Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Living In History

Our final day with John, at the hotel, but yet an opportunity of a new chapter waiting to begin has finally come. It was the day where we would all move into the dorms at the University of Pennsylvania and start our summer programs we enrolled in. Even though I would probably still be able to hang out with my cohort together, I was still somewhat sad. From the intense traveling and crash course touring, to the appetizing food we were exposed to. Something told me things were going to be different even though what we did is still open for us to happen. It made me uneasy.

Final Dinner Together
After noon, we had all of our bags packed ready to be dragged across the UPENN campus where we would be settling in. Our dorms designated to us were in the Quadrangle, it’s usually dedicated to the freshmen who attend the campus but is temporarily being conquered by all of us. The people who checked us in were extremely friendly leaders or room advisors throughout the campus. They broke down to the four of us where we would be staying, how to use the two keys given to us, the keycard ID to allow us into the dorm area along with 4-digit pin code, and where to get help carrying our belongings. Simple, yet nerve-wracking.

John had generously put our luggage together into one of their rolling box carts and helped push it into the campus for us. The group leaders were so efficient in aiding us to our rooms carrying our belongings, which was extremely considerate and made all of our lives a bit less stressful. One guy, unsure of his name (they weren’t that friendly), showed me which key unlocked which doors and which unlocked my room as well as taking me to the dorm building I would be residing in. My building was located in the back right of the Quad in the Leidy building.

As we reached my room I soon found out I would be rooming alone, probably because of my confusion of what “single” meant while deciding room preferences back in May. I am not complaining about it, though, because I am very pleased with the large spacing, view, and sink with mirror above located in the room. These rooms are as old as America itself, if not, older. The floors were all wooden along with the furniture. One light that takes its time as it slowly fades then bursts with light into the room above mirror.

Thanking the man as he walked out I soon began exploring the details of my room. Long, twin bed located against the wall to the right of where you walk through the door along with my fairly spacious, wooden closet. Parallel is a book shelf placed on top of a desk with left side drawers, to the right of that is a what seems to possibly be a brand new dresser, and a sink with metal mirror hanging above. The air conditioner was placed right in front of the wide view windows leading to a close view of the Quad. Having my windows opened let in some warm and bright sunlight as well as view but allowed for people to peek in with ease. It was soon time to meet back down to meet the cohort and John for our final lunch together before the program starts. I left the room and snagged my purse along with my essentials to return again. 

Inside Look of Baby Blue's Barbecue
The place of choice to eat was yet another barbecue place down the street from the university across from CVS Pharmacy called Baby Blue's Barbecue. I had ordered a fried catfish sandwich (don’t judge--I know they’re bottom feeders) with a side of fried okra and a freshly brewed sweet tea, which was delicious. We all were talking and laughing together enjoying one another’s company deeply invested into the different conversations we transitioned into. It was nice, happy, and the best dinner we’ve had together in my own opinion. All of us had forgotten about where we were, the schedule we needed to be on track with because we were distracted by each other’s’ presence. John was the one to bring us back to the reality of managing our time and taking care of our business in time to be back at the dorms according to our given schedule

We hit up CVS to restock in some needed supplies we ran out of or didn’t pack then quickly to the bookstore to get our PENN gear. John had taken us here on the first day so we had enough time to figure out what we wanted so we could just get it in the time like today. It was a quick in and out then we were on our way. The day together passed by so fast it was unbelievable. It was weird telling John bye. The four of us had grown so accustomed to him leading us around while we followed like lost puppies. This meant it was time for us to be doing this all on our own. I was sad as this reality hit me but still proud of the independence. With shy waves we all made our separate ways.

Being back in the Quad we all decided to explore one another’s rooms. Mine was the first we went to, mainly because that’s where we would keep our shared products and since I was living by myself. I struggled slightly opening the door exposing my experience dealing with doors. A lot of them don’t like me, I couldn’t even unlock the hotel door on my own back at the Sheraton. I am so appreciative of my room being so close to the main building door it was fast to get inside. The reactions of Chris, Allonna, and Diana’s reaction to seeing my room was priceless. “Your room is so nice and big.” “What, you have your own sink?!” “Your room is bigger than mine.” Hearing those words come out of their mouths were so funny because it wasn’t that serious, in my opinion. My room was nice but still an average dorm room on the campus.

Next, we had moved onto Chris’s room which was in the Franklin Building right next to me. He was on the third floor. It’s a good thing for him that he enjoys exercising because that may get tiring after a while of marching up and down those long staircases. He had a single room as well but smaller than mine, which is understandable why he would be slightly upset or jealous. I mean if our rooms were reversed I would be feeling the same way.

