Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Breath of Fresh Air

Today was the most relaxing day so far. I got to sleep in almost until noon to catch up on some of the sleep I've been missing this week. When I Finlay got out of bed, I picked up some pastries from Starbucks. After that I returned to the quad and laid down in the grass of the quad until I couldn't stand the heat any longer.

I have run into a dilemma here at Penn; it is hard to motivate myself to do any physical activity when it is almost 100 degrees outside. Today, I found the solution to that problem. I utilized the gyms lap pool and cooled off while raising my heart beat a little. The facilities were very nice and the girl I shared lane with was nicer (I didn't think to bring goggles so I may have drifted into her lane a couple times, but she was very understanding).

After swimming, I explored the campus with some floor friends. We found a restaurant called "Hummus" and I got a really delicious falafel that rivaled the ones I get at Jerusalem Cafe back at home. On our walk back to the quad, we stopped and watched a pair of musicians playing an interesting type of music. It was a sort of psychedelic fusion of blues and jazz. One man played trombone, harmonica and sang while the other was on drums. It was mesmerising. We spent a good 30 minutes sitting on the grass listening to them before we made our way back to the quad.

After dinner, I played a sort of photograph scavenger hunt that some girls in the camp organized. I was on a team with Brian, Alex, and some of our floor friends. We had to walk around campus and capture photographs of another doing silly and embarrassing tasks. The team who captured the most ridiculous moments from the list won. It was a great team building experience. It also gave us a chance to really get to know the campus better. My favorite moment was when Alison from my floor asked a woman who walked by how to turn on the fire hydrant.

We returned to the quad by 11, which is sign in time, to watch Dazed and Confused before getting to bed. We'll need our sleep for tomorrows exciting day at the beach.

"Excessive Heat" Didn't Stop Our Fun

For me, today began late, but it still seemed like a very long day. Brian and I woke at 10:00 this morning with the intention of going to Center City as soon as possible. However, we would later learn that we could not leave campus until 2:00. This did not matter much because we took a while to actually get moving. Shortly after waking up, Brian went to the gym. I hung out in the room for a while and then cleaned up so I could go grab some breakfast. I decided to go to Au Bon Pain for breakfast, since the commons are not open on Saturdays. I grabbed bagels for Brian and I, then headed back to the dorm. Upon Brian’s return, we ate breakfast and then got ready to head to Center City with Fred, Alison, and Onur. This was when we headed to the office and found out we couldn’t leave until 2:00. Since that was only an hour away, we couldn’t do much. First we went to get sandwiches for lunch. We ate outside in on a lawn near the quad. After lunch, we decided to say goodbye to Chandler, one of the RC’s in the lower quad. He will be leaving Penn to return to Indiana tomorrow. We played Frisbee with Chandler a lot and he took pictures of our group a few times, such as on top of the Rockefeller Center. He was a cool guy to chat with and we will miss him.

When we were finally allowed to leave, we signed out and headed into the bowels of the Philadelphia trolley system. The trains were packed today, which is to be expected since it was Saturday and everybody wants to get off of campus. Once we got off the trolley, we headed to Love Square immediately so we could get to the souvenir shop long before they closed. This idea was executed in vain though because the shop was in fact closed. We arrived to a sign on the door that read “Store Closed Due to Excessive Heat.” That is too ridiculous to lie about… We were still able to enjoy the square despite the shop being closed because we waded in the fountain for a while, which was quite refreshing. The rest of our time in Center City was just spent walking around the city and visiting a few of the malls. I bought a nice watch, Fred and Alison got hats, and Onur got a poster. I also bought some swim trunks for tomorrow’s trip to Ocean City, New Jersey. We had yet another great day in Philadelphia, despite the insane heat and humidity.

