So you’re a freshman. We get that, we’ve all been there. You made it through NSO alive, you are way too afraid to change your classes around (your schedule is set), and you think your hallmates are pretty cool. But how much do you really know about the inhabitants of this place you’ll call home for the next four years? Everyone is on their best social behavior the first few weeks (minus the blacking out in a bush outside the Quad that one time). But soon you’ll see true colors shining through. You’re going to meet a lot of new people this year. You’ll like some of them, pretend to like others and absolutely loathe a choice few. But let’s be honest — isn’t the best way to analyze future friend prospects to sort them into categories and judge them before you get to know them? Yup. Fortunately, we’re here to do that for you! You can thank us later.
The Double Legacy
This second (or third, or fourth) generation Quaker pops up more frequently than you may think. Assured to be an early decision applicant, the Double Legacy undoubtedly owns a framed picture of her infant self in Penn garb. Whether accompanying her grandparents to the first football game of the season or pointing out the Quad hall in which her parents met 30 years ago, the legacy won’t let you forget that she knows more about Penn than you do. As you were trying to make sense of campus during Penn Previews this past spring, the legacy was filling out her housing application early — she has dreamt of living in Ware since middle school. And while not every member of a Penn dynasty has a building or two named after her, plenty of these Quakers-fo’-life can be found immortalized on engraved stones on the Locust bridge.
If you’ve already heard the continuous vocal stylings of an aspiring star next door, brace yourself: you’ve got an Entertainer on your hands. An expert at singing, dancing and reciting her memorized Dane Cook monologues on loop, this particular breed of artist is nothing without an audience — namely you. Between Performing Arts Night and the Activities Fair, you may have noticed that Penn offers a variety of opportunities for these types, all equipped with “clever” musical puns for names. There’s an all-male comedy troupe, an all-female comedy troupe, a South Asian a cappella group, an African dance group and a co-ed South Asian comedic a cappella group with African musical influences (well, there might as well be). And another truth you’ll find over the next four years? Most of these groups’ performances are bomb. So when your neighbor comes to sing and soft-shoe in your doorway, humor her — her “demo” could be worth something someday.
The Awkward Sophomore
There is a kid at the end of your hall and you still don’t know who he is. The last time you saw him was at your hall meeting, and you noticed his answers for Two Truths and a Lie were pretty boring. He didn’t come to your hall’s BYO night at Bistro La Baia and he didn’t answer when you knocked on his door to invite him to an off-campus party. You and your friends have sat together in the lounge and talked about ways to get him to hang out with you. Maybe he doesn’t like you? You are kind of nervous about this but play it off. Newsflash: this guy is just an Awkward Sophomore and probably thinks you’re annoying. Maybe he got screwed out of the housing process, or maybe he really liked his room, or maybe he is actually just a really uncomfortable person no one else wants to live with. Regardless, leave him be. Maybe next year you too will be in his shoes. Cross your fingers!
A third of Penn’s campus is Greek, so you will most likely encounter more than a few future frat bros and sorostitutes during your first few months on campus. While the wannabe frat stars will be wined and dined by older boys who shamelessly manflirt their way into the hearts of impressionable potential pledges, girls who want to go Greek can’t even step foot inside a sorority house except during the designated open house weekend. Regardless of gender, Greeks-To-Be are the most likely to embrace Copa Wednesdays and brave the Spruce scene on Saturdays. With images of powderpuff, mixers and lettered hoodies dancing in their heads, these students will want to live it up as much as possible before pledging begins in January and they lose all independence/dignity/etc.
Easily recognized by their red, squinty eyes (often disguised by neon, plastic-rimmed sunglasses) and a sleepy disposition, freshman hall stoners at Penn are a different breed altogether. They have the illicit act down to a science: the sign of a true Ivy Leaguer. Their rooms are replete with a plethora of strategically placed desk fans, they boast an endless supply of Visine, Febreze and salty snacks and they’re constantly on the phone with a “Jimmy” or “Rosco,” particularly after a long weekend. A friendship with your hall’s Pothead is by far the best friendship money can buy, and it just may last you all four precious years of college. In their later years at Penn, these Marley-poster-hoarding hippies will most likely be seen porch-sitting on Osage, Kissing the Sky or distributing blue bins to their green-loving neighbors.
