Friday – Day 43

September 4, 2012

After partying hard Thursday night I deserved a late wake-up on Friday! After a late wakeup I rushed to Hill (a dormitory building) for breakfast, however arrived too late to sit down and have some proper toast, as I had further information sessions for exchange that morning. The lecture was rather useless and inspired me to naught.

Following that, I, a Japanese friend (Kaya Doi) and a Malaysian friend Theng, decided to visit the bookstore and give it a thorough run down. Of greatest interest inside was the large array of Penn merchandise, taking up approximately half the entire store. Particularly catching my eye was a UPenn tie for the tidy sum of $60, well beyond my current tie budget. Though, I did promise myself to at least buy a ‘sweater’ with the logo on it. No doubt by the time I return I will have acquired a full wardrobe of Penn related items.

Immediately after, it was back to an information session on safe living at Penn with the entire freshman class, the class of 2016. I made a few more fresher friends along the way but mostly that session was again, a complete waste of time, albeit with a few amusing moments courtesy of the poorly constructed “Tell It Like It Is” anti-sexual violence campaign.

I walked the freshmen back to their dorms and then was somewhat at a loss as to what to do next so I walked down spruce and eventually came across a food truck ‘Chez Yasmine’ which caught my idea for its different style. As I was looking at the menu, which featured a variety of cuisines from North African to Vietnamese the owner, one Jihed Chehimi accosted me and began talking in depth about the inspiration behind the truck, which followed his life story through the medium of food. Fascinated I decided to order a simple sandwich and listen further. Over the next fifteen minutes (a long but worthwhile wait) my sandwich was prepared by the friendly staff member inside the truck and Jihed told me a great many stories from his life whilst inquiring into mine. At his insistence I was also presented with a delicious quinoa salad and a fresh baguette, to ‘fatten up a skinny boy’. I was then informed that every customer is provided with a fresh piece of fruit and water with every order, however as they were out of fruit I was to receive a can of San Pellegrino instead.


Feeling bad for them I tried to pay more than the requisite six dollars but was forcibly told I would be banned from the food truck were I to manage to pay more than the value of my food. I highly recommend visiting the truck as much for the experience as for the food.

Following that, I prepared for Shabbat in my room and played piano for a few hours before heading out to the library social just as the sun was lowering in the sky. Looking at my watch, I saw I had about thirty minutes at the social before I needed to take my leave and go to synagogue in the Hillel (Jewish Students Building). The library social was really something to see. Over one thousand students packed into a library racing like mad on a scavenger hunt for a free tshirt which I managed to snag as well. Inside the hallowed halls was also a DJ playing typical dance music and the masses gyrated alongside columns and shelves of books.

Leaving just as Shabbat began, I walked briskly to the Hillel where the OCP (Orthodox Community at Penn) minyan (prayer service) was already in full-swing. Strong melodies arose from the room and I took a free seat at the back and enjoyed singing and listening to the powerful voices.

Following that it was dinner with the Jewish freshmen, which was a pleasant experience though nothing special to report. More of note is the sheer size of the Jewish population at Penn, over 25% of the student population. Though, I was delighted to meet one Abby Jablansky, Executive VP of the Hillel with whom I connected on a number of different levels.

After dinner I met a few freshman upstairs to hear a performance by Penn’s Jewish acapella group, the Shabbattones. While most people were severely impressed, I thought that though they were highly entertaining, their pitch could have been better. However, as a first experience of college acapella it was fantastic.

Alexis and her friends, some freshmen that I had met then walked with me to their dorm and as they decided to go out and party, I made a bit of a retreat back to Rodin, climbed up my eight floors of stairs and took a good nights sleep.

© 2012-2024 Shaanan Cohney