Casey R., C’95
There is something almost surreal about being on campus during the summer. The campus is beautiful but it is a calmer version of itself than in the academic year. In turn for the buzz, the campus gains serenity. The idyllic images that one sees on the webpage of ivy growing on a building or the flag fluttering above a seated Ben in patina in front of a similarly green College Hall are now real, and not just great photographs that, by chance and patience, captured such a peaceful scene.
The summer affords me the opportunity to slow down and enjoy some of my favorite Penn activities without the frenetic bustle that we’re used to in the school year. It’s the same campus that I love, but now it’s more mine than the students’. It’s like being backstage at a concert and getting to play with the instruments and the props while the performers are still at the hotel. I’ll be off the stage before the curtain time of September. For now, though, I’ll enjoy having campus to myself.
Here is a list of my favorite things to do on Campus during the summer break.
10. Visiting the ICA. The Institute of Contemporary Art is one of the country’s leading museums dedicated to exhibiting the innovative art of the current day. Having no permanent collection, the Institute hosts new exhibits that are shown three times a year and has featured the works of Andy Warhol, Laurie Anderson, Agnes Martin, and Robert Indiana. With fewer people on campus, the museum has a more pensive feeling to it where I can get lost in my thoughts inspired by the artwork I see.
Odili Donald Odita’s Third Space from his 2009 exhibition
9. Checking out fiction from the Library. The Van Pelt Library of the Penn Library system has a wonderful collection of recent best-sellers and current fiction. Now that school isn’t in session, students and faculty have less demand for books and I can check out the latest Dan Brown novel or other guilty pleasure for free.
8. Ordering from Magic Carpet. The iconic long lines for the Magic Carpet, though still long, are noticeably shorter. I get my favorite vegetarian meal, Bella Donna – a top-secret recipe of tofu meatballs (which everyone on campus calls Magic Meatballs) and red sauce on top of rice served with a salad. I always order mine with cheese and extra hot sauce.
7. Sitting on a bench in Blanche Levy Park. When the weather is nice on campus, which is about half of the summer days, I enjoy my lunch, perhaps from Magic Carpet, on a bench on College Green or read my most recently borrowed library book.
Blanche Levy Park (College Green) in its summer green
6. Working out in the evening. During the academic year, I follow a schedule of morning workouts at the David Pottruck Health and Fitness Center since that is the best time of day to have access to all of the machines, weights and lockers without much of a wait. However, as the daylight hours grow longer, I sleep later in the morning knowing that I can run over to Pottruck and enjoy after-work workouts without spending more time there than I have to.
5. Taking a moment for me in a roof top lounge. As staff members with Penn Cards, we can access the public areas of the College Houses, including McClelland Hall and the High Rises’ roof top lounges. My favorite roof top lounge is the Heyer Sky Lounge of Harrison College House, which is great place to perch to get a great view of West Philadelphia and Center City, as well as, to read The Lost Symbol without anyone knowing what I’m reading.
Entrance to the Heyer Sky Lounge
4. Strolling leisurely down Locust Walk. (n.b. Not this summer…) The site of the long stretching Locust Walk through the rather literal center of campus is a site that I remember from the Penn application brochure or some other admissions piece years ago. However during my years as I student I never saw that view recreated. It wasn’t until summers at Penn that I saw the real version of the picture I remembered in my mind.
3. Riding the Penn Bus. The Penn Bus is one of the best perks that students, staff and faculty have. Two Penn routes take members of the Penn community in to West Philadelphia as far as 48th Street and into Center City as far as 20th. Whether or not the students are in town, the ride is convenient for me since it’s practically door to door. However, in the summer, the usually standing-room only bus has plenty of seats. With the air conditioning on, the bus is comfortable and I have some room to sit separately from others especially if I just came from the gym.
2. Spending a few minutes in the Arthur Ross Gallery. In addition to the ICA, the Ross Gallery is another University art space showcasing temporary art exhibitions. This single-room gallery was established in 1983 to view the eclectic program of changing exhibitions in all fields of the visual arts and cultural artifacts from around the globe. When I am limited on time, this is a wonderful gallery to get lost in for 15 minutes, then I take a peek at the Furness architecture of the Fisher Fine Arts Library before heading out.
Example of an exhibition in the Arthur Ross Galley
1. Dining at Roosevelt’s. This is a little bit of a cheat since Roosevelt’s isn’t on campus. However, when I get off the bus to go home from an evening workout and I don’t feel like cooking, I have a place to go. It’s great to walk into the pub, pony up to the bar, and order a $2 or $3 beer – depending on the happy hour special that day – and burger without having to wait for all the MBA students’ to get their food before me since they’ve been there since 4pm.