The only Daily Pennsylvanian issue I remember from freshman year is the graduation issue. I had tacked the paper on my bedroom wall so my roommate and I could refer to the photos of ecstatic graduates for inspiration. Now, almost three years later, it’s our turn to be the joyous graduates, and I still can’t believe it.
I’ve had handfuls of touching Penn memories — the messy camaraderie of Hey Day, the life-threatening floor seats for Akon, even the late, late nights in Rosengarten. I will always reminisce about the past four years at Penn, no matter how difficult they may have been at times. If anything, being challenged academically was necessary for me to fully enjoy myself. My smile in Hey Day pictures would have been half as wide if it were not a merit badge, inspired by disbelief that I managed to survive until senior year.
Of course, our ability to cope with stress is what makes Penn special. We have a reputation for embodying “work hard, play hard,” which is unsurprising given our intellectual roots: Benjamin Franklin himself was arguably equal parts genius and lothario. True to his vision, Penn students are pretty good at balancing their lives in and out of the classroom.
So what’s next for 2,500 bright, self-motivated graduates? If Penn has taught us anything, it’s to keep moving forward, to never stop challenging ourselves. We already put this into practice by leaving our hometowns and attending Penn in the first place, and now it’s time to do it again.
This brings me to my present conflict: Where do I go now? Should I stay in Philadelphia — my place of comfort — or move elsewhere, risking my happiness and quality of life? If you read Penn alumnus Roy Vagelos’ autobiography, Medicine, Science and Merck, you will find his take on this problem: “We changed our lives decisively about every 10 years. Each time the move came when we began to feel we’d accomplished most of what we’d set out to do. When that happened, a new challenge became appealing.” Maybe graduation is a sign that we’ve accomplished what we can here, and so it’s time to move on.
Yet despite knowing how important it is to find some place new, I have a hard time with the idea of leaving Penn. Not only am I so emotionally attached to this school because of the people I’ve met and the maturity I’ve (arguably) attained here, but also because — and this is, in my opinion, the best thing about this school — Penn keeps getting better and better. I am completely jealous of incoming students, who will have not known a time when HubBub and Bobby’s Burger Palace were not on campus (and if they’re lucky, by the time they’re seniors, they’ll be able to experience Tap House, too). I don’t remember a time when there wasn’t construction on campus, which speaks to Penn’s attitude of constant growth.
It almost scares me to think that in 20 years when I return to campus for a visit, I may not recognize the place. But of course, this characteristic is what makes Penn so incredible, and I can only hope that after graduation I will continue to grow and improve like Penn itself.
Cyndi Chung is a College senior from Toms River, N.J. Her e-mail address is email@example.com. Slip of the Chung appeared on alternate Mondays. Cyndi plans to attend medical school in the fall.Comments powered by Disqus
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