For many Penn freshmen, the best places on campus are ones they discover outside of Penn’s college brochure. From obscure locations to secret group study rooms in fitness buildings across campus, Penn students reflect on what they’ve learned about Penn outside of the classroom.
The "fishbowl" is the nickname given to room M62 in the Towne Building. The name reflects the fact that two sides of the room are glass, making those inside feel as though they’re in a fishbowl.
Frequented by students in the School of Engineering and Applied Science who often use the room for its computers — which have software required for their engineering classes — the room is unique for being one of the few places on campus where Engineering students can print for free, provided they have “Engineering cash.”
Wharton students also receive $20 per semester for free printing in Huntsman Hall.
Engineering freshman Jane Xu discovered the "fishbowl" after two weeks at Penn.
“I didn’t know about it before coming to Penn,” Xu said. “I figured it out during the first two weeks of school when I needed to print something, but I didn’t know it was called the fishbowl until someone said, ‘Do you want to go to the fishbowl?’”
The Sixth Floor of Van Pelt Library
While the basement and first two floors of Van Pelt are where most undergraduates think of camping out during exam season, some like to venture up to the upper floors of the building.
Also known as the Kislak Center, the sixth floor of Van Pelt houses a reading room, the Class of 1978 Pavilion, the Lea Library and the Furness Shakespeare Library and is the go-to place for anyone who wants to curl up on couches while enjoying a view of campus.
College freshman Gehna Nandwani discovered the sixth floor through friends.
“The first time I went there, I was like, ‘This is my spot,’” Nandwani said. “I’ve gone there so many times now.”
She added that the area provides an atmosphere that suits both quiet and social study.
“The view from there is so amazing and it’s extremely quiet, which is a good thing.”
Everyone knows about Bridge Cafe in Huntsman Hall, the Starbucks under 1920 Commons and Mark’s Cafe in the basement of Van Pelt Library; fewer know about Accenture Cafe, located in the Engineering Quad.
College freshman Beatrize Stephen-Pons discovered Accenture this semester when walking into Towne with a classmate from her writing seminar. When her classmate took a turn towards Accenture, Stephen-Pons decided to join her.
“This tight, bland hallway opened up to a dimly lit cafe with funky chairs and food and drink options that I could use my dining dollars to purchase,” Stephen-Pons said. “I started going there to study and eat. Going to the cafe feels like entering into another world, another side of Penn.”
Education Commons — Fox Fitness Center
While most people use Fox for its gym facilities, few know that the building also offers study resources for Penn students. Located on the second floor and equipped with a seminar room, interactive whiteboards and group study rooms that are reservable online, Education Commons is Fox Fitness Center’s hidden gem.
Because this hide-out is off the radar of most Penn students, your chance of securing a group study room is much higher than in more frequented locations like Huntsman Hall.
Wharton freshman Anni Zhang discovered the space through a friend who often goes to there to study.
“It’s so out of the way. I honestly don’t know of anyone else who goes there except for my one friend,” Zhang said. “It’s just a really cute area. It has a blue theme, all the chairs are blue and they have snacks there sometimes.”
Incoming freshman should keep an open mind to find Penn’s off-the-beaten-path places, Stephen-Pons said.
“Be open to exploring when given the opportunity,” Stephen-Pons said. “I also go on walks with friends throughout Penn’s campus and one question I like to ask is what’s your favorite spot on campus and then go there.”
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