The Facebook Friend
Once upon a time, incoming freshmen creeped on each other through Pennster, a Penn-only social networking site that allowed you to cyberstalk the kids on your hall before you arrived on campus. Pennster no longer exists, but Facebook is still in full force. (Duh.) Without a doubt, you were friended by at least one hallmate who was all, “OMG!! Sooooooo excited to be on 2nd floor Speakman! Are you bringing a microwave??” Maybe you engaged in some wall writing and/or private messaging with this person, because it would be nice to “know” someone before you get to school. But then you will meet them in person... and it will be awkward as fuck. Either this “friend” will ambush you and you’ll realize why you will never try J-Date, or they will ignore you completely in order to save face. You will probably talk about these encounters for the next four years.
On your application to Penn you probably checked off that you were interested in “student government.” Then you got here and realized that no, you were not. But one day, there’s a knock on your door. It’s that guy from down the hall holding a piece of paper. “I’m running for the UA,” he says. “Will you sign my petition?” Then a person taps you on the shoulder as you wait in line at Commons. A classmate passes her petition around your writing seminar. Next come the posters. Locust Walk morphs into an aggressively chalked slum of yellow and pink photocopies with Really Clever Slogans making puns on brands of alcohol or using numbers where words should be and promising better food and free printing and pony rides for all. But you will have the last laugh. These future UAers will soon come to hate their existences, and goals of plushier toilet paper will quickly be replaced by goals of not slitting their wrists during 30-hour Sunday night meetings.
Also known as The Kid Who Showed Up To Your Hall Meeting Smelling Like Leaves, the PennQuester is the freshman guy or girl who already has 40 new numbers in his/her phone before NSO begins. They hug upperclassmen on Locust Walk, shake their yarn-clad wrists at each other in some form of mating ritual, participate freely in what can only be called “PennQuest-cest” and talk unceasingly of pooping in the woods, GORP (a trail mix phenomenon of sorts) and “the titties song.” If you didn’t do PennQuest, prepare to be reminded of just how much you missed out on at many social events this year. Once the novelty of freshman year has worn off, you’ll often find these kids populating Penn Environmental Group meetings, a capella groups and every house party you will ever attend, dancing like they’re back in the woods again.
The Penn athlete may be confusing at first. They actually are smart. Usually. Yes, their shelves might be stocked with nothing but protein powder, but don’t let the dumbbells under the bed fool you — these kids are hitting the books too. It’s actually unclear how athletes make enough time in the day to mix practice and workouts with being full-time students. While most of us deceive ourselves by scheduling hour-long blocks of Pottruck time into our Google calendars between classes, some athletes are prepping to wake up at 5 a.m. for crew practice or a workout at Hutchinson, a top-secret athlete gym somewhere near Narnia. Athletes also have a bigger meal plan than you. Dining dollars what? It’s all about the Quaker Plan. Since they need to be eating at every moment of the day to keep their energy up (do not do this, you will get fat) you will see your athlete friends every time you go to Hill. Keep this in mind when you run out of meals in December and are looking for someone to mooch on.
Thanks to Wharton, Penn is one of the most pre-professional-oriented schools in the country. This is annoying for the liberal arts students who just want to read and write and finger paint, but the business-minded folk do provide a constant stream of entertainment. Freshman year, this love for finance will manifest itself as The Kid Who Uses Economic Models To Explain Why He Can’t Get Laid, The Kid Who Thinks Management 100 Is Real Life and The Kid Who Makes The Most Of His Business Degree By Selling Adderall In Van Pelt. Later in your college career, these kids will be referred to as “The Worst,” intern at Goldman and make obscene amounts of money while simultaneously hating their lives. You will also meet Econ majors who will attempt to transfer into Wharton. They most likely won’t get in, but will claim they “never really wanted to anyway.”