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Credit: Daniel Xu

For many freshmen, New Student Orientation is a time of firsts: the first time living away from home, first time sharing a bathroom with a whole hall of people eight other people and more often than not  — first time attending a fraternity party. 

Rising Nursing sophomore Annie Koo and rising College sophomore Isabella Tagliaferri remember their first exposure to Penn's party culture well. While both girls had experienced party life in high school — beach week in the Delaware-Maryland-Virginia area for Koo and the pub scene for London-native Tagliaferri — they had never attended a frat party until NSO.

While the pair said there wasn't pressure to participate in the party culture specifically, they felt a need during NSO to meet new people and get acquainted with social life at Penn.

“I felt a bit of pressure, yes, but it was more because I wanted to make as many friends as I could and going out was a good way to do that,” Tagliaferri said.

NSO parties occur throughout the day. In between assemblies at Irvine Auditorium and tours of the campus, students can choose to attend a daytime party or "darty." 

"I wanted to try something new and fun,"  rising College sophomore Catalina Dragoi said. "So my friends and I just kind of walked around, and if we saw people on the porches, we decided to hang out and see what was going on.”

Dragoi added that although this was her first college party experience, she didn't feel overwhelmed or that the party scene was exclusive.

“I got to meet a lot of new people and see what the party scene at Penn was like,” she said. “It was a really fun way to get used to Penn and the culture before school picked up.”

Rising Wharton sophomore Joe Reinisch was introduced to the downtown parties, commonly referred to as "downtowns," by older friends at Penn who knew he was coming to campus. 

“It’s a really good way to meet a lot of people just concentrated in one place who are also freshman or are in frats,” Reinisch said. However, he added that downtown parties require more planning and can often be more expensive than attending parties on campus. 

Current students at Penn advised incoming students to make use of NSO to meet as many new people as possible and enjoy the luxury of not having classes — within reason.

“Get as much sleep as possible, eat before and drink water after going out,” Koo said. “Stay with a group of friends and don’t go anywhere alone.”

“Just go with the flow,” Tagliaferri added. “NSO is really fun, so try to enjoy it as much as possible because you have nothing to worry about until classes start.”