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Hating Swarthmore, and loving it

in Columns/Opinions by
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I’m from Philadelphia. As a rule, Philadelphians hate Philadelphia. We hate that SEPTA buses always smell faintly of piss and hopelessness. We hate that our public schools are approaching Dickensian levels of dysfunction. We hate that our most iconic tourist attractions are a cracked bell that doesn’t ring right and a statue of a fictional boxer. We hate our politicians, our sports teams, Comcast, the Philadelphia Parking Authority, the School Reform Commission, Wilson Goode, South Philadelphians who save their parking spots with traffic cones, public masturbators, the “With Love, Philadelphia” tourism campaign; really we hate pretty much the whole damned city.

Yet Philadelphians are proud, aggressively, even rudely so. God help the out-of-towner who corrects our pronunciation of “wudder ice” or points out that “water ice,” even correctly pronounced, is a stupid name. Philadelphia pride largely originates from common incredulity: we know that this city should not work, and yet it does. Every day in which the earth does not swallow it up is a sort of miracle. When we hear talk about how the city’s up-and-coming, how it has a future as a Manhattan-lite metropolis, we can’t help but feel like we’re somehow swindling the world. To misquote Sarah Palin, you can put lipstick on a cheese steak, but it’s still a cheese steak.

As is the case with most identities I claim, I’m not much of a Philadelphian. I say “wadder” instead of “wudder”; I went to high school on the Main Line; I grew up hating cheese steaks and the mummers. The gritty, no-nonsense, borderline self-loathing tough Philadelphian persona I’ve assumed in the last two paragraphs is largely an affectation. Yet, inauthentic as it may be, right now my understanding of the love-hate relationship between Philadelphian and Philadelphia is crucial to my thinking through of another contentious relationship: the one between Swattie and Swarthmore.

On the surface, Swarthmore and Philadelphia don’t seem to have much in common. The college would make a good stand-in for Arcadia: richly green, sun-loved, only lightly speckled with the traces of civilization; Philadelphia, on the other hand, is Philadelphia. But if we look beyond the obvious differences—Swarthmore’s endowed billions vs. Philadelphia’s perpetual budget crisis, our insufficient enthusiasm for Yuengling—we see that there’s a fundamental similarity: in the same way that all Philadelphians hate Philadelphia, we at Swarthmore all hate the college.

Swatties’ loathing of Swarthmore can take many forms. My own loathing focuses on a few points: our cultivation of stress as a point of pride, our constant controversy mongering, and the myopic self-righteousness of our political climate. These are far from the only discontents I feel towards the college, nor are my discontents universal. What is universal among Swarthmore students, or nearly so, is a sense of dissatisfaction with the way things are done here. Since the end of the first semester of my freshman year, I don’t think I’ve gone a day on this campus without either hearing or expressing a complaint about some collegiate injustice, from the major (circa 2013: our shamefully insufficient response to campus sexual assault) to the incredibly petty (today: oh no, I didn’t show up in time to vote for commencement speaker, the senior class officers must have fixed the election, oh woe is me). Perhaps this has more to do with the student body than the college itself: we tend to be the type of people who think it’s their sacred duty to expose the unfairness of the world in new and interesting ways. But whatever its source, this displeasure is part of the core of our idea of what makes a Swathmore student.

It’s not that I don’t love the college. I am immensely grateful to have spent the last four years here. I love this place for kicking my ass, for challenging me to be a better student, a better thinker, a better person. I care deeply about the people I’ve met here, and genuinely believe that we constitute a worthwhile community—a community that at times threatens to destroy itself from the inside, but a community nonetheless. The changes that Swarthmore has wrought on my character are indelible and incalculable. But my love of Swarthmore isn’t separable from my dissatisfaction with it. The love doesn’t cancel out the dissatisfaction; it accentuates it. I can’t conceive of Swarthmore as a place of unbridled happiness. Indeed, I don’t know if I could believe in it if it wasn’t a deeply flawed place. Swarthmore teaches us to be critical; if we couldn’t turn that critical faculty back on our own home, could we really trust it?

