Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Philadelphia was decked out in its finest today, sporting red, white, and blue all over the place. Mr. Lawrence picked the Penn Team up around 11 AM to attend the parade in downtown Philly. We saw countless fire engines, marching bands, veterans groups, and cultural pride groups walking down the avenue, not to mention the hundreds of American flags everywhere. The sun was beating mercilessly down, but I have to say that as hot as I felt, it must have been nothing compared to the suffering of those poor marching band members in full regalia. My favorite, zany part of the parade was that every several groups or so, there would be a single bagpipe player, kilt and all, playing “Amazing Grace.” After a while we decided we should go find some water before we all had heat stroke, so we left to eat lunch and rehydrate.

In the afternoon, we strolled through downtown Philly to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to enjoy the Party on the Parkway festivities.  The paths were a seething mass of people purchasing food at vending stalls and participating in contests. There were multiple stages set up, with different dance and vocal groups performing at each one. The combination of hot asphalt and lots of people squished together meant that the heat was disgusting, and we came up with various methods of keeping cool throughout the afternoon. There were food products, like lemonade, iced tea, and a local specialty–a cold, sweet, snack called water-ice. There might possibly also have been a brief stint of running through the fire hydrant with all the little kids, which was messier but also more fun. Once we had walked down most of the parkway, we rested on the lawn in the shade of one of the many trees lining the streets. Although we wanted to take in as much as we could, I think it was good that we took a break because otherwise we would have been completely burned out by dinnertime. As it was, our Fourth of July adventure was a 12-hour outing.
Cameron, Clara, and I in our colorful Fourth outfits
A side note–this was the only picture I was able to take before my camera died.
However, I'm hoping the rest of my cohort have more than enough pictures to cover all bases
For dinner, we went to a local pizza place that was quite tasty. It would have been nice to stay and enjoy the air-conditioning for a bit longer, but we were planning to attend the free concert back at Party on the Parkway and we wanted to hurry and get decent seats. Unfortunately we ended up being really far away, but I didn’t mind too much since the auditory part of the experience was the most important. The concert included Roots, Queen Latifah, Joe and Nick Jonas, and Common. Although I liked some of the music that was performed, I decided that concerts might not be my thing. Clara was quick to reassure me that this wasn’t the typical concert experience because I wasn’t a hardcore fan of any of the groups and we were very far away, so I’m going to try and keep an open mind. However, I think that as a general rule I would rather relax on the lawn looking at stars or look for wildlife at night (which obviously isn’t possible in Philadelphia) than attend a big, outdoor concert. I did value the experience as it was a great opportunity to view a very different demographic of Philadelphia than the UPenn folks.  

Although I was exhausted by the time we returned to campus, I was glad that we’d had the opportunity to spend the Fourth of July in Philadelphia. On the one hand, it was a really interesting experience for someone who comes from the Bay Area, not the most wildly patriotic of places, to Philadelphia, where almost every person I saw downtown sported a little American flag. On the other hand, it was pretty mind-blowing to think that all of those things that I read about in APUSH this past year (the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitutional Convention) actually happened here. No wonder it’s such a big deal for Philadelphians. And speaking of mind-blowing, apparently the scientists at CERN have just proved the existence of a new elementary particle, and we get to hear all about it via teleconference tomorrow in class!!! And on that note, I need to get to bed so that I’m awake enough to write notes about it. Goodnight, world. Happy Fourth of July. 

