A card in the mailbox, a grouping of strangers going to Philly together: SwatDeck. This program is unique in the way that it is open to all grades, and allows us Swatties to go into Philadelphia (for free) but with students we don’t know— we are paired with other students through a survey. After I filled out a Google form for SwatDeck, I got an email a week later telling me to check my mailbox and arrive at the train station on 3 p.m. on Friday. This was around the time of the year where most of the freshmen still did not know each other, and meeting new people was a huge priority.
On that Friday, I was running a few minutes late and sprinted down Magill Walk to the station, where I saw a large group of students gathered. Everyone had playing cards in their hand and the groups were formed by whoever had the same suit. After finding my group (a humble group of three), we were given fifteen dollars, our SEPTA Independence Pass and we were off!
We were also given a brochure that detailed some of the events happening in Philadelphia that day, but we didn’t really have a set game plan. There was so much conversation about our backgrounds and hometowns (we were all from the south) that we didn’t have much time to decide where to go! Following a few other Swatties, we got off at Surburban Station in center city, and walked around a bit before running into a Fashion Week runway show. The fashion scene was incredible, but the line was intimidatingly long.
Deciding to give in to our hunger, we went into a Lebanese restaurant instead where we ordered kebabs. The ambience of the place was warm compared to the chillier outside air, and both of my fellow SwatDeck partners had never had Lebanese food before. After establishing that falafel was one of the best things since the wheel, we were on our way to our chosen destination: Spruce Harbor Park.
Though it was a somewhat lengthy walk, I definitely recommend visiting the park while the weather is warm. There are fairy lights, canopies, and so many great sitting spots near the river. Food and mini-cafes, as well as an arcade on the boardwalk is available. Seeing the river definitely requires a bit of a walk from the nearest SEPTA station, but it was a lovely one.
Coming back on the train, we reunited with a lot of our fellow SwatDeck groups, and recapped—it was a good time, with good people, and an experience to remember.