My aim here isn’t to valorize this relationship. Love mixed with hate isn’t sexy. Most of the time, it’s abusive. But as I prepare to leave this place, this failed utopia, I can’t help but acknowledge that my feelings towards it are mired in contradiction, contradiction that I’ll never fully settle. What’s more Swattie than that?

Celebrating the cuisine of Philly women

in Campus Journal/Philly Beat by
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As most of you know by now, my favorite thing to do is restaurant hop and exploring different cuisines, and today we are going to celebrate two women who are both business and life partners and have significantly contributed to Philadelphia’s restaurant scene: Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran. 

These women are responsible for some of Philly’s most eclectic restaurants including spots like Barbuzzo, Little Nonna’s and Lolita. Although slightly on the pricier side, all three of these restaurants will allow for a gastronomical experience that will showcase the intricate flavors mastered by Turney. Safran handles front-of-house, and Turney masterminds their menus. These two have helped transform their once isolated neighborhood into one that is vibrant and chic.

 

Barbuzzo:

Barbuzzo is a Mediterranean kitchen and bar, and definitely one of my favorite restaurants in Philadelphia. The restaurant is relatively small, but has a great ambiance, and is not overcrowded. You can choose to sit on a table or at the kitchen bar where you can see the chef prepare your meal. I would highly recommend the pan seared gnocchi and the and the sheep’s milk ricotta, which I’ve ordered twice now and is one of my favorite dishes.The food is well paired, as the ricotta is served with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and crispy bread, which go well with the creamy and rich cheese. Barbuzzo is also known for its famous Budino dessert that is tasty but incredibly rich. I do not have an incredible sweet tooth, but for dessert-lovers, it is a fantastic option.

Little Nonna’s

To eat at Little Nonna’s, you must make a reservation ahead of time otherwise you may get a shared table, or get turned away entirely. They have a decent lunch tasting menu – 3 items (appetizer, entree, and dessert) for $20 – essentially a restaurant week special all year long. The restaurant is cozy and charming, with rustic ornaments and European teacups as decorations. It’s perfect for a romantic dinner or intimate meal with close friends. Like at Barbuzzo, sitting at the counter allows you to watch the chefs perform their magic. Everything looks delicious and it is tempting to order much more than you can actually eat. Again, the pan seared gnocchi is a huge hit, along with the stracciatella, meatballs and lasagna.

Lolita

This restaurant is number one on my bucket list for places to eat in Philadelphia. Delicious dishes inspired by Mexican street food paired with reasonably priced drinks, though in a tight space seated very close to other people. The cucumber jalapeno margarita is a huge hit, and for dessert the Tres leches cake seems to be a good option. I have walked past Lolita a number of times, and forever seems full but with a great vibe. The location is prime and their menu seems ideal: varied yet not too large so that you are lost with what to order. It seems like the chefs dip, tostadas and tacos are quite popular dishes, but the whole menu is so appealing that I feel like whatever you are in the mood for should be a good option.

 

Living the alt music dream at olde club

in Campus Journal/Columns/Swassip Girl by
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I grew up in Miami, Florida. The music scene, if you can even call it that, is uninspired. Nothing in Miami exists that is analogous to the underground house show scenes of Philly or Brooklyn or Portland or some other hip American breeding ground. A dismal public transportation system demands dependence on personal vehicles (so lame!) and honestly, I can’t really conceive of an area in Miami dingy and indie-cool enough to support a hypothetical music culture. So, with no means of travelling to music venues that don’t exist, I was robbed during my upbringing of any opportunity to stand in dark rooms and nod my head along to skinny guys playing the guitar. So in my high school days, I reassured myself that college, for sure, would be rife with head-nodding opportunities.

Obviously, I’m in college now, but unfortunately, I’m far less interested than I was in high school in being someone who cares about local bands. The entire city of Philadelphia (the best punk rock scene in America, says Vice) is at my disposal, but last night I was too lazy to even plug in my phone to keep listening to Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams” on repeat. I’d be really hard pressed to actually leave campus in search of DIY basement shows and PBR-sipping camaraderie. Luckily, however, my indifference to seeking out bands has been a matter of little importance — Olde Club brings live music to me anyway.

