Philly’s college campuses have sprung back to life, and the city is swarming with new and returning students. Schools like Temple, Penn and the University of the Sciences kicked things off a few weeks ago, but classes at Community College of Philadelphia just started this week.

For freshmen, college life can be challenging, but also exhilarating — and for many, going to school in America’s fifth-largest city adds an extra layer of excitement.

So how does the Class of 2021 feel about Philly so far? We visited some college campuses to ask freshmen how things are going and what they’re looking forward to about being on a city campus.

Kunal Patel is studying economics at Temple. ‘The coolest thing I would say is just how we feel like a community, you know? … I’m from suburban New Jersey and we used to live in a community.’ Credit: Angela Gervasi / Billy Penn
Dana Markham is a media studies and production major at Temple. ‘Just experiencing, like, city life.’ Credit: Angela Gervasi / Billy Penn
Chris Dulce is studying biology at University of the Sciences. ‘[Philly’s] a nice city. They have bad sports teams. There’s a lot going on, there’s a lot of different cultures.’ Credit: Angela Gervasi / Billy Penn
Bria Brown is studying psychology at Temple. ‘Just to get out of Pittsburgh and be in a new environment with, like, lots of different people where it’s more, like, cultured and stuff like that.’ Credit: Angela Gervasi / Billy Penn
Joe Orsatti is studying business management at Temple. ‘I’m just a big city person … I would live in any city that’s not too cold.’ Credit: Angela Gervasi / Billy Penn
Emily Powers (right) is a pharmacy student at University of The Sciences ‘I’m really excited to live on campus — I’m on a big campus — and then also live in a bigger city than what I’m used to, because St. Louis was pretty small. Way more diversity and public transportation is such a better thing here than St. Louis.’ Credit: Angela Gervasi / Billy Penn
Isabella Lai is studying biomedical sciences at University of the Sciences. ‘I’m just, like, interested in all the places that you can visit, because I know New York City, like, has a lot of places also, since I lived there. But Philadelphia’s just more affordable … there’s a lot of places you can go, and also there’s a lot of student discounts.’ Credit: Angela Gervasi / Billy Penn
Joseph Fuentes from Northeast Philly is studying photographic imaging at Community College of Philadelphia. ‘Not too much of a drastic difference. I mean, I’m pretty sure, like, everyone has crossed Spring Garden street and seen CCP. It’s pretty normal, I mean, not that hard to configure.’ Credit: Angela Gervasi / Billy Penn
Alex Brown from West Chester is studying computer information security science at CCP. ‘I mean, I don’t really care for city areas, but I do care for the fact that it does give you a good education, so it doesn’t really matter where I go. If I had to be in the most New York City-ish area —as long as I went to a good school — That’s all that mattered to me.’ Credit: Angela Gervasi / Billy Penn
Ashley Salters from West Philly is studying criminal justice at CCP. ‘I think it’s like okay, like in some instances I guess it’s kind of good. Because like, you’re familiar with the area because you were, like, born here. So, like, you kind of somewhat know where everything is.’ Credit: Angela Gervasi / Billy Penn
Vivian Luong is a nursing major at Penn. ‘I’m looking forward to being able to walk everywhere. Since I’m from Santa Fe, California, I’m from the suburbs and I’ve always needed to drive everywhere to get to places. So now that I’m in a big city, it’s so much more accessible to walk everywhere that I need to go.’ Credit: Angela Gervasi / Billy Penn
Rachel Perlstein attends Penn but hasn’t declared a major yet. ‘I want to explore just a lot of, like, you know, the central parks like Rittenhouse Square and things like that. And go to, like, the Independence Mall area and see, you know, the Liberty Bell and historical things like that.’ Credit: Angela Gervasi / Billy Penn
Ryanne Acuna fromDelaware County is studying Computer Science at Temple. ‘We love the nightlife here, and there’s just, like, a lot to do here. It doesn’t necessarily require a lot of money, so to speak, it’s usually just transportation … you can just stroll around.’ Credit: Angela Gervasi / Billy Penn
Aathira Jayamohan (right) from Allentown is studying computer science at Temple. ‘There are a lot of job opportunities going on, and, like, ways to get ahead in your career. I also play violin, so, like, Philly’s a big music city, so it’s easy for me to, like, keep that up here too.’ Credit: Angela Gervasi / Billy Penn
Jamir Guerrant from North Philly is studying business marketing at CCP. ‘It’s cool to just go to school. Wherever you may go, like, just go. ‘Cause a lot of stuff that’ll have you going in the wrong directions… it don’t matter really what school you go to, you pick CCP, Temple, UPenn, Drexel, wherever you go, just go somewhere. And you could be considered successful. Somewhat.’ Credit: Angela Gervasi / Billy Penn