I have no idea where October went. I’m vaguely aware of fall break and midterms and Halloween all happening, but they warped from a month into around half a second, landing me here, smack in the middle of November.

So some quick backtracking… I successfully survived the midterm crunch and Hurricane Sandy, although she did cut my weekend trip to D.C. short. I still managed to fit in time to go late-night sightseeing though! Try hanging out at the Lincoln Memorial at midnight sometime. You’d be surprised how many other tourists there are.

I was originally going to take Megabus back to Swat that weekend, which was the way I went to D.C. in the first place, but frantic calls with my family helped me determine that a bus that arrived in Philadelphia on Sunday at 10 p.m. was not a good option with Frankenstorm on its way. I managed to snag a $50 Amtrak ticket for 6 hours earlier and was safe and sound in my dorm room by the time the rain, wind, power outages, and class cancellations started. Thank goodness for backup generators, flashlights, friends, and fantastic dining hall and facilities staff, or we all would have been starving in the dark for far more than 24 hours.

But now, as I say, it’s mid-November, and it’s almost time to choose classes for next semester already! Eeeeep. I’m really happy with most of my class choices for this semester, although Acting I takes up a little more time than I’d like it to, especially relative to how much I feel like I get out of it. Hopefully next semester will be just as good — I’m planning to take Historical Linguistics, Intro to Computer Science, Asian American Literature, and Intro to Race and Ethnicity in the U.S., which all fall solidly into my interest areas. Given that I have to declare a major soon (aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh), it’s probably good that I’m starting to narrow down what I like. I also need to fulfill my PE requirements, so I’m probably going to do that with some dance.

I guess that’s all I have to say for now? Oh! One last thing: Sharples bacon-wrapped hot dogs (“Texas Tommies”) sound disgusting, but they are deeelicious. I’d never tried one before an hour and a half ago.

Getting back on track…

Last week was fall break, and this week is filled with midterms. As for the weeks before that, I’m not too sure why I didn’t post. I’ve come to the conclusion that I bit off a little more than I can chew this semester, but you keep on keepin’ on, right?

I promise I’ll have a more comprehensive post up after my midterms are over — around mid-week next week! For now, happy autumn (or spring if you’re in the southern hemisphere — or happy monotonous “season” if you don’t have four seasons). It is B-E-A-utiful over here!

Two Weeks?!

It’s crazy, but we’re already halfway through the second week of classes! I simultaneously feel like it’s gone by super quickly and like I’ve been here for months. I guess it’s because so much stuff is crammed into so little time at Swat. Because of that, I’m not even going to bother with a chronological narrative of the first week and a half of classes—I’ll just jump around and excuse the total lack of organization with subheadings.


I’ve determined that I have a legitimate obsession with Sharples meatballs. I have no idea why. I’m rationally aware that they don’t in any way resemble haute cuisine or anything, but they’re just so good! Also the roasted cauliflower. My only complaint is that some days there’s steamed cauliflower (which has about 1% of the awesomeness value of the roasted kind) and I get a huge heaping plate and then I realize that it’s not what I thought what it is. Steamed cauliflower is a Decepticon.


My roommate just got a bike and I decided to borrow it and go for a quick ride around campus last week. I finally discovered where the base of the water tower is and that there’s another parking lot there!! (Not actually that exciting, but I sometimes feel like on a campus this small, discovering any new place a year in is worth at least one exclamation point.) I also biked around the Dupont parking lot for a while just for the heck of it. It holds weirdly special significance for me because that’s where my family parked the first time I visited Swat. I have a really vivid memory of standing in the sun on the grass by the parking lot after sitting in on an Intro to Linguistics class (in the Hicks mural room, strangely enough), staring up at the water tower and at the Science Center and at this whole entity that was Swarthmore and just knowing that it was perfect. It made me believe in love at first sight. (I just laughed out loud at having written that, but I’ll leave it.)


I guess I have to talk about these. I’m taking five classes this semester because I’m interested in way too many things: Discrete Math, Rise of the Novel, Acting I, Intro to Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Syntax. I had a really bad semester in terms of classes last fall, so I’m glad that this year’s off to a way better start. I’m even enjoying my math class, which is a far cry from my attitude towards my calculus class last year. Rise of the Novel and Intro to GSST especially are pretty reading-intensive, but I think that if I’ve managed to survive thus far, the rest of the semester can only go better as I figure out when to regularly schedule in time to do readings and problem sets and other things.


