Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Orchard Hill Residential Area is the best place to live

Why Orchard Hill is the dominant living area
Collegian File Photo

For the most exclusive part of campus, many University of Massachusetts students know very little about Orchard Hill Residential Area. To some, it is a mysterious land barred off from the rest of civilization by a behemoth hill. To others, O-Hill seems to be a “nerdtopia,’ full of beckoning silence and devoid of any energy and party life.

It is true that O-Hill is very different from the rest of campus. But that’s what makes it stand out among other residential areas, and ultimately makes O-Hill the best place to live on campus.

Despite what haters may tell you, the quiet atmosphere of O-Hill is in fact a boon and not an impediment. Unlike the incessant rowdiness and vomit-filled stalls of other areas like Southwest, O-Hill remains mostly silent. In fact, the loudest noise one would hear is probably the dump trucks that blare out loudly from time to time. While blasting music and the shouting aren’t always negative aspects, one often needs a break from such chaotic activity. The tranquil ambience of Orchard Hill allows one to do exactly that: relax, study peacefully and unload from the wave of stress that college life can bring. Nevertheless, O-Hill is not “devoid” of all party life as many would assume. Contrary to other areas’ parties, the ones here tend to be more low-key, smaller, less noisy and more interpersonal — there are more one-one conversations and interactions. During my first week at Dickinson, one of the freshman O-Hill dorms, I went to an engaging party in a nearby room with a few floormates. During the party, we played an intense game of “Super Mario Party”, munched on Kit-Kats and Skittles, and had meaningful conversations with one another about our favorite hobbies and interests. Definitely much better than getting our ears blown out like in other parties.

Along with the students, the natural beauty contributes to the tranquil atmosphere of O-Hill. Surrounded by rolling green hills, lines of apple trees and a blanket of deciduous forest,  O-Hill doesn’t disappoint. Moreover, the elevation offers breathtaking views of not only the entire campus, but also the towering Holyoke mountain range nearby. Living near nature comforts not only the eyes but also the body and mind. Particularly, proximity to nature brings with it several health benefits like fighting depression, reducing cognitive fatigue and lowering blood pressure. Just walking up the hill from Worcester Dining Commons a few weeks ago, the rush of colorful leaves helped me relax and momentarily forget the hustle of midterms and papers.

O-Hill has another lesser-known advantage: the rooms. Some of the biggest on campus, the spacious rooms in this residential area prevent one from feeling uncomfortable and claustrophobic. Equipped with wide walk-in closets and plenty of area under the bed, these rooms can house a lot of your belongings. For instance, my mom insisted that I bring practically all the clothes I had at home, and I still managed to fit them in my room with extra space remaining.  Also, because of the copious walking space between the beds, colliding into your roommate is never an issue. Out of all the features in the room, my favorite is the study table. Instead of two cramped desks in the corners of the room, there is one long table with plenty of  leg and arm room to sit comfortably and ample space to place a variety of objects.

O-Hill also offers many attractive areas to hang out and have fun without having to walk down to other parts of campus. The four halls in O-Hill — Dickinson, Webster, Field and Grayson —surround an open-grassy dome known affectionately as the “Bowl.” A favorite spot for sunbathers, soccer players and picnic enthusiasts alike, the Bowl never fails to amaze anyone looking for some outdoor entertainment. For fans of indoor entertainment, within Field lies Sweets & More, a quaint little shop offering a variety of sugary options from cake pops to ice cream. Whatever your late-night craving, Sweets & More is there to satisfy your needs.

Clearly, after considering all the advantages, O-Hill is the best place to be on campus. If you don’t believe me, come and see for yourself. Just make sure to set an alarm — it’s easy to lose track of time in this hidden paradise.

Arnav Mehra is a Collegian columnist and can be found at [email protected].

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  • J

    John ShaneSep 1, 2020 at 8:40 pm

    I lived in Grayson from fall of 1980 to spring of 1982 when I moved off campus. One of the best times of my life. No computers. No internet. No cell phones.

    I never realized that because of the hill it was a mystery to others. It’s right next to Central.

    I visit campus every few years and bring my kids. Hope they choose Orchard Hill when they go. I’d love to be allowed inside again. It’s been 34 years since I left UMass. Best time of my life and don’t tell my wife I said so.

  • T

    tcalbsNov 18, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    Living in Orchard Hill has given me a unique freshman experience, but I will say it’s hard to find HFA majors here. The majority of people here are Comp-Sci and Natural Science students. But I wouldn’t give it up. The environment here is so calming, but if you want to party you certainly can. I literally could not imagine my room without the mirror and overhead lights above the dresser in the closet. Makeup nerds will greatly appreciate this type of lighting like I do.