November 17, 2020 | ,

We Still Love You, Philly: Stories from Near and Far

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COVID-19 has flipped everyone’s lives upside down. For many students, typical college experiences slipped away as schools transitioned to remote learning. Some students returned to their campuses, while others didn’t. This semester is truly like no other! 

Hi! I’m Yael Eiben, and I’ve been working with Campus Philly as their Marketing Intern for the Fall 2020 semester. As a chemistry major at Bryn Mawr College, this internship was a completely new experience for me—I had never done anything remotely related to marketing before this fall! From learning new skills to connecting with so many wonderful people, I enjoyed every moment of my experience as a member of the Campus Philly team. 

I had the privilege to connect with a group of students across schools in the Philadelphia area to hear about why they love Philly and how COVID-19 has shifted their experiences in the city! Virtually working with each of these students throughout the fall semester and having the opportunity to hear so many different Philly stories has been a blast, and I can’t wait to share them with you!

Yael Eiben (yes, we’re starting with me!)

Bryn Mawr College ’23 | @yaeleiben

What do you love about Philly?

I love that there is so much possibility in Philly! The city does an amazing job of supporting students—from jumpstarting their careers to having a fun weekend with friends—and there’s always something new to do. There’s no way to get bored in Philly! Seasonal events like Winter at Dilworth Park are so much fun, and there are similar events to look forward to throughout the city all year long.

What do you miss about Philly this semester?

I miss my spontaneous day trips into the city! Last semester, I used to take the SEPTA into Center City every Saturday. I never had a plan—I would just walk around and see where the day took me, and I would always discover something or some place I had never seen before. I miss having the ability to do this and let the city streets carry me away! 

How has COVID impacted your life in Philly?

To prevent possible exposure to COVID and protect our campus community, Bryn Mawr College has limited student travel off-campus to essential trips only. Trips to Philly are not included in essential travel, so I haven’t been to the city since before we were sent home last semester. I miss the city so much and am aching for the day to return!

What is one thing other students should experience in Philly and why?

Students should experience a “Friday Night” event at the Philadelphia Museum of Art! Essentially, the museum is open later into the evening, and there is usually live music or some performance to accompany the event. A plus for students: the event is free for those 18 and under, and admission is otherwise discounted for students over 18 as well! This photo of me was taken on the steps inside the Museum at one of these events. Sometimes the events are themed as “Friday Night Remixes,” too. I attended a Remix last winter (pre-COVID) that featured a futuristic theme and more activities going on throughout the museum. The Philadelphia Museum of Art already offers an extensive collection of art, but these events enhance the experience by making it more interactive! 

Lili May Muntean

Haverford College ’23 | @lilimaymuntean

What do you love about Philly?

I have lived in Philly my whole life, and I think it’s a very genuine city that’s always full of exciting surprises!

What do you miss about Philly this semester?

I really miss being able to take my friends for walks around Center City to explore new restaurants, shops, and museums. 

How has COVID impacted your life in Philly?

Since Haverford College is outside of the city, we have all been limiting our trips to Philly. This is key to keeping our community safe, but not having as many options for classes or entertainment has been difficult. 

What is one thing other students should experience in Philly and why?

I think everyone should experience having a picnic in Rittenhouse Square. It’s a COVID-safe activity that is still lots of fun, and it lets you enjoy one of the most scenic parks in Philly!

Zack Ballard

La Salle University ’21 | @zachary07

What do you love about Philly?

I love how there is something for everyone in Philly—it’s hard to be bored in this city!

What do you miss about Philly this semester? 

In previous semesters, my friends and I would just jump on the subway and not have a plan! This semester, we can’t really do that because restaurants and attractions require reservations that need to be made days in advance. It’s the spontaneous city trips that I miss the most!

How has COVID impacted your life in Philly? 

COVID has changed my college experience a lot. College is more than just what we learn in class, and being fully virtual again this semester I am missing out on those things. We had to get creative with the things we do and also how we stay connected with friends! 

What is one thing other students should experience in Philly and why? 

One thing everyone should have a chance to experience in Philly is the $15 student deal for Phillies games! I have so many great memories there with my friends.

Taylor Stokes

Saint Joseph’s University ‘22 | @tay_sydney

What do you love about Philly?

I love seeing how much we come together. We are a community of love, passion, and power! We come together in a time of need, show our city so much love and are very loyal to it. 

What do you miss about Philly this semester?

I miss being able to be in large gatherings as a city; Made in America is one of my favorite events to go to, and it was hard to have a year without it! I also miss going to Reading Terminal Market with my orientation group. We usually go to the city every year and take the students throughout the city, especially to Reading Terminal Market, and I miss that most of all! COVID has impacted my life in numerous ways. Students have had their whole lives flipped upside down, and this is definitely not how I saw my undergraduate years going. I think Philly is doing the best it can to provide activities to do like drive-in movies, ice skating, and outdoor eating!

How has COVID impacted your life in Philly?

The city stills want to provide people with ways to safely have a good time, but COVID cases are at an all-time high in Philadelphia. Let’s hope the city doesn’t shut back down!

