Week 2 in Philadelphia

So this week, classes officially start! I’ve really enjoyed having nothing to do but socialise and meet new people so I was pretty gutted about this but I’m actually fortunate enough to have been enrolled into some really cool classes this quarter – I’ve got General Psych 101 (it was a requirement and a precursor for the other courses I wanted to take which is why I chose this but it’s always good to broaden my general knowledge of Psych anyway right?), the Psychology of Sexual Behaviour (I’m really excited for this one – I’m glad I chose it too, my professor seems really nice and the material seems really interesting. The class for this one is quite small – 50/50 in terms of boys/girls too, which I found interesting as my Psychology course back in the UK noticeably has more girls than boys. I have a fair few questions about this particular topic but because it’s quite an unusual and unique aspect of Psychology, it doesn’t get talked about much, so I’m hoping this class will answer some of them), Death & Dying (I know, how cheery is that?! I’m very curious about this class because it’s meant to look at the psychological, sociological, philosophical, cultural and geographical aspects of what happens when you die, what people’s thoughts are on death and dying, how people react to it, etc) and Counselling Psychology (I thought this might be handy for a potential career in Counselling – this and Death & Dying are also quite small classes as they’re very specific classes. I think this might be quite hard work as there may be a lot of knowledge to take in but I’m hoping it’s interesting). All of my classes are really sporadically set out around campus too meaning it took me ages to find all of my buildings – the campus is huge and I had to ask so many people for directions haha. I got there eventually though! The immediate difference I noticed between UK and US classes in university is the amount you’re expected to participate in the US – classes are more like a discussion or a debate rather than a professor just standing at the front of class talking at you. You’re expected to contribute your own ideas, ask questions and start conversations – it’s very equal – in a way, the professor is more like your friend than your teacher, which I like.  Another huge difference is the workload – there’s always something you should be doing or need to be doing for a US class – you’re assessed in so many different ways and there are multiple assignments weekly. You really need to keep up to date with the course materials and make sure your learning is consistent and that you don’t fall behind – I was aware before I got here that the US system is more fast paced than the UK but when you’re actually amongst it, it can be quite stressful and can feel somewhat overwhelming. You also need to keep track of how you’re going to be assessed as all the assessments for each class are very different. Saying all that, I’ve still found time to watch films and TV with my bro’s and generally just hang out and relax. But maybe that’s just me hah. My schedule’s pretty good too – I have Friday’s off completely and on Monday’s and Wednesday’s I’m only in for 50 minutes! Tuesday’s and Thursday’s I believe are about 4 and a half hours!

The security at the moment in Philly is ridiculously high as the Pope is paying us a visit – the amount this has been publicised is crazy so you guys might already know that. New York is being pretty chill about it and just increasing security but Philly is going absolutely mental – the city is expecting 1.5 million people arriving and all the bridges are closed – it’s so hard to go anywhere or get in and out of the city at the moment. Luckily though, we have a 4 day weekend because of this haha. To get into the city centre the other day I went through security scanners – they threw away an apple I had in my bag incase I used it as a weapon? I know. On Friday, Me and Catherine went and saw Ben Franklin’s grave which was in Christchurch park (along with many other people who had died in Philly), The Betsy Ross House (amazing – I was learning some Philly history and Catherine was telling me lots too – Philly is probably the state in America with the most profound and interesting history – and the longest of course. I found this incredibly interesting and I’m really excited to learn more!), went to a Macaron shop and got one of every flavour (all of which were beautiful – pistachio, vanilla white chocolate, earl gray, coconut, lychee and dark chocolate), had some candy from a huge throwback candy store, checked out Penns Landing (really cool – there was an ice-skating rink and it overlooked Camden, New Jersey), went to the Independence Visitor Centre, Washington Square and Rittenhouse Square where we basically ogled all the beautiful stores that we couldn’t afford to buy from! Philly is such a beautiful place to live – truly, the surrounding area is quite breathtaking. Even the parks like Washington Square – they’re just full of patriotic artefacts and beautiful sculptures. We then checked out Carlos’ Bakery which if you know about Cake Boss then ya’ll should appreciate this! I had a Lobster Tail and Chocolate Cannoli (both of which are pastries with lots of fat and sugar – delicious). We also started off the day with a Salted Caramel Frappuccino from Starbucks and it was one of the nicest flavours I’ve ever had – another thing which I 100% believe should be incorporated into a British menu!  Anyway, on Friday I went to another Beta Theta Pi frat party – better than the first one I think. Met the best people there and had the freaking best time, like no lie. I’m not gonna go into the details of the evening but beer pong, chandelier, kegs, an outdoor balcony and then an adventure at the end of the night made for a wonderful evening, to say the least :’) The house was packed, I don’t think they expected so many people to turn up haha – such a good party, wish I had gotten to sleep though before 6am. Oh well :’) Frat parties will definitely be one of the things I miss the most upon my return to the UK.