Don't Forget to Hydrate

Happy Independence Day!  After only two days of class we've already gotten one day of vacation, and it was so much fun!  I love celebrating holidays in big cities, so it was awesome to celebrate the 4th of July in such a historical place like Philadelphia. 
My Fabulous Cohort and Ian!
My cohort met up early this morning, as we had planned on spending the day together with Ian.  It took a bit longer than we had expected to get out of the quad and then we decided to head over to a breakfast place about five minutes away at Cosi before meeting up with Ian.  He ended up signing us out from the front office and then we headed down to the train station right across the street from the quad.  In order to get from there to the parade area, we took the Green Line and then transferred to the Blue Line and got off at the 5th Street station.  From 5th Street we walked a mere 30 feet or so and were right alongside the parade line. 
Philadephia Mayor Michael Nutter
The Person Inside the Shark is Probably Boiling
I had so much fun watching the parade because everyone in it was so excited and happy.  Today it was super humid though, so I imagine that the performers and participants in the parade were probably a bit uncomfortable in their heavy clothing.  I was wearing shorts and a light shirt and I was super hot, so in relation I can't even complain.  Close to the end of the parade we got lunch and then walked about 13 blocks to another area of town where the Wawa Welcome America festival was going on.  Here we got to walk down a long road lined with various booths on either side.  There were a ton of places to eat, drink, play games, listen to music, and pick up some freebies.  After only getting through the middle of the fair, we all rested for a while in a large grassy area under a large tree.  I, and I believe my cohort as well, felt totally refreshed when we left that shady spot and ventured out to see the remainder of the booths and events.
A Great Variety of Booths
Ian Having a Great Time
Perry the Parrot
Mariko and I
Gorgeous View of the Sunset From Concert Area
Later in the evening, around 6:00 PM, we made our way to the main stage to find seats and wait for the free concert to start.  There were a ton of people who showed up at the event, hence the price: free.  We found  a grassy spot near the curb where we could see the stage, although it was a bit far away.  Regardless, we were able to hear the musicians perfectly and it was nice to be able to walk around instead of being smashed up in a thick crowd.  I, for the first time, had the chance to see performers like Queen Latifah, The Roots, and Common on a live stage.  The crowd was great and the music was amazing, not to mention the fireworks were super beautiful!  That is definitely my favorite part of the 4th of July celebration, seeing the fireworks.  We ended up walking back to campus, which was closer than I thought, and I returned to my dorm happy and satisfied with my day.  It was a wonderful day spent with my cohort and I am more than happy to return to my regular class day tomorrow!

Wada (Water)

After only starting class two days ago, we got the day off for Independence Day. I have always loved Independence Day, especially because of the fireworks. Since the very beginning started right here in Philly, I hear it is going to be big. Ian Lawrence planned the best 4th of July ever for us, which consisted of a parade, a fair, concert, and ultimately the fireworks. Our anxiousness showed and we were already waiting at the scheduled time of 9:00 AM, waiting for our chaperone to come and start the fun, but unfortunately he was slightly late. We used the trolley to get to the parade.
The Marching Band
The day of fun was kick started with the parade at Independence Hall. The parade saluted every aspect of America, from the soldiers to the different cultures we embrace in our everyday life. The parade made me reflect on how much more there is to the 4th of July, not only is there amusing fireworks, but about how our the US fought for independence and freedom back in 1776 and how it is still fighting today. 

The Dancers With Very Shiny Costumes 
After the parade, we went to the fair, which wasn't what I expected. It consisted of multiple food vendors, two or three games, and a strong man competition. Before leaving today, I checked the weather and saw that there was a chance of rain and thunder. Should I wear a sweater? Luckily, I decided not to because there were no clouds, just pure sun rays and evil humidity. We searched for water multiple times, or since we are in Philly, wada. Fortunately, no one passed out due to heat stroke. Although we didn't have tickets for the concert, we were still able to get a good view from the grass. The place was packed with people cluttering the streets, sidewalks, bridges, and even the trees. As the music played, everyone was in a state of bliss. I loved the whole atmosphere of Philly and am sad that the West Coast doesn't take the 4th of July as seriously as the East. Unfortunately, the order of events was running late and we began to get tired after being on our feet for over twelve hours. We walked through, what seemed to be the never ending swarm of people.
Having Fun At The Park
The day ended as we arrived back to our meat locker cold dorms at UPenn. There were many adventures and I loved being able to hang out with my cohort and our well-missed chaperone Ian Lawrence. I can't wait to get back to physics tomorrow.

236 Years Later

Because today was Independence Day, we were relieved from our classroom responsibilities and spent the entire day with Mr. Lawrence. Our normal dining hall didn't open until 11, so for breakfast I went to a place called Cosi and got a delicious breakfast wrap.  Cosi is very close to campus and I know I will be returning in the near future.  Mr. Lawrence came to get the cohort around 10:30 and we took the trolley and the Septa to see the Independence Day Parade.  It was great to get some practice using the local public transportation, which is a lot like BART at home.   

