I’m only a freshman, but newborn and noobish as I may be, I like to think I’ve figured some things out about this place. One of those very few things I know for sure is how almost nothing feels better than coming back to Penn. Where else does unrelenting intellectual stimulation meet heavy drinking at the corner of 36th and Walnut, right next to where that homeless man is lounging on a bench and a Greenpeace advocate is calling you a dick for ignoring him? But really, one of the other things I know for sure about Penn is to always pretend to be on the phone when you’re passing a Greenpeace advocate.
But there’s trouble in Pennadise. There’s something oddly disconcerting beneath the sheen of returning to our little haven of personalized shot glasses and moleskin notebooks that you bought to doodle/pontificate in for a couple pages or so. We ignore that ugly little feeling because, well, it’s homesickness, and homesickness is for refugees and invasive species and ten–year–olds taking their first shots at sleep–away camp. But you miss your mom’s cooking. You miss wailing out the lyrics to “Someone Like You” in your car. You definitely didn’t miss that off–putting smell that wafts over you the first time you set foot back in the Quad, and your feet aren’t too glad to be reunited with those ugly, bright orange shower flip–flops. Part of you feels like it might as well just keep on raining, you might as well tear into that third Boston Market “Hearty Serving!” frozen meal, and you may as well just stay in your bed…even if it’s not as comfortable as the one you left behind.
I know I’m being dramatic, but I’m a freshman, and I reserve the right to be dramatic. Maybe it’s my fresh–meat status giving rise to all this undue anxiety in the first place. After all, I am a refugee. An invasive species. A ten–year–old taking my first shot at sleep–away camp. I’m between homes, having left the nest behind and not yet totally acclimated to my new surroundings. But however present that post–break depression might be, it’s always stifled by the third and final thing I really do know about Penn: I love it here. Sure, I’m being cheesy. But I went to a public high school and got a little choked up when my mom told eight–year–old me I was too old for Sesame Street, so I reserve that right too. Here’s the bottom line: the more I think about it, the more this post–break depression seems like just another side effect of the freshman condition. I’ll say it again—I love it here. And I look forward to the moment I realize my post–break depression has suddenly, in a puff of red and blue smoke, become post–semester depression, and I can’t wait to leave Adele, my bed, and my mom’s excellent cooking behind.