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Study in USA: Philadephia

by Stefka Gerova

Choosing where to study | Boston | Connecticut |San Francisco |Philadephia |Los Angeles |Texas : Austin |Washington D.C. |New York City

Just a two and a half hour drive south of New York City, Philadelphia (or commonly referred to as Philly) is one of the most exciting cities on the East Coast. Being the fifth-largest city in the United States and the second-largest on the East Coast, it offers plenty of historical, cultural and entertainment attractions to students and tourists alike. And if you get tired of the busy city life, there's always an easy escape into the peaceful, charming and picturesque suburbia, where most of the smaller colleges of this area are nestled.


There are around fifty big universities and smaller colleges in Philadelphia proper and in the near vicinity of the city. Unlike typical university towns such as Boston, Philadelphia offers the perfect mix of a proper busy city and a student-oriented town. That's how you can never get bored here!

One of the oldest and best-known universities in the United States is the University of Pennsylvania (or commonly known as UPenn), a school of enviable reputation whose faculty include numerous Nobel laureates, recipients of the Pulitzer Prize, and Fulbright Fellows. It was founded in 1740, but only moved to its current location in 1870. The university practically offers any major, from economics to theater to medicine. Its most famous branches include in The College at Penn (School of Arts and Sciences), the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the School of Nursing and the Wharton School. However, getting admitted is one of the harder things in life, both at the undergraduate and at the graduate level as it has been in the Top 10 U.S. universities for numerous years. On the other hand, getting a degree from it is practically equivalent to a secure future for a lifetime. If you just go there for a tour, be sure not to miss the controversial exhibitions of the Institute of Contemporary Art, or the outstanding collection of Asian, African and Egyptian relics of the University of Archaeology and Anthropology, or the varied theater and dance performances of the Annenberg Center. UPenn is undoubtedly rich in student clubs, including a university radio and a TV station, fraternities and sororities, and graduate and professional organizations. All in all, it will be hard to get bored here, both academically and socially.

Drexel University is the technology-based university of Philly. Founded in 1891, it is the academic home to over 12,000 graduate and undergraduate students. It offers a wide variety of majors: from engineering to IT to biomedicine to design arts and business. Drexel also offers numerous programs for on-line learning and on-line certificates. Moreover, there are more than 1,500 international students at Drexel. The International Students and Scholars Office assists international students, professors and scholars with various cultural and academic programs. Along with UPenn, it forms the so-called University City of Philadelphia, a vibrant and rich in opportunities student area. For those of you who are technically oriented, this will be the perfect big university with rigorous academic programs.

Southwest of Philadelphia, within a half-hour drive from the city, lie three smaller liberal-arts colleges for those students who seek high-quality education without the hectic life of a big university: Bryn Mawr, Haverford and Swarthmore. An all-girls school, Bryn Mawr features undergraduate and graduate programs in the arts, sciences and social sciences. It's rather small in size: only about 1,700 total enrolment, with a little bit over 400 graduate students. Yet, its rigorous curriculum, gorgeous campus and proximity to a big city make it an attractive destination for gifted students. Founded in 1833, Haverford College is the oldest of the three liberal-arts schools. It is also the smallest (1,100 total enrolment), which only enhances the personal interaction of students and faculty. Its most charming peculiarity is the fact that it abides by an honor code, a system of unsupervized examination that not many other colleges in the U.S. use. Haverford College offers B.A. degrees in the natural sciences and the humanities. Its campus is a great place for an afternoon walk, which should definitely not miss the charming Duck pond. Located in the borough of Swarthmore, Swarthmore College was founded in 1864 and has continuously offered outstanding undergraduate programs in art and sciences and in engineering. Small class-size, devoted professors and famous alumni add to the atmosphere of the place. Besides that, the wooded residential campus is nationally recognized as the Scott Arboretum and provides quite a peaceful place for academic endeavors.

Bryn Mawr, Haverford and Swarthmore form the so-called Tri-College, or a consortium-type of arrangement that allows students to take classes in any of the three schools. Moreover, students have the option of taking classes in UPenn, which lies within a twenty-minute bus ride from any of the three campuses. The members of the Tri-College rank among the elite liberal-arts colleges of the country, and education is taken quite seriously there.

And if this is not enough, Philly has to offer more in terms of education. Temple University is the biggest university of the area. For fashion designers and textile artists there is the Philadelphia University, which also owns an outstanding collection of clothing pieces from different epochs and places of the globe. The Moore College of Art and Design emphasizes on visual arts. For those interested in performing arts, the perfect place is the University of the Arts. For talented musicians there is the Curtis Institute which has trained prominent figures like Leonard Bernstein, Samuel Barber and Gian Carlo Menotti. And further beyond the limits of the city proper, there are the smaller, yet charming Rosemont College and Villanova University.

In terms of campus life, there is plenty of it going on. Most students in the smaller colleges live on campus and therefore there is always something going on at all of them, both on weekdays and during the weekends. UPenn and Drexel can get quite loud for the peace-lovers and rather scattered around due to their size. However, one thing is certain: Philadelphia can suit any taste, whether one desires a quiet environment or wishes to be in the center of the action. And in either case, Philly students have been known for going out in the city or for making weekend trips to New York City in order to find something novel and fun off campus.


Philadelphia is by far one of the most famous U.S. cities by virtue of being the birthplace of American independence. Moreover, Philadelphia was the capital of the United States from 1774 to 1800. The Liberty Bell, one of the most precious historical monuments of the States, the Independence Hall and the Independence National Historic Park are the must-see features of Philly that would immediately take you on a lovely journey through time. The Independence Hall is where Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776. The Old City has preserved some old architecture and is home to numerous breath-taking art galleries featuring diverse exhibitions. Another historic landmark of the city is the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, which hosts the Fourth of July Fireworks as well as many other festivals throughout the year.

The Convention Center right in the center of the city exhibits modern architectural design. Built in 1994, it's one of the busiest places in Philly, hosting various exhibitions and conferences throughout the year.

A studious student and a curious tourist alike can never get bored on South Street, one of the city's most famous shopping, dining and clubbing areas. Another exclusive shopping place is Rittenhouse Square, which also features a wide array of first-class restaurants. And if you're looking for Asian cuisine, thee best place to have a meal is Chinatown. One of the most popular hangout places for college students and one of Philly's most charming, yet slightly snobbish suburbs, is Manayunk. It features hip boutiques, cozy restaurants, and a wide variety of nightclubs. In general, gourmet restaurants are abundant - after all, the city has been dubbed "the number one restaurant city" in the United States!

Philadelphia doesn't lack outdoor attractions either. The Fairmount Park is the world's largest landscaped park, with beautiful trails for a relaxing Sunday walk. It also includes one of Philadelphia' s most scenic places, the Boathouse Row on the bank of the Schuylkill River. Well-lit at night, the boathouses can be seen when driving on the highway and will inevitably remind you of a fairy-tale of ancient times. The Philadelphia Zoo, the first one in the United States, also offers recreational opportunities and fun for children and adults alike.

All in all, Philadelphia is by far one of the must-see cities in the United States. What's more, it's perfect for students who seek first-quality education in a very happening area. Colleges and Universities are hard to get into, but definitely worth the trouble!

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