Swarthmore’s Olde Club, an all-purpose space located in what used to be a frat house, functions most regularly as an intimate music venue for Swattie and non-Swattie performers alike. The space is ideal: its narrow room, dark floors, and vague patina of dirt lend themselves easily to the facilitation of a cozy moodiness, perfect for toe-tapping, chitchatting, headbanging, swaying, or whatever else it is people do to music these days. The main room is sparse but for a stage usually covered in cables and monitor speakers and cute people holding instruments. The only wall adornment besides some drafty windows is a hyperactive flashing light grid thing that distracts me when I’m drunk. The staircase creaks, the bathroom sink sprays water everywhere, and the basement is boarded up, but Olde Club feels worn-in, not run-down. Nestled into the well-groomed bastion of academia that is Swarthmore College, Olde Club stands as a testament to the clumsy, the sweaty, the loud.

While upperclassmen love to tell me Olde Club “used to be so cool” before the 2014 alcohol and party policy changes, before the renovations and the sealing off of the fabled basement, I have no barometer besides my own enjoyment for what makes a music space cool to begin with. Prior to college, I’d never been to a venue smaller than The Fillmore Miami Beach — a big, bureaucratic, 3000-seat theater with plush chairs and chandeliers where I once saw Vampire Weekend in ninth grade and hated it because people kept squishing me in the pit. While I get the sense that people more deeply entrenched than myself in the classification of “cool” and “uncool” music venues might be less interested in playing a dinky stage for a meager-ish audience of kids destined for grad school, Olde Club is the closest I get to my high school-era hipster daydream.

Though the policy changes and interior renovations were certainly speed bumps last year, students have been working hard this fall to revive some of Olde Club’s lost energy. So far this year, Olde Club has already hosted two student band performances, an open mic, and most recently, a line-up of non-Swattie acts: Joy Again, Shakai Mondai, and Furnsss. A WSRN Hip Hop Showcase is set for this upcoming Friday and the rap duo EarthGang is slated to perform the Saturday after. In addition to stage performances, the space has been used for parties thrown by student organizations: RnM, SASS, SOLIS, and SQU just this semester. Unlike the beer-sticky darkness of the frats, and the cutesy dance party tone of Paces, Olde Club boasts a coolness and versatility that allows a variety student efforts to, both literally and figuratively, take center stage.

Honey Pickup, Modern Rhombus, Altair, and SIDENAIL make up the bulk of the college’s music scene and gave strong performances at both student band shows this fall. While any of our bands, by my assessment, could hold their own on some off-campus stage, part of Olde Club’s appeal, I think, is that the band members are so often familiar faces. My extended friend group crowds near the front to, duh, listen to some sick tunes, but also to dance in support of our other friends on stage. Olde Club gives me the space to simultaneously be both the alt music dream girl I never could be in Miami and a proud Swattie who gets psyched about watching her schoolmates kill it on stage.

The low-key cigarettes-and-standing-around vibe of an Olde Club show offers a very different scene from the frats or Pub Nite. Instead of bracing myself for a high energy night of Top-40 tunes and bearing witness to dance floor make outs, I can feel assured that enjoying Olde Club will require little of me. I can socialize outside by the WRC, mosh by the stage, or stand alone and stare at the performance. The mood changes with the genre of  music, with the ebb and flow of the audience, with the steady intake of beer. After chitchatting with friends about the bands’ sets, the night usually ends for me with a mild buzz and pizza delivery. While Olde Club’s edgy talent show feel only inches me slightly closer to the local music connoisseurship I dreamed about, I’m always looking forward to its next event.

 

Eating green and dancing quietly in Philadelphia

in Columns/Philly Beat by
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Philadelphia and creativity are inextricably bound. After moving to the U.S. from Dubai, my greatest appreciation for Philadelphia was its quirky character, distinguished by the immense creativity that seems to reign all over the city. For example, The Magic Gardens, where household items are put together to form a stunning, intricate outdoor art installation, perfectly illustrates Philly’s unique spirit. From vintage thrift stores to South Street to Fishtown, creativity in Philadelphia is so abundant that it makes it hard to narrow it down to just a few recommendations. I am going to explore three very different examples of thrilling experiences you can have in Philly, including a unique, eco-friendly and vegan restaurant known as HipCityVeg, a great night out as a silent disco where you are able to pick your own music or have a conversation at any time you choose, and last, an ‘Art After 5’ cabaret, dinner, and drinks hosted by Philadelphia’s very own Museum of Art.

