Editor’s Note: TPC Welcomes the Fall 2014 students to PHL:EXP, the Philly Off-Campus Experience. Students arrived on August 23 and have been busy finding apartments, researching and interviewing for internships, starting classes, and exploring Philadelphia.
By Rachel Walcott
Written August 29, 2014
As I’m nearing my one week mark in Philadelphia, I am reflecting back on all of the crazy situations in which I have found myself. My time here thus far has been an absolute whirlwind of fun and inner-struggle and comfortable-being-uncomfortableness, and I have loved every second of it! (Okay, maybe not EVERY second of it, but pretty darn close.) Anyway, I just wanted to share with you a few thoughts I’ve had in the last couple of days or so now that housing is settled, I’ve started my classes, and I am really beginning to get a feel for the city.
First of all, when they say bring tennis shoes, they MEAN bring tennis shoes! Now, for me, when I heard that, I assumed that meant slippers in the morning during breakfast, flats to walk to the center, tennis shoes to take a stroll around Philly, sandals to relax at the pool, black heels to hit up the clubs at night, and overly sized socks to put on when I’m ready for bed…and if you’re like me, and have entirely too many pairs of shoes, that might seem logical to you. But…IT’S NOT!
I could have literally worn tennis shoes every day, in every setting, all the time and been perfectly content. With the exception of maybe a nice pair of flats for the more fancy restaurants, I really think you could get by with tennis shoes. Besides, how many pairs of shoes do you really need in 7 days? (Hint: the answer is not 6.)
Secondly, I wanna talk money. Yeah, yeah, money is a sticky subject- but if you don’t want to feel like you are literally BLEEDING money by day 7, I have a few pieces of wisdom I have acquired personally over this week.
1.) Keep track of every dollar you spend from day one. You will want to know just how far your cash (or card) is going, and what you are buying. Be sure to also write down the names of the places you visit, because you might want to share your knowledge some day, or even visit again!
2.) As appealing as it may be, try not to buy anything other than food or drinks in the first week. You’re in a new city! Who knows if that super great deal is actually super great or not? You could end up in a thrift shop on 5th and south and find the exact same thing for 1/3 of the price! (Seriously happened to me… *facepalm*.) I promise, there will be a time and place to buy things, and that time is not now.
3.) While I know that this will be hard, I also know it will really help in the long run. Mapquest local grocery stores and find the cheapest one. Get some basic groceries to tide you over for lunch for the week. I know it may seem like there are so many cool places to eat and you just HAVE to try them all, but just like with the non-food items, they will still be there in a week. The hotel has a little fridge. Grab some bread and lunch meat (or hummus and carrots if you are vegetarian/gluten-free). I know it’s not glamorous, but it will save you lunch money for 7 days, and that amounts to a lot (like $42 a lot, and that’s if you are averaging a $6 lunch). AND you can still eat out for dinner with all of your new friends!
Lastly, I just want to encourage you to talk to every single person in the TPC program. Students, professors, interns, the lovely people who work in the TPC building. You never know what interesting connections you can make! And ESPECIALLY make sure to talk to people you haven’t met yet if you feel like you have already found a group you really *click* with. Cause everybody deserves to be included, no matter what.
So, guys, in a nutshell, that’s what I wish I would have known before my first week in Philly. Reconsider the shoe excess, be money conscious, and be open to communication.