Throughout the year, people will always try to convince you that their freshman dorm is the best. They’ll mention the party atmosphere of New South, the personal bathrooms in Village C West or the sense of community in Darnall. But there’s no need to worry; you can just tone them out because you will soon experience for yourselves the many ways that Harbin proves it’s the best freshman dorm on campus. Before you move in, it will be good to know a little bit about what to expect so that you can take advantage of all Harbin has to offer right off the bat.
Harbin Hall has nine floors with rooms on floors two through nine. Since this is a relatively taller building, a lot of students make use of the two elevators located in the main lobby. (To all of you on Harbin 9, don’t worry. Harbin has fast elevators, especially compared to some of the other campus elevators.) The building itself is pretty uniquely shaped — from the air, Harbin looks like a three-leaf clover. The unusual design is due to Harbin’s greatest asset: The cluster system. Each floor is divided into three clusters, which are broken down by sex. So, depending on your floor, you can have either two girl clusters and one guy cluster or two guy clusters and one girl cluster — it changes from year-to-year. There are also usually one or two single-sex floors and a quiet floor in Harbin. To see where you’re located on your floor, check your Housing-at-a-Glance page.
In terms of location, Harbin is pretty much in the center of campus. The western-facing rooms have views of the MultiSport Facility, also called Harbin Field due to its proximity. For anyone playing club sports, the proximity to the field will be invaluable. The south-facing rooms have views of Harbin Patio, which, in the warmer months is a great place to meet up with friends or study. In the winter months, it’s a cold, snow-filled pit to traverse, but you’ll survive. To the east, Harbin faces the Davis Performing Arts Center. To get there, you will be faced with climbing a steep set of stairs that take you toward the front end of campus. On the weekends, you will stumble down these steps so you can crawl into your bed. Just north of Harbin, Regents Hall, the new science building is a perfect study spot and provides access to the Leavey Center. Harbin is close to Leo’s, but also close enough to Hoya Court and Epicurean for when you get sick of eating at the wok station for the 20th time that week. Also, any Harbin residents in the MSB luck out with their proximity to their free printing.
Harbin is associated with two things on campus: Bill Clinton and drugs. The former president lived in Harbin during his sophomore year at Georgetown — Harbin was upperclassman housing at the time. In 2010, Harbin garnered national attention when the Drug Enforcement Administration uncovered a DMT lab on the building’s ninth floor.
A Typical Room
Harbin has two types of rooms. Most people will live in a typically sized double in one of the clusters. These rooms circle the cluster’s bathroom. These rooms are larger, closer to New South’s in size, and they feature spacious closets and ample desk space.
The other option for room type is one of the three rooms on each floor that are not in a cluster. One of these rooms will be a triple and the other two will be doubles like the rest. These rooms tend to have a little more space than the other rooms depending on how you and your roommate plan on arranging your beds.
Each room is furnished with two desks. These built-in desks have shelving above the work space and a cabinet with a mirror inside. Below the desk, you have large drawers for clothes and school supplies. In addition to your drawers, each roommate gets a closet for storing clothes. These closets are unusually large for college dorms, so if you have a lot of clothes, Harbin is the perfect place for you.
Measurements for a typical Harbin room can be found here. Harbin rooms’ layouts vary quite a bit from room-to-room so check the floor plan of your room on your Housing-at-a-Glance page for the exact locations of the desks and closets, in addition to more exact measurements of your particular room. For a chance to see a Harbin room in use, check out this GAAP-produced a video that tours a Harbin room.
Lounges, Laundry and Other Amenities
Each floor has a common room in the space between the three clusters for all the residents of that floor. These common rooms feature a TV set, a kitchen and large sofas for studying or hanging out. Typically, these rooms are across the hall from the rooms of your RA or chaplain-in-residence.
The laundry room is a large room in the basement. Here you’ll be able to wash and dry your clothes ($3 per load). The mailroom, which has mailboxes for each resident, is located just outside the laundry room.
The main lobby has a printer that can be paid for with your GOCard. Also on the first floor, is another community room perfect for studying or relaxing.
To receive packages, you’ll have to head on over to the RHO in VCW as it also serves Harbin.
Harbin is by far the best dorm for fostering community. The cluster system, unlike the hall system of other dorms, really helps facilitate bonding with others in your cluster. Also, the common room is close to each of the clusters so that becomes a really great place to foster friendships and relax with your floormates. For the first few weeks of freshman year, you’ll find a lot of Harbin residents hanging out in groups with their floor. Each floor develops its own identity that highlights the floor’s community characteristics.
Unlike the larger floors of New South or Darnall, Harbin’s floors are relatively small so you get to know every person you live with during the first year. This provides an awesome opportunity to have a familiar face in a big lecture or form study groups for finals.
What to Bring
If your parents haven’t dragged you dorm shopping right now, they will soon enough. Here are a few things to bring to make your Harbin experience that much better.
1) Though you won’t be scrubbing your toilet like the residents of VCW, Harbin rooms are fairly big and can require some regular cleaning. For this, make sure you bring disinfectant wipes to keep your room smelling fresh.
2) It’s a good idea to bring a full-length mirror to hang on the inside of your closet door. The room only features an eye-level mirror in the medicine cabinet, and you need something more to make sure you’re looking good on your big nights out.
3) Harbin rooms, although they have windows, are not particularly well-lit. Bring a desk lamp to keep your work area lit if your roommate needs to go to sleep. Also, lights that clip to your bed post are awesome for reading in bed when your roommate is fast asleep.
4) If you live outside of the cluster, bring a robe to wear on your way to your shower. Unlike your clustered friends, there is no door blocking your room from the common room area. You wouldn’t want to be stuck in a bath towel meeting your friend’s parents who came in for a surprise visit.
5) The water fountains in Harbin don’t really work properly. Every now and then they’ll spurt out some water, but not when you’ve just finished a long run and you need it most. Invest in a Brita filter to keep some filtered water in your mini fridge.
6) Bring some posters. One of Harbin’s best qualities — the size of its room — also means there’s a lot of blank wall space. Buy your favorite movie poster (or hang a giant picture of Madeline Albright like I did.) It’s a great way to make your dorm show off a little bit of your personality.
About the author: D.J. Angelini is a rising junior in the McDonough School of Business. His freshman year, he lived in Harbin 202.