Last Tastes of Philly

13177393_10206326012011181_4626714953447330551_nHave you ever heard of donuts, fried chicken, and coffee… served together? I hadn’t either! One day last week after work, a few friends and I drove into the city to enjoy Federal Donuts. Serving Korean- style fried chicken with a honey donut, Federal Donuts has turned Philadelphia a “fried chicken destination” according to an online article from last year. While we didn’t have to wait in line like I was expecting because of its popularity, the quickly dwindling donuts behind the counter were evidence of a busy and good day for the eatery. While I have to admit I wasn’t sure how I felt about the savory and sweet mix, the combination of tangy ranch and sweet honey was just right.

13096340_10206326012091183_1163314148597428784_nI was excited to share my Federal Donuts experience with some of my closest friends. Celebrating our last weekly dinner for our student group First Go-ers, it was the perfect little escape for all of us in between finals. As a senior in the group, it hit me how quickly the end of my time in Philadelphia was approaching as we spent time in the city. After our dinner adventure early in the week, I spent the next couple days working as hard as I could to finish my remaining finals. I am elated to share that last Thursday, I officially finished my undergraduate career. To celebrate, my best friends and I went into the city on Saturday.

13164217_10206358961754904_5018189429276057949_nWe went to El Vez, a restaurant we have tried for two and a half months to get a reservation for. After eating there, it was suddenly very clear why it was so hard to get a table! El Vez boasted six different kinds of guacamole which individually were big enough to share between four of us. For my entree, I ordered a taco sampler plate, and as you can see, it came with a little bit of everything! I got to try their pork carnitas, beef, chicken, crispy mahi mahi, and sea bass tacos, all of which were out of this world. If only we had discovered the restaurant earlier!

With less than a week left before graduation, I realized after that these two outings to Federal Donuts and El Vez were probably my last tastes of Philly, at least for now! I’d say we ended our culinary experience and college career in Philadelphia on a high and delicious note!

Spring is Blooming!

PicCollageI can’t believe Spring Break has come and gone! I was so lucky to be able to spend a few days with part of my incredible family. It of course went by too quickly, but I am so grateful for the time I was able to spend with them. I was surprised however to land to a sprinkling of snow on the ground in Cincinnati, and I know Philly got some snow too! It was definitely not very spring- like. However, in first few days I was back at Bryn Mawr, we experienced temperatures in the 70s, and flowers are starting to bloom ! I think we even broke 80 degrees one day last week, and I could not be more happy, because boy am I done with the cold temperatures! While I was visiting my family, we got to spend some really wonderful time together, see a movie, enjoy some delicious food, and relax together. It was definitely the breather I needed 🙂

I spent the second half of break working on my thesis. Over the course of two days, I spent 10 hours at Starbucks typing away. I conducted two more interviews, continued transcribing my previous interviews, and actually started writing! I am so excited to be drafting my paper, and seeing how the experiences of the incredible people I have had the privilege of talking to relate to each other, as well as my own experience as somebody who is preparing to become a teacher next year. I can’t wait to see how my paper unfolds. As I mentioned in my blogs earlier this semester, I am still dedicated to celebrating the small things, and because I made some progress on my thesis, I had a lot to celebrate last week! How did I celebrate, you ask? By going to the Philadelphia Flower Show!

IMG_9360Since it was my first time going to the show, I didn’t know what to expect. I boarded the train, and it seemed like everybody was going to the show! I got off and was able to follow the giant crowd directly from the platform to the Philadelphia Convention Center where the show was hosted. This year’s theme was called, “Explore America” and was a celebration of 100 years of the National Park Service. About half of the convention center space was filled with gorgeous and elaborate flower displays making up scenes and imagery from different national parks across the country.

