When applying to college, one thing that I knew for sure was that I wanted to be in a city. I wanted an option for fun activities that weren’t on campus, I wanted the ability to get off campus when things got busy, and I wanted to be well connected to other cities in the region. With Philly, I get all that and more! The benefits spill over from the social realm too— the academic and service-related opportunities that the city provides are incredible.
Over the course of the semester, I’ve definitely enjoyed Philadelphia in a social sense. During the first few weeks of school there was a street fair for college students, and getting to meet students from nearby Universities like Drexel and Temple was a nice little reminder that there is a world outside of the campus bubble! Street fairs, in general, are usually a fun experience— it’s always a nice afternoon when you get a few free items, see the city and its residents in a new light, and forget about schoolwork for a little bit.
A few weeks after that there was a Dollar Stroll on Baltimore Avenue, where the restaurants offered small portions of their food for a dollar or two each. It made for a fun dinner where my friends and I explored restaurants nearby and got to sample a variety of cuisines I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to experience in one evening-- my regular dinners don’t involve Greek, Indian, and Ethiopian food! The thrill of discovering new areas outside of campus made the whole experience all the more memorable. Here’s a picture of me scanning a menu.
One of my favorite places to go shopping in the city is the Philly AIDS Thrift, where you can find everything from puzzles to clothing to furniture. It’s a 40 minute walk, but it goes through residential and commercial areas that seem a world away from the energy of University City. Also, the merchandise is incredible! I’ve found hilarious graphic t-shirts, books for a dollar each, 1000-piece puzzles, and beautiful vintage dresses. The store also supports a great cause— the proceeds go to local organizations working to combat HIV/AIDS.
Academically speaking, being in Philadelphia has incredible perks. Wharton 101 is a class that all freshman in Wharton have to take to introduce us to the business world. It consists of a large lecture where the various department heads in Wharton give us an introduction to their field of expertise and a smaller recitation in which we learn about our own strengths and complete a consulting project. For this consulting project, my group had the privilege of working with the Women’s Opportunities and Resources Center (WORC). Its mission is to promote social and economic self-sufficiency for economically disadvantaged women and their families. WORC provides entrepreneurial training, individual business assistance, incentive savings programs, and access to business and financial resources. My team and I were able to analyze and suggest improvements for their entrepreneurship curriculum after extensive conversation with them and familiarizing ourselves with how the curriculum currently is run. Being able to make a difference in the real world was an incredibly fulfilling experience, and I don’t think an opportunity like that could have arisen outside of a city like Philly. This semester, I’ll be taking an Academically Based Community Service class, which is another example of the incredible ways in which Philadelphia can enhance a Penn student’s academic journey.
Additionally, there are so many meaningful service opportunities in Philadelphia and they’re a great way to spend a weekend. Through a club called Wharton Women which works to facilitate personal and career development of females in business, I was able to go to Career Wardrobe, an organization that helps women find affordable work wear, and volunteer for a Saturday afternoon. A few others and I sorted through clothing donations and had a blast while doing so— a picture is below!
All in all, Philadelphia is an incredible city to be a student in. We get the excitement and enriching opportunities that most big cities provide without losing the feeling of being a college student. When being on campus becomes a little tiresome it’s the perfect escape, but it’s not so in-your-face that you don’t get the feel of typical college life. Our academic and social lives are more vibrant because of our wonderful location. I’m glad that I’m here!