My Second First-Year

Author: Rachel Stewart, C’16

My first day of college didn’t begin with a walk down Locust to Huntsman or a long trek to the labs in DRL. I didn’t have breakfast with my hallmates in Hill or use dining dollars to grab some sushi in Houston.

On my first day of college, I woke up on the eighth floor of a dorm building on 116th and Broadway in Manhattan. I crossed the street to take a class in Kent, had lunch in Hewitt, and then on to more classes in Altschul and Barnard Hall.

As a sophomore transfer, I have a different perspective on Penn than most first-years. I appreciate much of what most freshmen take for granted: that laundry is free, that I can get Insomnia Cookies delivered to my room, and that Starbucks accepts dining dollars. More importantly, I appreciate the sense of community and interaction in my hall, classes, and on campus in general. At my school last year, I could walk from one end of campus to the other without spotting a friendly face or someone who wasn’t engrossed in reading their e-mail. When I walk down Locust to class, I say hello to my friend on her way back to Hill for a nap, run into the President of the cooking club I just joined (and briefly ask her about our next meeting), give an awkward wave to one of my TA’s, and finally sneak into class where my friend is saving me a seat.

Penn is truly “the social Ivy,” and after about a month here I’ve an incredible array of people who are genuinely interested in discussing topics ranging from Obama’s next steps on the Syrian crisis to the best flavor at Capogiro. I’ve made Facebook friends, gained Twitter followers, added numerous numbers to my contact list, and managed to form a group of friends who I actually hang out with in real life. While it’s easy to complain with my friends and classmates about the high stress levels and competition at Penn, especially during midterm season, I try to take a step back and appreciate that I have people to complain with at all.


View from my dorm room window last year.


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Filed under Campus Life, Rachel S., Student Perspective

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