Listen up: once upon a time, everyone here at Penn was just as confused as you freshmen are now — we’ve all at one time or another legitimately tried to avoid the Compass or purposefully touched the Ben Franklin statue. To help out the freshest shipment of freshmen who have just wobbled their way through NSO, we rounded up some of Street’s seniors to share what they’ve learned in the past three years.
When I first came to Penn, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, but I learned quickly from my Wharton–conditioned peers that my literature–based skill–set was extremely “un–marketable.” Panicked about the prospect of homelessness upon graduation, I took practical classes en route to a practical major. It took two years before I finally escaped that confining, pervasive pressure to be practical. And, when I finally did, I realized I had known what I wanted to do all along. Don’t let others’ thinking shape the course of your time here.
– Katie Giarla, Ego Editor
What I Know For Sure
Just because I’m a senior doesn’t mean I’m a Penn expert. With my December graduation growing closer, I think I’m actually more confused than ever. But there are a few things I feel I do know for sure, that I wish someone had told me:
–Whether you’re a senior or a freshman, overachiever or total mess, you will never feel that you have enough on your resume. So relax.
–Life is short. Your Penn career is even shorter. Eat at Bui’s as much as possible.
–Study more at Fisher Fine Arts. Nothing will make you feel more like a Harry Potter character (trust me, I’ve tried real Butterbeer) and there’s no prettier setting for your college studying memories.
–Surround yourself by friends who make you laugh so hard you cry. Who will try anything at Fro Gro at least once, no matter how questionable. Who will pick you up from your last final with a huge jug of mojitos. Who won’t judge you when your room looks like something exploded and your hair looks even worse. And when your four years with them are up, do not let them go. Nothing is more important.
– Paige Rubin, Highbrow Editor
FOMO Is For Dweebs
As Penn students, we’re known (amongst other Penn students, at least) for our “Work hard, play harder” mentality, and it’s kind of brilliant that even the nerdiest of nerds here can build a robot by day and moonlight as a professional booty–popper. But no one here has the time to do it all. Learn to embrace that. Discovering how to spend time by yourself will not only allow you to better appreciate hanging out with your friends, it’ll prepare you for those long nights of aching loneliness when your children are spending the weekend at your ex’s. (Jokes, we hope.) Wasn’t it Andy Warhol who said, “Two’s company and three’s a crowd, but one is also pretty funktastic — trust me on this one”?
– Ian Bussard, Under the Button Managing Editor
Double–count like it’s your job
It’s your first semester at Penn and your advisor tells you to roam free! Have at it! You’re a freshman and you have four blissful years ahead of you. Anything you take will most likely count for one sector requirement or another…right? Wrong. Listen up! Do you want to go abroad? Do you want to spend your last semester at Penn tanning on College Green? DO YOU LOVE FIGHTING THE SYSTEM AND STICKING IT TO THE MAN? If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you need to perfect the art of double–counting. Play your cards right and you can even graduate early or go part–time for your last semester.
– Inna Kofman, Asst. Design Editor
The Beauty of Branching Out
Lyn’s, Marrakesh Express, Bui’s. If you haven’t tried them, go. If you don’t know what they are yet, let me tell you. These are just a few food trucks around Penn, and they are some of my best discoveries from the past three years. Maybe Bui’s spicy mayo sauce should not be considered so highly next to everything I’ve learned in six college semesters, but during my first two years, I bought the same thing from Williams Cafe almost every afternoon: plain bagel, plain cream cheese, black coffee. My first purchases from these food trucks mark somewhat of a turning point in my time at Penn. They taught me the best lesson I’ve learned from college: the importance of going out, trying new food and even wasting time every once and a while.
– Laura Francis, Asst. Photo Editor
These may not be the best four years of your life
Right after high school, all your parents’ friends told you that “college will be the best four years of your life. You’ll love it.” As someone in the midst of it, I’ll give you this instead: Don’t try to make it the best — make the best of what it is. Instead of forcing yourself to love everything and have the greatest time ever, think about what really makes you happy. Bored in a class? Transfer out. Hate the food at Commons (not uncommon)? Go somewhere else. “Friends” not being so friendly? Take the time and find some who are. Don’t get so wrapped up in trying to love everything that you forget to seek out what makes you happy.
– Eillie Anzilotti, Arts Editor
It’s Hall in the Family
Whether you’re living conjoined to your roommate in the sardine can known as Hill or quarantined separately in the pods of Stouffer, make an effort to build some sort of hall community. As the saying that I just made up goes, a freshman hall that plays together stays together. Close–knit freshman halls are the envy of everyone else at Penn (me). While the rest of us are just trying to figure out housing and avoid eye contact with every other person at Smoke’s, you’re walking down Locust shooting high–fives, accepting flyers (!) and waiting til class to group text your little fingers off.
– Sandra Rubinchik, Ego Editor
My friends have a little jar in the corner of our living room and every time I express any variation of discomfort, I have to put in pocket change in order to eventually buy them the liquor it takes to put up with me. You’re only young once. You’ve heard it. You’ve hated it, but it’s true. It doesn’t matter if you’ve committed four years to the same friends, same boyfriend, same major — you can always explore new interests, meet more people and take new risks. I’m having a pre–career career change; I’ll be here another year studying things that overwhelm me in the most brilliant way, surrounded by people I’m not as comfortable with. My friends will have more Jack Daniels than they’ll know what to do with. But it’s never too late to make an uncomfortable change.
– Hilary Miller, Design Editor
Pop the Penn Bubble
Don’t be one of those kids who never leaves the Penn campus bubble. The city of Philadelphia is a thriving, vibrant place, and it’s a huge mistake not to spend at least some of your time at Penn exploring it. Whether you’re into sweaty indie dance parties, classical music, art galleries, food trucks or farmers’ markets, Philly has a lot to offer. Familiarize yourself with SEPTA and use it. Go beyond Center City and investigate Philly’s neighborhoods. And don’t count out West Philly: there are plenty of things to do (and eat) just a few blocks from your dorm.
– Kiley Bense, Music Editor
Do These Things
Make new friends. Take lots of pictures. Learn a new language. Join a club. Join another club. Quit a club. Black out. Hook up on the dance floor. Get a fake. Eat a cheesesteak. Eat a Copa burger. Go to a BYO with your entire hall. Steal something from a frat house. Go downtown. Go to a downtown. Get sexiled by your roommate. Sexile your roommate. Find a class that you’re obsessed with. Rush a frat or sorority. Explore Rittenhouse. Explore Old City. Explore West Philly. Go to class drunk. Smoke at the Biopond. Walk to the Delaware and back. Befriend a professor. Befriend a security guard. Stay in touch with your freshman hallmates. Participate in Penn traditions. Live on campus. Move off campus. Travel abroad. Apply to something you have no chance of getting. Bomb an exam. Find your perfect study spot. Make new friends.
– Zeke Sexauer, Backpage Editor