Tuesday/Wednesday – Day 152/153

December 28, 2012

Finally back in a low stress environment with the girls, Sophie and Tzippy (my little cousins) and, though I don’t celebrate it, this made the perfect Christmas. After waking up at 9AM and spending a little time mucking about with them, we headed off to the Museum of Jewish Heritage near Battery Park.

The museum was quite enjoyable, though we hung around a while longer than was strictly necessary to cater to the girls wishes. After that we went home and baked cookies together (from premade cookie dough this time, not as much fun!) and read stories before dinner and bed.

The next day was dreary outside, with ice, sleet, rain and snow pouring down onto the frozen New York Streets. Thus, I spent much of the day inside with the girls, playing the usual games and taking a little time to myself to read and nap.

In the evening I decided to brave the inclement weather in order to catch up with an old friend from Melbourne working in the city, one Elyse Borghi. Over a vegan kosher dinner we discussed America, politics, feminism and college life and as always she was most enlightening.From there we tried walking in the rain to one of many pop up speakeasys that are experiencing a revival, but unfortunately they were full up, making us somewhat fed up of being soaked and chilled to the bone. Thus an early night for both of us, we made haste to get to the subway and home.

Sunday/Monday – Day 108/109

November 19, 2012

I honestly am trying to get back up to date so that my posts aren’t so anachronistic but with all the excitement at Penn, combined with the intense workload, I’m not sure how soon I’ll get there!

I wish I could’ve slept in today, but it just wasn’t possible, with a giant four person group project due. I had to build my own Operating System for Operating Systems (CIS380) and boy was it time-consuming. However, it was incredibly enjoyable, up to the point where some group members didn’t manage to pull their weight entirely (though this came later).  I was up at 9AM meeting in my neighbors room to hack away at the project and managed to make a good amount of progress. This continued for a good number of hours. In fact, I managed to lose most of the day to it! The rest of the afternoon was uninteresting as I assembled various parts of other assignments into submittable work. Including plenty of hard work on physics.

Monday was slightly more successful as by now I’d had a little extra sleep. Finally a little recovery. Algorithms today was a breeze, given by a guest lecturer who didn’t exactly speak passable English. After that it was off to work again, this week I spent much of my spare time coding up the ‘scheduler’ for the ‘kernel’ of the operating system. I was pleased in the evening to finally get back to regular Glee rehearsals but to my disappointment, much of the rest of semester would be focused on holiday music, specifically carols. And, whilst I don’t mind the odd carol, learning twenty of them and singing them over and over doesn’t really fit what I really want to be doing. Also being Jewish, a few of them have lyrics that are a little awkward to sing, along the lines of “the king over Jews is born!”.

After rehearsal, it was the usual back to my room punctuated with a Glee interview (and for the life of me I can’t remember who I interviewed then, though I feel very guilty about it). Then it was to work for the usual, and the usual late night before sleep. Some of my life needs to be a little less exciting. Good for contrast.

Thursday/Friday/Shabbat – Day 69/Day 70/Day 71

October 7, 2012

Thursday was a day of hard work, particularly in terms of learning sheet music. With performances all weekend and my cough only starting to go away, today I kept my nose down.

However, I did take the liberty of visiting a number of the sukkot constructed on campus to take photos and show the vibrancy of Jewish life on campus.

This Sukkah, the ‘Secret Sukkah’ was concealed in a less prominent location and represented the makeshift sukkot constructed during the holocaust that were hidden and disguised to prevent nazi detection.

This sukkah was constructed by J-Bagel, the Jewish lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning group on campus!

Also, because I get so excited by them, here’s a squirrel:


In typical US fashion, even elements from completely foreign cultures must be Americanized at some point and testament to this is the Homeland Sukkah.

UPenn Engineering, in living up to their nerd reputation constructed an appropriately themed sukkah, the Sukkah Enterprise, themed after Star Trek.

The two major campus organizations for Jewish life were also represented, with the very large Hillel Sukkah (three of them) and a single smaller Chabad sukkah.

Here’s a Sukkah I didn’t quite understand….

Finally, one of the most popular of all the Sukkot was the T-Shirt sukkah of which many people took photos!

As you can see, the weather in Philly is changing pretty rapidly. Temperatures are dropping and the rain is coming in.

Friday however was an exception. Twenty-seven degrees outside and I was all dressed up in my suit. Today was quite possibly the biggest performance of my life. The Penn Glee Club had a gig scheduled for CCTV – Chinese Central Television, the government owned station. It was estimated that over one hundred million people would eventually see this performance and as a result I was somewhat nervous, this being my debut gig too! Fortunately, this morning I was feeling well recovered and was only left with a slight trace of the virus I’d had for the last week or so.

We got on stage and the performance went very well except for my accidental half second solo during “I can see clearly”. Luckily I don’t think anyone noticed. After the performance I rushed off, thirty minutes late, to my algorithms class. I tried to enter quietly however the professor stopped the class to comment on my suit, remarking that he was pleased he wasn’t the only one dressed up.

Following that it was off to receive two vaccinations to complete my immunization compliance. I was due for MMR dose 2 and meningitis. One of the vaccinations, I can’t remember which, burned a fair amount and I felt a little dizzy for a while after, followed closely by a short bout of nausea.

Lunch was a PGC interview with Theresa, one of the band members for yet another PGC interview! From there I went to my singing lesson that again provided some great new perspective and the late afternoon saw me catching coffee with Robbie Berg, co-member of the Penn Singers and head of the Reform Jewish Community at Penn. After coffee we left together for rehearsal and as soon as that ended I raced off to Hillel for shul!

Starting Friday night was the UPenn parents weekend in which all the parents of student were to stay on or near campus in order to visit and experience a taste of life at Penn. Unfortunately for me, my parents could not make it and so I, along with all the other orphans, were asked to wait a few extra hours before being invited for dinner at Hillel, as the space was already taken up by the families.

Deciding to ditch Hillel, I followed Aviva Kolosky and her boyfriend to Chabad, where the graduate students were having their Friday night meal. The atmosphere was nice and the food quite good, catered by the Rabbi’s wife, who was in fact Australian and used to live just around the corner from me back home.

At around eleven I walked back with Michal (Aviva’s roomate), Aviva and her boyfriend and went into their apartment to chill for a little while. I stayed far later than I expected and by the time I made it back upstairs to my own room I was exhausted and feeling quite sick and dizzy.

Waking up on Saturday morning I felt like death; nauseous, exhausted and soon found I had something of a temperature. I guess the shots combined with my prior illness had overwhelmed my system a little. I dragged myself to the PGC breakfast where grudgingly I performed a few more songs with the group and as fast as possible retreat back to bed where I remained fast asleep till around six pm. After Shabbat came out I worked with Jonothan Leung, a hall-mate, on our operating systems project and then caught a thankfully, earlier night.

© 2012-2024 Shaanan Cohney