There are some things that you’re allowed to say in college that sound totally creepy out in the real world. In this case, the one I’m thinking of is the casual question to someone you just met:
“Where do you live?”
It’s probably the #1 question first-years get asked. You can ask about the person’s major, but they don’t know. You can ask where they’re from, but you’re unlikely to be able to connect over that, since most likely you’re from rural Kentucky and they’re from Sweden. But maybe, just maybe, the two of you have a mutual friend! So instead you ask where they live.
The funniest part about this is that the result of this question is usually along the lines of, “Oh, I think I know someone from Blaisdell. Do you know __? No? Okay. Maybe she lives in Wig. I might be thinking of someone else.”
Nonetheless, where you live is important, not just for first-years, but for all students at Pomona.
“Lawry? You must looove to party.”
“Ugh, I can’t wait until I’m a senior so I can live in the new dorms.”
“Walker? Do you have one of those awkward suites where you have to walk through someone’s room to get to the bathroom?”
Every dorm gets its own stereotype.
“What even is Norton? Is that a dorm?”
Since it’s that important, let’s talk about dorms! Here’s a quick summary of my experience living in dorms so far:
My sponsor group was the now relatively infamous Lyon 2 East of 2012-2013. (I say infamous because we occasionally have giant “reunion snacks” where all of our sponsor group descendants descend upon Frary Dining Hall and take lots of silly group pictures.) We were extremely cohesive for the most part, especially since there were only 12 of us, including the sponsors. We hung out in each other’s rooms, studied in the hall, had giant sleepovers, went to dining halls together, and yes, some people dated each other. My dorm was probably the most defining aspect of my college identity at this point. I loved my sponsor group, despite the high drama levels, and it was really weird when the end of the spring arrived and we all split. Seven out of the 10 sponsees decided to become sponsors. I didn’t, and I’m still not exactly sure why. Maybe it was because I didn’t think anything could possibly live up to the closeness and energy of our sponsor group, or maybe it was because I missed the application deadline…
Instead of applying to be a sponsor, I applied to live in Oldenborg on the French hall. For a language dorm, Oldenborg (or at least that part of it) turned out to be very quiet. There were perks to it, like a big room with air conditioning and two people to a bathroom, but I found myself very lonely. While all my friends ate with their new sponsees, I alternated between crashing other people’s sponsor group dinners and eating by myself. Instead of focusing on getting to know my new dorm and making new friends, I spent all my energy wishing I’d applied to be a sponsor. Thankfully, after a couple of painfully awkward weeks, the friendly first-years of Harwood 1 West (two of the sponsors of which were my awesome first-year roomie and my boyfriend) “spadopted” me, giving me a surrogate sponsor group and a social home for sophomore year. My associations were looser and my friends were more scattered, but sponsor groups remained central to my social interactions.
Going into my third year felt really different. Suddenly, most of my fellow 2016ers were drawing into North Campus rooms while I opted instead for a three-person “friendship suite” with a common room, still in Harwood. Once the year began, though, I was pretty happy with our living arrangements. The common room in our suite is enormous, and I doubt I’ll live anywhere this nice again until I’m at least 30. We have our own bathroom, our own kitchen, enough space for my digital piano, and enough space for my suitemate to throw her approximonthly Miyazaki Movie Nights, complete with full projector. Nonetheless, it is still harder to stay close to friends when they’re farther away than down the hall, much as I hate to admit it. When you live in an amazing suite, it’s so easy to stay inside. Hopefully this semester will involve more long (eight-minute) treks back and forth to North Campus…
My final two cents on dorms: Pomona has amazing living spaces. So far, I’ve lived in three awesome dorms, but what I remember most isn’t the place so much as the people. Whether you get the infamously tiny single in Harwood, a big spacious room, or a cozy friendship suite, a dorm is still a dorm, and sometimes leaving it is what matters most.