Despite my effort to keep a journal on daily basis, some parts of my life seem to go undocumented more often than another. It’s usually when I’m moving somewhere new, especially if I’m moving alone, that I forget to record my thoughts and experiences. After all the shopping, minor house maintenance works and room decoration, I usually just drop by the time sun sets (especially worse when compounded with jetlag!)

Daily Journal written in both English and Korean
Journal from a previous year. I must’ve been still moving when I started this page.

However, moving to Philadelphia for the first time (and alone), I became determined that this time, I will make sure to keep track of my first days in the city! First days and weeks at a new place might not feel so important in retrospect. However, for those who will be moving to a new place, moving in and settling is one of the biggest anxieties. Also, it’s worth looking back at all the prep work that we had done to be where we are today. So here goes my first week in Philly…
 

Moving in

Moving all by myself while suffering food poisoning wasn’t the easiest but I made it, thanks to many helpful resources! The most difficult part was moving big pieces of furniture. A second-year IEDP student shared her wisdom with me and told me about TaskRabbit, which is an app you can use to hire helpers on hourly basis. If you aren’t so sure if you can lift that box spring and climb up to fourth floor, I highly recommend using this app! I got most of my furniture pieces from Free & For Sale page within UPenn group on Facebook. The only downside is, most of the times, you have to physically in Philly to purchase the items listed. But you can find some really great deals if you stay vigilant! My cohort mates with cars have driven to Target, IKEA and Walmart to furnish their rooms so if you do have a car with you, you will have more options.

Other than furnishing, getting a cellphone service and opening a US bank account are extremely important if you moving from abroad! There’s only so much you can do without bank accounts and working phone so I’d recommend getting them ASAP. Most of the banks and cellphone service centers can be found on Walnut street nearby the campus.

Five people standing in a room with balloons on the left wall and food on the right side of the photos
Some of our cohort at Perry World House for International Student Orientation. PC: Namreen Syed

Orientations

Upon arriving on campus, you will soon find out that though each orientation usually does not last for more than couple days, there are so many that you could go to: International Student Orientation, IEDP Program Orientation, GSE Orientation and potentially more. One might question need for so many orientations, but each takes slightly different perspectives into life at GSE and Penn in general and they can be really insightful. If that’s not enough of a motivation for you, here it is: free food and company!

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First Bank of America Building!

Other than that, I also spent my first week attending on-campus job trainings and being touristy in what will become my own city. The Old City of Philadelphia has a quaint, historic charm that captivates even those who didn’t like history in school. It sure was a hectic first week and I was overwhelmed at times. But there will always be help and great places to explore in Philly – don’t miss them out!