By Elizabeth Davis
Let’s talk favorites. I talked in my first blog post about some of the ways in which Philadelphia has far exceeded my (admittedly low) expectations. I thought it might be nice to share some of my favorites with whoever reads this thing, with the off chance that you might be in/end up in Philly.
The place where I spend all of my time: I discovered this place in January, and the biggest draw was that the classes were all taught in a 90 degree room. This. Was. Heaven. Now that temperatures outside are starting to soar, this is less of a draw, but let me tell you- for several months, these classes were the only time I felt warm. Even though it has warmed up outside, I’m still in the studio an average of 8 hours a week, and I love it. The instructors at Philly Power Yoga and Thrive Pilates are all really friendly and knowledgeable, and the studio is welcoming to all levels. If you are looking for a relaxed stretching class, check out the Pilates studio, as the yoga classes are power vinyasa flow classes (lots of pushups and sweat). They have a free community class Wednesday mornings, and a five dollar class Monday mornings.
The place where I completed (most) of my graduate school applications: Granted, much of my graduate school essay writing/procrastinating/stressing was done late at night in my room, but Elixr Coffee was a much needed change of scenery in the time of stress and snow. It is full of terrariums and reclaimed wood, and is worth a look for the atmosphere alone. Whoever is in charge of the music is also great, as it’s pretty eclectic but always good. The location is off a side street close to St. Mark’s, and they don’t seem to mind if you nurse a cup of coffee for quite a while (it’s also possible that they took pity on my stressed state/thought I shouldn’t have any more caffeine). That being said, their food is also quite delicious.
The best place to run in the sleet and snow: Ok, so this might be a little bit of a lie. I loved running/ sliding on the ice along the Schuylkill River Trail, but that could be related to the fact that I’m a native Texan, and just recovered from an injury that kept me from running for two years. I got the all-clear from my doctor in January, and immediately started running on the trail. The trail runs through several parks, and is a great place to run/bike/rollerblade/chase goslings. In January, I would run into another person every half mile or so, but ever since the first 70-degree day, the place has been packed! There are tons of free events along the bank during the summer (like yoga), so it’s worth a stop even if you hate running.
The best happy hour: I’m not a big drinker, but I ADORE pizza, and Nomad Roman has some of the best in the city. They have a normal happy hour, and a late night happy hour on the weekends! The restaurant itself is beautiful and tiny, and the pizzas are really, really, good. The St. Mark’s house is a big fan, and when my sister came to visit I took her there purely for the joy of the Nutella pizza. Yeah, that’s right. Nutella. Pizza. You can also go outside of happy hour, but really, on a stipend, there is not much better than a five-dollar personal pizza.
This is obviously a teensy-tiny bit of what Philadelphia has to offer, and I invite you to take the time to explore and find your own favorites! There is more to Philadelphia than cheesesteaks.
Elizabeth Serves as a Case Manager at Bethesda Project.
By Elizabeth Davis
I’m not going to lie- I did not have high hopes for Philadelphia as a city. My placement? Absolutely. Living in intentional community? You bet. But Philly? The thing I was the most excited about was the fact that I did not have to drive for a whole three-hundred-and-sixty-five days. I have now been here for almost five months, and as is generally the case with moving halfway across the country and starting a new job, it has been much more than I expected (shocking, I know.).
I have been somewhat biased against the Northeast as a whole, and there was not much I had ever heard about Philadelphia that prompted me to look closer. I arrived in the middle of July, when the free outdoor events were in full swing- concerts, movies in the park, yoga by the Schuylkill, beer gardens- this painted a much more lively and exciting picture of the city where my highest expectations were of reasonably well functioning public transit (we've escaped one SEPTA strike so far, I'll keep y'all updated). It turns out that Philadelphia is actually a really cool city, with some rich history and interesting organizations to boot.
My placement as a case manager has been an incredible learning experience, and there has never been a dull day. I am the first full-time case manager at my placement, which means I have not only been learning the ropes of my position, but working with the house’s program coordinator to shape my role in the house. This location is home to sixteen formerly homeless women with a history of mental health diagnoses and/or substance abuse. My day-to-day role includes working with residents on creating care plans, assisting with daily living skills, interfacing with social service agencies, planning community building events, and dealing with mental health crises. Working with the women at my placement has taught me some valuable skills that I will be able to take with me to practically any career, as well as cemented my desire to continue my education and eventually earn a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.
The third piece of my move to Philadelphia that has gone above and beyond to exceed expectations is the community living aspect of the program. Our housing placement is currently home to four SY members (as well as two rather exuberant yellow labs whenever the Rector is out of town). We all rapidly bonded on move-in day over a mutual love of Harry Potter. Never actually having read the last book (I know, I know, but I’ve read them now, okay!), I spent the month of September re-reading and reading all seven of the books. We have also bonded over a mutual love of Disney and puzzles, and rather quickly formed a tight-knit group. We all have different placements (and work schedules), and it has been great to come home every day to such a supportive community. We have some established routines and guidelines that make our community living more “intentional”. We try to eat all our meals in the kitchen instead of our individual rooms, we have community dinner on Tuesdays, and we say compline together on weeknights.
It has become clear to me that I rather underestimated both the city I now call home, and the program that brought me here. I fully expect for the rest of my months here to continue to exceed even the revised expectations I now have for my year of service.
Elizabeth Serves as Case Manager at Bethesda Project.