Unofficial Swarthmore Traditions

While you may know about the official Swarthmore traditions, such as First Collection or Screw Your Roommate, there are quite a few day-to-day Swarthmore-specific experiences that you might not find on the website. 

  1. Someone will ask you to “grab a meal” with them

Yes, they will use that exact phrase, no matter who they are. Most likely, this invite will come from someone who you are friends with, but don’t necessarily see often outside of class or a club. Eating with people in Sharples is a great way to turn acquaintances into friends, so it’s a good idea to accept the invitation!

  1. The Swat Swivel

Swarthmore’s campus is small, and you are going to see people you know everywhere you go. Typically, this is a good thing, because you get to talk to friends wherever you go. However, if you’re trying to discuss any sort of sensitive information (for example, planning who you are going to set your roommate up with for Screw), you’re going to have to break out the “Swat Swivel” and look around the room to check who is around you. 

  1. Planning your day around the menus at Sharples and Essie’s

Since I check the weekly Sharples menu on the Dash so frequently, I am the most likely of my friends to remind people to rush over to Sharples during lunch to go to Nutty Goat Salad bar (or Cobb Salad bar, if you are an avocado fan). However, dessert is the biggest motivating factor for whether or not I will eat at Sharples. When one of Sharples’ most iconic desserts, coconut tres leches cake, appears on the Sharples weekly menu, I immediately jot it down in my planner. 

Essie’s specials require a bit more thinking on your feet, because you can’t look them up in advance the way you can look up the Sharples menu. I have seen my friends fully sprint out of class to make sure they could get the Kimchi Pork Belly lunch special. During finals week, I got complacent, and completely missed the poke bowl special– a mistake I will never make again! 

  1. Going to Crumb Cafe to work but socializing instead

One of the classic blunders! You go to the student run cafe, right at 9:00, with all your books, notes, planners, and fancy pens, certain that you’re going to be super productive and get through all your readings and problem sets. But as you walk around figuring out where to sit, you will run into someone you know, and start catching up with them. Then, after you sit down, you see someone you know from class, and start chatting about the assignment (instead of doing the assignment!). When you stand up to check if your order is out, you will run into at least four more people you know from your dorm, class, clubs, sports teams, or theater ensembles.  After a while, you will realize that you should just go to McCabe. 

  1. Attempting to sort your trash into recycling, compost, and incinerator off-campus

Every building in Swarthmore has color-coded bins as a part of the school’s focus on sustainability. While it may be hard to adjust at first, it soon becomes second nature to recycle your cans and compost your paper towels. However, off-campus, you won’t necessarily find this set-up (especially the compost bin). You will inevitably find yourself looking for a compost bin while you’re at Chipotle. 

These traditions might not have catchy names, but if you ask me, it’s these smaller things that make Swarthmore special.

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