When we got back to Penn, we went to dinner at the Chinese restaurant next to the quad, Beijing. Alison and Fred had a lengthy discussion about the differences between Chinese and Korean table manners. For instance, in Korea it is rude to refill a cup or glass before you are finished with your drink. It is the opposite in China, where it is seen as insolent if one is to completely finish their drink. Unfortunately I would seem very rude dinner as per Chinese customs because I was making up for the lack of water I didn’t have earlier today by drinking glass after glass at dinner. I always enjoy talking about how our backgrounds are different and the discussions that follow. It really puts things into perspective about how things can be so different when people really are not that far away geographically.

After dinner, we joined in on a scavenger hunt that some of the Summer Discovery students organized. It wasn’t a scavenger hunt in the traditional sense where we had to find things, but actions that we had to perform. Our groups had to do things such as approaching random people and pretending like we had known them previously and asking someone that we did not know for a piggyback ride (we stuck to people in the quad for our actions). There was a long list of tasks and we didn’t finish within the two hour time frame, but it was certainly a fun way to spend two hours.

Tomorrow we travel to Ocean City for a fun day at the beach and boardwalk…with thunderstorms. This won’t put a damper on my spirit (pun intended) because I actually like the rain. I just hope that the storm doesn’t get too severe because we will probably have to leave early. Either way, tomorrow is bound to be fun and I am looking forward to my last Sunday with my friends.

Brian is the Luigi to Fred's Mario

This can't handle this cut-out because it's bi-winning

Alison's best nerd face

Pay no attention to the severed hands in the background...

Running is Relaxing?

For the one day of the week with no scheduled activities, today was really busy. Alex and I caught up on a bit of sleep by sleeping in past our usual 7 o clock wake up. I was energized from the extra sleep, so I got some shorts on and then headed over to the gym as fast as I could. I burnt of my energy by setting the treadmill as fast as it would go and then sprinting for about 15 minutes. I really enjoy the gym here at UPenn because it is free, clean, the equipment is brand new, and the staff is all very friendly and helpful. I finished my workout by trying out an elliptical runner, lifting weights, and then stretching out to make sure that I’m not sore tomorrow.

By the time I was through at the gym, it was past 11 and Alex was on his way to a cafĂ© sop I had him grab me a bagel. Soon enough, it was time for lunch, so I went and got a hoagie with my friends at the local store. I cleaned up and then got ready to go with my friends to Center City, Philadelphia. The sign-out process is pretty easy, and we quickly caught the next train downtown. As soon as we got off the train, we decided to go to Love Square to cool down a bit. In Love Square there is a large fountain that we played in for about half an hour. The water felt great, and it’s a cool place because it’s a nice park in the middle of a very dense city. After the fountain we still wanted to cool off some more so we found a nearby frozen yogurt place. After I took a copious amount of samples, I decided on a mixture of orange sherbet and blueberry. Finally, we headed back in to the heat and decided to do some shopping which I don’t generally enjoy, but I went anyways because it’s somewhat fun when you go with friends. We went to a large mall in the middle of Philly and started browsing through the various stores while a couple of the others actually bought stuff. After looking through a few reasonably priced stores, I couldn’t help but take a peek in one of the really expensive suit stores. The suits there were pretty nice, but not worth their price tags which were often high enough o be the down payment on a nice car. We left the mall and then went to some other smaller stores on the street. My friends Fred and Alison both found cool hats that they bought.

We left Center City at about 6:45 in order to be back with some time to spare before we had to check in. We checked in and then decided to go out for dinner because we don’t have meal plans on Saturday so we have to eat elsewhere. The restaurant we chose is actually only about 500 feet from our dorms and it’s called Beijing. Beijing was a nice Chinese restaurant, and the meals are served family style so we each chose a dish that we liked and then shared it with everyone else. We got pork chops, fried rice, lo mein, and a hot pot dish. I enjoyed the food and conversation a lot, and luckily there are some leftovers for tomorrow.

The final part of my day was energizing but eventually relaxing. I ran around with my friends on a scavenger hunt around the campus for a while which was quite fun. Eventually we got tired and settled into our dorms where we are now. I’ve been relaxing and studying a bit of Italian and reading a book for school. Tomorrow should be a lot of fun in Ocean City although the weather forecast is not great.