This last month has flown by and it’s hard to believe I’m finally back for my senior year. There was never a dull moment by the end of the summer. I was able to get much more involved at my internship. I got to go out and actually help paint murals at my field site. I also got to spend the entire last week of my internship on site working with a local artist and a group of middle school students on an environmentally focused art project. The students were each assigned a weed found in the neighborhood and they created botanical drawings which I helped turn into a guidebook for all the kids to keep. We also created paper using mugwort, a local weed. We filled our homemade paper with seeds and then cut pieces out to make a wheat-paste mural so that when the paper falls off, the seeds will grow in the soil below. We also used the paper the students made as the cover for their botanical guidebooks.
I was sad to have to say good-bye by the end of my internship. I felt like I was finally getting into things and having an impact and then suddenly it was over. Getting to see a more administrative aspect was definitely valuable and crucial for developing project management skills for non-profit work but even my supervisor commented on how my face lit up whenever I got to work on hands-on, tangible things like painting murals or working with youth. Previously, I had been thinking about going into social work or non-profit work, which are both definitely still options; but I’ve been seriously thinking about possibly going into school counseling or school psychology. I would love to work in an environment where I get to support students outside the classroom and build rapport with them; while also working somewhere that has stability and pays enough to live on. No matter what, I plan on taking a gap year or two to figure out what exactly I want to do with my life!
On the social end of the summer, I continued doing much of what I did earlier in the summer: going out to eat, going out with friends, taking advantage of free concerts, and taking day trips to visit friends. I went to another free concert in Northern Liberties with my friends Elizabeth and Megha, though unfortunately it poured so much that we left before the headlining band Cold War Kids came on but we still got to enjoy the opening band Capital Cities and ate some of Philly’s most delicious sandwiches beforehand. Another weekend, Elizabeth and I volunteered for the XPonential Music Festival in Camden, NJ across the river from Philly. It also poured that day sadly but on the bright side, we got to see My Morning Jacket, Wilco, and Bob Dylan free for volunteering!
Philly is in a great location because it is only a few hour bus drive to get to several other East Coast cities. One weekend, I traveled down to DC to visit my friend Alia. I was determined to have a non-touristy experience of DC so for the first time, I visited no monuments so I got to see DC as a real city rather than just as the capital. The first day we explored Georgetown and got cupcakes! It was one of the hottest weekends of the summer so a majority of our time was spent relaxing in the shade on the waterfront. We met up with my friend Colleen from home and shared Vietnamese food for dinner. The next day, we meandered around the adorable neighborhoods around H Street, met up for lunch with our friend from Haverford who was in Indonesia with us, and saw the Air and Space Museum. I’ve come to really love DC (though not how expensive the housing is) and I am excited to visit even more, especially now that my good friend’s family has relocated just outside.
I also went up to New York City for the day to visit my friend Grace, where we explored the East Village, a part of NYC I had always heard of but had never experienced. Being a foodie herself, she showed me some great places so throughout the day we got Mediterranean food, bubble tea, and Japanese food for dinner. We stumbled upon a pogo stick competition, watched all the cute dogs run around in the dog park, and I was able to purchase the first two seasons of Friends on DVD at a moving sale where everything was a dollar!
My final days were spent saying good-bye to friends who were off to other countries for jobs and studying abroad, exploring new neighborhoods of Philadelphia, going to film festivals (where my friend actually helped make one of the films), and mentally preparing myself for school. Summer seems like a distant dream now but overall it was definitely a good one. Living in Philadelphia doesn’t arouse the same excitement for other people the way it did last summer when I was in Indonesia but I feel like Philly is actually a home for me now. Bryn Mawr has been my home since I’ve been here but Philadelphia always seemed distant and confusing. Now I can navigate it without even thinking and have found hidden gems in every neighborhood that I’ve visited. Philly is not glamorous like Paris or New York. I like that though. It’s authentic, hardworking, walkable, and filled to the brim with life and full of characters from the avid sports fans to the Mummers who parade the streets in bright colors every New Year’s. I had spent only half a day in Philly to see the Liberty Bell when I was in eighth grade so it’s pretty crazy to think now I’ve formed such a connection with the city. Despite Philly’s flaws, I’ve come to love it and I couldn’t imagine going to college anywhere else.