Monday, July 4, 2011

Moved In and Ready to Go!

Moving day has finally arrived! I was excited to start my day this morning because I knew that later I would be meeting my new community, my new peers, and my soon-to-be close friends. Needless to say, I could not wait to check out of the hotel, which we would later do around 11:30. But before that, we had our last group breakfast with Mr. Miranda at Cosi. I ordered my very first squagel (square bagel)…it’s not as exciting as it sounds…but it was good! After breakfast we headed back to the hotel to finish re-packing and then we made our way to the Freshman Quadrangle after checkout.

We walked down to the quad and checked in fairly quickly. I’m glad we arrived early because as it got later there was a flood of new students, many more than were there when we first arrived. At check-in, we were given our ID’s, maps, important guidelines and regulations, and our keys to the dorm buildings and our individual rooms. I reached my room, room 302 in the NY Alumni building. I hadn’t even thought to ask if Brian and I had been given the same room, so when we reached the third floor and stopped at the same door we had a pretty good laugh. We began unpacking in our surprisingly spacious dorm immediately. For some reason I get a feeling of satisfaction when I unpack something completely and settle into a certain space. I definitely felt that way when I finished unloading my suitcase today. I’ve personalized my desk, my wardrobe is filled with my clothes and other miscellaneous items, and my bed is made. It nice to feel like this dorm is a familiar place that I can return to at the end of the day and reflect or work.

After we unpacked (and had a rather frustrating bout with the school’s wifi) we met back with Mr. Miranda and Julia for lunch. Today we experienced our first real philly cheesesteaks. Thanks to our tour guide from yesterday I was able to order like a local. When you order a philly cheesesteak in Philadelphia all you’re supposed to ask for is the kind of cheese and say whether or not you want onions. For example, today I ordered as follows: “I’d like an American with,” (“American” being the cheese and “with” meaning I wanted onions). It is certainly interesting. After lunch we took the subway and trolley back to campus.

We were to be led to the dining hall at 5:00 and then attend an orientation. We got back to campus around 4:00 so we had some down time. Brian and I decided to try logging into the wifi again…to no avail… We wound up wasting the entire hour trying to connect, but only getting frustrated. Brian and I headed down to the quad to wait for our group and we decided to socialize with a couple of our peers who are also on our floor. We introduced ourselves to Fred Kwon and Abeek (who’s last name I have unfortunately forgotten for the moment). Fred is from Alabama, but was born in Korea and has his citizenship in Canada. Abeek is from London, attends a single-sex school, and participates in a lot of sports at school, one of which is squash. Both of them are enrolled in Penn’s Biomed Program. We ate dinner together and got to know more about each other. The four of us have become fast friends and I look forward to spending more time with them in the next month.

The rest of the night was essentially spent in orientation and having a floor meeting. In orientation they went over basic expectations and rules, as well as places and people we could go to for assistance with anything. We also met to go over floor rules and expectations later in our floor meeting. I really like Carlos, our RC (resident counselor). He seems pretty laid back but expressed a lot of concern about our safety and was thorough in making sure we understood the rules. We also introduced ourselves to the rest of our floormates in the meeting. There are thirteen of us total (including Carlos) so we are considering calling ourselves the Baker’s Dozen, but I think the culinary class already claimed that name. We’re still thinking. I look forward to getting to know the rest of the people on my floor.

It is only my first day as an official student at Penn and I am already loving it. My dorm is great, I’m meeting new people, and I cannot wait to start my class tomorrow morning. I know it is going to be a great month.

Independance Day

We started off the day this morning at the reasonable hour of 9:30 with a freshly baked squagel (square bagel) from Cosi. It was both tasty and fun to order: "I'll have a toasted squagel with cream cheese". After breakfast, we packed up our stuff, checked out, and walked up the block to the UPenn campus.

We received our Penn cards, keys, information, and a free T-shirt and then it was up to our dorms to un-pack. The first thing I noticed about my room was that it was air-conditioned (thank goodness). Once I knew that, nothing else mattered, it was good enough for me. Still, we have a pretty nice set up. The rooms are definitely large enough for two, there's plenty of storage space, and our windows overlook the beautiful quad area.

After we were all unpacked and settled in, the ILCers set out via SEPTA to the center of the city for lunch. We decided it was time to try a famous Philly Cheesesteak so we popped into the fist Cheesesteak shop we saw and, after waiting in a long line our tourists, sat down. While we waited we got to look over the counter and see the sandwiches being prepared. One got the feeling the guys who were making them had been doing it for a while, they had a system down. It was kind of amazing. With its nationwide reputation, I was expecting the Philly Cheesesteak to be at least a little but over-rated, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that they truly truly earn their fame. The bread was soft and fluffy, the cheese melted to perfection and the meat and onions were very flavorful. It was really very delicious. I look forward to eating more (of course we have to determine the best in the city for ourselves).

When we returned to campus, we said farewell to Mr. Miranda for the night and returned to our dorms. I met my roommate. She is quite remarkable. her name is Noor and she is from Indiana (specifically, "the cornfields," she says) but goes to boarding school in India. Her descriptions of the natural beauty there made me jealous. She also told me that there are monkeys everywhere that will steal your stuff and pull your hair if you're not careful. Our first conversation was probably one of the most interesting ones I've ever had. And she told me I was lucky to live in the Bay Area! I am so excited to hear more from her and get to know about her experiences as the month unfolds. I feel very lucky to have such a friendly and interesting roommate.

In reality, it's not luck at all. Almost every person I have met here has been extremely nice and interested in getting to know one another. The people me and my roommate sat with at dinner were from Manhattan, New York here for the creative non-fiction writing class. The two of them were friends who went to the same high school and they were a very entertaining duo. I met a New Zealander at orientation named Juao "like the sound a light-saber makes," he told me. It's a completely energizing environment to be in meeting so many people from all over the world who are all interested in learning all that they can both from the classes and from one another.

After orientation, we split up to have meetings with our individual floors. I met our floors RA, a gradeschool teacher from LA who is very sweet but will clearly stand for no shenanigans, We sat out on the grass with the fireflies and the fireworks, went over the rules, and got to know each other a little bit. There is a girl from Texas who plays French horn, a girl form Germany who wants to be a dentist, a girl who was born in Michigan but lives in Jordan and the list goes on! Getting to know these girls is going to be quite the experience.

After our meeting, we signed in with the office (as we will be doing every night), ate some milk and cookies and then it was off to bed to get a good nights sleep for tomorrow's classes. I couldn't be more excited. This is going to be incredible.