The city of brotherly love

In west Philadelphia born and raised, on the playground was where I spent most of my days, chillin’ out maxin’ relaxin’ all cool and all shootin some b-ball outside of the school … ok sorry, so I’ve officially arrived and now live in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania! How crazy is that?! I arrived on the 12th September and it’s been a crazy week, and by crazy I mean INCREDIBLE. I’ll break it down for you guys.

Sat – we caught the train from NY to Philly and then dropped all our stuff off at the hotel my mum & uncle were staying in in Philly, then we went to Walmart and got a bunch of essentials I needed to move into my uni accommodation. I was moved in by like 6pm that day – one of my roommates is moved in too but we’re still awaiting 3 other girls and we’re not sure when they’re getting here! My first impressions of Drexel were that the campus is absolutely massive – whenever I go somewhere on campus, I have to take a map with me because it’s so ridiculously big compared to back home – it’s very beautiful though. There’s so much here to do,  from recreational stuff, shopping, eating, educating yourself – it’s SO good. The weather in Philly is actually way nicer than the weather in the UK right now (summer weather) and everybody here just wears flip flops and shorts, which I love, cause that’s like my fave combo. Also, all the people in Philly are super friendly – way more friendly than New Yorkers in my experience – I think people in NY are too busy to have a proper conversation with. So many people here keep telling me to repeat words for them ‘cause they love my accent, which is such a weird feeling. Americans love the Brits, or so it seems – that seems to be all everyone is interested in – ‘omg are you British?’ has been said to me uncountable times – it’s actually super endearing. Also, everybody helps out everybody else, which I love – if you’re lost or stuck on something, people really do their best to help. On my first day I hit up Trader Joe’s which isn’t far from my uni – kinda expensive but the only options on campus are restaurants and 7/11’s, so for a proper grocery shop, it’s your best option (or catching the Sub), or alternatively, a meal plan, which I opted out of. My room is pretty nice too – big and spacious – it was a very emotional day on the whole.

Sun – this was my first time catching the Subway – way more complicated than the London Underground but once you get the hang of it, it’s not too bad. Me and my dorm floor went to the Pennsylvania Convention Centre (which is awesome) and Drexel surprised us with a really cool concert where Mr Sampson played (trap/dubstep, really good) and balloons were released from the ceiling and Mario the Dragon was loving life and it was all very crazy. This was a part of the Drexel welcome week and lets just say, Americans are a prime example of ‘Go hard or go home’ – it was excellent. Straight after that, we headed to the Reading Terminal Market which is actually a really famous tourist location in Philly, notably because it appeared in National Treasure (the film – loads of this film was shot in Philly) and it was probably the biggest food market I’ve ever seen. There was such a wide range of stuff to try, seriously, it was all beautiful and delicious and I want to live there forever. All this week Drexel was giving out free food as well (they clearly knew I was coming) so then we went back to Drexel and ate a lot… and I mean a lot! Trying TastyKake products and Water Ice were on my bucket list and they did NOT disappoint, so good! The US definitely have one up on the UK in terms of food. The amount of soft pretzel’s I’ve had since being here is just ridiculous, I love them so much :’) This first day, everyone was super excited to meet everyone else, and obviously very nervous. I met some nice people from Jersey and we all hung out after the food babies happened. Then me and my roommate Catherine went to watch the Dodgeball game and hit Shakeshack for some rootbeer and a peanut butter milkshake (FAVE) – luckily, the two of us REALLY get on, we have loads in common. Like in Shakeshack we had some deep conversations considering we hadn’t known each other long – we’re like 2 peas in a pod! I think I have a new US bestie (not to replace the UK besties, of course) – we’re exploring stuff together and having the best time so I’m super happy that I get to live with her this year – it’s going really well. We’re both quite apprehensive about the arrival of our new roommates but I’m sure they’ll be pretty cool people, I know nothing about them at the moment. The day has just been full of talking to new people and exploring everything Drexel has to offer – if you know me then you know I love meeting new people so this has been really cool.

Mon – so here I had to do a bunch of stuff for my international student status – I had to get immunizations (which took ages), sort out my dragon card (student ID), attend an orientation with other international students (all of which were really nice – we ended up playing a game of Quizzo and my team won the most creative quiz name and came second in the quiz itself – our name was Dragon Ball Z, cause you know, Drexel Dragons? Yeah we’re lame) and it was cool to meet people who were just as lost as myself :’) This all took up most of my morning and afternoon but then I hit Barnes & Noble to try and buy some Drexel merch (so expensive) and I got a couple things but not nearly as much as I would have liked! Drexel hoodies and tshirts are so cute, seriously. I skyped my boyfriend for the first time in the US and it made me miss him even more – 100% the hardest thing about being in a different country 🙁 but I won’t dwell on that cause I don’t wanna depress you all ha, moving on, Catherine and Janelle dragged me to my first Zumba class which was hard AF, but actually really fun when you do it with friends, so I wouldn’t mind doing it again. I ran into my mum and uncle too as I was leaving zumba – they’re still in Philly until Thursday and then they go home back to England. They brought me more stuff for my dorm – thank. god. I turned up super unprepared, as usual :’)

