Living on Penn's Campus
3 April 2019
In her second blog, Marianne shares with us what it is like to live on an Ivy-league university campus and spending holidays there.
I’ve just survived my first American Thanksgiving and am returning to campus in all its ‘fall’ glory. As an exchange student, you’re most likely to end up living in one of the high-rise buildings on the West side of Campus. There you’ll be placed in apartments of 3 or 4 people and you might even get the real college experience of having a roommate. If you’re lucky enough to have a room on one of the upper floors, an early start, (or a late bed time) can afford you some amazing views over the city.
From the high rises, (Harnwell, Harrison, and my very own - Rodin) it’s a short walk along the beautiful Locust Walk to the main hub of campus. Along the way you’ll probably encounter someone trying to hand you a copy of the Daily Pennsylvanian, or sell you tickets for the latest acapella show. You’ll know you’re right at the heart of Penn when you see the iconic Love statue which draws queues of people at the ‘Golden Hour’ for a classic Penn photograph. You’ll be passing this often to get to College Green where you’ll find the steps to Van Pelt, Penn’s library.
Thankfully though, you won’t be forced to spend every waking minute of the day surrounded by books, so there’s plenty of chance to explore Philadelphia itself. You can take the Septa from campus or, if your feet are up to it, walk 25 mins into Center City. Foodies should head to Reading Terminal Market and check out all the different stalls. Be sure to find a good Philly Cheesesteak somewhere, preferably Geno’s. For a great view over the city you can head up to the viewing platform at One Liberty Observation Deck. From there you can see City Hall, Franklin’s Field (the old Eagles’ stadium which is now where Penn have their games), and the Schuylkill river. If you’re a Rocky fan you can visit the Philadelphia Museum of art where the iconic steps are, with a whole bunch of bonus paintings if you’re keen. Penn’s landing is also a great spot to go and work or relax along the Delaware river.
But even on campus there’s plenty going on to keep you entertained. Tickets to any of the home games are free for students, so you can head on down to Franklin’s field or the Palaestra for some American “football”, basketball, ice-hockey or baseball. It’s a 52,593 seat stadium so you’ll get quite an atmosphere for the big games. Back in halls you should be sure to make the most of the free ‘dinner and conversation evenings’, where professors or visiting speakers will host meals and talk about their particular field. Penn has some great alumnus connections, so these can be really interesting. Each floor in the high rises has an RA, or warden, whose primary job it is to look after you, but is also likely to give free food and take you out for outings in the city. They have a budget to spend so if you’ve got any particular thing you’re interested in you can always make suggestions and have your trip paid for by Penn! Be savvy…
So, life at Penn is busy and full, but amid all the excitement it’s also a top priority to keep safe. If you find yourself having to walk somewhere alone at night, you can call a walking escort service for free and someone will come and walk you back home. If you’re underage but someone’s in need of medical help because of drinking, the campus MERT team will come and provide assistance with full discretion. Even off campus in the local area, there are patrolling Penn Police in cars and on bikes, as well as ‘blue light’ phones which will dial straight to the Penn security team. That way, you’re guaranteed a good time and a safe time!