Monthly Archives: January 2015

1/24: New Surroundings

At the time of my last post, my housemates and I were just moving into our new home: a 3-bedroom loft apartment on the edge of Center City. We quickly went to work on furnishing it, and after several cab rides and hours of shopping at Ikea and Target, we managed to turn it into a livable — if somewhat sparse — home away from home. We rewarded our hard work with brunch at the very hip Cafe Lift nearby.


The Loft: Before



The view from our window

It was a rough first couple of days in the apartment, though. After getting our Ikea furniture set up, we made a trip to the nearest grocery store, which was a Whole Foods about 9 blocks away. This turned out to be an ambitious adventure, since we ended up buying two packed grocery carts’ worth of supplies and having to lug it back to our loft in the rain. We calculated that each person was carrying 25-35 lbs of groceries, so not surprisingly, we all collapsed with exhaustion as soon as we got home.

A quick aside: I’m learning that in Philly, unlike Seattle, there aren’t a lot of supermarket-type grocery stores around. Most people seem to do their shopping at corner stores and little bodegas, which is very different from the grocery shopping I’m used to. My housemates and I are still adjusting to this lifestyle, since Whole Foods is pretty expensive, but all the other grocery stores are at least a 30 minute walk away. Reading Terminal, the amazing indoor market that is similar to my hometown’s Pike Place, is another option for groceries, but it sadly closes around 5 or 6 pm every day and doesn’t carry necessities other than food. So far, the lack of proper grocery stores is my biggest complaint about Philly.


The Loft: After


My little corner

After our tiring day, I happily snuggled into my new Ikea comforter on my new air mattress (the cheaper alternative to a real bed). This attempt at rest was short-lived, however, since the building’s emergency alarm started blaring at 1 am in the morning. Scared, confused, and still half asleep, I grabbed my purse and coat before my flatmates and I hurried down six flights of stairs with the building’s other tenants. We waited outside in the freezing cold as the fire truck arrived and the firefighters entered the building to find the cause of the alarm. Turned out it was a burst pipe in the basement — not good, but definitely not life-threatening — but, to make matters worse, they did not have the key to the basement entrance and were therefore unable to turn off the alarm. So, everyone was forced to head back into the building and wait for another hour until the property manager arrived to turn off the alarm. All in all, not an enjoyable way to spend our second night in the loft.

Over the next few days, my housemates and I started our classes at TPC, researched internships, and drafted resumes and cover letters. Though it felt good to be moving forward on these projects, we continued having problems with the loft. We found that the kitchen sink had a major leak, making it — and the connected dishwasher — impossible to use. After calling the plumber to fix it, one of our toilets sprung a leak. The plumber came back to fix it. The next day, the toilet not only continued to leak, but also began continuously running, making it virtually impossible to use. The plumber returned, reported that he needed new parts for it. Today — a week after moving in — is the first day that our loft has finally been in full working order. Though I’ve rented before, this experience has definitely reinforced my belief in the difficulties of moving into a new place. I’m optimistic, though, that I will soon adjust to these new surroundings.

Stay tuned for more on the internship placement process and my explorations of Philly!



1/18: The Hardest Part

For me, the hardest part of any new experience is the transition. It’s the period of time before I have fully settled and adjusted to my surroundings. I am a person who values structure, routine, and the familiar, so big changes–like leaving home and going to college, for example–cause me to stress and worry about the unknown.

That’s the way I felt as I got ready to come to Philadelphia. I knew the first week would be hard, since everyone arrives without knowing where they will live or who they will live with. The first week is therefore dedicated to meeting each other, navigating the city, and finding housing. Myself and the forty or so other TPC students spent this week in a hotel, sharing a room with three strangers while we frantically tried to settle into our new environment. Luckily for me, I found a great group of housemates fairly early on, so the real challenge was finding the right apartment.

The TPC staff were of course very helpful and supportive during this whole process. They provided us with housing leads and tips, and checked in with us several times a day to see how things were going. They reassured us that, no matter what, everyone would be moving into their new house or apartment by the end of the week. So I tried very hard to suspend my need for control and structure and to trust in the process, which demands flexibility. The TPC staff told us this again and again–“Be flexible!” And of course they were right. The moment that took the most flexibility was when my group thought we had finally found the right place–a 4 bedroom row home in South Philly–only to run into trouble with the property management company. TPC advised us to let the apartment go, as it would probably be more trouble than it was worth, and to take our second choice: a 3-bedroom loft on the edge of Center City (the downtown area). At first this was disappointing, as each member of our 4-person group had wanted their own bedroom. But as I got used to the idea, I realized this loft was probably the right choice for us. It’s close to restaurants, shops, grocery stores, museums, music venues, and the TPC headquarters. It’s safe and secure. And, really, if you’re going to live in one of the largest cities in the country for a semester, isn’t a downtown loft with a view of the skyscrapers the quintessential experience?

So that was it. We made the decision, signed the lease, and moved in on Saturday. And yes, I will be sharing a room with one of my housemates, but I think it was the right choice. Now–after an all-day shopping spree at IKEA and Target–we are working on making this apartment feel like home. The hardest part is over, and I can start really living in Philly.