My go-to introduction at Penn usually goes something along the lines of, “My name is Julia, I’m from Taiwan, and I’m a sophomore studying English and Computer Science.” For me, the part about being from Taiwan is a natural statement--it is, after all, where I lived for eight years, and where my family currently resides. It wasn’t until recently, amid discussions about internships and voting, that several of my peers were surprised to find out that I can actually work and vote in the US.

So the long story is that I was born in Boston, but moved to Hong Kong at an early age because of my parents’ jobs, and ended up in Taiwan for the second half of my childhood. I had always attended international schools, and both English and Mandarin are my first languages. Growing up straddling multiple cultures felt natural to me.

At the same time, I don’t fit in the quintessential “Third Culture Kid” profile that sites like Buzzfeed often publish lists about. I haven’t attended ten schools in eight countries in the span of three years; I’m not mixed; I grew up considering myself Asian-American. Then I got to Penn and realized that my conception of Asian-American is completely different from what my peers, who grew up in the US, understand. The beauty of Penn’s diverse student body, though, is that mutual understanding does not depend on geographical or cultural circumstances at all.

The people closest to me at Penn seldom have the same background as I do, but there is something about the people here, an openness towards new ideas, that allows us to bond despite our perceived differences. It really comes down to personality, and that of course, knows no socially constructed limits.

-Julia W. '18

An Unexpected Friend

Over winter break I had the privilege of traveling to visit my sister who is living in Taiwan. Previously, I hadn’t been able to travel very much, but when I got this opportunity I was very excited. Experiencing Taiwan was so cool for me with different language, food, culture, and way of life. Having so many friends from school that were international and even Taiwanese made the experience especially cool. It really opened my eyes to the size of the world and how lucky I am to be at Penn where I have so many people living down the hall from me with diverse backgrounds and experiences.

After being in Taipei for three days, my sister and I decided to take a trip to Okinawa, Japan. With only an hour and a half flight, we were there very quickly. We went through customs and proceeded to find our way around the small island. Speaking no Japanese made it difficult at times, but my sister and I managed. We took tours through the island, went to local restaurants (as long as they had a picture menu), and relaxed on the beach. On the last day, we decided to take a ferry to an even smaller island, inhabited by less than seven hundred people called Tokashiki. This island was truly paradise with turquoise water and large white sandy beaches. As we got to the beach it was only my sister and me. This was paradise. Then, after about an hour, two more people came onto the beach. I looked at them and couldn’t believe it. It was one of my hall mates from freshman year at Penn. It was truly amazing to me that I could literally be around the world on a small deserted beach island in the middle of the East China Sea, yet still see a friend from Penn. It really showed me how lucky I was to be connected to a place like Penn. It’s truly an international place with amazing connections around the world. 

-Jack C. '17

Philly Firsts!

Earlier this year, the Lonely Planet ranked Philadelphia as #1 of Best Places to Visit in the U.S. To celebrate, let's look at a couple "firsts" and "bests" that might explain why Philly, indeed, is so great.

+ In 1731, Philadelphia opened the first US library.
+ The first US hospital was established in 1751.???
+ UPenn was the first-ever American university, founded by Ben Franklin in ((()))
+ Philadelphia boast's America's first zoo, just two miles north of Penn (1874).
+ The world's first full electronic computer, ENIAC, was created in Philadelphia in 1946. 
+ Philadelphia experienced the greatest growth in millennial population among major metropolises between 2006-2014, at 6.3% (NYC totaled in at 3.1%).
+ Temple Health was the first researchers to successfully eliminate the HIV from cultured human cells
+ In 2015, the Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania gained international acclaim for executing the first bilateral hand-transplant on five-year-old Zion Harvey.

Notwithstanding all of the above, the city of Philadelphia is still in an upward trajectory like its never seen before, and man, it feels good to be number one.

-Helen N. '18

The Philadelphia Concert Scene

Philly is a hub of cultural perfection. Just walking down to Center City brings on a pleasant onslaught of sensations—we have pieces of the world at our Millennial fingertips. However, in my opinion, Philadelphia as a center for musical genius is one of the most valuable parts of the city’s composition. Music injects life into the city, providing an additional piece of vitality in its diverse makeup. In Philadelphia, you’ll get an eclectic tasting of pretty much every musical genre and the artists that dominate each respective genre. Thus, whatever type of music you currently vibe with, it’s guaranteed to come through Philly at some point or another.

As a self-proclaimed music buff, I made it my personal mission to explore the Philadelphia music scene on the weekends. Just attending a concert assists in popping that infamous Penn bubble, since music is a famous medium of emotional escape. The vibrant music scene in Philly offers an even more opportune physical escape, which is such an advantageous prospect to use. Just grab some friends, cruise the Ticketmaster website, and you will surely discover an artist you have been dying to see in some awesome Philadelphia concert venue. The city has intimate venues such as the Theater of Living Arts, which contribute a more intimate atmosphere with the performer, as well as bigger venues such as Union Transfer which provides a more historic texture.

Every year in the fall semester, Philadelphia houses the Made in America music festival that usually includes industry giants. To give you an example, The Weeknd and Beyonce were the headliners this past year, with names such as Future, Banks, J. Cole, Big Sean, Meek Mill, and Nick Jonas making a stunning appearance. It’s an event that many Penn students participate in, as one of the most well-known and well-received music fests of the year. The Philadelphia concert scene is definitely a place for all music lovers.

-Karis Stephen '18