Social Distancing Struggles of the Philly College Student

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It is not a stretch to say that everyone is missing life pre-pandemic, but Philly and its universities are, especially, a hub for all things social. One of our Campus Philly Contributors asked Philly college students what they miss the most about Philly and college life prior to COVID-19, and here is what they had to say!

Guest-written by Miles West

 

As much of the world steadily returns to a state of normality, college students continue to deal with the curtailed social experience that comes with virtual classes. 

Social life is a crucial factor in the decision of any prospective college student. In addition to academic prestige, the fast-paced lifestyle that comes with life in Philadelphia is what makes the city so attractive to students. The COVID-19 pandemic has unfortunately put a halt to much of the thrill that comes with city life. 

What makes the City of Brotherly Love so lovable is that it is an unmatched melting pot of cultures. Students come together in this one city where they can find themselves amongst people from all walks of life.

What more could you ask for out of your college experience? The diversity of lived experiences amongst peers enables young people to go through a trial-and-error process of self-discovery that is impossible in the majority of other cities. This process has been thoroughly diminished by the shift to remote learning. 

Due to COVID, students are struggling to socialize in awkward Zoom classes and one of the city’s most appealing qualities has been largely rendered obsolete: the dining experience. 

Ask any Philadelphian what their favorite restaurant is and I’d be shocked if you get a one-restaurant answer. The breadth of options in addition to top-tier quality ensures that students’ tastebuds will never be bored. Whether you want to expand your palette or simply go with what you know, the litany of options just makes you feel right at home.

During quarantine, I found myself missing the food trucks on Temple’s campus a great deal. A few of my favorites are Temple Teppanyaki (@templeteppanyaki on Facebook), Richie’s Lunchbox (@iloverichies) and Burger Tank. The food alone isn’t always the main attraction though—the social aspect of going out to eat is typically pivotal in building and sustaining relationships.

Whether it be breaking the ice with new roommates at the dining hall or the post-exam comfort food run, eating on campus is intertwined with carving out a social circle.

“I would say four to five times a week, pretty often,” said Temple senior, Jess Gambino (follow on Instagram @jessgambino), when asked how often she went out to eat with friends on campus prior to COVID-19.

While some restaurants on campus are inaccessible right now, Jess maintains a glass half-full outlook when it comes to her personal experiences during the pandemic. When asked what campus spot she misses eating at the most, Jess said “We live in Philly so we’ve got everything. Even though some places are closed, I think it’s pretty convenient that [my roommates and I] can still Doordash and eat together.”

Jess also mentioned Richie’s, noting her excitement once it re-opened. While food delivery helped her sustain a level of regularity, Jess noted one of the main issues with the remote learning that came with the pandemic: “I definitely do miss the actual in-person class because I feel like a lot of the classroom bonding happens in person.” 

Fellow Temple Owl, Adam Hauck (follow him @adam_hauck99) shared his classmate’s sentiment as far as the social impact of Zoom classes. Adam stated that during the pandemic he learned that Zoom is very valuable, but it doesn’t completely substitute being in the same room or same place as other people.

Drexel student, Nick Reganata (@nickreganata on Instagram), spoke fondly about grabbing food on campus with friends. Nick (who moved back home with his family once the pandemic hit) said that he went with friends to eat on campus “pretty much every night,” prior to lockdown.

He didn’t miss a beat when shouting out his favorite spot. “We have this place called Ed’s (@EdsBuffaloWingsandPizza on Facebook) and it’s our favorite pizza place. Me and my friends from campus haven’t been there in so long,” he said enthusiastically. He added, “I really just stayed home and ate whatever food we had at home,” in reference to the quarantine period. Furthermore, Nick said he missed the “freedom” of campus the most; “the ability to just go do whatever you want whenever you want—just kind of worry about yourself.” 

With one class out the door in a month’s time and another stepping into their shoes come the end of Summer, let’s hope it’s safe enough for normal life to resume. Every student smart enough to choose Philly deserves to be rewarded with the full-fledged experience that has made our city so beloved.

 

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