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First impressions: St. Olaf dorms

New student orientation didn’t end on the final day of St. Olaf Orientation to Academics and Resources group activities. Well, at least for us it didn’t. During the first two months of our time on the Hill, we made it our mission to visit and explore every single residence hall on the St. Olaf campus…without a tour guide. Here are honest reviews and rankings of each building from your humblest of first-year students. 


Thorson Hall

Our first impression of Thorson was that it’s got to be a haunted hotel. To be fair, we visited this particular residence hall at night — a time when the halls and common spaces were quiet and empty — but this building was just plain eerie. We also found ourselves slightly lost, and in an attempt to find our way out, ended up confusedly wandering around the basement. However, it was in the basement where we made the discovery that the Thorson vending machines carried our favorite white cheddar Cheetos, and we agreed that this was something of a redeeming factor. Thorson also boasts a beautiful backyard that’s the perfect spot for a picnic or to appreciate the colors of the sunrise or sunset.


Rand Hall

Rand Hall is a real-life representation of the common saying “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Despite its secludedness from the beaten path, Rand proved to meet all of our hopes and expectations in a dorm. Quiet. Cheerful atmosphere. Abundant vending machine selection. Lounges are fantastic, and the washers and dryers aren’t in disrepair like many first-year dorms.


Larson Hall

We’ll admit it. Larson is pretty cool. It has amazing views of campus — and the cornfields beyond — and also scores points for being the tallest residence hall. Our visit to Larson, however, was tainted by a run-in with a towel-clad Ole and an “Oh no, this isn’t the women’s room,” and ended shortly after.


Hoyme Hall

Hoyme Hall is like Ellingson’s fraternal twin. Hoyme rooms come with the same bay windows and room size, but its hallways lack common spaces and the entire building appears to be shaped like a ‘V.’ Odd.


Kildahl Hall

If Hoyme is Ellingson’s fraternal twin, then Kildahl is the wannabe little sibling. Although Kildahl has the smallest double rooms — we all know they were supposed to be singles, after all — the floor lounges create a bonding atmosphere. Not to mention they have a computer lab on each floor. Intriguing.


Mohn Hall

Our trip to Mohn was accompanied by a beautiful sunset and the exhilaration of “trespassing” into a sophomore dorm. It also happened to be the catalyst for the dorm tour adventure. If you happen to be one of the students going up in the elevator at the same time as two first-year girls who couldn’t keep in their giggles, we hope this article helps clear a few things up. Our initial reaction was that Mohn appears to be somewhat of a vertical Ellingson, and that, on a weekend evening, there always seems to be a party booming somewhere up there in the tower. Furthermore, the Mohn laundry room is one of the best on campus. Six washers and dryers in one room. Incredible.


Mellby Hall

Oh, Mellby. Prime location to the academic buildings, stunning views of the St. Olaf quad, a name that sounds like something straight out of a Jane Austen book…what isn’t to love about this building? It seemed like a more spacious — and less scary — version of Thorson, complete with dishwashing basins on the residence floors — every Ellingson resident’s dream. The bathrooms, however, were a little bit cramped. Not to mention the beautiful lounge space blends the history of St. Olaf into the living space.  


Hilleboe and Kittelsby Hall

We’ll admit, this one is complicated. We all know that an infamous nickname for Kittelsby can be derived by swapping the leading K with a ‘Sh’— and, just so we’re clear: if anyone asks, you did not hear that from us. Kittlesby doesn’t have any grandiose features to its architecture, and it looks rather plain compared to the rest of the Hill. It’s a confusing dorm when you don’t know your way around, but their vending machines have quite the selection. 


Ellingson Hall

We’re not biased. Trust us. Sure, Ellingson Hall may be the place we call “dorm sweet dorm,” but the beautiful bay windows, hallway lounges, and spacious bathrooms put this building high on our rankings. Negative points go to the washing machine with the not-so-holy water that’s been steeping for weeks. If only the kitchen wasn’t so far from the dorm rooms…


Ytterboe Hall

Ytterboe Hall houses the most students, despite thinking it was either Mohn or Larson for their grand size. Ytterboe has very wide hallways that almost feel too wide. Although we never made it inside a practice room, this dorm is perfect for music majors in need of practice. Not to mention Ytterboe forms a ‘Y’ shape, true to its name.