Memories of My Year In Mertz

As I write this post, it is my second August in a row that I am in a temporary room in Mertz Hall. I spent the better part of the last year (August-May and then August again) living in one of the largest dorms at Swarthmore. 

Mertz was built in 1981 and named for Harold and Esther Mertz (so says the plaque on the first floor). It houses 139 students on its three floors, as well as 7 washing machines, 3 kitchens, 1 printer, and a partridge in a pear tree (just kidding). 

When I moved into Mertz for Green Advisor training, I lived in a temporary room on the 3rd floor because the building was still in the end stages of renovation and my room wasn’t ready yet. Once the renovation was complete (adding air conditioning, removing the carpet from the floors, and repainting), I moved into a double on the 2nd floor for my sophomore year. 

I loved Mertz. I loved how much it felt like a college dorm but also a home–– with its big lounge and grand stairwell and full kitchen. I loved how the bathrooms had green tile on the walls and how my room had two big windows and also a tiny window. I loved how so many of my friends were nearby and how well my roommate and I got along. It was a fantastic place to spend my second year. 

I am now in yet another temporary room on the 1st floor, and, as I get ready to leave to study abroad, I am reminiscing on key moments of my time in Mertz Hall. Please enjoy the following photos (and the backstories of the photos). 

This photo was taken on the day I moved into my double in Mertz. I picked up the “live, laugh, love” signs at the thrift store and thought they were the funniest thing ever.

My roommate had just moved in (remnants of unpacking are visible on the desks) and we had pulled a “dorm sweet dorm” sign out of Worthmore (our campus free store). I still think it made for a very homey environment.

Birthday dinner! I made my friends dress up and have takeout from the Ville (i.e. downtown Swarthmore) on the night of my birthday. The Mertz 2nd kitchen has had many friend dinners like this one.

I went through a couple iterations of decorations on the wall above my bed, but I think this was my favorite. I think having my weekly covid tests up are especially silly.

My friends and I were getting ready to leave before a “dress like the stereotype of your home state” party. I am representing the great not-a-state of DC as a Congressperson (I’m wearing a DC flag). The other states represented by my friends in this picture are California, New York, and New Jersey (unsure if there is enough of the other outfits visible to tell which is which).

The first snow of the new year! These are both from January. My friends and I went sledding down the hill next to McCabe and I made a snowlady named Blizabeth. Afterwards, we had hot chocolate and watched the snow fall from our cozy dorm windows.

This post is quickly becoming an ode to my sophomore dorm room. I just thought the wall of the instructions for covid tests was a nice touch.

No big formal event is complete without pictures on the Mertz grand stairway! Swat Prom was in March and was spared no ceremony. We got ready in one dorm room and traipsed through others on our way to the actual event in the Matchbox gym.

The classic impromptu bathroom haircut… this was the site of my roommate’s shaved head and the beginning of my bangs journey (it’s a long story). For Sam’s hair, this is an exciting moment. For mine, it’s a top ten photo taken moments before disaster.

My bed was next to a little tiny window that I put suncatchers in so in the afternoons I would get rainbows on my walls. I miss that cute little spot.

Every Sunday night of the spring semester, my friends and I would gather in one room to watch that week’s episode of the HBO show Euphoria. We constantly had to pause the show to share our opinions and also debrief after each episode, so a gathering that could have taken an hour ended up taking usually three or four.

The first floor lounge of Mertz is massive and has couches and a television. It’s a nice spot for Studio Ghibli movie nights (which happened right before this photo was taken).

We celebrated the end of the semester with a charcuterie board made on a Sharples tray. Everyone in this photo is studying abroad this fall so this was our last night together for months and months.

A final night in Mertz 🙁 Goodbye 268, you were a lovely place to live.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse of my sophomore year dorm life! I feel very fondly for it and am already anticipating coming semesters at Swarthmore.

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