Objectively (from the partial opinion of a Swarthmore student), Swarthmore has one of the best college campuses. The entire campus is an arboretum rife with hundreds of species of flora – each plant tediously demarcated by a uniform plaque with white lettering. The Swarthmore grounds are ideal for picnic lounging or outdoor reading sessions, but sometimes the idyllic drones of suburban monotony need to be disrupted. Every couple of weeks I need a change of pace, so I indulge in an excursion to our neighboring metropolis, Philadelphia. Growing up in Delaware, I always inhabited an ideal proximity to Philly- the perfect distance where I could reap the benefits of a big backyard and also get a day off school when the Eagles won the Superbowl in 2018.
Now that I’m at Swarthmore, I just have to walk a minute from my dorm to the train station that goes right into center city in 30 minutes – extremely conducive to a day trip or night trip into Philly. Below are some of my Philly experiences during my Swarthmore career. I rated them out of ten – a system inspired by my obsession with TikTok. Even though the “rating” trend is usually backed by a mashup of Hannah Montana transition tunes, we’ll make do.
Barnes Foundation Student Night– (8/10) The Barnes Foundation, to those who aren’t familiar, is a great art gallery in Philadelphia. During the first semester of my freshman year, the gallery held a “Great Gatsby” themed night for college students, with free admission and free Sweetgreen.
Art exhibit with my class- (9/10) Sometimes, your professors will try to incorporate Philly into the syllabus, often including exhibits or talks. One of my favorites was when I went to the Asian Arts Initiative with my “(in)Visible Asian American Culture” class for their exhibit on “New Asian Futurisms.” The best thing about going with a professor is that they request funds from the department so they can pay for dinner after, and your train ticket is also covered.
Sister’s Orchestra Concert– (6/10) Again, since my family lives in Delaware, they also enjoy a close distance from Philly. My sister is a harpist for the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, so I can usually attend her biannual concerts. I attended the last one with my two roommates, who have much more appreciation for classical music than me. They loved the concert… I fell asleep.
Bus stop to NYC– (5/10) Another convenient aspect about Philly is its proximity and access to other cities, so a lot of buses and other forms of transit go out of Philly. A good friend of mine goes to a school in New York City, so last spring I took the MegaBus out of Philly straight into the city. It was super convenient and seamless. The mediocre rating is more my own fault, as I missed the bus, so I had to sit on the sidewalk until the next bus came.
Coffee and bookstore days– (8/10) Throughout my sophomore year, my schedule awarded me a classless Friday, making the opportune time to go to Philly for chill days spent perusing bookstores and exploring different coffee shops. These are my favorite days – where my friend and I would take the train in the morning, get brunch, spend the afternoon sifting through different bookstores, and frequenting DiBruno Brothers for Von Trapp Cheese and fig jam.
Friday fail– (2/10) One of these free Fridays, I went into the city with the same friend so she could get a piercing (we had been looking forward to this excursion for a week). Once we got to the parlor, they asked for her ID, which she forgot, so we went all the way to the city to get turned away. The day was semi-redeemed by us getting dim sum in Chinatown after.
Lucky Daye Concert– (10/10) There are tons of venues and concerts in Philly all around the year. During the second semester of my sophomore year my friends and I saw Lucky Daye, one of my favorite RnB artists, perform at the Fillmore. Super intimate venue and amazing artist that I recommend.
These are only a handful of my many Philly excursions during my time at Swat. The juxtaposition of the Swarthmore campus and the fast paced scene of the city provide Swat students with a compromise between suburban and urban. Even though my home in Delaware is close to Philadelphia, I look forward to taking SEPTA from Swarthmore to Suburban Station with my close friends.