On Thursday, October 14th, popcorn saved my life. Well, maybe not my life, but certainly a big chunk of it. Returning to Penn after long stays at home has always been a hard thing to do. I love Penn to pieces, but leaving country and family for a place where I have to think in a different language and the menu isn’t Costa Rican-flavored is no tea and crackers. By now, I’ve figured out that it takes me two weeks to regain my Penn self after physically getting to campus. I deal with it. I make sure that chocolate is readily available and I sleep in a little more than usual until one day I wake up and am excited to head to Van Pelt. Works like clockwork. But this fall I had no such luck and by week three of the lingering bluesy feeling I was freaking out.

This was in no small part due to the utter wonderfulness of my last summer. As a self-proclaimed loner who would rather stay in and watch a silent movie than be in a crowd of over fifteen any day of the week, I don’t have very many friends (which is okay, I deeply love the ones that I do and that has always been enough). Yet, I was taken aback sometime last August when I realized that during my home stay I had unexpectedly met two new ones. And not just any two new friends, two people that I can say (leaving aside my fear of cheesiness) that I hope I know for the rest of my life. I want my kids to play with their kids and call them up when I’m 72 to complain about my knee ache.

But then September hit and I found myself back at Penn, a junior with my sophomore year roommates (and more importantly my pals) away in London. I had the biggest workload that I’d ever had and classes were not going so smoothly. Or, rather, a class: Astronomy 001. All of which would have been fine, had it not been for my complete lack of mojo. By the evening before my first astro midterm, the moon made me nervous and I was crying at the sight of sad puppies.

As I was taking the exam I quickly realized that I was failing. Failing the test but, more crucially, failing at being at Penn. Wholeheartedly being here. I exited DRL A1 and dropped the class. After all, I needed space and flunking an exam for the first time in my college career gave me a pretty solid excuse. Without much thinking I walked from 33rd to 40th, bought an overpriced movie ticket and sat at the theater, popcorn in lap. I looked around at the other three people there, wondering what they had just dropped: Calc? Bio? After a while I didn’t really mind, the popcorn tasted great and it was then, unexpectedly, that I felt it. My mojo was back.


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