Philly has often been called one of the country’s best college towns. It is home to countless museums, great shopping, award-winning restaurants, and for every red-blooded college student, the always happenin’ bars on South Street. However, Philly is a good 20 minutes from the College, and believe it or not, many Swarthmore students are reluctant to bypass their post-modern elitism reading to spend a night on the town. Philly provides an excellent getaway from what Swarthmore students call the “Swarthmore bubble,” but breaking the bubble is often more difficult than it may seem. Most students don’t have cars, so SEPTA (Philly’s public transportation system) is the most common way Swatties get around. While there is a train station on campus, SEPTA prices can be a bit steep.
The town of Swarthmore is quaint, consisting mainly of college professors and retirees. It provides little for college students, aside from a co-op food store, a pizza place, a few restaurants, and plenty of moderately priced novelty stores that specialize in Austrian llama hair sweaters (if that’s your thing). The Baltimore Pike is a short walk away, and within a 10-mile radius, students have access to a decent mall, several restaurants, the all-important Target, Genuardi’s (a supermarket), and Borders. The College has made some effort to get Swatties off campus, and College-sponsored trips have increased over the past few years. A shuttle runs to Target and Genuardi’s on Tuesday and Sunday evenings, and a movie theater shuttle runs on Friday and Saturday nights. Also, student council recently introduced a Philly shuttle on weekends, but students have to sign up in advance, and most end up taking SEPTA anyway.