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  • Writer's pictureElisha Bae

Fall Break Tour

Being a student at Swarthmore is one of the best things that ever happened to me, but I knew I was getting close to wanting a break. Fortunately, before I got too stressed out, we were on fall break.

It was weird seeing people leave campus to go back home since it felt like we had just started college a few days ago. I was one of the lucky ones because my mom was coming over to see me. "All the way from Korea?!" was what everyone exclaimed when I told my friends about it. Quite a few of my friends decided to stay on campus for fall break, though they had to come up with a way to eat one way or another since the dining hall was closed during the break.

I wouldn't have minded spending a week on campus with just my friends, trying to cook a meal, or going out to Central City Philly every now and then (sorry, Mom). Still, I was excited about what we were about to do.

The week was planned out pretty thoroughly by my mom who happens to be an amazing travel planner -- not by choice, but out of necessity. We were to go to New Jersey (the town of Princeton University), the outskirts of Philadelphia (mainly the Longwood Gardens), then to Washington D.C., and back to Swarthmore.

As per usual, I'll share some photos I took in those places and describe what it was like being there!

Day 1 & 2: Princeton University (NJ)

Okay, I don't have a lot of photos at Princeton because I was enjoying the trees that surrounded the university and the walks. My mom and I thought of it like touring colleges since we didn't get to do that because of COVID during my high school years.

The town of Princeton University was much bigger and busier than the Ville we have at Swarthmore. There were many cafes and restaurants and even some luxury boutiques! I might be biased (and let's be honest, how could I not be?), but I enjoyed Swarthmore's campus look sliiiightly better than the one of Princeton. I guess I thought Princeton's town would also be quiet like ours. Even so, needless to say, I really liked the architecture of the university and even imagined coming here for graduate school when I leave Swarthmore.

The houses scattered around the town, however, did remind me of Swarthmore. My mom made fun of me for missing my school so much even when it had only been a day or two since I left. I enjoyed walking around the town with Mom, pointing out the different Halloween decorations that had already been put out.

The only downside, which isn't even related to Princeton, was that the hotel room was freezing and we (even the hotel front desk) couldn't figure out a way to turn the air conditioner off. I think my nose would have frozen off of my face if we stayed there for another night. 🥶 Brrrr!

Day 3 & 4: Outskirts of Philadelphia/Longwood Gardens

Now we're talking! Look at all the beautiful flora and fauna (there were some animals -- you just can't see them in the photos).

Longwood Gardens was one of the best gardens that I've been to. And since I've been to some really famous ones in the UK, my standards are set quite high. The weather was just right for strolling around and taking photos. I didn't even need to try to capture pretty scenes, since everywhere I clicked turned into a masterpiece. And, oh, the colors! The colors of the leaves, the flowers, and the sky were unbelievably gorgeous. Also, I have to point out that there were not many bees, which made the whole experience 200% better.

Even the restaurant inside the gardens was visually and gustatorily appetizing. They picked fresh greens for ingredients and fresh flowers for garnish. I obviously had a little too much for my own good, but it was worth it. My mom and I walked for about 3 hours and a half, and I was the one complaining about my sore legs. Guess I have to train myself more on Swarthmore's uphill walks.

The first photo of the towel swans on the bed is at the inn we slept at. The family who owned the place were such nice people, helping us figure out the wifi so that I could write my blog and biology lab report (ewww), and treating us to a warm and tasty breakfast every morning. I really wish we could have stayed there for longer. It was a very healing experience.

Day 5, 6, 7: Washington D.C.

It took me a while to get used to saying 'Washington D.C.' when I was referring to the US capital. In Korea, the only 'Washington' you'll hear about is D.C., so I was confused when my friends were surprised because they thought I was going to 'the State of Washington', which is on the totally opposite side of the country.

I was shocked to see so many of the monuments and buildings that I've only seen in movies come to life in front of my eyes. The Lincoln Statue was much bigger than I thought, and the White House, though it was quite far away, was glowing in the dark.

What I really liked in Washington D.C. was the port town next to the hotel we stayed at. 'The Wharf' is what it's called. Along the stretch of the Potomac River, The Wharf had great restaurants, live performances, and little shops that sold cute things. It was a refreshing difference from the rather austere atmosphere that D.C. had, with so many important government officials living nearby and important things going on all the time.

My mom's favorite activity when on a trip is to visit at least one art museum. I have to say, it's grown on me too. It's always exciting when I can recognize the artist's style or catch a glimpse of a very famous artwork. At the National Gallery of Art, I was able to do both. I once again realized that I really love the colors that Monet uses.

The last photo of that white and gold arch is not a part of the Gallery of Art, but of Washington D.C.'s train station. The place was so clean and pretty that I had to reassure myself that we were at the right place.

Upon coming back to Swarthmore's campus, I felt a surge of relief washing over me. Even though I visited some pretty cool places, I appreciated the cozy atmosphere of Swarthmore. Now I'm recharged, and I can't wait for school to start again!

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