Friday, July 4, 2014


Left: Julia Mason; Right: Julia Shebek
After a well-rested morning, we set off for a nice walk towards Distritos for breakfast. It was a rare occasion in the East Coast where the weather was cool and very breezy after an evening storm, which reminded me of the Bay Area. We chose our meals from a large variety of Mexican food and watched the broadcasting of the annual Nathan's Hotdog Eating Contest on the TVs. The disgusting and horrifying images of the competitors cramming hot dogs into their mouths is seriously not something you can get rid of in your head that easily. I still don't understand why Distritos decided to broadcast that show to their eating customers. 

Nevertheless, it was a wonderful morning and Mr. Hillyer showed us around UPenn's campus afterwards. 

UPenn's Dorm Entrance
First, we made a stop outside the entrance of our future dorms. It was guarded by security officers and we did not have student IDs or the permission to enter, so we were unable to check out the interior. However, the stunning, castle-like architecture of the dorm buildings was enough to make me so much more enthusiastic for Sunday, our Penn move-in day. We continued to stroll around the university and went down the school's well-known Locust Walk to try to map out a pathway from our dorms to other buildings. We connected a road from the dorms to the dining hall, Penn's bookstore, and other shops along the outskirts of the school. Our little tour will be very helpful (especially once we start attending class at UPenn) but my horrible sense of direction  might not be the best characteristic to have when trying to find my way around a large college like UPenn. 

After a decent amount of relaxation back at our hotel rooms, we were ready for a blast in Philly for the 4th of July. Artists such as The Roots, Nicki Minaj and Ed Sheeran performed in the concert that was held right in front of Philadelphia's Museum of Art. We cut through the skate park and walked around as we tried to find a decent place to watch the performances. There was a massive amount of people and there was no way that we would be able to see the concert since the whole road was already filled with early celebrators who had probably been waiting since 5:00 AM in the morning. We dropped our search for spots to find a food truck and grab something to eat, but the lines were incredibly long (especially the ones for funnel cake). We continued to walk farther down the road since the lines seemed to have shortened and finally found a decent hot dog food truck to order at. There was no way that I was going to eat a hot dog with the mental picture of the eating contest still fresh in my mind, so I opted for cotton candy instead. 
The walk next to the Schuylkill River
Although there were a bunch of people around and maneuvering around the park was quite difficult, the event was extremely fun. Actually being able to celebrate Independence Day in the East Coast by watching fireworks explode right before our eyes, is way better than sitting on a couch back in the Bay Area watching the celebrations on a sad TV screen. However, the night started to get a little more hectic when the whole giant crowd of people right in front of where we were standing suddenly started screaming, pushing and running towards our direction. We had no other choice but to grab onto each other and scramble quickly along with the crowd unless we wanted to get trampled on. No one had any idea of what was going on, but we soon heard that some people faked a disturbance and scared others into moving away so they would be able to get closer to the front of the stage. The things that people do to see Nicki Minaj....
4th of July Fireworks

If I haven't emphasized it enough, I love being in an urban city. Philadelphia has the perfect amount of "urban" and I actually enjoyed being surrounded by a bunch of patriotic strangers who would  chant "U.S.A." from time to time. We found a spot on a field next to the Schuylkill River and the skate park and watched the amazing show of fireworks lighting up the night sky. 

If exploring all these lovely colleges and touring around the city didn't make me fall in love with the East Coast, tonight certainly did. 

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