On Saturday, me and Catherine just spent the day eating a tonne of junk food and doing absolutely nothing (fun but not the best choice when you have the workload I have)! We actually blew off another party to do that – how cool are we. We went to go to Drexel Pizza at night but it was closed (boo) so we hit Shakeshack and found this was also closed (boo) and then we went to 30th street station in hope that Wendy’s will be open… it wasn’t (boo) but THEN, Jersey Mike’s was open and we got hoagies and then I got a bunch of junk from 7/11. Luckily, Catherine’s dad is a cop and he got us into Jersey Mike’s for food after hours (despite us being in our pyjamas and looking awful) – her dog is a sniffer dog too, how adorable is that.

On Sunday, Me, Nicole, Ana, Guilherme & William all went to see the Pope.  You’d think I would have learned some Portugese by now, hanging out with so many Brazilians – I haven’t… Now obviously, as there was 1.5 milion people entering the city in order to see this, you can imagine how manic everything was – it took ages just to move. But I must admit, the city had organised it well – it was very well executed and the level of annoyance was kept to a minimum. We didn’t see the Pope ‘in person’ as you were required to have a ticket for that but we did witness the mass on a big screen in the middle of the city – it was very beautiful and everyone was very loving and full of peace and joy at the time – it was a cool thing to be a part of. I’m not at all religious – I respect religion and people’s want and need to follow one but I must say, I don’t engage in any religious activities at all – I just thought it’d be an interesting experience to see the Pope and it was! We also watched the solar eclipse at night by the fountain outside North – it’s a shame that the pictures taken don’t represent what we saw – things like that are so difficult to photograph!

In terms of food this week, I tried my first Insomnia Cookie on Tuesday and oh my god – genuinely the best cookies I’ve ever tasted! I’m absolutely starting a campaign to start up a store in the UK – I hadn’t heard of these cookies until I got here as there’s a truck on campus that delivers until 3am but I’m so glad that I found out about this early in the year – now my year can be full of Insomnia cookies. With the food portions and how cheap junk food is over here, I’ll be coming back 50 stone heavier :’) Also Peanut Chews and Scrapple – if you’re from the UK you may need to Google this, but we need these in the UK 100% – so good! Not to mention Dunkin Doughnuts – I had a Peanut Butter Doughnut Square yesterday and good lord, it was just immense. Anything with an abundance of Peanut Butter in its core is definitely appropriate for me. I think Cinnamon Rolls aren’t as present as they should be in the UK – they’re everywhere here and I’ve definitely taken advantage of that. Same with Hersheys and Ruffles – I’ve had about 3 large bags of Ruffles this week and I’m not sick of them yet. I understand why my British friends told me to bring chocolate with me cause the chocolate here contains SO much cocoa but fortunately, I like that and Hershey’s is one of my favourites brands! Though the Cookies & Creme are definitely better than the milk chocolate, no one can deny that. I’m also able to get my hands on Cadbury’s chocolate which I was told wouldn’t be possible so hey, I’ve got the best of both worlds here! I truly wish I could convey US food in words but I think it’s one of those things that you have to experience for yourself! Simply amazing.

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