• Connie Fan: Penn Culture

    Photo: Connie Fan

    Photo: Connie Fan

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    Posted on April 25, 2013 by Connie Fan

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    ……….As college students, we’ve reached a point in our lives where we are no longer “growing up,” but instead, “growing old.” While every moment in life counts, college is the time when we truly experience our defining moments, on the cusp of adulthood, capable of directing the outcome of our lives.

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    If the burden of heavy decision-making was not enough, schoolwork can certainly add to the pressure that college students feel. It is no surprise that Penn students feel stressed at times.

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    “Penn culture” is a term people like to throw around. There are slight variations of the meaning, but all in all, everyone understands the gist of it. This term may best be defined by an anecdote:

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    An 18-year-old boy named Pablo* approached a group of friends and me early during his freshman year. We talked for a few minutes. Then Pablo announced, “I came to Penn, so I can go back and make my village a better place.” There was a pause. The upperclassman in the group seemed to have deja-vu. They were once Pablo. One of the seniors in the group said, “That’s amazing. Don’t let this school crush your dreams.” Confused, Pablo walked away. The second he was out of earshot, the group agreed there was an 80% chance that he would go in to investment banking or consulting and have no desire to return to his village by May 2016.

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    Photo: Connie Fan

    Photo: Connie Fan

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    Students feel the pressure to achieve. However, after coming to Penn, their definition of “achievement” is often altered. Sometimes, it seems as though we all need to step back and think about what is important to us. It’s an issue of pride when it comes to starting salaries and signing bonuses that rival the income of entire middle-class families. Of course, it feels good for a moment when you land that coveted position. But I have to ask, is the money really worth it?

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    Photo: Connie Fan

    Photo: Connie Fan

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    Noble dreams are worth holding on to. They’re hard to achieve, and we’ll find opportunities for more immediate gratification along the way. Many of us will get distracted. Most likely, these distractions will become our permanent way of life, not just a tangent. That having been said, there’s also nothing wrong with changing your dreams as long as it’s for the right reasons. With everything to consider, sometimes we all just need a shoulder to lean on.

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    Other times, we just need to laugh it off. You will most definitely fall over at times, but it can’t be too long before you get back up again. Right?

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    *Pablo’s name has been altered to protect his privacy.

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    About The Author: Connie Fan is a Sophomore enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania. Class of 2014. To access additional articles by Connie Fan, go to the search bar at the top of page: enter name and click green icon.

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