IMG_9363The other half of the space was full of vendors selling everything from you guessed it, flowers (sooooo many flowers), to garden supplies, antiques, and everything in between. I went on the last Friday of the show and so while the lobby of the convention center and trains were overflowing with visitors, surprisingly, the flower displays themselves were not too crowded, which was really nice! I got to take some awesome photos, and the displays were truly beautiful. If only I had remembered to take an allergy pill! If one of the vendors had been selling them, I’m sure they would have made a mint 😉 I really enjoyed the show, and it was just what I needed to celebrate and relax before classes started again.

Here are some more photos!


Scene depicting Yosemite National Park


Display of flowers found in Death Valley


I missed where this was supposed to be, but the pond and waterfall were so pretty!

“An Independence Pass please.”

Riding the train into the city is unfortunately pretty expensive, around $14 for a roundtrip ticket. There is a special type of ticket called an Independence Pass which is only $12 dollars and can be used an infinite amount of times any one day on regional rail trains, the subways, buses, and trolleys. Freshman year I remember asking the conductor for a roundtrip ticket into the city and receiving one of these independence passes. Seeing the confused look on my face, he explained how purchasing a pass saved passengers a little money. It was really nice of him to do that, and I’ve noticed most conductors do the same. Yesterday evening I purchased my seventh independence pass in two weeks. Considering I usually make my way into Philly once a month if I’m lucky, the past couple of weeks have certainly been full of craziness, exploration, and many things to see and do.

IMG_9222Two weeks ago, my Museum Anthropology class made our way to the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology for a visit. In a blog last semester, I talked about Bryn Mawr’s incredible new Museum Studies program, and I am thrilled I was able to take the next course, “Museum Anthropology” this semester. After walking through and visiting their new exhibit, “The Golden Age of King Midas” we had the opportunity to speak with two very influential members of the museum’s staff. We had really rich discussion throughout our visit and it was really neat to have such a close experience with the collections and people that bring them to life!

As you might have read last week, my next visit into the city was to take the TExES teacher certification exam which is required for me to be able to teach in Texas after graduation. My trip that day had a sweet beginning though, as I stopped by Reading Terminal Market for a treat and some caffeine before my test. The other six trips into Center City were related to my thesis research, which I am very happy to share is going really well!

FullSizeRender (5)To get to important events and interviews over the past couple of weeks, I took a mix of the subway and regional rail, which is where my independence pass was particularly handy! It was my first time taking the Market- Frankford line, one of Philadelphia’s two subway lines, and I am proud to have navigated it by myself! (It honestly isn’t difficult, but still 😉 ) I really wish I had explored this transportation option much sooner as it opens up and makes so much more of the city easy to access.

IMG_9274Because I was in the city so often the last two weeks, I have had the opportunity to see downtown Philadelphia in ways I haven’t seen it before. Going in and out of 30th Street Station so many times, it really struck me how beautiful the station building and the skyline behind it is, which is all too easy to take for granted when you are running for a train or dashing out into the city. This weekend I was in the city so much that I was able to watch the city wake up at 8am, watch the sun go down on downtown, and observe how night transforms the station into a piece of glittering beauty under the bright lights.

IMG_9289I regret not exploring Philadelphia as much as I thought I would when I first moved up here for college. I haven’t for a couple different reasons, most of all because we are always so busy. But with a few months left, I am going to try my hardest to see even more of this City of Brotherly Love before I head back to Texas!

#128 Eat a beignet at Reading Terminal Market

IMG_9233After three and a half years of trying, I am very happy to say I have FINALLY eaten beignets at Reading Terminal Market and can cross it off my bucket list. Every time we have visited, my mom has always tried to order some so that I could try them, and every time we have been met with the same response, “Sorry, we’re sold out!” And since they only make them certain days of the week, it made it even harder to get a coveted order.