What is one thing other students should experience in Philly and why?

Other students should explore the communities they occupy (like West Philadelphia, North Philadelphia, or University City), and learn more about the rich history and culture of the true Philadelphia: the true non-commercialized Philadelphia, where the best cheesesteaks are from local corner stores. You will meet the best people, hear the best stories, and learn about the city that a lot of people love so much!

Ramya Mamidi

Temple University ’22 | @ramya.mamidi

What do you love about Philly?

Honestly Philly has given me so much! It’s given me the amazing college life I have right now most of all.

What do you miss about Philly this semester? 

Since the majority of classes are online due to COVID, I miss going to campus and being able to talk with my fellow students.

How has COVID impacted your life in Philly? 

I do research at a Radiology Lab at HUPS, and COVID has especially made it hard for us to conduct the necessary research we need.

What is one thing other students should experience in Philly and why? 

I highly recommend that other students really just have random days where they go out into the city and see where the day takes them! There is so much to do, and sometimes the best experiences come unplanned.

Victoria Gruen Farías

Drexel University ‘23 | @vicgruen

What do you love about Philly?

I love cities; they are full of life! I knew I needed to go to school in a city. I love Philadelphia because it has history, culture, and amazing restaurants. 

What do you miss about Philly this semester?

I miss many things this semester. I miss walking to my classes and seeing my classmates’ faces. I miss taking the subway with my roommates into the city and seeing where the day would take us. 

How has COVID impacted your life in Philly?

COVID has made us all adapt to a new lifestyle. Personally, it’s changed my college experience. Drexel has been closed since March, and all classes are online. I miss in-person classes and meeting new people easily. It will hopefully be back, but for now, we need to stay safe and wear our masks!

What is one thing other students should experience in Philly and why?

I think students should visit museums, learn about historical sites, go to basketball games, watch musicals, walk along the river or in Center City, and try new restaurants! The list keeps going, with so much to do (as long as COVID restrictions permit).

Ryan Matsumoto

Widener University ‘21 | @rmats415

What do you love about Philly?

I love Philly because it’s a great place to hang out with your friends as well as a great place to get good food! The city has a lot of history which makes it very interesting.

How has COVID impacted your life in Philly? 

COVID impacted me by not letting me travel into the city as much as I used to.

What is one thing other students should experience in Philly and why? 

Students should explore the city and just experience life in Philly!

Jess Caamp

Temple University ’23 | @jessicaxcaamp

What do you love about Philly?

I love that Philly has such a wide variety of things to offer. There’s so much to explore and always something exciting to do, whether it be finding a good spot to eat or checking out the city’s landmarks! 

What do you miss about Philly this semester? 

This semester I miss going out with my friends and meeting new people. I haven’t gotten to know many new people since school is online. I really miss going around different parts of the city all the time and finding new restaurants, stores, and cool spots to check out!

How has COVID impacted your life in Philly? 

With the pandemic going on, I am definitely more cautious of everything whenever I leave my house. I always am wearing a mask, trying to keep a distance from others, and am constantly sanitizing my hands. My roommates and I haven’t been going out to our friends’ houses or going around the city as much as we used to and have been staying in at our house instead. Outside of my core friend group, I haven’t gotten the chance to hang out with others as much. 

What is one thing other students should experience in Philly and why? 

Students in Philly should definitely experience Reading Terminal Market. There is such a great variety of delicious food from so many different cultures! It’s definitely worth taking multiple trips there to try out the different foods and restaurants. Plus, it’s always good to support local small businesses!

Rachel Neff

East Stroudsburg University ‘21 | @rach_neff

 

 

What do you love about Philly?

One of my favorite things about Philly is the atmosphere! The people and their energy is contagious, and it makes me feel so happy every time I step out into the city.

What do you miss about Philly this semester? 

I actually live in Philly, so I guess I miss all of the things I used to do. I loved going to Phillies games, so it was a little weird watching from home and not at Citizens Bank Park.

What is one thing other students should experience in Philly and why? 

Students in Philly should definitely go check out WonderSpaces in the Fashion District. It’s such a cool collaboration between art and science, (and that’s where this photo is from!).

Joey Ucci 

Drexel University ’21 | @joeyucci

What do you love about Philly?

I love Philly because of its mix of culture and people. By having so many unique perspectives and backgrounds, Philly has so many cool restaurants with amazing food and shops that sell unique things you can’t get anywhere else! Every neighborhood in Philly has a different vibe, which I absolutely love. Our city is so easy to navigate between SEPTA public transit and being able to walk almost anywhere within an hour! We are so close to other major cities like Baltimore, D.C., and New York City, and have 30th Street Station that make it easy to visit other places, too. People underestimate Philly’s power, but I really do love this city so much!

What do you miss about Philly this semester? 

