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The City & Me

pialikesowls's picture

Exploring cities has always been something I love to do. What better way to combine this passion with a college credit than take a class that essentially has you exploring a city week after week? Better yet, a city I know almost nothing about: Philadelphia. Though it has not even been two months, the city has quickly become a part of who I am: a part full of Shake Shack, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, an attractive man playing a guitar, a not so attractive man attempting to hit on me, and so much more. 

I feel very lucky to attend a school near a city. I actually almost applied Early Decision to a school in Maine, aka the Middle of Nowhere. I would have suffered and gotten antsy without a city for me to play in. Though Philadelphia is not as great a city as New York (sorry, but not sorry), I still have a great time exploring. I appreciate the fact that the class is so open and that I have the opportunity to choose where I want to go and how I want to experience it.

My first experience in the city was with the whole group, which I liked, since I was unfamiliar with the city. Even with the smaller groups, I was comfortable. I feel as if it was the most structured trip of the three I’ve been on for the class, and we still had a lot of free time. Perhaps the fact that we were in a big group together and had times we had to be places made it seem more organized. Even though I only did some shopping and had Shake Shack, I felt as if that was a good start for an official first trip into the city of Philadelphia.

My second trip into the city coincided with another trip for my art history class, and I made my way to the mosaics from the Philadelphia Museum of Art by myself. I didn’t mind at all, since I find that I see much more without acquaintances around. The experience felt more pure and unadulterated, and I observed so much more and saw a lot I might not have otherwise. Friends didn’t distract me and I actually got to see a different part of the city. In addition, my day was filled with one of my favorite things: art.

My third trip to Philly was to First Friday in Old City, where there was a whole street of galleries open and people selling stuff on the street. First Friday was something I probably would have gone on by my own, since I love art galleries and old bookstores and record shops. Though there were a few very odd moments during that night (i.e. The Mushroom Man), the great outweighed the strange to make a wonderful experience. I managed to see the city at night, which I didn’t get to do on the previous two trips.

While there are so many different people in the class, with people who are biology majors and English majors or cities majors, I feel as if this class can be catered towards anyone. For example, I have catered this class for me by picking arts-related destinations and activities. For a biology major, she could choose a medical museum. For an English major, she could choose a poetry reading. For a cities major, anything can be possible. That’s why I love this class: it’s like a personalized exploration of the city that you can experience from whichever perspective you want.

When you first go into a city you don’t know, you start small. You maybe go to a museum, maybe walk around a little bit. That’s how I feel how I was at first in class. I wasn’t very vocal and was mostly an observer of those who did contribute a lot. However, as I explored more of Philadelphia (even doing it by myself), I found myself having more to say in class. I had opinions and stories that I wanted to share and felt that the class would benefit from what I said. I now feel a little bit more comfortable navigating both Philadelphia and the discussions we have in class.