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.