And just like that – the official move has happened! Traveling for my first day to Philadelphia, PA, was an absolute whirlwind. It looked a lot like a 4am alarm, a rush to the airport, a hard goodbye, a flight full of anticipation, and a long walk down the sidewalk rolling two overpacked suitcases down the streets of Philly. But, life is busy here, and quickly I realized that everyone is just trying to keep up.
I arrived at The Philadelphia Center, in the downtown area, around noon, and was greeted at the door by one of the faculty advisors, Mark. Without hesitation, I was pulled into the room where the students were just beginning orientation. We spent some time going over safety tips for the city and what to expect, with the understanding that most of our street smarts would come from our everyday experiences.
Our group was divided into three, and in smaller sections we toured the big city. A lot of very practical information was given, and we would frequently rehearse each item – such as understanding the numbering systems for the streets, how to navigate the SEPTA railway, how to alert a trolley driver that you needed to get off. So much had to do with just culture in Philadelphia and picking up on their frequent phrases. If a passenger is trying to get off of a trolley, but the back door isn’t opening, other passengers may call out “step down!” to remind the passenger that you must trigger the door’s opening by putting pressure on the top step of the stairway. There are many things I could never have known!
Learning experiences like this brought so much excitement! I realized just how much there is to know about the city of Philadelphia. We stopped for lunch at the Reading Terminal Market, asked each other lots of get-to-know-you questions (housing decisions made tomorrow already!), and came back for a full group dinner at the center.
And to top it all off – one large ice cream cone for a late night snack!