I’m a confessed country gal. Living in Philly this summer has been an intense experience with challenges and adventures all rolled into one crazy summer.
Am I ready to move here? No, but I’ve learned quite a bit. The city can teach you so much, even in the most unlikeliest of moments. Here’s just a few lessons Philly passed along to me
Every Person has a story
There’s alot of people in Philadelphia and since the city is so condensed, there are many opportunities to carry on conversations.
One thing I learned is to listen and hear other people’s stories. That can be hard, especially since I love sharing what I’m doing (…that’s why I blog) But every person has something valuable to share. So listen.
One week I heard a Muslim man share how he moved from Lebanon, to Texas and then to Philly. His story was fascinating, especially his commentary on my beliefs on Jesus.
Another time, a security officer told me how she converted to Islam as a teenager. She explained how her hijab protects her as she works difficult shifts and lives in a really rough part of town.
I wish I could have heard more personal stories. People make up a city, it can be easy to forget that in a crowded, crazy place. But when you remember to stop and learn people’s story, the city plants a spot in your heart.
Nothing at face value
Places can look weird, restaurants can seem fishy, museums can look boring, but initial impressions aren’t true. Philly has fascinating spots, that look kind of ordinary on the outside. But are truly extraordinary.
Once I visited a store, that had just a few clothing rackets on display. Kind of boring, but then I went down a set of stairs. You couldn’t even tell the place had stairs on the outside. But on the bottom floor, there was so much more to explore. A ton more clothes, and some pretty cool accessories. (not that I had any money to buy anything)
It’s silly to judge a place, before even delving into it.
Anything Can Fit Anywhere
Philadelphia is a master at smashing things together. Houses, parks, roads. Somehow, over a million people manage to fit in almost less than a 200 square miles.
Being from Texas, I’m used to the everything’s bigger and better status. Dallas has right around 3 million people, spread over 900 square miles. Utilizing space isn’t a priority.
But for the Northeast, fitting stuff in is a daily struggle. It’s quite amazing how much is in the city, all the museums, restaurants, and vast neighborhoods. I loved exploring it all, there was something new to see each weekend.
Independence Hall is one of my favorite spots in the city, it’s always teeming with life and full of history. Aside from the actual Hall, in the area there’s Declaration House where Thomas Jefferson stayed while attending the Continental Congress.
Another special place is Christ Church. It seems like most of the founding fathers attended here, including Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and John Adams . Several signs of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence are also buried here.
A short walk around the corner is the Betsy Ross house. The Betsy Ross house reminded me how small and crowded things are in Philly…a little tiny 3 story home crammed between modern apartments.
Philly Tries to Make Good Food
I’m prejudiced, I know. While in Philly, I desperately missed sweet tea and grew tired of the hoagies. But it was fun trying out a lot of the local food.
Cheesesteaks are a Philly specialty, though they are not extraordinary. There’s several varieties of cheesesteaks and it is best if a Philadelphia native takes you out. You might end up with a touristy rip-off if you buy one when you’re simply starving for lunch.
There’s also several really cool historical restaurants. One of my favorites was the Bookbinder’s Bar. An old bookbindery turned into a restaurants, the food was delicious. It was also beautiful.
Philly also has the original Italian Ice, though the natives sell it as ‘water ice’. The name sounds redundant, but it’s refreshingly good.
While living in the city was different from my normal life, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Philly changed some of my thinking, made me appreciate Texas more, and showed me the best of Yankee culture. I also learned that whenever I say ya’ll, the natives instantly knew I wasn’t one of them! I just couldn’t figure out another way to address a large group of people 🙂