Originally founded in the suburbs of Philadelphia in 1964, Wawa started as a small roadside dairy market. (I feel like this explains why I see Wawa milk in my dining hall!) To most people, it might just be an awesome and convenient chain store.
To me, it’s like a piece of heaven or a godsend; there’s nothing quite like it back home. I’m from “across the pond;” I’ve lived in London since I was five years old, and was settled in Germany before that. While we have some awesome stores – Tesco, Waitrose, and Sainsbury’s – nothing quite compares to Wawa for the needs of a college student.
- It’s conveniently located on campus
Because I live in the Quad on Penn’s campus, which is very close to the Wawa on the corner of 37th Street and Spruce Street, I spend at least 4 nights a week there. I also frequent the Platt Performing Arts House on campus, as I am a member of Penn Singers and Penn Sirens. That means I’m almost always no more than 300 feet away from a Wawa at any given time.
- It has tons of affordable food options
Wawa somehow has the most important thing for the hectic college lifestyle – lots and lots of affordable food options available all the time. After a night of partying, I can grab a cheesy, delicious quesadilla. If I spend all night grinding through homework, I might get a customizable hoagie. Before I came to America, these foods were a foreign idea to a Brit like me. Now, I can confidently say that, in my mind, nothing compares to late-night buffalo chicken quesadillas or the ready-to-go mozzarella sticks (when they aren’t sold out!). However, you can never truly go wrong with the classic turkey hoagie.
- It’s perfect for family visits
Even though most people associate Wawa with late-night hangouts with friends or after-parties, it’s actually a great place to take your family.
I remember the first time I experienced Wawa as a Penn student. I did a pre-orientation program, PennArts, before starting my freshman year. When I was moving into the quad, my family wanted to grab a bite to eat. We decided to take a break from rearranging my furniture, and ventured into Wawa, quickly realizing Wawa hoagies were the way to go. My mom also introduced me to her favorite item at Wawa, the sacred and sugary sweet “Tastykakes.”
When Parents Weekend rolled around, my parents flew across the ocean to not only enjoy the weekend, but also to watch me in my first Penn Sirens performance. After the last show, we all stopped at Wawa to enjoy a delicious meal of hoagies, Tastykakes (of course!), Honest Tea, and Goldenberg Peanut Chews – a well-rounded meal. We finished our time together lounging at The Inn at Penn, watching all of the other families go in and out, enjoying our Wawa hoagies.
The first time I went to Wawa, I didn’t realize that I was walking into a store that would be such an influential part of my freshman year experience. Wawa literally bookends the beginning of my freshman year, representing the start of my experience at Penn.
I realized that Wawa is not only my go-to for a late-night bite, it also reminds me of my start at Penn, a brand-new era in my life. And that’s why it will always be one of my favorite places on campus.