I grew up in a very small town in Gloucester County in Southern New Jersey. We were actually rated the slowest paced town in the state, and horses still trot along busy roads. That bubble of being a small-town girl was inevitably popped when I entered my undergraduate career at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, and even more so when I began my graduate studies at Penn.

Moving to West Philadelphia, in the beginning, felt like the start of this amazing adventure. There I was, this small-town country bumpkin moving to the big city. Needless to say, I did not have a Carrie Bradshaw moment the first day and night in my West Philadelphia apartment. It was more of a “What did I get myself into” moment.

In the summer leading up to the Big Move there was a series of stressful and anxiety-provoking steps to land me on 43rd and Baltimore. There were meetings with faculty, all the financial aid stuff, running to and from the city to make sure that your place is “just right” and that everything is prepared for your arrival. The last thing you think about is what it will be like when you’re actually there, and it’s different than undergrad because everyone’s in the same boat as you. In grad school, there are a bunch of different boats all getting into the same harbor and everything occurs at different times for everyone.

A lot of the transition comes in at weird times. One day, I had no idea where the subway goes and then all of a sudden,I knew all of the public transportation.The next Tuesday I found myself in some cool coffee shop I Google-mapped the week before and it’s now my go-to study spot. The third week of school rolls around and my hand soars up in class because I’m comfortable and feel welcome to express my thoughts. Suddenly, the Penn gear I purchased in excitement and anticipation doesn’t make me feel like a poser. Instead, I feel like I am Penn, I earned this spot and now I’m putting in the work to proudly wear the name across my chest.

Transitioning to school and Philadelphia took me some time. There are still moments I sit back in disbelief that I’m a resident of the city and go to one of the greatest schools in the country. The key is to embrace these moments, live through them. Live through the confusion of the subway and the nervousness of being on your own. Take the down moments in stride and capitalize on the mornings you wake up on the right side of the bed.

And most importantly, don’t be afraid to eat lunch by yourself, because there’s a lot of good food and sometimes you just need a moment to yourself.