When I moved into Houston Hall—this was before its modern, sleek-looking renovation, I’d like to add—I thought it was the best dorm location on campus. It’s sort of tucked away from other buildings, sharing a large quad with Carmichael Hall and Miller Hall. Throughout my first year, I noticed so many wonderful things about Houston’s location; behind it, where the hill abruptly drops off towards the Fletcher Field, is the perfect place to feel a warm breeze in the spring (or an icy chill in the winter). The view of the sunset is spectacular—nowhere else on campus do the gold and pink rays of light seem to change the entire atmosphere and mood. Since Houston’s located so close to the academic quad, it’s incredibly easy to wake up from your afternoon nap at 2:50pm for your 3:00pm Shakespeare lecture.
I lived in Houston again my sophomore year as a Residential Assistant, now fully ingrained in uphill culture. I only ate at Carmichael, seldom went below Professors Row (save for a walk to Davis Square or a friend’s house). It was wonderful to feel a sense of recognition on campus, like I knew where I was and where I’d been and that wasn’t going to change. I always knew when Carmichael was having stir fry nights—and when the perfect time frame was for beating the long line—and my classes remained close. I knew when the leaves along Packard Avenue were going to change color and fall. I remembered what times were best to get a coffee and walk along the academic quad and soak in the sun and the wind.
There’s something so easy about living uphill—the walks seem shorter, there’s always someone hanging out on the residential quad, and the Dunkin Donuts on Boston Avenue is just a minute walk down the Rainbow Steps. The feeling of so many students living in three dorms that are so close together brings forward a sense of commonality. I met my best friend because we lived near each other (her in Carmichael, me in Houston).
This year, I moved to 92 Professors Row, a house located directly between uphill and downhill. While I certainly loved living in a house—a wonderful room with wood floors and great sunlight, a big yard with beautiful trees—but I was missing something. I wanted to constantly be around other students, especially first year students whose excitement for Tufts seemed to rub off on me. This isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy living in 92 Professors Row. It’s certainly one of the best on-campus places to live, where people did puzzles in the living room and left freshly baked goods in the kitchen for all to enjoy. But there’s something about living uphill—the walk to class, the seating at Carmichael, the talking and laughing heard from the common rooms—that just felt like home.
I’m excited to return to Houston Hall again this fall as a Residential Assistant. I’m excited to retrace my steps, remember my favorite things about living there, and take afternoon naps before my quick walk to class. Of course, there’s plenty to love about downhill, like the walk to Davis Square and Dewick (although I wouldn’t really know such things, but perhaps you’ll fall in love with living there). But there is something to be said for living in the same place—let alone the same hall—for most of your time at Tufts. It becomes familiar, a home away from home. And the culture becomes recognizable and warm.