Many of Philadelphia’s restaurants have creative conceptual foundations, and HipCityVeg is certainly one of them. Personally, I have never been a huge fan of veggies and greens, and I seldom go a meal without eating meat. Coming from a family of huge ‘foodies’, I had always assumed that vegan food would be bland and lack the vibrant flavors that I had grown to thoroughly enjoy. So, as you can imagine, when a friend dragged me along to HipCityVeg, I wasn’t too thrilled. But to my surprise, it has become one of my favorite places to eat, and has impressed me more consistently than many other restaurants I have tried. The menu includes dynamic flavors in a fast-food style setting, and the creation of the flavorful dishes challenged my misconceptions about vegan food. I definitely recommend the Buffalo Bella along with the sweet potato fries and the arugula taco salad. The Buffalo Bella is rich and flavorful with a giant portobello mushroom that is crisp yet soft on the inside, and is perfect paired with the sweet potato fries that are a HipCityVeg signature, which improve almost any dish. The arugula taco salad is an excellent combination of a light, healthy yet delicious and satisfying lunch. I personally love to ask the people who work at HipCityVeg what their recommendations are, and they never disappoint.

 Located in University City and Rittenhouse Square, HipCityVeg has a plant based and eco-friendly philosophy unlike any other. As their website notes, HipCityVeg is “about health and compassion for living things and the earth, but the food is about tasting good. It’s as simple as that.” They do their deliveries by bicycle, are 100% plant based, compost all packaging and kitchen scraps, and the interior of the restaurant is composed of energy efficient and recycled materials. I would recommend the Groothie specifically for a detox or for its health benefits, but realistically, I would eat here at any time of the year — on and off a diet.

After a great meal at HipCityVeg or really anywhere in Philly, a night out away from the typical Swat social scene can be much needed. The problem is that at any party or club, everyone at some point experiences two things: 1) you are not a fan of the current song playing, and 2) you would like to have a conversation with someone, but this proves to be close to impossible over the blaring music. Those two scenarios are a little too familiar to most of us, and at a Silent Disco both of these issues are overcome.  Besides this, the Silent Disco provides a club experience like no other, and it’s worth trying at least once.

The concept of the Silent Disco is simple, yet genius. When you walk into the Silent Disco they hand you a pair of wireless headphones, and have three different DJ’s playing at the same time. You simply press a button on your headphones that light up blue, green, or red — each featuring a different DJ. Walking into this silent disco is somewhat bizarre, as you walk into an almost silent room, and still witness people dancing the night away, with the singing entirely out-of-sync as each person chooses to sing along to their favorite channel. Meeting someone new and getting to know them in a loud environment is always hard, but here you just take off the headphones and engage. If the conversation dies out or becomes relatively awkward (don’t worry, I got you covered, Swatties), then simply put the headphones back on and zone out back into your happy place. Tickets for upcoming events can be found on silentphilly.com

In my last piece, I briefly wrote about the Philadelphia Museum of Art and their pay-as-you-go option. The museum happens to be even more versatile than you probably thought. Rather than solely engaging in the everyday self or guided tours, visitors to the Museum of Art on Friday evenings can attend an event called “Art After 5.” From five to around nine every Friday evening, the Great Stair Hall becomes a unique cabaret, featuring different artists, music, and themes every weekend. Enjoy the live entertainment and the light food options available as well as the bar. Admission to the “Art After 5” performances and even guided tours are free during this time after you pay the standard museum admission. Admire the art on the walls along with art performances by some of the most creative minds. Upcoming events include Diwali Party, Holiday Jazz, Hanukkah Party, and Feliz Navidad. Stop by any of these events for a guaranteed great time! Philly has so much creativity to offer, much more than I could possibly cover in this column, but HipCityVeg, the Silent Disco, and Art After 5 are definitely three of my favorite unique go-to spots.

