Past the constant sirens and towering buildings, there really is a lot to learn in this big city.
I come from a very small town, I went to a very small school, and later I went to a very small state college. I grew up playing out in the woods and have had way too many encounters with the local wildlife. But living in a tall building in the middle of Philadelphia? I was never prepared for that. And after a week of living here, I gotta be honest. It’s not that bad.
Now if you speak to the locals, they’ll tell you a whole array of different warnings and horror stories. And I believe every word of it. So as an outsider, here’s what I’ve learned so far.
First and most importantly, I’ve learned to always look confident while in the city.
I’m an outsider, but I need to look like I know what I’m doing. Whether I’m strolling down Race Street to grab a bite at Rex Pizza or I’m lost somewhere in Philly’s self-proclaimed “Gayborhood” (true story), I still always walk with confidence and direction. I may not know which direction I’m going, but boy do I walk like I’m the one in charge.
It’s true, the city never sleeps.
Just last night I was up till about midnight to the sound of helicopters, sirens, angry drivers… it honestly never ends. But luckily, most of the buildings are designed to keep as much of the sound out as they can. Just be ready to get stuck in traffic at every turn, no matter the time of day.
Thanks to food trucks, you’ll never run out of meal options.
Now although almost every food truck in the city will have their own version of the “Original Philly Cheese Steak,” this city is still one of the most culturally diverse places in the world. You’ll be able to find a food truck for just about any culture or ethnicity, and you won’t have to spend an arm and a leg either. Most meals from the trucks hover around $8, which, if you’re like me, you’d recognize that it’s about the same as you’d pay to eat at a small-town diner. And trust me, the trucks don’t hold back on the portion sizes.
However, everything else in the city is super expensive.
There are a few “$5 And Under” stores, but they’re often seasonal merchandise. Seriously, I asked if they had a cereal bowl and they told me “we only sell them during the summer.” On the other hand, most of the other stores are expensive, high-class fashion and jewelry, and you really have to search for those affordable stores you might be used to. Philly also has some pretty controversial taxes, and you really feel them with every purchase.
But most importantly, be safe and have fun.
You’re going to be a tiny fish in a big ol’ sea. It’s okay. Take that opportunity to safely explore and just enjoy the adventure. There’s no better place to grow and reflect than in a brand new environment.