Tues – I had another orientation session today, which was really beneficial. Very long though. And I met up with my mum and uncle and got some essentials for my dorm and did some serious shopping – Burlington’s is perfect for that kinda stuff. I skyped some people and got emotional too, seems to be my life lately :’) But I’m actually dealing with being away from my friends, family and boyfriend a lot better than I thought I would be. I think it may be because I’ve been pretty busy and surrounded by people all the time – the minute I have nothing to do and think about things too much then I think the loneliness will strike, so I plan to keep busy. Though I’m feeling quite proud with how well I’m dealing with it – maybe I’m somewhat independent after all haha. Alternatively, some days I feel like an absolute mess without my boyfriend so, maybe not. Me and Catherine went to see Negin Farsad (comedian) this night and she was absolutely hilarious – she’s a writer for Comedy Central and has a film or two coming out and she was a very witty, smart, feminist and fair comedian – was a really cool night. I think people can learn a lot from going to her shows – would definitely give her upcoming book a read! On the way back we ran into the Jedi society and they wanted to teach us some choreography that they practice – this was actually really cool (cool in the ironic nerdy way) – I love the passion that these guys have! We then headed to a party that my friend from Brazil invited me to and I was the only British person there – this was the first time this has ever happened to me so it was such an interesting environment to be in. There were a lot of people talking Portugese then alternating back to English which was crazily impressive and then everyone else was American – it was such a good night! There was like the best vodka punch, we did sambuca/salt/lemon shots and then ended the night with some beers – very fun and met some awesome people! Conveniently too, I loved all the music – that always makes for a good night I think. I went to bed at 4am and had to get up at 8am the next morning though, worst decision.

Wed – I met some people who will be on my Psychology course today – my entire class seem lovely, as do the professors! We were all shouting out where in the world we came from and there was people from different parts of America, Singapore, China and other cool places and everyone seemed pretty chill about this but then when I shouted that I was from England, literally every single person in the class turned to look at me and smiled and was like ‘Omg hey!’ – I can’t believe how much American’s will love the fact that you’re from England, it’s really cute actually haha, I feel loved. We had tours of the Psych departments and the buildings in Drexel are very beautiful! Then me, Catherine and 2 Brazilian guys we met the night before (Pedro and Oscar) hit Chinatown and had bubble-tea in Tea-do (So. Freakin. Nice) and checked out City Hall, The Love Statue and just explored a bit more of central Philly – it’s such a beautiful place with really awesome history and culture – I actually feel really privileged to be spending a year here. Pennsylvania itself is massive too, Philadelphia is just one city within it – I don’t know where I’m gonna find the time to explore all this! We went to Independence Mall and played ping pong which was very unexpected but very fun (I was awesome, if I do say so myself) and then coming home, we clearly HAD to hit a street vendor and get a falafel sandwich – new favourite food. Chickpeas are literally life rn – if you haven’t tried falafel, go try it right this instant cause you won’t regret it! I’m sure it was only like $3 too, so worth it. We then had some leaving drinks of the night for Pedro as he was returning to Brazil after a year over here – we got into some serious talks about the fact that American’s call all biscuits ‘cookies’ – what up with that? Ha I’m kidding, but the differences between British English and American English is crazy – you wouldn’t expect it. Me and Catherine are definitely learning a lot about each other’s cultures and it’s really interesting. I’ve found that there’s always at least a small language barrier with everyone I talk to – even if they’re American and speak English, it’s still so surprisingly different. For example, American’s say roommate instead of flatmate, say 5.30 instead of half 5, say oats instead of porridge, say band-aid instead of plaster and so much more – the list is endless. Me and Catherine are at the point now where we’re just fully taking the mick out of each other’s accents – it’s wonderful haha. Anyway, drinks was fun – we played ‘Never Have I Ever’ and again, didn’t get to bed until 4am – my sleeping pattern is well and truly non-existent at this point – the sleep deprivation was very real.

