It has been roughly 2 weeks since I landed in the US; one week since arriving in Philadelphia, and a couple of my experiences so far have ushered me into some aspects of the US, or more specifically Philly’s, culture.
One thing that I have noticed constantly in Philadelphia is the people. Philadelphia is quite diverse, and, in particular, has a large black population. I mention this specifically because it is a stark contrast to my observation of the population in most German cities. I imagine that because of this, the market here caters more for specific needs of different groups of people. For instance, my school friend who studies at Drexel was amused when he saw me beaming with joy on seeing several haircare brands for curly and/or coily hair at the Target store in center city.
Coming from my home university located in the suburbs in Bremen Germany, Drexel’s urban campus really stood out to me. The campus is literally the city! And this is amazing because it means everything one could think of is within reach. The high-rise buildings with nice architecture and clear blue skies all give a nice touch to the scenery. Philadelphia, as I have come to understand, is sort of grid-like: one only must figure out the metro’s east-west, north-south routes and the more common street names to get by. It probably is not as usual to get lost in center city, but even if you do, most destinations are within walkable distance! Also worth noting is that SEPTA, which is Philadelphia’s public transport system, is the 6th largest in the US! 🙂
For the Fall quarter, I am taking most of my classes in CCI (College of Computing and Informatics) and one African history class. I chose the latter because I felt it would provide a platform to build my communication and interactive skill which I may not have done as much in my CS-core classes. Drexel offers such opportunities to take courses outside your discipline, which I consider really amazing.
I mention the academics here at Drexel because in my first week of classes, I have noticed several differences in mode of teaching, grading, and classes as compared to my home university. First of all, the quarters are very fast-paced (10-weeks) and one has to have a schedule or some sort of structure in order to keep ahead. Also, the grading system stands out to me a lot. Most courses have assignments, class discussions, notes, online discussion forum, readings and finally the exam which contributes to just about 15% of the final grade, usually. It is a nice change for me from my university where, for most courses, the exam contributes to almost 100% of one’s grade. Drexel’s system, in my opinion, provides motivation of sorts for students throughout the quarter and one doesn’t need to worry that despite all the work done during the term, only one day of exam would determine their final grade.
It has been one week of class and my second week here in Philly. My study abroad program is just for the Fall quarter, therefore, I look forward to other upcoming events in the quarter and to making the most of my short time here in Philadelphia and the US.