Going beyond Google Maps and Yelp to explore Philly

in Campus Journal/Columns/Philly Beat by
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It is unbelievable how quickly technology develops for our convenience, making travel faster, cheaper, and more enjoyable. Think about it —  when was the last time you went somewhere and had to carry a map? iPhone and Android apps such as Google Maps, Opentable, Yelp, Uber, Lyft, and Expedia have made our travels significantly more efficient, putting all this information at our fingertips.

Out of every travel-enhancing app I have ever used, Citymapper is definitely the most informative, helping users to navigate major cities as efficiently as possible. Type in a starting point and a final destination, and Citymapper will compile all the different routes using public transportation (usually between 7 and 8), a car or cab, biking and walking. The app will then give a relatively accurate approximation of the time, distance, and even how many calories you would burn through each form of transportation. In my own Citymapper experience, I have rarely found inaccurate data or an estimate more than a few minutes off the approximated value.

Two weeks ago on a pleasant day in Philly, the thought of biking around the city was incredibly appealing. Through my exact location, Citymapper was able to determine the closest station for bike rentals (Bike Share), the number of bikes available at the respective station, as well as the closest bike parking station to my destination. Once I had finished exploring the city on the bike, I put in Swarthmore as my destination, and Citymapper proceeded to tell me the weather there. It seems that Citymapper is a transport app unlike any other, functioning on all forms of transportation, taking all instances into account such as weather, traffic, and road blocks. Available in 29 cities throughout the USA as well as internationally, Citymapper allows you to maximize your time exploring cities by recommending the most efficient and enjoyable travel methods.

With Swarthmore’s small student body, finding people who actually grew up in Philadelphia can prove challenging, especially when in need of a good recommendation. If suggestions from others do not seem appealing or you are looking for something more specific, Yelp is the way to go. Whatever you need —  from a shoe-repair shop to the closest frozen yogurt joint, Yelp will give you an overall customer star rating for each locale, the exact distance in miles, hours of operation, and customer reviews. Although Yelp can be used for almost anything, its most prominent use seems to be for dining services. For all of you foodies out there, Yelp will give you lists and categories of absolutely any type of cuisine: from the top 10 Mexican restaurants to the best cheap dinner options in Philadelphia. I definitely recommend exploring the latter, they all have amazing reviews and the ones I have tried have far exceeded expectations.

Again for the foodies, Eater should be permanently bookmarked for the duration of your time in the Philadelphia area. With articles such as ‘Epic Philly Sandwiches to Eat Before You Die’, ‘Philly Cheap Eats 2015’ and ‘The 38 Essential Philadelphia Restaurants,’ Eater features reviews and recommendations by some of Philly’s best critics. Currently my favorite app, Eater has a mapping option that will pull up a series of pinpoints around your location, specific to what you are looking for, whether that’s just a sandwich or the best french fries in the city

Last week when heading out for fall break, I found myself around 30th Street Station significantly earlier than I needed to be. It was around brunch time, and using Eater’s map of ‘The 13 Hottest Brunches in Philly,’ I found a highly recommended place in the area called ‘Tria Fitler Square’. Eater’s synopsis included a recommendation of brioche french toast with candied hazelnut butter which ended up being a gastronomical experience beyond my expectations. The convenience of the maps as well as the quality of recommendations from true Philadelphia natives will give you an experience far above par, with incredible restaurants that otherwise may have escaped your knowledge. Make the most of your time anywhere in Philadelphia with Citymapper and simultaneously satisfy your culinary cravings using Eater Philly. Download both of these apps and venture out into the city for an incredible outing!

Philly on a Budget

in Campus Journal/Columns/Philly Beat by
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Ever feel like you would love to go explore Philly but do not want to spend money? Ever feel like you want to eat the closest thing to a home-cooked meal or even try something new?

There is an insurmountable number of things to do and places to explore at little to no cost. Enjoy a full day out in Philadelphia for under $20 — after all, walking around and exploring the city is completely free! In this piece I will be writing about an entire day outing in two different budgets, under $20 and $20-$40. I will be using a combination of some of my favorite places to go, along with recommendations I have received from others.

