Sunday, June 21, 2009

No Longer a Teenager, Not Yet an Adult

Turning 20 in Chicago (IL) was a definite blessing. My experience during my two + month tenure as summer student at the University of Chicago was most definitely one I will never forget. I met some of the smartest, opinionated, passionate, fun, and compelling individuals that I had the privilege of interacting with. I attended Mellon Mays Summer Research Training Program between June and August in order to begin my senior (though I was only a rising junior at the time- never to early to get a head start on research) thesis research, network with fellow Mellon students, and to gain a first hand look into the careers of graduate students and professors. I met Mellon fellows from Cornell, Bowdoin, UPenn, UChicago, and Cuny, as well as building upon relationships with fellows from my home institution: Haverford College.

Research and class took up much of my time during last summer, but the time spent with new and old friends was always fun; exploring Chicago, eating out, debating ideas, and partying. My 20th birthday was a definite highlight during that summer, fantastic fun with a group of intellectuals who knew how to get down after a long day of library research. I know personally that academia is an intensely work oriented field where you have to remain focused enough to write lengthy and sometimes wordy papers filled to the brim with new ideas and provocative spins on old ideas. After reading 3- 300+ page books a week, my birthday was a very welcome reprieve. My birthday celebration was held at the Noon Hookah Lounge in Hyde Park.

This particular hookah lounge is set in a very convenient location for University of Chicago (Hyde Park) students and residents of the Hyde Park area. It is a 15 minute walk from the center of campus and is surrounded by small markets, delis, restaurants, and residential buildings. It is a cute 2 floor place, very sensual and warm decor, with welcoming and helpful staff. The selection of tobacco is plentiful though I would suggest the double apple and the mint. Upstairs they have a separate room set up for larger parties, which is were my party took place holding nine of us comfortably. I suggest that you call ahead to reserve if you are going to have a large group to make sure they have space for you.

It can be a bit pricey but definitely worth every penny. Even my surprise birthday cake (not free unfortunately) was so delicious that my group ordered another one. I have heard, though I did not have the chance to try any myself, that the food is very good and the drink are tasty, so definitely throw down a couple extra dollars and splurge. It's well worth it! It is definitely a place to check out while you in Chicago, especially in the Hyde Park area.

(A.N. There is apparently a Chicago law that only 3 people can smoke at one hookah at one time in Hookah bars. I haven't been able to find any actually evidence, though I am still looking. Just a warning, as a I experienced this myself with having to buy multiple hookahs because I had large parties with me. It can be crazy annoying to have to buy another hookah when there is a group of 4 because of this law, but the hookah bars' staff definitely enforce this.)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

20 and counting

The year twenty is the difficult age between no longer being known as a teenager but also still not being able to legally enjoy such past times as grabbing a drink while mingling at a club/bar. It is that year where everything adult seems just out of grasp. Where (in Pennsylvania at least) people can still tell your not quite 21 by the vertical driver's license you carry around. Where, especially in my case, all your friends are 21 and making plans to head out to places that card at the door, making you feel a bit left out or at the very least guilty when they have to change the outing place to accommodate you (those are fabulous friends by the way). It is also an age when, after going abroad to Europe for four months and enjoying all the pleasures that come with being a legal adult, you come back to the states and become abruptly reminded just how young you still are in the eyes of the government.

However, even with all these downsides, twenty has definitely been a year to remember as a turning point in my mental and spiritual maturity, personal growth and development, as well as giving me the ever cliché "new outlook on life". During my time as a twenty year old, I have met some of the most amazing people, many of who I know I can treasure as long term friends and acquaintances. I found out my love for Europe after spending four months primarily in Greece, but also traveling to London, Paris, Milan, and Amsterdam (second time there). And I rediscovered America by finally leaving the east coast to venture towards the midwest where I spent two months in Chi Town studying and living at the University of Chicago (Hyde Park); as well as taking the time out to socialize more in Philadelphia and explore the city I love so much more.

(That's me on the right.)

As I am soon to be twenty one, I think it necessary to reflect on my past exploits as a fresh faced twenty year old, just to give you a bit more incite into where I am coming from. So in the next few posts I'll be recapping the most significant places I've visited and the people I've seen who remind me of the fantastic, though often stressful and difficult, year I've had. Just a little information so that you'll learn a lot more about me and the places and people I find significant.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Beginning of an Era

Hello everyone and welcome to my blog 20s in America. I've decided to revamp this blog, originally under the title Philly Soullounge, into something more appropriate for my current interests. I began my previous blog in 2007, but never kept with it, so it was indeed time for a change. This blog will pick off from where I left off, with my interest in music, however I plan to focus more on my interactions with various areas, societies, places, and therefore cultures. I will focus primarily on the Philadelphia region, but as I travel a good amount, I will also blog on my past and present experiences wherever I've been during my roaring 20s.

A little bit about me:
I am from Philadelphia and am embarking on my senior year at Haverford College (Haverford, PA). I am a Classical Culture and Society major and Archaeology minor (at Bryn Mawr College). I am a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow and I am working towards becoming a professor in the field of Archaeology. I have traveled extensively in the first year of my 20s, interacted with a multitude of people from various backgrounds, found little nuggets of cultural bliss, and discovered many things that have greatly impacted my overall development as a person. I therefore found it necessary to put down on paper, or I suppose the internet, my experiences as they happen, not only keeping notes for myself, but to share the many people, places, and things that I myself enjoyed.

I describe my 20s as roaring as both a play on the 1920s in America, but also as a testament to the overall versatility and craziness (whether good or bad) I expect the next decade of my life to be. I hope you have as much fun reading this as I have recounting my experiences and writing this.

I hope you all enjoy a lil' taste of my journey through adulthood.