One of the perks of going to school in a big city is that the entire city of Philadelphia is our campus. “Treat the whole city as a campus” is the drum beat of every freshmen welcome convocation address at Drexel University. Ironically, this city-wide approach to experiencing college remains shrouded in mystery for many students, whose entire college experience is shared between the dorms at Powelton, Urban Eatery and a co-op on campus. However, unbeknownst to many, Drexel’s campus extends beyond the isolated University City into Center City. And what better way to experience life in the city than living on the Center City campus?
Stiles Hall, located conveniently in the heart of the city on 15th and Vine streets is Drexel’s own undergraduate and graduate housing option. A 15 minute shuttle ride that operates between University City and Center City ensures students enjoy the comforts of city living with the tranquility of a slightly more laid back learning environment.
A bunch of friends from home visited when I was a freshman and our time was spent gallivanting across University City and the University of Pennsylvania’s campus while marveling at the Harry Potter-esque architecture. Our exploration was limited to what popular opinion calls the worst looking campus in the United States yet the thought of exploring the other areas of Philadelphia was terrifying for us.
One year later, the city has become my backyard. Living right in the middle of the city has made everything more familiar. Every day is spent capitalizing on the convenience that the city affords. Places that were once beyond my reach mentally and physically are within walking distance. Every weekend, I troop into the world renowned Reading Terminal Market with confidence that was initially reserved for Northside Dining Terrace to sample a whole wide world of food, The Academy of Natural Sciences has replaced Mario the Dragon and the people I interact with are not all dressed in Vineyard Vines shirts, polo hats, khaki shorts and boat shoes.
It is easy to take for granted whatever is readily available. Over the summer, my roommate kept lamenting about the disaster that we were about to walk into by living so far away from campus. He was living in Millennium Hall and had made a couple of new friends within the building. Unfortunately, he was weary of getting too attached because fall was coming, and that meant he would have to be separated from these acquaintances who would all be staying on campus. He feared that this separation would keep him out of the loop of their friendship. I had the same fears myself. However, the relationships I had with most of my friends have actually been strengthened. Every interaction is more deliberate and the contempt that arises from familiarity is kept in check.
The premise of having centralized workplaces is based partly on the idea of separating work from leisure. This model comes into play whenever my daily schedule is concerned. Having to attend school several minutes away from home forces me to be economical with my time. It is inherently human to kick back whenever an opportunity for a break presents itself. A 30 minute commute back and forth between school and home, to get that 15 minute nap, is not a worthy undertaking. I am less likely to go to class unprepared and in my pajamas. I plan out what and when I do anything. I only entertain the thought of going home when I am satisfied with my business for the day. I believe that living and attending classes on campus provides a safe cushion that inadvertently lays the groundwork for laxity.
I have always wanted to express myself independently. When I walked into Stiles Hall, I was confronted by white walls that screamed for attention like a blank canvas waiting to be painted on. Stiles Hall offers apartment-style living where every resident has the comfort of their own bedroom within a suite. This eliminates the need to make compromises whenever space is shared between people. In addition to providing a comfortable retreat at the end of a hectic day, having my own room allows me to be responsible for my own small version of a house. Living in such an apartment style setting, complete with an in-suite bathroom and kitchen gives the feeling of maturity; a nonexistent feeling when a single room is shared between individuals with very diverse and conflicting personalities.
The type of adults that most students will become is determined largely by the living conditions through which they mature and the things with which they surround themselves. Stiles Hall offers an often overlooked opportunity to load oneself with essential qualities and experiences from the modern city campus. It is imperative to break free of all fears of living away from the safe haven of campus and follow through on a call to live large.