The Covenant Statue on Locust Walk in the snow
Penn Admissions Blog
To 2018 & A New Semester
Olivia O'Dwyer | January 29, 2018

2017 was big. It’s the year I graduated high school, ending eighteen years of living at home and going to school at 8 am everyday and coming home to eat dinner with my family, and it’s the year that I started a whole new chapter of my life by moving away from home (admittedly, only forty minutes away) and began my life at Penn. It’s been one of the best years of my life – vibrant, emotional, adventurous, and full of so much change. While I was at home over winter break, my mom and I came across some of my New Year’s resolutions from years ago and were laughing at ones like “eat more fruit,” “be nicer to your sisters,” and “make your bed everyday.” In more recent years, the resolutions turned towards bigger goals, goals centered on getting good grades, saving money, or running longer distances. This year, I wanted to set a few goals that weren’t things I’d forget about by February, and weren’t tied to my grades or my accomplishments, but things that genuinely mattered to me and that I’d still care about in a year.

  1. Be more present. As cliché as it is, I feel like it’s something I need to work on all around. In my classes, with my family and friends, even when I’m working out or doing homework. This goes beyond staying off my phone but also means that I’m focused on whatever I’m doing, which lets me be more productive. I can already tell this semester is going to be a busy one, and I’m the kind of person who loves filling up my days with activities and plans that I’m really invested in. But this only works if I’m productive and focused with the rest of my time. I’ve also realized that time with people you care about is so valuable, especially at a place like Penn where everyone is so busy, and I want to make the time I spend with my friends meaningful, even if it’s just for an hour or two.
  2. Explore Philly more. Even growing up less than an hour away from the city and living in it for a semester, I still feel like I haven’t quite made Philly my home yet. I’ve tried to get off campus, but there truly are just so many events and cool things happening on campus on any given day, and I’d love to break more out of the “Penn bubble” besides going downtown for restaurant week or the occasional museum trip. My friends and I have talked about walking through Old City, learning to navigate public transportation better, seeking out more concerts and events, and going to a sports game or two, things that we’re so lucky to have right next to us.
  3. Create more meaningful relationships. I feel lucky because in the past semester, I’ve met so many amazing people through clubs, living in the quad, or just various random meetings that I’ve really connected with, and I’ve become close with a lot of them. However, I’ve realized in college that it really does take a deliberate, concerted effort to move a relationship from the occasional lunch date stage to truly getting to know the person and supporting each other.

Until next time,


About the author
Olivia O'Dwyer

I am a sophomore from Wilmington, Delaware, majoring in Computer Science. On campus, I’m involved in Access Engineering, a group that teaches engineering classes to local Philly high school students, I am playing Ultimate Frisbee for the first time, and I write for the ( In my free time, I love to paint, write, and listen to music. Join me on my quest to find the best running trails and coffee shops around Penn’s campus and in Philly. I’m looking forward to journeying through my freshmen year with all of you!

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