The parade was very exciting.  It featured numerous marching bands, period-dressed historical actors, veterans, dancers, and some great music.  As the first band went by, I began to miss my days in school marching band.  However, as the temperature rose, I became incredibly thankful that I was not wearing the heavy jacket and pants of a band member.  It was easy to see that the people here take their 4th of July much more seriously than those at home.  Yet again, I got to experience a new cultural aspect of the East Coast.  

After the parade, we walked down to the Penn Parkway to explore a festival.  We walked around a bit, and I enjoyed my very first water ice.  We took a break in the shade for a bit and then checked out the performers down the Parkway.  We went for an early pizza dinner so that we could get back quickly and snag good seats for the free concert.
David, Chloe, and Cameron sport their red, white and blue
The concert was great.  We ended up pretty far away from the stage, but I got to see The Roots, Nick and Joe Jonas, Queen Latifah, and others perform live. We watched a couple fireworks, but once they started going off in the crowd we decided it was time to get back to our dorms.  We stopped at a Wawa (a super super convenience store) to get some water and stay hydrated.

Queen Latifah on stage past a large sea of people
It was a long, hot, and exhausting day, but I had a blast.  Independence day on the East Coast is an entirely different experience than back home.  On top of that, it was great to step back from school and spend some time with the cohort and Mr. Lawrence.  Still, I am very excited for class tomorrow.  We will have a teleconference with a physicist working at CERN.  The scientists working here just made a major breakthrough that could change a lot of accepted theories about the universe. I can't wait to hear about it firsthand!

July 4th

The first day without class seemed like the weekend, but it was only Wednesday, July 4th. I woke up , got dressed and got ready to have a fun day out with Mr Lawrence and the gang.One thing that I forgot was that he was not on my permission slip to sign me out. I quickly called my parents and prayed that they would be up, because it was 9am here making it 6am there. Luckily it was July 4th ,because they were already up and moving , getting ready for the festivities of the day. I got everything straightened out , with a series of emails and faxes and off we were to the trolly system making our way into town.

The gang

We got off right were the parade was. Tons of people and tons of police. We found a viewing point, which I regret being at due to the humidity and heat. It seemed as if there was an everlasting line of Fire trucks , and how hot I was made it seem even longer. Thanks to Chloe , I changed from wearing jeans to shorts. I thought it was going to rain but even if it would have, it would have been raining in 95 degree weather.My favorite part of the parade was seeing the different marching bands and actually comparing them to my schools marching band. I also wondered that if I was barely making it in a t-shirt and shorts , how are they doing it in the many articles of clothing they wear to make up their uniforms. After, we refueled our energy by getting lunch at subway along with  lots of water . We headed towards a street with tons of interactions.Kind of like a huge block party which was called "The party on the parkway".There were bands playing , basketball , food , and wonderful trees that provided shade while we took naps.I love naps in the middle of the day.Besides that we grabbed dinner at a local pizza place right around the corner from the street party.
Marching band

After hours of July 4th interactions , it was time for the concert that was in the very same area. Queen Latifa , Common, The roots, and the Jonas brothers were all there to perform. That night had started and great music was being played. To wind up the night  , we got to look into the sky and see tons of beautiful fireworks go up along with hearing their thunderous BOOMS.By this time we were already on our long walk Back HOME.  July 4th was well spent with my wonderful cohort along with Mr Lawrence who was well missed.

Bug Bites, Tan Lines, and Good Pizza

I woke up at 7:58 and realized that I was supposed to meet my cohort for breakfast in about an hour so I rushed to shower and get ready. The building was pretty quiet because unlike me, the rest of the girls got to sleep in due to the fact that there was no class today. When I went back to my room I was surprised with a text message from our chaperone informing us that we would be leaving later than planned. I went outside to meet my cohort because we were all ready to go. While the majority of the cohort went ahead, Cameron and I stayed behind to get our visitor paperwork complete so we'd be able to join in on the festivities with our cohort. All went well and we hurried off to meet everyone for breakfast. After breakfast we headed towards the trolley station (which is underground by the way) and headed towards our first destination.
Chaperone Ian Lawrence and students Chloe and Mariko show their spirit by sporting red, white, and blue.
Stop number one was the area near Independence Hall for the Independence Day Parade. The parade got started a little late but it was well worth the wait. My favorite part of the parade was all of the marching bands that played. Seeing people in extravagant costumes and playing great music really added to the atmosphere of already cheering and excited people.  
The National Guard band marches by playing a well-known American tune.
The parade was super fun and exciting. Aside from the marching bands, I enjoyed seeing dances performed from all over the world. It was really amazing to see people from other countries out there celebrating American independence. We basked in the warm sun for a while before we decided it was time for lunch. We walked down the street until we reached Subway. We enjoyed bottles of cold water and sandwiches as we played "camera tag", a game in which you try to take pictures of the other people while they're not looking. We left Subway satisfied and headed towards destination number two.

