In Which I Was Both Oriented and Disoriented

Posted on 1st September 2014

Today marked the first official day of proceedings for incoming graduate students. However before our 9.45AM start I had a few errands to run. One of which included the purchasing of a new phone. This was harder than it sounds given the outrageous prices that networks charge for service in the US. A standard bill will run upwards of $50/month for the same as I would pay $15/month for at home. I googled around and found a provider, Cricket (owned by AT&T) that seemed a little more reasonable and found a store within walking distance.

Not being super familiar with the area it was in, I printed out a copy of the map and set off with my phone and emergency roaming enabled. After around minutes of walking I soon realized the store was in perhaps a sub optimal location for me to be walking in alone. Dilapidated buildings on the side, people giving me strange looks, and streets in disrepair, north-west Philly was probably not the safest location. Furthermore a little later I found myself directionally challenged and ended up being escorted by a friendly guy down the street to where the tiny shop stood. After purchasing the phone, I high-tailed it out over to the Penn Museum where orientation was to begin.

Orientation itself was fairly predictable. The dean of the school of engineering was well spoken and gave an effective address to the new graduate students. The PhD students were seated alone on one side of the auditorium as we were to be excused early from the flood of un-informational speakers repeating orientation material that could be gleaned in a single glance of the universities website.

The department of Computer and Information Science’s orientation was a little better, much more down to earth and helpful. I sat next to Luke and Dagean, two students that I had already met and in front of Nadia, a professor with whom was to be working. After another hour we broke off for an early lunch and I had a chance to chat with both some old and new students. Amazingly enough I found someone who had met my close friend Rosa Zwier just a week prior in South Korea!

The afternoon sessions weren’t too exciting. More presentations about what student services were available and a sorry presentation by the engineering librarian, whose library had been closed over the summer break.

The orientation sessions closed with a PhD only happy hour over at the Tap House bar. I made a couple of new friends, in particular two girls in Electrical and Systems Engineering, Ling and Kelsey, who were very amiable and whom I would bump into many times over the next few days.

My day closed as expected with more glee commitments, this time a checking of our outfits that didn’t last too long and soon again, I was fast asleep in bed.


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