So I’m one of the Swarthmore Queer Union (SQU, skyoo) interns (a.k.a. a SQUintern, skwin-turn) at the Intercultural Center this year. I’m having fun so far, mainly because my SQUintern duties have largely consisted of only fun things for the last week. Hopefully that continues!

Sunday was the activities fair, so most of the student groups on campus were out behind tables lined up in front of Parrish, trying to get new members to sign up. SQU was no exception, and I spent a good three hours standing behind the table, running around back and forth from the SQU room, and generally not doing homework. It was great. (Not so great was the glitter-gluing on the poster I made on Saturday afternoon, but whatever. It served its purpose.)

Photo: Gabe Benjamin

Yesterday, the IC interns also had our first meeting, which was great (not least because we got to eat Indian food from Shere-E-Punjab in Media). I went from the meeting to Target, then from Target straight to my friend’s room so we could bake rainbow cookies for the first SQU meeting for new members. It took a lot longer than we expected, involving a lot of dough-freezing and food coloring stains and dough tearing and sprinting across campus to get cookie sheets and other fun things—but we ended up with really pretty rainbow cookies (that were just a tiny bit squished because the dough wasn’t cold enough) by the end of the meeting.

Tonight we’re having another SQU meeting with new and returning members. I am incredibly excited. IAUSDHGUIASGHASIDGISG.


Hopefully I’ll be able to write more often, but I seem to always be running around like a headless chicken to class or a meal with someone or a meeting, and if I’m not doing that, I come back to my room and all I want to do is waste hours on Tumblr. Or cleaning my room, which is what I did for part of yesterday instead of working on my math problem set. But anyway, I will try, and maybe I’ll end up with more coherent (and shorter) posts!

International Orientation

Hi there!  Thanks for stopping by my blog.

It’s already been five days since I arrived on campus at 7:45 am.  My journey here started almost an entire day before at home in Hong Kong.  I took a 12-hour plane ride to San Francisco, stayed with family for a night, and then took a five-hour red-eye the next night to Philadelphia.  I only slept an hour on that flight, yet for some reason had boundless energy the whole of Friday.

I started off the day by getting my key and dropping my stuff off in my room (I’m on Willets 3rd, come say hi!) before zooming off to walk around campus.  After being in a heavily-polluted city that’s overpopulated by people, cars and buildings alike, I was ridiculously excited to be back among the trees and grass.  My first stop was the Swarthmore Friends Nursery School playground, where I went on the swing set for about fifteen minutes.  Call me hokey, but there’s something really meditative about swinging back and forth through early morning dappled sunlight.  Maybe that was just the one hour of sleep talking.

But that feeling of total peace and quiet kept with me on my next ramble through the Crum Woods, which took me from about 8:00 to 8:30, just going downhill until I hit the creek, going along the creek, crossing it, crossing back, and finding my way back up slowly.  I managed to do more Crum exploring in that half hour than I had the whole of last year.  I felt like I was finally getting some part of my childhood that I had never gotten as a city girl, where “hiking” meant talking a stroll along paved paths that happened to be among a bunch of trees.  I’m sure kids who grow up near woods get to do things like almost slip on stepping stones and clamber up pathless hillsides and get their sneakers dewy-wet all the time.  I’m just glad I get the opportunity to make up for that now.

Later in the day, I met the first of around 40 international students in the Class of 2016 while eating a bagel on the Big Chair.  After helping her find her dorm, a couple of other orientation leaders and I helped some other international first-years lug their bags up from Ben West House to Parrish.  That was no small feat, because like most international students, they had gigantic bags that meant that we all probably developed some serious arm muscle by the time move-in finished.

Now I’m going to fast-forward through the rest of international orientation—it was basically a blur of talks and paperwork and laughter and there are pictures on Facebook if you really want to know everything we did.

Right now I’m sitting in my room with my roommate, new dehumidifier and air purifier going, everything set up…life is great.  I just get to chill until classes start on Monday.


P.S.  I wrote this post in three different spurts, so sorry if it’s a little disjointed.

I'm Joyce H. Wu '15, a prospective Linguistics major with a possible minor in English (with a possible emphasis on creative writing). I'm all about the possibles, and my second year at Swarthmore is composed almost entirely of them. Read here about my fight to keep the sophomore slump at bay!