You start on the corner of 42nd and Walnut, at the two-bedroom apartment you rent with a friend. The first thing people notice when they enter is the ceiling. It’s almost 20-feet high, with crown molding. You didn’t know what crown molding was before you moved in.
You exit the apartment and head outside. Across the street is a 7-Eleven, convenient for late-night junk food runs. On the other side is a dialysis center, serving as a warning not to overindulge.
You walk down Walnut. Between 41st and 40th is the office of The Daily Pennsylvanian, where you spent countless hours a week helping put out the paper. You’ve served as a general assignments reporter, crime reporter, politics reporter, weekly columnist, features editor, editorial page editor, summer news editor, politics blog editor and politics reporter again — a different job almost every semester. The newspaper defined your time at Penn. You roll your eyes when alumni joke that the DP was their major in college. You’ll find yourself making the same joke soon.
On 40th is a McDonald’s that the administration desperately wants to redevelop. You’d be sad to see it go. As one of the few 24-hour restaurants on campus, you’ve spent quite a bit of time here in the early hours of the morning, unwinding with friends after sending the paper to bed.
You cross the river of traffic on 38th and come to Huntsman Hall, home of the Wharton School. People are surprised when you tell them you’re in Wharton. You don’t seem the type. There’s definitely a type. In one of your application essays to Penn, you wrote about your desire to study both business and the liberal arts. You wanted to read Shakespeare and learn the Black-Scholes model at the same time.
At Wharton, you concentrated in Marketing and Operations. You also created an individualized concentration called Digital Strategy, a combination of all the classes you thought looked fun. None of them involved Shakespeare or Black-Scholes.
You walk through Huntsman and exit on Locust. The path ahead leads to Vance Hall, which houses the Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative, where you’ve had a work-study job for the past two years. You edit videos of academic talks and conferences, but a lot of your time is spent talking politics with one of your co-workers.
You head down Locust Walk. The view in front of you — a canopy of trees covering a patterned brick path — is the iconic image of Penn, the one prospective freshmen see in admissions brochures.
You come to the Compass on 37th. To your right is the Quad. Like most freshmen, you lived there your first year at Penn. Unlike most sophomores, you lived there your second year as well. You’ve had some problems with on-campus housing.
You continue down Locust and reach College Green, the most beautiful part of Penn. You’re surrounded by College Hall, Claudia Cohen Hall (which was Logan Hall when you got here) and Fisher Fine Arts Library. Hell, you’ve even come around to appreciate Van Pelt’s looks.
Across 34th is the Engineering Quad, to which you’ve had few reasons to go. Beyond it are the Palestra and Franklin Field, to which you started going only this year.
The campus is expanding to the east, but those aren’t the parts you know. You’ve only visited Penn Park once, when the University’s executive vice president was so appalled upon hearing you’d never been that he took you on a tour of the facilities himself.
You stand before the statue of Benjamin Franklin, in front of College Hall. Franklin is quoted often at Penn. He began his 1749 proposal to establish the University, “The good education of youth has been esteemed … as the surest foundation of the happiness both of private families and of commonwealths.”
You look around at the heart of your campus. You think about your walk here. You can’t help but be happy.
Prameet Kumar is a former Daily Pennsylvanian editorial page editor, features editor and politics blog editor from Forest Hills, N.Y. After graduation, Prameet is moving to Seattle to work at Amazon.com. His email address is email@example.com.