Desk Space in my Room
From there we went to Allonna’s and Diana’s dorms whose rooms were right next to each other. Sadly, we didn’t figure that out until we had walked all the way around to Diana’s. Both of them have roommates living with them. Allonna’s room also had a nice view to it. Her roommate was nowhere to be found when we had arrived there. Diana’s room was a slightly warmer than what was expected, maybe because their AC machine was blocked and covered. We also met her roommate who was taking the biomedical program they have at UPENN. Diana needed to move her closet away from the outlet to where she can access it with ease. The wardrobe being bigger than her, Chris, being polite, offered to help move it with her. The furniture was really stubborn and was difficult to budge without tipping it over. Feeling useless, Allonna and I, decided to do some exploring of the dorms, searching for the bathrooms and laundry room in particular.

It was still somewhat early before it was time for us to start our group icebreaking activities together. Finding ourselves back at my dorm, we peeped down the window toward the basement of the Leidy building where we had believed is where we were to do our laundry at. We were terrified. The basement was so old it looked like it could lead to a tunnel somewhere. The features and detail of the walls, steps, and bottom door literally looked like a dungeon of some sort. It seemed as if anything could come out of there. Thankfully a room advisor passing by relieved us of this nightmare by telling us that’s where the maintenance room is, even the people who worked down there were as terrified as we were. He directed us to the office stating in that basement is where the laundry room was located.

After checking out the small sized laundry room, it was time for us to meet with our RC’s and everyone else on our floor. My RC’s name is Louise. She graduated at the University of Virginia and double majored in American Studies and Psychology. Thee career she is trying to pursue is a marine animal trainer because of her love for aquatic sea animals, sea lions in particular. She has worked for Disney, Water World, and water parks along the East Coast. Her, and another RC of the second floor, Val, brought us all together to play an ice breaker to get to know each other. We sat together in a circle and stated our names, where we’re from, the program we’re in, and a fun fact about ourselves. It was difficult hearing people as they talked because they weren’t speaking at a loud volume. Listening to some of the girls share a fun fact about themselves, I discovered that I had some things in common with them. Louise wore contacts and has bad vision as do I, Ting-Ting is a part of speech and debate but does Policy, Liz is from the San Mateo area of California, and Sunni is from San Francisco Bay Area. It was interesting discovering these things because it made it easier to talk to one another.

Once our ice breakers were finished for now, we all walked together in a group to our dining area for dinner. Before moving further past the stairs leading to our food, we were required to swipe our cards with the person at the cash register where it remove $8 from it. The dining hall was packed filled with so many people that we could start a mob. Squeezing by the groups of people made things difficult and dangerous to reach the food. What’s dangerous about it is irritating people while they’re hungry or being a barricade between them and their food. I know I’m a bit grouchy when I’m hungry resulting to being “hangry” which is anger formed due to being hungry.

After finally being able to squeeze past all those people, I had faced another challenge: finding food I can actually eat. I eat a specific dietary consisting of no red meat (beef and pork). My mom raised me that way my whole life, so if I end up eating it, I can get food poisoning or sick since my body is not use to consuming it. The only thing that I could find other than salad to eat was pizza. Even though I was slightly tired of eating pizza, I couldn’t complain too much since my only other option was not eating at all. I grabbed a cup of water along with it and searched the court for where my group may be located at.
I sat at a small table next to my neighbor who lives to the left of me, Mahek. Starting conversations, keeping them going, and getting to know someone is really awkward at first, but once you start it’s amazing how much you learn about them. Mahek is from upstate New York and goes to boarding school. She enjoys having the ability to have no roommates because she’s had it rough in the past dealing with them. Her favorite part of New York is Brooklyn. She’s taking the Biomedical Science program at PENN.  After talking with Mahek, more girls started joining our table from different areas of the world including Cairo, Egypt. We soon began learning more and more about each other in such diversity.

Outside View of the Quad
As soon as everyone finished eating, we headed to CVS where some girls can get things that they needed for their dorms and then headed back to the Quad. By the time we made it back to the Quad, everyone was playing ice breakers together and then a huge rock paper scissors war broke out. Watching people play was really funny. People were so competitive over it and exaggerated when they lost. It grew intense once the groups starting getting larger and more people were included. The game quickly ended but led to a new activity within our groups.

Louise and Val had us form another circle in the grassy area. They then broke down the rules and procedures to follow while being a part of PENN’s Summer Discovery program. They explained to us about our curfew, activities, where we will be eating, signing in, having people in your dorm, and all the ins and outs of the program. It seemed a bit stressful listening to these at first but then as I had thought about it, it shouldn’t be too hard to follow within the guidelines. They then showed us around the area of the Quad so we would understand and know where everything is. It was difficult touring through the office though because there were so many others doing the same thing, which led the building to be overcrowded. Thankfully that was our last stop and after, we were released to do anything we wanted.

I decided to head back to my dorm and finish unpacking everything into my closet, drawers, and bookshelf. It took me maybe around an hour but I was still able to finish. It was almost time for our curfew which is 11:30 PM. By that time everyone needed to be in their own dorms. I quickly decided to go shower really quick in the restroom down the hall. I was terrified at first. Walking down in a robe was one of the most awkward feelings I got in my stomach. Thankfully only a couple girls saw me. After showering, I felt good and ready for bed. Being here, was a start of something new and life changing; I could feel it.

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