“WELCOME TO CASTLE 209” said the whiteboard bright and early Sunday morning on Sept. 28, the first Arcadia open house of the semester. Under a motivational quote written in expo marker, two college students currently living in Arcadia’s iconic castle whispered to each other, frantically wondering and worrying if the addition of a smiley face would be “too much.”
Starting at 10:00 a.m., tours began coming through as students in bright red shirts started walking backwards, up and down the castle’s main stairs, leading gawking parents and families around the campus. Meanwhile, some students (such as myself) were required to stay in the dorm so that their room could be shown.
After signing a long checklist of do’s and don’ts – answer questions; have a positive attitude towards the school; if you don’t know the answer to a question, defer to the tour guide to avoid giving inaccurate information – they were all prepared to get paid in exchange for sitting in their dorm room, brightly lit with Halloween decorations and dancing Christmas lights.
No more than a half of an hour in, Pandora stations on low and laptops left forgotten on the desks, my roommates and I all crowded on one bed in the back of the long room, laughing to ourselves and goofing around as tours came through periodically.
Our group fielded a lot of the basic questions: What’s the bathroom situation? “Awesome! The girls’ room just got remodeled!” How do the meal plans work? “You get two swipes a day that you can use at the dining hall or the Chat. Usually, we prefer the Chat.” How are the stairs? “You get thighs of steel by the end of the semester!” Do you like having so many roommates? “It seemed intimidating at first, but look at it this way: What are the odds that all six of them are going to hate you?”
We kept track of the number of Harry Potter references parents made and the number of times it led to their children’s overdramatic eye roll. By the third tour group, they were three for three. So, are you girls all friends with Hermione Granger? Are you girls all in the same Hogwarts House? Which stall in the girls’ bathroom is haunted?
At one point, the Ambassador guiding the tour, a fellow 209 roommate, came through. We scrambled to climb to her top bunk before she took notice.
“Yeah, so this is actually my room,” she said, walking backwards. “There’s one of the fridges. We’re allowed three. And over here, there are…all my roommates on my bed.”
Overall, we made our way through an entire box of Cheez-Its and felt pretty proud of the advice we handed out to possible incoming First-Years.
“Everybody gets a closet or wardrobe.”
“Remember to buy hangers.”
“Microwavable Mac ‘n Cheese is a girl’s best friend.”
“Buy a mattress pad. They’re expensive, but worth it.”
The room was clean, the students got paid, we had a good time, and it was nice to be on the other side of a tour. Only downside: our homework never did get done.