T-shirt, sweater, winter coat, trousers and boots, these were the clothes I decided to wear on the 8th of September, the day I moved to Philadelphia. If you are from Philly, you can probably guess where this is going. Even before leaving the airport I was warned by a security officer that it was going to be hot outside, yet I wasn’t expecting it to be that hot.
If only I looked at the weather app for more than ten seconds, I could have probably chosen a better outfit to travel with, but I think my choice was dictated more by my subconcious than the actual weather.
One thing you should know about me is that I’ve never lived abroad. Certainly, I’ve travelled a lot around many different countries, but I never stayed in any of them for more than a couple weeks. Moving to Philadelphia was going to be my very first experience outside of my warm and cosy family nest. Notice how I said “warm”?
Philadelphia for me wasn’t just a different city, it was a different world.
My doubts and worries led me to believe that this place was going to be hostile and challenging, a cold and unfriendly city. The fear of missing home, of feeling lost, of regretting this decision, they all prevailed over the excitement and contributed to create in my mind this distorted version of Philadelphia.
As soon as I made my first steps into the heart of the city I started to realise that I wasn’t walking in that cold, unfriendly city, but rather in a sunny and lively one. “What is this place?” I was asking myself, incredulous. I felt like I was discovering a completely different city than what I had previously imagined.
Not gonna lie, the heat felt nice on my skin (after I took my coat off, of course). I was enjoying the sun and the breeze while I was walking towards my future house. Somehow, in that moment, something as simple as the weather made me feel a little bit closer to home.
When I finally arrived at my destination, not after a short walk (yes, I got off at the wrong train station), I felt relieved and began to process what had just happened. All my fears were slowly becoming smaller and smaller and my excitement finally came back stronger than before.
I was living the dream I’ve had for so many years: going to study abroad and living the American college experience.
At that moment, my mind was already depicting all kinds of different scenarios in Philly, all the restaurants I would be going to, all the museums and parks and shops, but my body was definitely too tired to do any of it, so I decided to keep travelling only with my thoughts and I went to bed, happy and eager to start my next day. First thing on my to-do list: go shopping for some summer clothes.