Sunday, July 23, 2017

Walking, Walking, and Some More Walking

As expected, today was an incredibly packed day. If you haven't been able to figure it out from the title, my Friday consisted of a ton of walking. I'm not complaining though, I got to see some pretty great places.

We started off the day by by walking to a nearby breakfast place called Corner Bakery Cafe. I have been a breakfast person all my life, so going a day without my eggs is not easy for me. Thankfully, this place had something similar to what I typically make for breakfast at home: scrambled eggs with peppers, mushrooms, and onions. I definitely enjoyed it, despite it being a bit bland. I also ordered a banana muffin, which was absolutely delicious, along with a cup of black tea.

Once we all finished eating, it was time to visit Penn! We discovered two days prior that we would be unable to  receive a campus tour due to the high temperatures, and so instead of having a campus tour, we attended a panel, which was split into two parts: one led by an admissions officer, and one led by a group of students. The admissions officer, Maria Gastone, discussed many aspects of the application and admissions process, most of which I had previously read while reading about the school. What sets Penn apart from many other universities I learned, is their undergraduate schools. Penn offers a total of 4 different undergraduate schools:  there is the College of Arts and Sciences, which has the most number of students, Penn Engineering, Wharton School of Business, and lastly, the School of Nursing, which is actually the smallest. Putting the 4 schools together, Penn offers a total of 89 majors, allowing students to be more flexible with their majors and integrate their interests; however this was all information I could find on the Penn website.

What I was more interested was hearing the views of the students. They invited a total of 5 students, all from the different undergraduate schools. They explained the foundations of their respective schools, and then went on to explain the opportunities they have been able to receive within their schools. What stood out the most to me however, was the amount of resources Penn provides for their students. The panelists certainly emphasized how much the school cares about both their physical, and mental well being. They have many clinics and hotlines dedicated to mental wellness, as well as hospitals for the students. They also have incredible campus security and a fair share of extracurriculars. The amount of extracurriculars provided ensures that every student on campus is able to find their own home within  campus.

Now the question is, would I apply to Penn? I definitely will. Although the city itself was just mediocre compared to back home, the campus I really enjoyed. The fact that all their scholarships are need based rather than merit is a relief for me. Also, the amount of student resources the campus offers shows that the well being of students is a priority. I also really like the flexibility of majors, and even class choices. One of the panelists mentioned that he was able to partake in a class at the Penn Law School, despite him being a college freshmen. I have many interests, and so sticking to one solid path is not my preference.

Once the panel was over, it was far too hot for us to explore campus, so we decided to do a bit of sightseeing, but first, we made a stop at the Penn bookstore. We walked in, and it was like a typical college bookstore, a little bit of everything with the university's label. We were all allowed to get an item from the store, and knowing I did  not  have a hat with me, that is exactly what I purchased. A light blue cap with Penn's logo.

After making a quick stop at the hotel, we got lunch at a ramen place, and made our way to the Eastern State Penitentiary, the revolutionary American prison. It was opened in 1829 and closed down in 1971. What set this prison apart from the rest was that it focused on reform over punishment. They would teach their inmates different trades, to assist them in bettering their lives once they were out of prison. The prison itself was massive, and I covered as much of it as I could with the audio tour. Knowing that I was walking  in the same building that criminal masterminds were once kept in was an interesting feeling. The ruins were quite beautiful, much more so than I had expected. Just wandering around the place I was able to learn quite a bit; however towards the end of our visit, Esmeralda discovered mini tours that the Penitentiary offered. Our tour guide, Lateef, was an incredibly sweet man.  He showed us the underground of the prison, which was not discovered until much later. It is believed that it was used for individual punishment. He then took us to his favorite part of the prison, an office where inmate Lester Smith painted over 20 different murals within the span of 7 months. Lateef definitely made the experience all the more enjoyable, through his enthusiasm for the prison and overall friendliness.

After that amazing visit, we made another trip  back to the hotel to kill some time before we went to the One Liberty Observation Deck around  sunset. A little mishap occurred and things were pushed behind. Regardless, we were on our way to the Deck on time. We were the last elevator ride up, fortunately we had purchased tickets before hand. The ride up to the 57th floor went by quite quickly, and right when I entered I saw a very familiar face, that face belonged to my friend Cindy Reyes. We both knew we were in the same city and would be at the same sites, just a few hours apart. We caught up for a bit, and she actually just moved into Penn today. It was so strange yet wonderful that this is where I would be seeing her for he last time for a while. The deck gave an absolutely stunning view of the city; however since it was dark I was unable to get any decent pictures.

We visited an Italian restaurant called Maggianno's for dinner, and called it a night. With the portion sizes here in Philly, we were all ready to crash from the food coma.
Cindy and I

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