Skyline from Campus

Penn Admissions Blog

Interacting with Philadelphia
Ria | May 1, 2019

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.

Standing in line for some local food!

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!

About the author

Hi everyone! My name is Ria, and I’m a student in Wharton who is still exploring what all the different concentrations have to offer. I grew up all over but lived in Dubai, U.A.E. before moving to Philadelphia, a city that I absolutely love to explore on the weekends. On-campus, I am involved in Wharton Council, Passion Projects, and work-study at the Development & Alumni Relations department. In my free time, you can catch me reading, doing yoga, and going on walks by the Schuylkill River.

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