Moving On

By Emily Kirschbaum

Last weekend, I had planned on doing a whole weekend in Washington, D.C., but with all my pending due dates and papers I had yet to finish, I decided to just do a day trip — which ended up being a very good idea. I got to D.C. at around 9:00 a.m. and headed for Capitol Hill, and then walked all the way down the mall to the Lincoln Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery.  However, when I got to Arlington my camera mysteriously malfunctioned and wouldn’t turn on!  So I didn’t get any pictures of the cemetery, or the White House, as I was planning on circling back that way on my way back up to Capitol Hill. I ended up going to a bar in Union Station for happy hour as the 90 & sunny turned into 75 & pouring rain, and read a book I had brought until my bus left for Philadelphia. It was nice though, to take this trip on my own, have a day to myself, walking around in the sunshine, and winding down with a nice mango martini to the patter of rain on the colossal columns that are found all around D.C.  

On another note, this is it; the last week.  

God, I am so glad that I listened to my gut and got out of Holland, to a place that I’ve never been, completely on my own.  I’m better prepared for these next few months, which are full of “next steps.” I graduate on Sunday, May 6, and will spend the weekend with my friends who have had a life-changing/defining last semester that I haven’t been able to be a part of. I will see my family, my girlfriend and maybe her mother all together for my commencement celebration. I will travel to Chicago a few days afterwards to go to New Student orientation for graduate school. I will meet up with a mitigation social worker in Chicago to talk about the field and a possibility of an internship. I will spend some time looking for apartments with my girlfriend in Chicago. Then, I’ll return home for my last summer there before moving to Chicago in August.  

It’s kind of crazy.

I’ve also noticed, that for the first time, I’m moving ahead of a lot of people I love. I emailed my mom the other day about where I should apply for a deferment of my loan repayments, and she didn’t even know what a deferment was. In my last City Seminar class on Friday with Deborah, we talked about the “culture shock” that might happen when we go back to our home colleges.  How we may be more sure of who we are, where we’re going, what’s available to us, and what we’re capable of than many of our friends and classmates. I think that’s one of the most honest conversations I’ve had about wrapping up my time here — and I’m honestly a little worried about giving off an air that I’m “better” than others I know because of it. But, I really am so much more confident than when I started this semester.  Not that I was tripping over my shyness, but I had my 10-year plan and I was ready to stick to it, if only for my own sense of security. I was hyper-aware of my role as an intern, and a “lesser” employee in my workplace.  Now, I can walk into work knowing that I actually know quite a lot. I know that the members the community mental health organization where I interned have truly appreciated and will miss my presence there. I also know that in certain areas, I had a lot to give back to them. I can walk into classes knowing that I have a whole lot to contribute, and still a whole lot to learn.  

It’s hard to say goodbye to this city, these friends, my tiny West Philly apartment, and especially to all of my mentors here. They’ve seen me grow in ways that no one else, but myself, truly understand. I learned a whole lot of independence here, and I’ve solidified many of my values, self-understanding, and empathy for myself and others. But I’m ready to move on. I’m ready to give this adventure another shot in another (even bigger) city. I’m ready to use the skills I’ve learned here and start this next part of my life more prepared. But, the doors to Philly will always be open, and TPC will be home base if I ever end up back in this (fabulous) city on the East Coast.  

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About The Philadelphia Center

The Philadelphia Center offers undergraduate students the opportunity to thrive through experiential education with PHL:EXP, the Philly Off-Campus Experience. Each term we help students secure professional, accredited internships and independent housing throughout the vibrant and diverse city of Philadelphia. Students explore career paths through real-world applications and rigorous, seminar-style courses. We provide our students with the opportunity to gain independence while learning in a safe and supportive environment. Our students leave Philadelphia with a strong sense of their abilities, social and professional aspirations, and a plan for their future.

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