Today, I’m recapping my visit to North Philly.

Awesome readers, I wish I had been able to take photos to share with you, but alas, I was not able to. Luckily, Google Images can provide you with a look at any of the places I’m about to mention. Anyway, as I mentioned, I lived in Philadelphia this past year, and I’ve had the chance to check out many places in Center City and University City, but unfortunately, I haven’t had any time to check out North Philly. I rectified this on a visit to Drexel School of Medicine and Temple School of Medicine last week.

Temple Med was in a part of town that was absolutely teeming with activity. I was there in the afternoon, so that would have contributed, but there were tons of people there. The School of Medicine is directly across from the ambulance entrance to the emergency room, so there were police vans and ambulances galore. Sirens were going off frequently. The sidewalks were absolutely teeming with people, and even the benches outside of the hospital were surrounded by loiterers.

Just as I was told, the surrounding areas were pretty low-income. I got a couple of glances from residents of North Philly, who were primarily African American, that seemed to suggest I (a 23 year old Indian woman) was an unwelcome outsider, but I was not harassed outright. Honestly, the only Caucasian people I saw in that area were MD students wearing white coats. The new School of Medicine building that Temple built was pretty awesome.

Drexel Med was in an area that seemed to have much less activity than Temple Med. (On a side note, the rest of Temple University is located closer to Drexel and seems to be much quieter.) The sidewalks were pretty clear in this area, although there were tons of cars on the streets in front of the School of Medicine and the teaching hospital associated with it. There were some buildings in that area that also had amazing architecture.

All in all, it was a pretty interesting venture into North Philly, and it definitely gave me a lot of food for thought.

Today, I’m writing my love note to Philly.

Charkie sent me a text message reminding me (read: harassing me) about posting, and though I made a series of excuses, I’ve finally thought of a post I’ve been meaning to write for a few months now.

Philadelphia has made me markedly aware of a characteristic that I have always had but have never paid much attention to. I am one of those people who subconsciously smiles while I am walking down the street, even in a crowded city like Philly where I don’t know the people around me. Now, my immediate family members are all frowners, so they think my absentminded happiness is nothing short of idiocy at best and a sign of mental illness at worst, lol! I don’t have a great explanation for why I do this; all I can say in my defense is that I’m just really over the moon about life.

As an undergrad at Duke, I never really got called out on it. Every once in a while, I would run into a classmate on the quad who would say, “Your smile always makes me feel better about my day, sweetheart” or “Where have you been? I miss your radiant smile in my life.” But being an exuberantly happy person at Duke was not really out of the ordinary, I guess. Living in DC or New York, I don’t think a single person has ever noticed or made a comment about it. I guess those are both cities where strangers don’t engage each other on the street. But in the City of Brotherly Love, I don’t think there’s been a week where a complete stranger hasn’t made a comment about my smile.

Mostly, it has been passerby on the street. Not always in the leery, cat-calling kind of way, although that has happened. It’s also happened that homeless people have decided misguidedly that they might have a better shot at getting money from me than from the curmudgeon walking by. But sometimes it’s just a person on the street saying, “Excuse me, miss. You have a beautiful smile” as they walk by. On more than one occasion, someone has stopped their trek to wherever to ask me, “What is it that you’re so happy about?!”

I never know how to answer this question, but I love it when someone tells me that my smile makes their day a little bit better. I guess it’s just the idea that something I do completely subconsciously could make someone else happy, even for a split second. It tickles me pink. When I first moved to Philly, I have to say, I wasn’t much of a fan because of the cold and the crime. And I always wondered why so many people were writing love notes to Philly (http://www.phillylovenotes.com). But today, I have a love note for the City of Brotherly Love.

Arkie, University of Pennsylvania

Years in Philly: 1

Current Home: University City/West Philly

Thanks for noticing my smile, Philadelphia! ❤

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