Last Friday I made my into the city to take my Texas teaching exam required for me to become certified to teach in Texas after graduation. The testing center was right next to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell which meant I took the train to Jefferson station to get there. Since Reading Terminal Market is right next door to the train station, I went into the city a couple hours early to try and get my beignets, and to my surprise they were still serving them! I got my order of six small beignets and a coffee from Old City Coffee and sat down to enjoy my long anticipated treat. It was a great way to start my morning and made taking my over 200 question exam that afternoon a little sweeter! I now have two items from my additions to the bucket list left and at least 12 from the original list that I want to complete before graduation, which is now 79 (EEP) days away. Stay tuned for more posts about completing my bucket list!

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

IMG_8578Is it really December 10th?!! It feels like just yesterday I was moving in and celebrating convocation and Parade Night, and now there are just 155 days until graduation. Between five classes, four jobs, and other commitments this semester, I have lost track of time and the weeks have escaped me. Interestingly, since the weather has been so unseasonably warm (I’m not quite complaining!) and because we haven’t had our first snow yet, despite Christmas being just a couple weeks away, I haven’t quite been in the holiday mood just yet. Needing that warm and jolly feeling to help get me through the last few days, I decided to head into Philly to visit the Christmas Market at Love Park. I wasn’t the only one with that idea!

FullSizeRender (2)After doing a little bit of shopping, I walked towards City Hall. Walking along Macy’s I noticed the windows were decorated with adorable Peanuts scenes. They were all illuminated, had moving parts, and were drawing lines of people wanting to take their picture with it. Cutting through City Hall to get to Love Park, I was surprised to find a giant Christmas tree that was absolutely beautiful. Just like the window displays, there were rings of people around the tree waiting for their opportunity to get the perfect shot or selfie with the glittery decorations. The only thing missing was Santa! Approaching the Christmas market, I had flashbacks of one I went to in Edinburgh last year. It’s amazing to think about how quickly the last year has gone by and just how much I have grown and changed.

FullSizeRender (3)The fountains in front of City Hall were transformed into ice skating rink, and while smaller, it was quite charming and people lined the perimeter drinking cocoa, eating snacks, and watching people skate. I wish I could skate well! It would take a touch more coordination than I currently have 😉 I arrived in the heart of the market around 4pm on Sunday and boy was it crowded! It was so busy it was hard to see what was in each carefully set up and decorated stall. From what I could see, I found everything from jewelry, clothing, antiques, mulled wine, and everything in between…. including “bacon jam”… Whose line was down the walk way! Another tree adorned the park and below it a choir was singing carols and holiday songs. It was chilly and cloudy and so, nearly half way through December, I finally felt like it was the holiday season!

IMG_8617Despite the crowds, my Sunday outing was a perfect break from homework, imminent finals that are approaching a little too quickly, and a great way to help cheer up this tired senior. Done is almost so good!


Having a World Heritage City at my Doorstep

Not only is Philadelphia known as the City of Brotherly Love, but as of this week, it is also the United States’ first and only city to be named a World Heritage City by UNESCO. Two-hundred and fifty cities worldwide currently hold the title and the addition of Philadelphia is expected to bring increased tourism and business to the city. So what is it like to have such a historic city at my doorstep? I have enjoyed exploring different parts of the area the last three years, and through my adventures, I have come up with a list of my five favorite and must see spots.

1. Reading Terminal Market

DSCF7173If you are a foodie, and even if you aren’t, your trip to Philadelphia will not be complete without a visit to Reading Terminal Market. Located at 12th and Arch streets, the indoor market originally opened in 1892 is full of stalls boasting nearly every kind of food imaginable. From lunchmeat to cannoli and everything in between, it is sure to please. Because it is such a draw for tourists and locals alike, it can get incredibly crowded, so be prepared for some lines at the more popular stalls. It’s 100% worth it though!


Delectable offerings from Termini Bros

The crowds certainly add to the experience, but if you prefer a less hectic time in the market, I have found it to be less crowded Sunday mornings and early Friday afternoons. Two shops I definitely recommend stopping by are Termini Bros. Bakery for a cannoli and Hatville Deli for a Sweet Lebanon Bologna sandwich.