I got you, Ivette!
Location number two was the "Party on the Parkway" sponsored by Wawa. This was a street festival where they had lots of food vendors, free stuff, and fun sights. We picked up free lemonades from a Wawa stand and found a nice patch of grass to settle on. It was rally hot outside so we paused our adventures for a while and went at it again. We continued walking and found a few stages where we stood and watched some performances.

It was that time again! After working up our appetite once again, we headed to a local pizza parlor to feed our appetites. Me, Ivette, Mariko, and Clara shared a large, 14" Pete's Pizza (which was just a normal combination pizza.) The pizza was delicious and I believe we were all satisfied. We headed back to the Wawa sponsored event to get seats for "the largest free concert in America." Well it turned out that you needed tickets for this free concert so we just chose to watch from the curb. Performers included The Roots, Common, Nick and Joe Jonas from the Jonas Brothers, and a few other performers. Our initial plan was to stick around after the concert to watch the fireworks but by then we were all way too tired. We made yet another long trek back to our hotel. Of course we had to stop by Wawa first! (Wawa is like a twenty-four hour 7-Eleven.) We all picked up a few snacks at Wawa then continued the journey. While walking back we got the chance to see the fireworks! It wasn't the best view ever but it was good enough for us.

We arrived back at Penn to find out that the other students still hadn't returned from their outing. As soon as that was said, we all rushed off to our dorms to make it to the showers.

This Independence day was great and I am glad I got to spend it with my wonderful cohort. I have to get some well deserved rest because tomorrow in physics we will be video conferencing with Prof. Elliot Lipiles, a member of Penn's High Energy Group, about the CERN announcement.

Bye for now!

Known Unknowns

8:05 AM, that is the time I woke up this morning. My roommate set her alarm for 6:55, so why did we get up so late? Well, she set it for 6:55 PM. Luckily the sun managed to seep into every last corner of the room, and it woke me up. We managed to get dressed in record time, 15 minutes. Sadly, we had to skip breakfast due to the super long lines. I was planning on getting an orange, but it just wasn't meant to happen.

Chloe in class working on her drawing.
In class today we focused on a particular speech delivered by Donald Rumsfield, and famous philosopher Zizek's interpretation of the speech. The speech went a little something like this, "There are known knows, things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say there are things that we now know that we don't know, but there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know, we don't know. " The video of the speech being given was played at least ten times, that even now when my eyes begin to close from exhaustion, all I can hear is that speech. It was very interesting how Prof. Lamas approached the process of enabling us to open our minds to those words. At then end of class, we were given a drawing assignment. We were supposed to draw whatever came to mind, how we felt, and try to incorporate yesterday and today's discussions. It was a relaxing assignment for me.

For our afternoon class section, we were taken to a park. The purpose of the field trip was to talk to some of the people who are currently and directly involved with the Occupy Movement. I have written at least four essays on the Occupy Movement, so I've spent a few late nights researching this historic act. It was very intriguing to be getting all of this information straight from the source! 

On the way back to campus, Cameron and I got seperated from the rest of the students, but luckily we were with  Prof. Lamas and Michael. I was actually happy we were no longer with the rest of our group, because I got an opportunity to get to know Prof. Lamas, as well as Michael. We talked about a variety of things over a cold treat, and with this hot weather, there was no better treat than ice cream.
Chloe and Susan
The rest of my evening was spent with my cohort. We all, including our chaperone, went shopping to Urban Outifters. I really enjoyed our time together, because we really haven't been able to see each other much. Lucky for me, tomorrow is the 4th of July! The means I will spend the whole day with my lovely cohort and wonderful chaperone! As for now, I am in bed and ready to say goodnight to a great Tuesday.