One of the perks of studying at an urban campus is that there's a plethora of options to occupy your free–time. You can attend gallery openings, concerts, film screenings and so much more. As a bright–eyed, enthusiastic freshman, I thought Philadelphia had so much to offer. Nonetheless, I quickly found myself only getting to know the city past midnight—I succumbed to the “sceney” Thursday schedule—a BYO at La Fontana and then heading out to Rumor or Whisper—all dolled up in lipstick, bandage skirts and 5 inch heels. After two years of this weekly routine, I realized that to grow as an adult (and upperclassman), I had to abandon these superficialities that have only left me exhausted, hungover and unstimulated.
I made the decision the first week I got back to Penn. Coming back from a long summer, I was eager to catch up with all my friends and wished to hear about my friend's community service in Nepal and my roommate's internship at an environmental consulting firm. But my first night back was a blur of expensive Long Islands, deafening EDM, unsightly DFMOs and a lot of fist–pumping.
In the morning (with a throbbing headache), the night seemed so much worse. Annoyed, I half–jokingly pledged to avoid downtowns, thinking I would quickly succumb to peer pressure. To my surprise, I’ve made it this far into the semester without stepping into Rumor.
Over Capo iced lattes on one September afternoon, a friend and I bought tickets to all the concerts we wanted to go to. Most of which are on Thursdays. I filled up my calendar with plans to see Jamie xx, alt–J and Caribou. During the opening acts, we attended whatever pregame was going on on–campus. By the end of the show, we made it back in time to hit up Smoke's and the late nights. Soon enough, my all–black ensemble turned into band tees and moto jackets. Amidst the crowds of plaid–covered, bearded hipsters at Union Transfer, I definitely didn’t feel I was in Kansas (read: Rumor) anymore.
While concerts have comprised the majority of my weekends this semester, I pushed myself to do all the things I’ve been wanting to check off my Philly to do list: Barnes Museum, Philadelphia Film Festival and Restaurant Week. I got to know Philadelphia in the daylight—without waking up to excessive Uber receipts or (moral and physical) hangovers. To me, this has been ideal. I've goten the chance to spend time with friends, pursue my cultural interests and yet “party” to an appropriate extent.
FOMO? Actually, not at all. This fall, my most fulfilling experiences have occurred outside the realms of bouncers and bartenders. By deprivation, I’ve become aware of the wearying effects of the life of excess that’s glamorized on campus. The well–balanced lifestyle we strive for ends up being quite the opposite. There’s an excess of inebriation, expenditure and superficiality. We drink too much and we spend too much—and all for unstimulating conversations with people we don’t really know. I always felt the urge to go downtown because that’s where the social scene was, only to find myself surrounded by the blackout peer pressure that only gets you points for the Round Up.