 

Unfortunately, transport is the one inescapable cost. For a full day out, get the SEPTA independence pass for $12, and use it all day for any public transportation to travel around the city. Over the last few weeks, Lyft has had an ongoing promotion of 50 percent off on weekdays, and Friday is the perfect day to go out since not much happens around Swarthmore. Split the Lyft between four people and it ends up costing around $3.50-$4 per person one way. Rent a Zipcar at an hourly price, or maybe you are lucky to have an awesome friend with a car on campus!

Under $20

One of my absolute favorite places to go for a relaxed afternoon is Spruce Street Harbor Park. Situated right on Penn’s Landing beside the Delaware River, the park has hammocks all over the place and an amazing view. Lie down on the hammocks with a few friends, enjoy the fresh air and take in the sun’s rays before this weather leaves us. Take a picnic blanket and a few snacks and really enjoy the area. The hammocks are located right in front of a marina on the river, where you can rent kayaks, paddle boats shaped like swans and more. Rent a 5 person rowing boat for $5 for half an hour, only $1 per person. Take turns rowing as you catch up with friends and get to know them outside of the swat bubble. I would definitely recommend making the most of this while the weather is still sunny. Get up and walk by the roller skating rink that turns into an ice skating rink by the end of November, and either join in on the fun or just enjoy the ambiance of other families and festive decorations around the rink, situated right by the water.

Next, head out to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I would suggest going on Wednesday evenings after 5 or on the first Sunday of every month to take advantage of their “pay what you  wish” hours. Admire paintings by Picasso, local folk pieces, modern art and even a Japanese tea room. There is so much to see and admire that you can easily spend many hours at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

My personal favorite place to eat is a Middle Eastern restaurant and lounge in University City called Aloosh. They have a deal where four appetizers cost only $20, and provide more than enough food to split between two people. Aloosh has a range of Middle Eastern dishes and food that can be enjoyed for under $20, along with a great atmosphere, a varied soundtrack and bellydancers on weekends. The decor in the restaurant is very cozy and yet very cultural, with a fun atmosphere and a relatively young crowd. A group of around 20 Swatties who were on campus early this fall went to Aloosh and absolutely loved it — Highly recommended.

$20-$40

For all the other Asian-fusion food lovers out there, Philly has an abundance of amazing Asian-fusion places. Han Dynasty and Aki are two of my favorite places to go. Han Dynasty is more laid-back and casual, with great food and a location in the heart of University City that is  constantly packed with college students. Aki is a Japanese-fusion restaurant that can be ordered a la carte or as an all-you-can-eat sushi menu with over 100 dishes to order for $26.95 per person. Pick either one of those two for lunch or dinner; they will definitely not disappoint.

After lunch, head to the current number one on my Philly bucket list: Escape the Room. It is an interactive game and a mystery puzzle that takes place in one room with ten people, and the objective is to work together, using clues to solve the mystery and escape! You have 60 minutes to use everything you have learned about attention to detail, reading between the lines and using your creative side — all things that Swarthmore emphasizes, so hopefully you have no trouble escaping. Escape the room has two options: ‘The Office’ and ‘The Dig,’ both for $28 and with a maximum of 10 people.

 

To top off your exhilarating Escape the Room experience, head to Capogiro’s for what has been rated the best gelato in the world — a delicious dessert just under $5.

 

It is easy to feel confined to the Swarthmore campus to save money, but the experiences and subsequent growth as a person through new experiences is incomparable, and worth every trip into a new place or city. Feel free to reach out to me for any other recommendations on a budget!

 

 

Finding comfort and adventure in Philly

in Campus Journal/Columns/Philly Beat by
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Geographically, I like to believe that Swarthmore is the best of both worlds —  the serene beauty of the gorgeous arboretum and the proximity of several major cities. As we are all aware, Swarthmore’s population is home to a plethora of backgrounds, too. It is home to people who have grown up eating different foods, celebrating different cultures, and engaging in a multitude of activities that the “Swat bubble” is unable to fully provide. Many of us have grown up in large cities, and miss the sense of dynamism the city exudes, and sometimes we forget that in our own vicinity there are so many places to go and things to see — that surprisingly make us feel completely at home.

