Sunday, July 3, 2016

A Promising Beginning

Today was the first official day of the Summer Discovery program here at the University of Pennsylvania. This morning, we finally got a reprieve from the long days of travelling that called for us to wake up early and go to sleep late at night, so I took full advantage of the opportunity to catch up on some sleep and “slept in” until about 7:30 AM, when I woke up to work on my blog from the previous day, as we had all been too tired to write our blogs the night before. I decided to get breakfast from the lounge room on the 20th floor, the first time in the four mornings I had been in the Sheraton that I had the opportunity to do so. The room was already bustling with people when I got there at about nine in the morning, but somehow, after getting a bowl of oatmeal and granola, I was fortunate enough to find an open table, so I edited my pictures as I enjoyed my meal before going back to my room to do some more work on my blog.

After packing up our belongings, we met up in the lobby around noon to check out and make the long trek to the Quadrangle, where we would be residing, with all of our luggage. Just outside Memorial Tower, one of the entrances to the Quadrangle, we saw a booth where the Summer Discovery staff were providing each student with a small map of the Quadrangle, a building key, a room key, a Penn ID card, and lanyards. They also told each of us how to get to our rooms and wished us good luck with the program. 

We helped Mr. Hillyer load the luggage into a cardbox box on wheels (essentially, that’s what it was) and entered the Quadrangle using our Penn cards for the first time, which was exciting, at least for me, because it seemed to symbolize the transition to living in residential halls, although I was somewhat apprehensive at the prospect of living with a roommate, as I was worried we would not share the same tendencies, which could have led to dissatisfaction. However, my concern proved to be for nothing, as it turns out that I have a single person dorm, meaning that I will have my own room, just as I had requested, although I had still been open to the notion of having a roommate.
My dorm room for the next 20 days

The room is reasonably sized, as I have enough space to avoid feeling cramped, although it is much smaller than my room at the Sheraton, which is of little concern to me. The building itself is rather old, but all the facilities seem to be functioning properly, with the sole exception of my air conditioning unit, which I was told should be fixed by this Tuesday, a reasonable time, given that Monday is Independence Day and employees will have the day off. I am also on the third floor of my building, which is a bit higher to climb, but I don’t mind, so I’m satisfied with my dorm so far.
The other side of my room

After spending some time absorbing the environment of our new rooms, we met downstairs again and went to go look at the activities calendar for our program, which consists of plenty of fun events, including laser tag, a Phillies baseball game, and a trip to Ocean City, just to name a few. Once we had examined the calendar to our satisfaction, we headed out with Mr. Hillyer for somewhat of a “goodbye” lunch, although he will still be just a few blocks away from us. We walked to Baby Blues BBQ and were coincidentally seated at the same table that Mr. Hillyer had been seated at for the goodbye lunch for all the other cohorts he had chaperoned to UPenn. We discussed our upcoming activities in the program as well as our dormitories, and, for Allonna and Diana, roommates. After a great meal there, we went to CVS Pharmacy to pick up some essentials before going to the UPenn bookstore to get our sweatshirts, graciously provided to us by the Ivy League Connection. Finally, we said our goodbyes to Mr. Hillyer and went our separate ways.

Baby Blues BBQ restaurant
We managed to navigate our way back to the Quadrangle successfully without getting lost and without our trusty chaperone, a proud accomplishment for us. We explored the area a little bit together before Diana and I retreated to our rooms to continue working on our blogs and unpack. At around 5:00 PM, I went downstairs to meet my group of building mates and our RC, Franklin, who will be looking after us throughout the program. After we had all gathered in front of our building, we started walking towards the 1920 commons, where we would be having dinner together. I got a chance to talk to Franklin for a while and learned that he is a rising senior from New Jersey studying to be an art teacher, and that as a part of accomplishing that goal, he has been working as a substitute teacher as well. I was also able to get to know some of my building group during dinner, as we talked about where we are from, what courses we will be taking at UPenn, as well as other various topics.

After dinner, we returned to the Quadrangle, where we started doing some ice breakers to become more comfortable with each other. We started by playing a game with a volleyball that involved saying a random fact about oneself when thrown the ball and continuing the game by throwing the ball to another person. Eventually, as we started to run out of ideas, Franklin changed the game by making us regurgitate the facts that other people had said. I’ll admit that I struggled with the game in both its forms, which I’m sure was quite apparent to all my groupmates. Finally, we decided to stop that game once people couldn’t recite any more facts that they had remembered and we just tried to keep the ball in the air for as many sets as possible. People continually joined and left this game, but I believe our record was about 13 and it was a fun way of getting acclimated to each other.

Eventually, we stopped and were told by the RCs to get in a big circle (although I’m not sure what shape we ended up forming, it was most certainly not a circle). They informed us that we would be playing a game called “Move Your Butt,” which immediately made me wary and somewhat apprehensive about what that could entail. The rules of the game is that a person in the middle has to make a claim about the people in the “circle,” and if that claim applied to any people, they would have to run and find a new place in the circle, until the odd person out had to go to the middle and make a claim. However, this turned out to be chaotic, as there were too many people to keep track of and people were unwilling to be the odd person out, so the RCs gave up and started a rock paper scissors tournament.

Apparently, they take that very seriously here, as competition and cheering got fairly intense, especially in the later stages of the game, at which competitors gained more and more to lose with each victory. Eventually, a victor was declared and the crowd separated into RC groups once more. Franklin told us the fundamental rules and guidelines we would have to follow and gave us his contact information before releasing us to pursue our own desires. While most of my groupmates went back out to explore some more after exchanging our own contact information, I retired to my room to get work done once more. I finished unpacking and checked in at the RC office, which is mandatory to ensure our safety. After working some more, I showered and returned to my room. The bathroom was decent and seemed to be clean, although rather cramped.

I’m excited by this beginning to our Summer Discovery program, as even today, our very first, was already pretty fun, so I’m looking forward to what’s yet to come.


  1. The “long trek to the Quadrangle”? Really? Google Maps says it’s just an 8 minute walk (without dragging luggage)--just 4/10 of a mile. And it was flat! Oh you young people...

    Glad the dorm room and communal bathrooms aren’t too bad. These are the kinds of things that are radically different not only from one school to another but from one dorm to another. They’re also the kinds of things applicants tend to forget to look into when they apply to a school. This is where you’re going to be living so shouldn’t you be comfortable?

  2. I'll admit that the "long trek" is a bit of an exaggeration. As for the residential halls, they just about meet my expectations, although they are a bit older than I had pictured. I think the aged appearance somewhat lends itself to the feeling of living in such a historic university as well, so I'm glad I got the dorm room I did, except for the air conditioning unit that doesn't work.