Saturday, July 22, 2017

The First University

The morning of Friday, July 21st I found myself enjoying a lovely bowl of Oatmeal, some coffee, and a banana. After having some breakfast my cohort and I decided to head out to UPenn for our panel visit. When we first got on campus I was amazed at all the beautiful architecture, and how it was covered in luscious ivy. 

The first half of the panel was lead by the wonderful Maria Gaston, who was  a very informative admissions officer on campus at UPenn. Right off the bat she started off by explaining how coming to Penn was more than just coming to Penn it's about coming to Philadelphia. She explained how the rich culture and history of Philadelphia really impacts your stay here. She talked about how there are multiple areas within Philadelphia such as Center City, University City, North Philly, and many more with their own unique characteristics. Each area has their own museums, and even cuisines. Just how Philly is easily navigable, so is the campus. There are 4 undergraduate schools at UPenn. One of UPenn's philosophies is that your passions can be integrated together. So something that you are passionate about and something someone else is passionate about can be woven together and combined to create something that's unique and that can contribute to your community in a way you want it to. I really liked how UPenn is flexible with what you want to do, and how much they care about making sure you are doing what you want to do. They are still very structured but they make sure that your passions are still met. They also make sure that your major doesn't determine your future and that the opportunities you take advantage of do. 

The second half of the Panel was lead by five current students of UPenn. The first to speak was Stephen a rising junior who was in the college of arts and sciences and is majoring in journalism and who was originally from New Hampshire. To the left of him was Jack who was in the college of engineering and applied science and who was studying mechanical engineering as a rising sophomore originally from New York City. The third was Cameli (I think that's how you spell it..sorry!) who was in the school of Nursing as a rising junior from Belgium. Next to her was Nick, a sophomore in the college of sciences majoring in political sciences as international relations originally from Virginia. Last but certainly not least was Tyler, a rising sophomore in the college of urban studies and political sciences with a minor in French and who is from Philadelphia. 

The five students started off with some history about the college to begin the panel. They first explained how UPenn it technically the first university founded in the United States. However many argue that it is actually Harvard who was the first. Harvard is the first college founded but not university. UPenn was the first to call itself a university therefore making it the first university founded.

These five students really explained what student life is like on campus at UPenn and how much support they get from the college. For example there is a program called CAPS on campus which is like an on campus doctor you can see. They really make sure that you are provided with all the resources you need. There's is a hotline you can call to get things off your chest and to make sure you're okay. There is also tutoring available for students to help them or just to turn an A into an A+.  

After the panel we stepped outside of the building and walked to the student store to pick up some souvenirs for ourselves and Amelia. I didn't really fancy anything so I just went with some socks. Zunarah and Bianche got a hat, and Esmeralda got a key chain.

By the time we were out of the student store we were all really hungry so we decided to eat at a place called the Ramen Bar. I got a veggie miso ramen and an avocado roll. Gotta love those omega 3 fatty acids!
My cute avocado roll!
Right after lunch we drove over to the Eastern State Penitentiary. The exterior of the building looked like the front of a medieval castle. With about 30 feet high walls and no windows peering inside. When we walked inside of the prison we picked up our audio tour headsets and headed outside to start the tour. The first thing I noticed was that the narrator of the tour was in fact Steve Buscemi, probably because it was the setting of the film "Animal Factory" which he directed. I found this hilarious for some reason and found it a little hard to take seriously in the beginning of the tour. But soon I became fully captivated by the history of the Penitentiary.
A view down one of the many corridors. 
One of the most terrifying rooms in the prison was "The Hole" or "The Klondike". This room was dedicated to solitary confinement and completely pitch black. There were no real toilets or natural light inside "The Hole". No blankets were given to the inmates during the winter either. This area of isolation was often a punishment for offences such as disrespecting a guard or refusing to exercise. I think that those offences were pretty minor, and months of solitary confinement in a place like that is honestly overdoing it. 

One of the rooms from the Eastern State Penitentiary.
After touring the prison we went back to the hotel before heading out to the Observation deck. We made it there a little after sunset and just before the last elevator left, and also found out that we have the option to view it again but during the day. The beautiful night sky and all of Philly. It was so beautiful. All the cars and lights were so incredible to see. After admiring this bird's eye view of the city we headed out to eat. 

Today felt like one of our longest days but it was absolutely wonderful. Seeing all of these things, learning all I can, and just really having the time of my life with my wonderful cohort. I couldn't have imagined a better way to spend my time. Before I head off to bed I'd also like to wish my amazing friend Amelia a wonderful birthday.
View from the Observation Deck.

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