Sometimes in college residence halls, there are floors so great their inhabitants are designated by floor name. My first year, there were “those kids from Loose Second.” The next year, it was “those kids from D First.” I was always sort of mystified. How could people who had seemingly nothing but geography in common become so close?
Then, in my senior year, I moved to Read Second.
Read Second is a magical place. Representing all four classes (although heavy on the seniors), the floor includes people from all over the country (and out of it), with majors ranging from chemistry to studio art. It is without a doubt my favorite place on campus. All the inhabitants are so relaxed and amusing, and we can get pretty silly at times. I’ve seen people chased up and down the hallway by someone waving a stinky air freshener. Other times, people leave leftover food from their dining hall sack lunches on the table down the hall so hungry floormates can enjoy it. On any given day, there are usually cookies or apples or mini carrots waiting to pick up the spirits of some poor ravenous paper-writer in the middle of a late night of homework.
One night, we had a huge floor get-together and ate pizza while making collages on the walls. Someone had salvaged a stack of 40-year-old Smithsonian Magazines about to be thrown away. We had incredible photos to choose from. The walls look amazing now. Everyone who comes on the floor now gets the collage gallery tour. My favorite is the wall of fictional Read Second alumni, which includes Albert Einstein, Lord Byron, Ashton Kutcher, a baby howler monkey, and a man wearing a squid on his head.
Of course, Read Second can foster seriousness as well. I’ve always had trouble studying in my room, because I tend to distract myself too well (just five minutes to check my e-mail turns into an hour on the Internet). But now, we have homework parties. Throughout the night people drift into one room or another and settle down to study. Whether it’s my room or someone else’s, it isn’t unusual to walk onto the floor and see eight people crammed into one room, hunched over their books and physics problem sets. I wouldn’t exactly say it makes homework fun, but it does make the experience less painful. Periodically, someone will ask the definition of a word or point out something cool in his or her reading, and we get distracted and start chatting. It usually doesn’t last too long, and we all settle in again. These study parties create a nice atmosphere. and we’ve started attracting people from other floors because of it. I have friends who will trek across campus — sometimes even from off-campus — just to do homework with us. And who can blame them? Sometimes there are snacks!
I love living on a floor where I know everyone and I love being surrounded by my friends. It makes the entire dorm feel like home, instead of just my room. Having a single is nice, and I certainly don’t want to go back to sharing the mirror with a roommate every morning, but it can get lonely. With a floor like this, it’s the perfect balance of friendly faces and personal space. Want to procrastinate? Wander down to a friend’s room. Want to focus? Close the door and write that paper. It’s the best of both worlds. Which is why Read is the best dorm on campus, and no one will convince me otherwise.
Elizabeth Bologna '08 is an English and History major from Fairfield, Connecticut.