Author: Liz Pinnie
The last time I spent a December in Philadelphia was eight years ago. I was seventeen, had just been accepted as an “early decision” candidate to college, and was quite frankly “over” high school and the suburban town I grew up in. Being a teenager requires one to behave in ways that are largely dramatic.
My time at Hamilton College was the complete opposite of my four years in a suburban Philadelphian Catholic girl’s high school. I was told to pick classes that “spoke” to me. I went backpacking for the first time. I learned how to steal (a pie from the dining hall), drank too much caffeine, played (many) lacrosse games in the snow, and studied all night.
After graduating from college, I felt good about how I had spent the past four years, but entirely uncertain about what I wanted to do in the future. So, I moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Slipping sideways from one cold, tiny, Northern locale to another (colder and still tiny) Northern locale seemed like a good idea and a great adventure. And indeed it was.
In Jackson, I delved deeper into the technical gear-wearing, back-pack-toting, mountain-skiing side of me. I rafted and served beers to surly cowboys, bought my first mountain bike and wrestled a pig, experienced negative thirty degrees and no humidity. It was a wild, beautiful, fantastic time.
Yet, after three years of this crazy adventure, the squawk of eagles reminded me of seagulls at the Jersey Shore, the sound of bluegrass made me crave The Sound of Philadelphia, and my fingers kept leading me to Google searches for jobs in Pennsylvania. And so, much like I came, I packed up a station wagon, drove for three days, and moved back to Philadelphia.
On the surface, my transition from tiny Hamilton College and the wilds of the West to the bustling streets of Penn’s campus seems to be a mad leap: country to city, small to big, cold to warm, terrible sandwiches to mind-blowing food trucks.
Yet, I find that here at Penn, I am discovering some important similarities. Despite the sheer size, I have found that there is a strong community feeling that rivals my minute prior locales. And even in this concrete jungle, there is a sense of exploration and adventure that matches any wild river guide or rock climber. Though many might think that my time of exploration is behind me in the classes of college and the mountains of Wyoming, here at Penn, I feel that once again, I’m about to begin and new and thrilling adventure.