Thurs – I had to say goodbye to my mum and uncle today as they were returning to England – my mum cried so much, which actually made me cry – I was totally fine until I saw her cry and then it was just awful. But it’ll be ok with time – I might see them again at Christmas and if not, it’s only 10 months 😐 But anyway, I had to get some test results today and then give them to Drexel to assure them that I wasn’t any sort of international threat to American students – thankfully, I have no diseases haha. Me and Catherine checked out the gym as it’s free for all Drexel students (how awesome’s that) and it’s actually voted the best gym in Philly – I can really see why, the facilities are unreal – there’s swimming, sqaush courts, a rockclimbing wall, standard cardio equipment, different weights and a bunch of different classes you can take, very cool. We then went to an astronomy observatory in one of Drexel’s buildings (and btw, the interior design of this building was ridiculously good, like, very astoundingly beautiful considering it was a university building) and looked at stars through telescopes and from an observation deck – there was also some awesome views of Philly as we were quite high up – really good shout going to that, I enjoyed it. We then hit ‘Night on the Row’ in our cute little dressed up outfits to check out the sororities (though I think frats seem more fun to join) and I’ve never met a nicer bunch of girls in my life – they obviously wanted us to rush their sorority but they all seemed so genuinely lovely. They were all so beautiful too, like I think it’s a requirement that you have to be flawless in terms of physical appearance and personality in order to join. Plus, Drexel has a strict no hazing policy, which I’m rather fond of! I’m undecided on a sorority at this point – I think we checked out all the houses and I can’t decide which is my fave – a few stand out but it’s gonna be difficult when it comes to rush week. I’m not even certain I want to join a sorority, they take up a lot of time and require a lot of responsibility but I do think it’d be a good idea. It’s ashame that girls can’t join a frat – all the frats were drinking beer, having bbqs, playing super loud music and video games, seemed hella fun. There was so much free food baked by these sorority girls; blueberry popcorn, chocolate covered pretzels, water ice, icing biscuits and cupcakes – I was pretty full afterwards hah, they were so delicious – it was a really good night.

Fri – today was a lot more chill than all the other days, thankfully. I got some more test results today, said bye to my roomie as she’s heading back to Jersey for the weekend to run a 5k (wow) and accidentally turned up to an information meetingt hat I wasn’t supposed to be at. I got to speak to my boyf a lot today with the less busy time schedule – so happy about that. I still can’t deal with the Philly heat – it’s so ridiculously hot and I was not prepared for this haha. So this night was pretty chilled – me and Janelle watched some tv and movies and just chatted in her room before her roommates arrived the next day! The interior design of her bedroom is so nice compared to mine, like she has tapestry and fairy lights and stuff. I  need to make a trip to Target and Ikea ASAP really.

Sat – so today I did my weekly shop at Trader Joes – considering all the stuff I brought should last me the week, it only cost around $50 – I was very pleased with this. Me and Janelle had to walk there in the burning heat – it was impossibly hot for Philly and Janelle wanted to get a taxi back even though it was like a mile away haha. Then we went out to get dinner and I found out that my roommates had moved in, Mick and Theresa. They both seem absolutely lovely – I’ve had a few conversations with each of them and these are the girls I’ll be living with in my room for the year and they genuinely seem wonderful – I’m very happy about that because living with someone you don’t like would just make for a really uncomfortable year. Then my friend invited me to my very first frat party (Beta something, don’t hate) and it was everything that you’d expect. We played UK vs US Beer Pong and guess who won? UK. We know our alcohol haha. We had some cool games of Never Have I Ever (this is a worldwide thing and I love that) and it was generally just a good time. Before going to a frat party you need to google the rules of a frat party and how to keep safe at a frat party – literally that is a requirement before you go because they’re not the safest places to be. I won’t get into that too much but make sure you check that out before atending one. After the party, the early hours of the morning, me and my friend Nicole stayed up pretty late having chats in my room and then we met up with some other guys and ended up stargazing outside – what a lovely way to end the night haha.

Sun – on the final day of the week, me, Ana, Nicole, G and 2 other guys who I’m very sorry to say actually forgot the names of (sorry guys – we haven’t spoke much) went to Benjamin Franklin Parkway and saw all the preparations for the Pope’s visit – it’s an absolutely beautiful park. It was gorgeous weather too which just added to the beauty of it. Then we took some photos outside of the ‘Rocky Steps’ (you know, the steps that Rocky runs up in the film – nerdy moment yet again) which is actually in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. We also hit Shakeshack and the Urban Eatery this day but had to get back as we had a floor meeting with our RA – here is when something super embarrassing happened. Me and Catherine were a little bit late to the meeting and before we got there, our RA was apparently talking about how drinking is banned on campus and that it’s a serious issue and then when we got there, we had to introduce ourselves to everyone and say something that we like to do. Jokingly, the thing I said I ‘like to do’ was drinking – everyone in the room was dead silent because of what the RA had just said. Janelle however, could not contain her laughter :L I felt so bad when she explained what I just did haha. The RA was super friendly about it afterwards though haha and she gave us lots of cookies and I ate too many and felt sick afterwards. Me, Catherine and Janelle had some super interesting girl talks this night – some serious bonding went down, which I love. And of course, delicious chocolate chip banana bread was involved. I love these girls :’) It’s so nice having people that you can talk to anything about. And it’s a plus when they’re absolutely hilarious.

Sorry for the longness of this post – it’s been a busy week – I think from now on I’ll incorporate much less detail to my posts hah, sorry if it took you a while to read – it took me a while to write! I’ll try keep you guys updated in a more simplistic way from now on :’) It’s been a chaotic week.