2. Independence Mall


Freshman year me seeing the Liberty Bell for the first time

Located about a twenty minute walk from Reading Terminal Market is Independence Mall in Old City. The area is home to some of the most historic spots in the country. You can’t leave Philly without touring Independence Hall and seeing the Liberty Bell. While you are in this part of the city, you can also visit the National Constitution Center, see Benjamin Franklin’s grave, and walk through the house it is believed Betsy Ross lived in when she sewed the American Flag.

3. The Franklin Institute

149278_4667981219520_23908163_nAbout a fifteen minute walk from Suburban Station in Center City is the Franklin Institute. While the main science museum is better suited for a younger crowd, there is still plenty for adults to enjoy in the exhibits. Additionally, it houses an IMAX theater with neat documentaries and occasionally, current movies. My favorite thing about the Franklin Institute however is their visiting exhibit offerings. In one of my blogs I talked about my experience in their more recent exhibit, The Art of the Brick, and I have also been lucky enough to see a traveling exhibit on The Titanic and Pompeii as well. They were all incredible, making the real artifacts and such rich history available for us to see without leaving Philadelphia. In the Spring, an exhibit called “The Science Behind Pixar” is opening and I am eager to see it!

4. Mural Arts Tour

11169849_10204069915250172_3851509967860972026_nLast April through Admissions I had the privilege of going on a Mural Arts tour around Center City with a group of admitted students and their families. Being the world’s largest collection of outdoor art, I highly recommend taking a tour of your own. The Mural Arts Program offers both public and private walking, trolley, and train tours of some of the city’s most beloved pieces. Each year over 2,000 artists participate in the project, beautifying neighborhoods and acting as service agents for their communities.

5. Eastern State Penitentiary

11998852_10204953305094366_8564617447348600066_nEastern State Penitentiary was #127 on my bucket list for senior year and I can finally say I’ve been there! While it wasn’t quite what I expected, I still think it should be on the attraction list of anybody who is visiting because of it’s incredible and eerie history. If you visit in the Fall and before Halloween, you’ll even be able to participate in “Terror Behind the Walls” which is a haunted house that takes place in the penitentiary… talk about scary! The rest of the year however, the empty cells and crumbling walls create a stark experience for visitors learning about the people who lived there, most notably Al Capone. About a ten minute drive from Suburban Station, it’s definitely a worth while excursion while in the area.

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about some of my favorite local spots! I still have a very important Philadelphia stop to complete before I graduate and that is tasting a famous cheesesteak from both Pat’s and Geno’s. Look for that in a blog to come!



Night at the (Art) Museum


A snapshot of the PMA I took my sophomore year… it was neat to return as a senior and speak with the people who make the exhibits possible!

What does this Bryn Mawr senior do on the Friday night before Halloween? Spend the evening at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, of course! One of the highlights of my semester has been taking a course called “The Curator in the Museum”, the first class offered by our new Museum Studies program. As a senior, I wish I had more time to explore and learn about the field, but I am happy to know that BMC and Monique Scott, the director, are developing such a unique and incredible program. Dr. Scott teaches the course I am currently in and I’ve fallen in love with the field so much I’ve already put her next course, “Museum Anthropology” on my enrollment list for next semester!

As part of our course, we visit different museums to gain a practical understanding and see how the theory we are studying in class appears in real life. Last Monday we visited the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and this Friday, we found ourselves at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. After a highlights tour, we had the opportunity to speak with employees of the museum who worked in community outreach and curating. This element of our class is my favorite because it is so informative and an awesome opportunity to speak with the people who make the exhibits we see and admire possible.


Dance students from a local university perform a piece inspired by a Dia de los Muertos exhibit at the Museum

Every Friday, the PMA offers programming called “Art After 5” centered around a theme related to current events, exhibitions, and public interest. Since it was the Friday before Halloween, they threw a Halloween Bash! Art After 5 is a unique way to draw people into the museum while creating an atmosphere that is completely different than what a patron would find during regular business hours. They had themed cocktail and snack offerings, a DJ and dance floor, and two presentations by local university students.

