I toured Lehigh on a beautiful day in July 2017. As an indecisive person, I often do not immediately know what I want, but I was confident that Lehigh would have me after my visit.
This is where I wanted to end up. I recall noticing lots of stairs on campus that day, but the visceral feeling the school evoked overpowered any qualms I may have had.
Blame it on selective memory, or simply the number of other college visits I went on that summer, but as time passed, I began to forget the specifics of Lehigh’s physical attributes. All I remembered was how the school had made me feel. What were a few stairs to every other benefit I knew the school would provide?
Fast forward to July 2018, when I received my housing assignment: Dravo House, room C105. Besides my curiosity on the pronunciation (was it Drav-oh or Druh-vo?), I was indifferent. All first-year housing is created equally, right?
A brief Google search told me that this was not the case. Dubbed the “castle on the hill,” I caught on to the trend all of the blog posts and articles shared — the mention of 42 steps leading up to the front door.
I drew a quick conclusion after I moved in. It wasn’t the 42 steps that were bad, it was what they followed — an already agonizing uphill trek. Class anywhere farther than Drown Hall would leave my legs aching, and I would be winded without fail every time I got back to my room.
But if I didn’t think it could get any worse, I was sorely mistaken.
Sayre Park is my current place of residence, and I do not have the luxury or convenience of owning a vehicle. The Campus Connector and Packer Express have become my two best friends.
The university deserves some credit—during class hours, hitching a ride up has not been an issue. I never have to wait more than five minutes for a bus, in some ways making it easier to go home than last year. At night or on weekends, however, the horrors of life on the Hill come out to play.
I understand the reason for reduced transportation service in the off hours, but it’s frustrating when you’re just trying to get home after a long day of hitting the books and realize you have just missed the bus and will have to wait 25-30 minutes for the next one.
Walking back is not an option. During the first few weeks of this year, I walked a number of times from as far away as Brodhead House, as my lack of patience and unfamiliarity with the bus system got the best of me. I’m no Olympic athlete, but I wouldn’t consider myself frail either. Each time, however, I would arrive back home exhausted and infuriated.
Thoughts of transferring flashed through my mind as every walk—scratch that, every hike—chipped away at my sanity. I have since sworn against ever heading back on foot. I refuse to subject myself to that slow and agonizing torture.
The bus tracker has helped me plan ahead, and I have learned to time departures accordingly, but, inevitably, the two don’t always line up.
Don’t get me wrong, I have come to appreciate living at Sayre—it is rustic, serene and provides amazing views paired with a great community of Greeks and other themed-housing residents. But there is an elephant that stands between Sayre and me every day: South Mountain.
The main part of campus is a sight for sore eyes. The walkway between Taylor Gym and the flagpole is my favorite path to take between classes. I am not alone in having done a double take when passing the student with the red backpack, book in hand. Only to realize that “he” is in fact a statue, along with his counterpart on the bench.
Weather permitting, the front lawn is a delightful place to sit and relax. Heading further south, E.W. Fairchild-Martindale Library and STEPS nicely complement Lehigh’s classical architecture with a dash of modernity.
My problems could certainly be worse. Lehigh is a wonderful place with academics that are challenging yet engaging, coupled with students who are motivated and serious about their studies.
South Mountain is a small price to pay. I’ve learned to live with it as have all the other Hill residents and the thousands that passed through Lehigh over the years. I can say one thing with absolute certainty, however: I will never take flat walks for granted again.