What it is really like to live in Philadelphia.
A few years ago, I began a series called WIIRL (What Is It Really Like) where I wrote about what it was really like to live in ______. I wrote about all the places I lived up to that point. Between then and now, I moved to the heart of Philadelphia for two years. I now live in the suburbs of Philadelphia, and think that the article title WIIRL: Small Town Pennsylvania describes my experiences here pretty accurately, but Philadelphia was a whole different story that I will discuss below.
Philadelphia is *so diverse*. There are so many different neighborhoods; some neighborhoods are mostly white, some mostly black, some mostly Asian, etc., but when you are in a central location such as center city, you can see a mix of everyone. You will have no issues finding a specific type of cuisine (Such as Greek, Pakistani, or Ethiopian even!), finding a sense of community, or finding other people like you. It is also very religiously-diverse. I have found that most of Pennsylvania (or most of the U.S. in general) is either Christian or non-spiritual, but Philadelphia is very religiously-diverse. I remember when I first moved there, I met so many African American (ie. Black Americans, not immigrants but those whose families have lived here for generations) who were Muslim. It was very eye opening to me, to be honest. Another example is that I have seen more black hijabis than any other race of hijabis in Philadelphia.
2. Old and new
Philadelphia is one of the oldest cities in the U.S., fact. There is a part of Philadelphia called "Old City" where, when you walk through it, everything looks and feels old (because it is!). They have historical sites there, such as Betsy Ross' house. When you walk down the streets of Old City, you feel like you are in some kind of strange time-loop or portal. The rest of downtown Philadelphia is very modern, and growing rapidly.
3. Rich and poor
There is a huge discrepancy between the rich and poor in Philadelphia. There are extremely poor neighborhoods, as well as extremely rich ones. This may be the case in basically any city, but it is extremely evident in Philadelphia, and the discrepancy grows more every day. The poor neighborhoods are being bought-out and new developments are being made there, making Philadelphia much more modernized but kicking out the locals who cannot afford to live there anymore.
4. City vs Country Life
Philadelphia feels like a whole other world compared to the other, more "country-ish" parts of Pennsylvania (ie. most of Pennsylvania). I currently live in the suburbs of Philadelphia. People here are *so* different. For one, people are so much nicer here than in Philadelphia! An old lady asked my brother and I if we needed a ride when we were walking around, for example... and she was serious! People are also so much more... ignorant, and conservative. They aren't used to diversity like the city-folk are, so they don't always understand issues that don't have anything to do with them. People in Philadelphia seem to be so much more open minded, aware, and liberal (all good things), though also less friendly haha.
Often, the poor neighborhoods are labeled as dangerous, but I personally did not feel like I was in danger during my time in Philadelphia at all (except for when my room mate, India Rottenburg (sorry, the Philadelphia city police were useless and didn't help me, and I don't want to be sued for "slander" even though it's a fact, so I can't write her real last name but you can probably guess it) stole my identity. And that was in my university's graduate school housing, in China town, super close to center city, and not in a "poor" neighborhood. While crime rates may be more prevalent in poorer neighborhoods, I personally didn't feel like I was in danger at all, anytime. There is a huge drug-culture, and tons of drug related crimes including murder, but I personally would say that Philadelphia is just as dangerous as any city, and you have to be active / smart to keep yourself safe, just like you would in any city!
Overall, Philadelphia was one of my favorite places to live. It was my first time living all alone in a big, bad city. Before I moved there, my brother Adnan used to joke that I was going to be a "sheep in the big city". It was an adventure. I loved it. I'm glad to be out now, though, and in the suburbs instead where it is much more quiet, green, and safe (ie. if I had a room mate and she stole my identity here in Media, the police would actually do their job and help me, unlike in Philadelphia. Amazing! -_-) I love Philadelphia. There is ALWAYS so much to do. I think I could spend a life time there and not be bored, but my heart and spirit are too adventurous to stay in one place to long. I won't be writing a WIIRL about Media, Pennsylvania because I wrote one on "Small-Town Pennsylvania" which encompasses my experiences here pretty well too. Until next time, adios folks!