We decided to stay after our class to see what it was like, and I’m so glad we did. My favorite parts of the evening were the presentations inspired by pieces of art in the museum. They provided an excellent way to connect my museum experience during the day to this special one after hours. In the picture above for example, students performed a piece inspired by a Dia de los Muertos exhibit. The dancers started the dance remaining still off to the side while actors portrayed a museum guide and young man on a tour. The guide explained to the man that he should keep his eyes open because pieces of the exhibit had been rumored to come alive. As the man was writing in a notebook, one of the dancers placed herself right in front of him, scaring the young man, and causing him to run away. The dancers then came to life and performed a beautiful piece.


An art-inspired fashion show by Philadelphia University students

During the second half of the evening, fashion design students from Philadelphia University showcased hat and purses they created with each also being inspired by a work in the museum that struck them. They had to use unusual materials to create their products, so students used everything from twigs to flashing lights to chicken bones (yes, chicken bones!) to make their projects. It was so fun to hear the students explain how their hats and bags were influenced by the paintings and to see the models wearing them proudly.

All in all, it was a very fun way to spend Friday evening and a great compliment to my class experience and learning. Check out my Instagram and Twitter throughout the weekend to see how the rest of Halloween went!

Lego by Lego


Shops in Center City ready for the Pope’s visit this weekend

Taking advantage of a gap in my schedule, I squeezed into the city to see an exhibit I have been dying to visit before the city essentially shuts down for the Papal visit. Philadelphia has gone into over-drive preparing for the historic visit; closing some train stations, roads, and bridges to try and handle the enormous crowds expected in Center City. Despite the increased number of people in the city, the Franklin Institute was nearly empty! Having been at the museum when it was so crowded we were packed in like sardines, it was a pleasant surprise.

Last winter, an exhibit called the Art of the Brick (AOTB) made its way to the Franklin Institute for a limited engagement. I intended to see it, but my crazy semester got the best of my time, and I didn’t get to before I left for summer. To my surprise, when I arrived back in the fall, I heard that it had been extended by “popular demand”. I assumed it was so popular because of the novelty of the exhibit; its creator Nathan Sawaya said himself that he started making Lego artwork because it hadn’t been done before. But when I stepped into the exhibit, I immediately understood why it had such staying power.


Nathan Sawaya has done much more than recreate famous masterpieces using small, brightly colored pieces of children’s toys; he has created a way to draw emotion from the people visiting his exhibit and even more deeply, to bring them together. After going through the first two halls where there were recreations of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Michelangelo’s David, and Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night to just name a few, the final hall contained pieces original to the curator.

11953129_10204989216952140_1808124652555682943_nEntitled “The Human Condition”, each one had a description with a message from Sawaya about the meaning behind each installment. One of the most amazing elements of the exhibit was how I could see myself in each one of his original creations. He drew on sentiments so common and relevant to our society that you couldn’t help but have your breath taken away and emotions tugged at. Everything from diversity to finding our own voice was beautifully built into human form with hundreds of thousands of Legos as unique as we are.

My words can only speak to a fraction of the meaning behind this exhibit and so if the Art of the Brick comes to a museum near you, I wholeheartedly recommend you see it. I would like to end this post with a picture of my favorite piece. It is just one of the many creations in the AOTB that collectively represent the creativity, inspiration, and hope of this exhibit. In the description next to it, Nathan Sawaya writes,

12003168_10204989216712134_6355458280109623046_n“Celebrate difference. If everybody looked and was the same, it wouldn’t be a very interesting world, would it? So which shape are you? And which color? The circle, square, and triangle are the fundamental building blocks of all things. And the colors red, blue, and yellow are the primary colors of our world.”