I am a Kenyan national, with South Asian roots, and spent my whole life growing up in Dubai. I chose to write this column because Swarthmore’s proximity really aided my transition to college. It surprised me that when I first got to campus as a freshman and asked a few others around me what they would recommend in the area, there were little to no responses. I took the initiative and spent a significant portion of my first year exploring the region, dragging friends along with me, whether it was to a South Asian restaurant that provided me with the closest thing I would get to a home cooked meal, or finding a Middle Eastern restaurant or lounge that culturally made me feel like I was back in Dubai for the night. Along the way, we found some incredible hole-in-the-wall restaurants, karaoke lounges, salsa bars and more. Whatever we wanted to do or try was right there, we just had to find it.

Aside from offering a sense of homelike comfort — wherever that may be — the cities around us have so much more to offer: the incredible cosmopolitanism, people, restaurants, scenic views, parks and much more. Venture out and meet other students from neighboring colleges and universities through a mutual interest, and create new experiences. Explore and cross something off your bucket list. I truly believe that new experiences instill a new sense of appreciation for life, the things we enjoy, and a never-ending curiosity for everything we have yet to see and do. Ultimately, these experiences will affect the way in which we view and understand things. I urge all Swarthmore students to escape the somewhat repetitive social scene once in awhile, try something new, and explore the area around us. We are incredibly fortunate to be in the northeast, and it is up to us to really make the most of where we are.

After exploring and ultimately falling in love with the region, I am now taking it upon myself to recommend a few places to go around the area. I will be writing about restaurants, concerts, activities, events, museums, parks, historic monuments, and even some networking events. Many of these will be some of my personal favorites, along with recommendations given to me by others.
It is tough transitioning to a new ‘home’, but the little things you can do by getting off campus can keep you connected to your home and culture, as well as expose you to new ones. Get together with friends and go out and enjoy a meal that one of you misses eating at home, or engage in an activity you have always wanted to try. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and travel around, whether it is a mere 15 minutes into Philadelphia or further. Even travel itself provides time to think and observe new things such as culture, food, and history, ultimately giving rise to an incredibly enriching experience.

 

Philly shuttle should be reinstated

in Opinions/Staff Editorials by
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When the Office of Student Engagement was pitched to the campus last year, The Phoenix was told that one of its main goals would be to break “The Bubble” — scare quotes courtesy of Mike Elias — by making the city more accessible to us. We suggest that the college bring back the Philly shuttle as a way to accomplish this goal.

Last year, the Phoenix wrote an editorial calling for the shuttle’s return, but little has changed except for the suspension of train service to the city on weekends for the remainder of the semester. In many respects, Swarthmore does not think holistically about the student experience — the college doesn’t pay enough attention to things that fall outside of academics; the state of Dining Services proves the administration believes good food is, at best, tangentially related to a happy college experience — so we are glad that overtures of consideration have been made. But when Rachel Head says, “We’re here to support all students,” we can’t help but feel the gap between intention and reality.

The college emphasizes the closeness of Philly as a bonus to coming here, but how are we supposed to get to Philly? The SEPTA lottery is insufficient. Although it is good that tickets are free this year, they have not always been free — and they number too few. The majority of students who enter the lottery get no tickets, and the $12 round-trip fare to Philly is a significant cost to many.

For those who want to stay in Philly past midnight on weekdays or past eleven on weekends, SEPTA is useless. That we have Zipcar on campus is good; it allows circumvention of that time restraint — but even disregarding the initial cost of registration, the per hour cost of Zipcar is greater than that of the train after only two hours. Zipcar is definitely not for everyone.

The college should bring back the Philly shuttle as a way for those who otherwise can’t get into the city to explore one of our advertised attractions. Recently, we have noticed a marked improvement in the running of the vans and, accordingly, we believe that if the same attention were paid to a Philly shuttle as is paid to the Target shuttle, it would become a very popular method for students to enter the city.

Were the shuttle to run with more frequency than the train and later, we could finally have better access to Philly than Haverford students.

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