10 Things to Know if Embarking on the Philly Semester.

  1. A Packing Must: Your enthusiasm, curiosity, and willingness to learn about the world. This is the number one thing that will determine what this semester looks like as you look to soak up every experience. I’ve been challenged and stretched in ways that are indescribable. Be the “Yes” girl or guy. See every challenge as an opportunity – sounds cliche but it’s so true. Coming here, I said that I wanted to meet local people, and I have! Proving to myself that I could do this has led to a whole new confidence when it comes to meeting new people.
  2. Internships are a substantial part of your time here. 32 hours a week is significant, and it’s up to you to make the most of it. Never settle right off the bat, look and look until you find the perfect position. I was pre-placed before coming, yet ended up switching to a completely new business. I was so thankful that it only took a couple days on the job to find out that it was not what I wanted to spend my semester doing. Internships are meant to be mutually beneficial – so ask what you are going to get out of it! In return, find ways (beyond what they ask) that you can contribute to the company with your unique skills and abilities.
My internship for the semester -- Morris House Hotel.
My internship for the semester — Morris House Hotel.
Just a sneak peak of our beautiful decor as we prepare for an event.
Just a sneak peak of our beautiful decor as we prepare for an event.

3. Location is everything. I thought this before the home-search process, and I stand by it. As you search eagerly for a place to live: location, location, and location (disclaimer: of course, who you choose to live with is equally as important). If you do the Philly semester correctly, it will not matter a bit how aesthetically pleasing your home is or what you sleep on. (Pro tip: air mattresses are where it’s at!) What matters is that you set yourself up to be able to discover new places, and explore the different streets.
4. Be ready to speak up. Professors at TPC don’t take silence well in their classes. Each class is discussion-based and will provoke unknown thoughts and questions. Have confidence, and if you don’t come in with confidence, prepare to gain some. They’ll let you know with a great pep talk, and some healthy accountability. You really have no choice. (Tip: these people are what make the TPC Program so amazing).
5. “Normal” people don’t exist. In a city, you can’t help but notice differences. Every time I’ve engaged a stranger in conversation, I have left understanding the world a bit better. Talk to the cashier at WaWa, ask a policeman for directions, talk to the bank attendant about her food cart recommendation or pet the professional dog walker’s furry client.
6. Prepare to be a foodie. I think it’s impossible not to gain a few pounds here. Work extra hard the summer before to have some extra spending money, and prepare to unload it! So many restaurants and shops line the streets, with about every ethnic food represented. You’ll leave wondering how “American food” was ever of interest. Sip on some Thai tea, order Pad Thai in Chinatown, or pick up some Halal from the food carts.

Just a view of the fully-stocked bar, and how well decorated it is. Look at all those options!
Just a view of the fully-stocked bar, and how well decorated it is. Look at all those options!

7. Expect Philly to feel like home. It wasn’t until I had family and friends visit me that I realized I was showing them different places like it was my hometown. I was so incredibly proud to share it, and I realized just how much I had seen and done. A special shout out to my visitors – we had a blast!

8. Make mistakes like it’s your job, and learn how to ask for help. Truly, I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve messed up. And when I did, it was essential to view it as a learning experience. Just a few weeks ago, I got on one of the main (and longest) subway lines going the complete wrong direction. I made it to the last stop before figuring it out. It was a long ride, but I saw parts of Philadelphia that I had yet to see in the outer city. Worth it. Thank you to the stranger who turned me back around.
9. Your life plan is going to take a severe hit. While I knew that coming here I had no post-college plans, I thought I knew the basics. I expected to continue living in a small town, to be in a marketing position, and to continue being wholeheartedly attached to my vehicle. Now, I’m not so sure which of these will be true. I’ve learned that:

  1. Cities are where things happen. So much is happening all the time, and I love the busyness and many opportunities to meet new people. This being said, nearby nature is a must.
  2. My interest in business may not have enough human interaction that I desire. I’m grateful I’ve learned this now and am seeking a job with more humans, and less screens.
  3. Okay, I still love my car. But I haven’t given it a thought since I started walking everywhere! No parking, no fees, and more exercise.

10. You’ll get attached. To the professors and faculty at The Philadelphia Center. To the summer that lasts wayyyy longer than normal. To the $10 jeans at the downtown H&M. To the coffee shop around the corner where you write your best papers. To enough rooftop bars to do a bar crawl every night of the week (not recommended). To the local friends you watch the game with on Sunday’s. To the sushi you purchase on your walk from work and class. To the parks where you can rest on a bench and read. To the Fall Festivals that pop up randomly next to Reading Terminal Market. The attachment is real, and it’ll absolutely be hard to say goodbye.

Oh you know, just me smiling in this wonderful city. Happy to be here!
Oh you know, just me smiling in this wonderful city. Happy to be here!

Published by Quinn Bouwkamp

Class of 2020 The Philadelphia Center Business

Leave a comment