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Culture Shock Moving to Philadelphia

Culture Shock Moving to Philadelphia
April 20, 2019

If you have a long distance move to the Philadelphia, you’re about to experience more than just a major climate change.

History Is Here

The sheer amount of American history on display in Philadelphia can make any history enthusiast swoon: Independence Hall, where the U.S. Constitution was signed; The Liberty Bell, a symbol of American freedom that looks like it won a bar fight with a church bell; Valley Forge, used as a military base by Continental soldiers during the Revolutionary War; and the Rocky Statue, depicting a famous fictional athlete’s triumph over adversity and the place that’s probably witnessed thousands of “Yo, Adrian!” gasps from tourists doubled over from the effort of running up the steps.

A word about the Rocky Statue and Steps: yes, everyone runs up them and poses by the statute, and yes, you can do it, too, but please don’t do it right after a heavy lunch. Keep in mind you will lose your Cool New Resident status if you try to hum or sing the Rocky Theme while running up the steps; doing so risks mockery, eye rolls, and the real possibility of missing a step and tumbling back down, which you will find painful and anyone watching will find hilarious. You live here now, so leave that nonsense for the tourists.

Should you get tired of the local culture, you can also hit the road and find more in the neighboring cities. New York and Baltimore will take about two hours to reach, an ideal distance for a long weekend. Just try to avoid the Schuylkill; we’ll get to that later.

And if you like to be historical while you shop, visit the Reading Terminal Market, also known as America’s Oldest Farmer’s Market, a distinction carried with pride and the occasional hipster-like boast of “We were a farmer’s market before it was cool.”

You know what else is cool? Celebration big events by lighting things on fire. Which can happen frequently in Philly because…

The Sports Fans Are NUTS

As mentioned before, Philadelphia is home to some of the oldest and most storied sports programs in the country, including the Philadelphia Eagles, Philadelphia Flyers, and the Philadelphia 76ers. As a new resident of Philadelphia, you will not be expected to start supporting these clubs right after you’ve finished unpacking. Regardless of any evidence to the contrary, being a Philadelphia sports fans is not akin to being in a cult, but don’t be surprised if you answer the door on Sunday morning and find a guy in a suit holding up pamphlets and asking if you’d like to learn more about Gritty, the Flyers’ mascot.

Yes, we’re aware Gritty looks like a mop head covered in Cheeto dust. No, Gritty is not the stuff of nightmares, but you don’t have to go near him if you don’t want to. That’s a true sign of adulthood; you COULD go near the creepy mascot if you wanted, you just don’t FEEL like it right now. Check back next season.

Scary mascot aside, you may want to think twice about supporting any other team on game day, especially if the home team has a problem with them. And by problem, we mean Philly fans are prepared to start a brawl with the opposing fans at the slightest excuse, like blinking during the National Anthem. Philadelphia fans are passionate, like “We celebrate wins by staging riots” passionate, so it won’t be wise to wander around town wearing any Cowboys or Giants gear. You’ll probably be okay if you’re a Colts fan; just keep an eye out.

Sports rivalries aside, don’t think that you won’t be welcomed here.

Everybody Is Welcome

Philadelphia is diverse. With a population topping 1.5 million, it can’t help but be diverse. Philadelphia has a long history of embracing people of varying backgrounds, and the modern-day demographics bear that out.

Wandering the streets of Philadelphia will bring you to two realizations. Firstly, the city has a wide variety of cultural demographics: Caucasian, African-American, Asian; you name it, and Philly’s probably got it. Stroll through downtown Philadelphia and you’ll find a wide variety of religions and cultures on display, including Catholics, Protestants, Mennonites, Amish, Jewish, and Buddhists. You’ll see those demographics on display everywhere: Old City, Chinatown, Brewerytown, Holmesburg, the shore towns, and every other neighborhood in the city.

Secondly, the city also has an abundance of public art. Murals, street art, and everything in between can be seen everywhere, bringing a singular fineness to a city already rich in culture and history. Of course, that history isn’t above an immature snort when you encounter it. Think we’re wrong? Try saying Passyunk and Fishtown without grinning. Or Schuylkill. Double dog dare you.

Speaking of Schuylkill, you will be advised to avoid driving on it whenever possible. Every major city in America has a road or interstate that serves no purpose beyond causing congestion, and The City of Brotherly Love is no exception. Also known as Interstate 76, the Schuylkill holds the honor of being a city landmark, in that you can look at it anytime during the day and behold bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Pick Your Cheese

It’s common knowledge that a cheesesteak is the official sandwich of Philly, and the debate over the best cheesesteak typically comes down to a choice between two restaurants, Pat’s and Geno’s.

As a new resident, you will inevitably have to make a decision on which place does the better cheesesteak. Don’t stress about the choice; it’s very much a personal statement, and should be treated as such. Plus, half the people in the city will disagree with you anyway, and make you aware of that at every possible opportunity, so why worry?

And if the prospect of a cheesesteak doesn’t sound enticing, keep in mind the sandwiches aren’t the beginning and the end of Philly’s culinary offerings. The city does a fantastic pizza, carefully sidestepping the great New York-Chicago pizza debate and offering slices better than you’d expect from a place known for its brats and beer.

So, between the history, sports, demographics, culture, and food, Philadelphia has a lot to offer new residents. Why not go and see what you can find?

Just, please, stay off the Schuylkill.


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