When you’re caught up in school life, it can be hard to remember that a world exists off campus. This gives rise to the expression “College Bubble,” which I’ve heard used at Vassar, Yale, and here, and I’m sure it’s used other places, too. I’m not a big fan of the term “Swarthmore Bubble,” because it makes it sound like Swatties don’t care about non-Swatties, which is utterly false, and most Swarthmore students at least try to stay informed about current events. That’s why the New York Times is available all over campus for free.
But the phrase does have some validity to it. There’s not a lot of time here for watching television (though I do set aside an hour a week to watch House and knit with my friend Mariah) and it can be hard to remember that there are people who aren’t as delightfully quirky as Swatties tend to be.
So what’s the cure for the bubble? It lies in one of the most frequently asked questions I’ve heard from prospective students: “How often do you get off campus?”
It can be hard to tear myself away from my campus, but I try to do so at least once a week. Usually, this takes the form of a “solitude date,” when I go into the Ville (the little town at the edge of campus inhabited primarily by senior citizens) on a Saturday morning and eat breakfast and think about my week. It’s very relaxing, and it’s nice to have some time to just think and be quiet and eat non-dining hall food.
Less often, but more excitingly, I’ll go into Philadelphia with a few friends, like I did this past Saturday. This happens at most once a month, mostly because there’s a lot to do on campus and it’s hard to find a day when all the people who want to go to Philly are free. It can also get expensive if you go too often, since roundtrip train tickets are $10. Once we’re in the city, we usually go to a museum, though I did go for Christmas shopping once, and last weekend the only purpose seemed to be obtaining Chinese food from Chinatown.
I like Philadelphia. Being the kind of timid, suburban girl I am, I find it less overwhelming than New York, which is closer to home, and it has all the culture and historic locales you could want from a city. (Or maybe I’m the only one who judges cities based on their historic worth?) Still, I’m glad my trips in aren’t all that frequent. I like being here just as much.
As much fun as it was to explore Philly on Saturday, spending Sunday hanging out in front of Parrish with Mariah and then playing a brief game of tag with her and our friends Miriam and Linda was just as much fun. Philadelphia’s not going anywhere, but we only have so long to be freshmen in the bubble.