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the-quad
Credit: Zoey Weisman

I miss the Quad. 

Now, don’t misunderstand me: I’m thrilled to be living off campus in a house of my own with some of my best friends. I don’t miss the rats, or the mold, or the sometimes cramped conditions of Quad dorms. I don’t miss the plagues that would periodically sweep through the building, or not being able to cook, or getting woken up by a horde of my rowdy classmates every Thursday night. But all the negatives aside, freshman housing is too often taken for granted and is not given due credit. So, to all current freshmen: Enjoy your housing situation while you can. 

From freshman to sophomore year, the biggest difference in terms of housing arrangements is by far how scattered everyone is. While I was living in the Quad, mostly everyone was no more than a five or ten minute walk away. When it was cold, or raining, I could meet up with most anyone without having to step outside. Even taking the quick ten minute trip to Hill was pretty manageable considering the distances that I now cross to meet up with people. 

Even though I now live only about a block off campus, to meet up with almost anyone who I don’t live with I need to walk about five or six blocks. To meet up with people who live on the opposite side of campus, I need to embark on a mile-long journey. While these distances don’t seem dreadfully overwhelming, they serve as barriers to the spontaneity that made freshman year so special. As an upperclassman, it’s no longer possible to walk down the hall and knock on your friend’s door to come hang out or grab dinner.

Further, with the exception of upperclassmen housing in Lauder College House, after freshman year everyone is made far more remote from their classes. The majority of upperclassmen live on the west side or to the west of campus, meaning that treks to buildings like DRL or Fisher Bennett Hall or even Williams Hall become far more arduous than they were before. In order to get to class on time, I now need to wake up an extra 15, 20 minutes earlier than I did last year. Although those couple of minutes might not seem like a lot, they certainly feel it after staying up late to submit an assignment. 

Easily one of the best things about living in upperclassmen housing is the fact that you get to start cooking for yourself. But something that I did not realize that I would miss was the various college house stores within the dorms. The Eleventh Hour Grotto in Riepe College House was a godsend for me during many late nights when I got just a little bit hungry. Even McClelland, which perhaps doesn’t have the best reputation among campus dining options, was incredibly convenient after some late-night studying in Van Pelt Library. Now, if I want to have some late-night snacking options, I need to have some forethought and grab some items from the Fresh Grocer.

But perhaps the thing that I miss most about my freshman housing is the wider sense of community that the underclassman College House system generated. I may be biased in that my hall was particularly social, but overall my college house advertised and funded a number of excursions that exposed me to the wider Philadelphia area. I might have taken the Tuesday night pasta dinners and occasional house picnics granted in the moment, but now I recognize how nice it was to enjoy delicious home cooked food that I didn’t need to make for myself. 

And although it’s nice to be able to design your own community past freshman year, nothing really beats the excitement and convenience of meeting new people in your hall or through college house events. Even if you choose to live on campus past freshman year, the sense of community that exists within the high rises or Lauder is a far-cry from what was freshman year. Most people want to buckle down and create a solid core group of friends past freshman year, which is perfectly natural and healthy. But at the same time, I can’t help but feel just a little bit nostalgic for the chaotic bumping into new and old faces alike that the freshman year college houses facilitated so well. So freshman: while yes, do file a maintenance request for that mold infestation, don’t forget to stop a moment and appreciate your housing situation just a little bit more.  

Want to read more housing content? Check out the project page here.

JAMES MORRISON is a College sophomore from Pipersville, Pa. studying English. His email address is jmorr2@sas.upenn.edu.  

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