One of my favorite things about Philly is exploring Center City neighborhoods, checking out new happy hours at restaurants, and going to outdoor markets! With being back home in New Jersey, I miss it so much. Rittenhouse Market, every weekend, and Italian Market, every day, are some of my favorite spots in the city. Local vendors sell produce, plants, and other cool things at good prices. Happy hours are my favorite because I can try tons of new places, while saving some money with their deals. I used to meet up with friends after our internships in the city, and it was always a good time! Some of my faves are Mission Taqueria and Sampan.

How has COVID impacted your life in Philly? 

As someone who really loves going to college in Philadelphia and being able to do so much within a short walk, COVID-19 lock downs hit me hard. I have been a resident assistant at Drexel for the past 3 years and have lived in university residence halls, so when my school announced that the Fall 2020 quarter would be moving fully online and no one was to move on campus, I had to move back home into the suburbs of New Jersey. I miss being on campus, seeing my friends and professors, and getting involved with different events and organizations!

What is one thing other students should experience in Philly and why? 

The one thing that I think everyone needs to do in Philly is experience the history side of our city in Old City and around Independence Mall. A lot of people who live in Philly never actually go to the Constitution Center or visit the Liberty Bell, usually because they are so used to living here that they just never think of it! I finally took the time about a year ago to do some tours, and it made me love our city even more. Besides the historic monuments and museums in Old City, there are so many local small businesses, like clothing stores, cafes, galleries, and restaurants that you can stop by! I love the traditional vibes of Old City.

Maya Rahman

Temple University ’21 | @17mrahman

What do you love about Philly?

I love walking around and being able to soak up the city. It’s not New York City, it’s not Los Angeles… it has its own vibe to it! Philly feels so much smaller and you’ll bump into people you’ve seen before. I was in the art museum and saw a grad student who works in my lab. Or I’ll be walking on Samson and see someone I studied abroad with. One time I was walking home and saw my friend who I hadn’t seen in 3 years! Philly is just perfect for meeting people. 

What do you miss about Philly this semester? 

I miss my friends! My friend Smana would call me at midnight and then we’d bake scones or cookies. I never felt lonely when I was surrounded by people I love!

How has COVID impacted your life in Philly? 

I moved home for the semester! Subleasing was a hassle and just no one knows what’s happening. I think it’s really disappointing that people aren’t taking COVID-19 seriously. What do we need to do to show how dangerous this is? I don’t want it to be too late before people realize how harmful it is. 

What is one thing other students should experience in Philly and why? 

You should volunteer in the city! In my internship, I worked specifically with elementary students in Catholic schools. The students were intelligent, kind, and hilarious. My students said everything on their minds, and I loved it.

Derek Nhieu 

University of Pennsylvania ’23 | @nhieuandimproved

What do you love about Philly?

One of my favorite things about Philly is that it is small enough to feel cozy, yet large enough never to get old! There is just so much to do in the city, but it is also manageable and not overwhelming. Philly also has so much history associated with it, and it holds a special place in the heart of residents. People who live in Philly are proud to be from Philly, and that’s something I love, too!

What do you miss about Philly this semester? 

Something I miss about Philly this semester is that I’m not able to go out and explore as much due to COVID! Even when I am out, things just feel much different. The city doesn’t feel as alive and vibrant as it usually does.

How has COVID impacted your life in Philly? 

COVID has impacted my life in Philly in many ways. I live off-campus from my university at the moment, and I’ve noticed that I don’t go out as much or interact with many people anymore! I just keep to myself for the most part, and I feel less social and wearier.

What is one thing other students should experience in Philly and why? 

The main thing other students should experience in Philly is most definitely the food! I am a big foodie, and Philly is one of the best cities to be in for that. The food is absolutely phenomenal, and you have so many options to choose from. You need to try everything at least once!

Kamryn Delaney 

Drexel University ’23 | @kamryn_delaney

What do you love about Philly?

Philly is such a diverse and upbeat city; I was never bored when I was in Philly. There is always something to be doing or someone new to meet! 

What do you miss about Philly this semester? 

I really miss being able to go around the city and discover new things! There is always something to do and so many different areas to explore. I also miss the fast pace of living in the city. But most of all I just miss my friends. 

How has COVID impacted your life in Philly? 

COVID ended up closing Drexel’s campus. Drexel made that decision about a month before we were supposed to return to campus. While I appreciate their caution, it has really altered the way students are able to learn. I have found that the quality of education is very different. It has also caused me to stay home for the term, which has been hard since a lot of my other friends from home went back to their college campuses. Even though it’s been hard, I would rather be safe than get COVID!

What is one thing other students should experience in Philly and why? 

One thing I think everyone needs to experience in Philly are the restaurants. My favorite thing to do on the weekends is going around to different areas of the city and trying new foods! Two standout places that are a must-try are Reading Terminal Market and Mac Mart in Center City.

We hope that these student stories gave you a glimpse into the new normal in Philly, from both near and far. No matter where you are in the world, Philly is waiting for you to return. We can’t wait to welcome you back to the city whenever it’s safe to do so! 

Until then, stay virtually connected with us and the Campus Philly community!

Stay up-to-date on the latest student events, deals, and ideas this semester.