swarthmore is truly a home to me, so while my semester in Australia was amazing and eye-opening, it finally feels like I’ve returned home to finish up my degree with incredible friends and amazingly supportive professors.