Welcome (or welcome back) to Philadelphia. Chances are, you're not from around here. In fact, most of the incoming class hails from outside of the tri-state area of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, and 12 percent crossed the Unites States border to study here. In this day and age, when Penn attracts students from all across the country and around the world, many outsiders descend on this city each fall. Most of them come seeking a first-rate education, and many choose Penn because of its urban environment. Sadly, though, scores of students fail to take advantage of the great things Philadelphia has to offer. Soon, classes will begin and the Philly heat will turn to cold, making it easy to pass the days from the comfort of your dorm room. Don't let that happen to you. This city was the birthplace of America two centuries ago and is very much alive today with culture and attractions on par with those of any other major metropolis. But too many Penn students only see their own campus and a handful of tourist hotspots. There is more history here than just Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. There is more shopping here than just campus stores and Rittenhouse Square. There are more places to explore culture than just the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The University has provided a few worthy avenues to explore in the coming week of New Student Orientation, including walking tours of Center City and University City, and everyone unfamiliar with the area should tag along. But that is just scratching the surface. Philadelphia is often referred to as a "city of neighborhoods." From Old City to Manayunk or from Fishtown to the Italian Market, there is something different to see in every corner of William Penn's city. (To get you started, section B of today's edition contains a set of 10 places and events you must visit during your time at Penn) There are also dozens of things to do around town that you might not be aware of and that some students never discover. Tomorrow is First Friday, a day on which more than 40 Old City art galleries open their doors to the public from 5 to 9 p.m. On the gastronomic side (where Philadelphia specializes), Restaurant Week begins on Sept. 10. From Sunday to Friday, more than 100 of the best restaurants in Philadelphia offer three-course meals for only $30. The city will be inviting college students from schools all over the region to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at the end of September for the Campus Philly Kick Off, which promises music, food and a rare chance to meet other students whom you may not otherwise encounter. And do not believe anyone who tells you that Philadelphia is not a haven for music. In the coming month alone, Dave Matthews, John Mayer, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Who and Bob Dylan will be playing in the area. It's really up to you what parts of Philadelphia you explore and what experiences make your Penn career memorable. After all, if you did not want to live in a city, you could have chosen Dartmouth. Everyone has something new to gain from the city, even those who have lived here their entire lives. So grab a friend and some SEPTA tokens and get going.
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