In starting the new year and becoming acquainted yet again with the looming heralds of trees, I am always reminded with crisp clarity that “I am here to love and to work and to love what I work”. Wheaton has had a profound impact on the way that I view individuality and the importance of remaining passionate, not just in one’s work, but in one’s relationships and personal life. With a new semester which required a surprising amount of adjustment, I have noticed a significant difference in the way I view Wheaton, simply by where I am living this semester compared to last year.
During the first three weeks of the semester in living on campus, I have fully realized the diversity of auras and environments that Wheaton consists of. These affect the results and productivity of certain situations (for instance, reading in the Stacks, reading in the Dimple, and reading at the Lyon’s Den are all completely different experiences for me). Although this may be a common occurrence within all colleges and university campuses, Wheaton’s “lower and upper” campus classification leaves a visible dividing line between both sides of campus. In living on lower for the whole of last year and living on upper for the upcoming semester, it is already clear to me what the differences are and what can be perceived as the “pros and cons” of living on both.
In naming my favorite places on campus, my heavy preference for upper campus will most likely become incredibly biased. With the Dimple, the library stacks, Mary Lyon Hall, and the Lyon’s Den all within close proximity, going to my favorite places no longer feels like a hassle. Many of Wheaton’s main resources are on upper campus as well, with the library, Emerson Dining Hall, Balfour-Hood, Admissions, and the Filene Center all within reasonable distance. This is, perhaps, the biggest advantage of upper campus, especially when one is in a hurry and needs to get from one place to another within a five-minute walk (rather than taking a hefty ten-minute trek instead).
The aesthetics of upper campus also, for me, trump those of lower campus. Although I do miss having a stunning view of the pond in the early hours of the morning, the architecture of lower campus is remarkably underwhelming (cement squares from the ’80’s are not exactly my fave). The importance of aesthetics may be a tad bit shallow, yet I believe that living in a place which one may appreciate the coexistence one has with something surreally stunning is crucial for the amount of time we will all be spending here. The more time I spend on upper campus, the more time I feel like I’m spending at a college. Being closer to other theme houses also enhances the sense of a “party scene” on campus. If that’s what you’re into.
Although I do give lower campus a hard time, it does create a superb social atmosphere for incoming freshman. Beyond being a large adjustment, coming to college puts a very large stress on first impressions, growing as an individual, being a socialite, and starting to plan one’s success as early as possible. Living on lower campus, in many ways, pinpoints the solidarity that freshman usually share, and allows a slow integration into Wheaton’s community. With Young, McIntire, and Clark halls all within one hundred feet of each other, our social lives revolved around the similarities we had in circumstance. This allowed me to step out of my comfort zone enough so that being uncomfortable wasn’t unbearable.
Lower campus also is the home to both Chase dining halls, which comes as a relief when one is literally steps away from pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches at midnight on a Saturday. Although being on lower campus also makes it disheartening to trek up to upper campus in order to enjoy a preferable meal, walking down to lower campus late at night and on weekends breeds the same feeling. Chase is convenient, which is what we all need every once in a while.
Although upper campus makes me feel more assimilated into the Wheaton culture and campus, lower campus had its perks for me last year that have made me feel as if I have worked for or deserved upper campus living all the more.