Ask The Staff: Philadelphia Favorites

Thursday, December 17, 2020

In January 2021, many students will return to Philadelphia or move here for the first time. In preparation, we asked our staff for their Philly favorites in hopes of inspiring your own adventures.

What’s your favorite thing about Philadelphia?

“When was the last time that you visited The Franklin Institute? This museum brings out the child in the adult. Crawling through the human heart rises to the top of my list as a memorable, favorite experience. It has been a few years since my last “crawl,” but I look forward to snaking through the ventricles.” – Jane

“My favorite thing about Philly is the food. I’ve discovered a new restaurant every week this entire summer for outdoor dining. It’s always a great experience and, even being born and raised here, this was such a surprise for me.” – Alia

“What I love about Philly is the variety available in everything. There is literally something for everyone and every occasion.  Every type of food you can think of, great museums, concerts, athletics, high-end or casual, funky shops, and elegant boutiques. If you want it, you can find it here–it keeps life interesting!”– Valerie

“It is kind of cheesy, but the thing I love most about Philadelphia is that my brothers live here. I have three brothers who live in the area and before I moved back to Philadelphia, I missed them so much! Now I see them all the time. I also love Philadelphia’s Magic Garden on South Street. I always take friends there when they come to visit! “ – Erica

“Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods. In the city, I love the Arts; they add culture to the city. As for a place on campus, I loved Beijing restaurant – used to be on Spruce street.” – Pat 

“I feel incredibly lucky to have access to the Wissahickon Valley Park, which offers 1800 acres and 50+ miles of trails for hiking and biking all within the city limits. I’m always encouraging Penn students to venture there by riding a bike up the Schuylkill River Trail or catching the 125 bus from Market Street to the Wissahickon Transportation Center.” -Ryan 

“One of my favorite things about Philly is all the great cafés and restaurants. My all-time favorite café is Red Hook Tea & Coffee, which is just down the block from me in my Queen Village neighborhood. Pre-COVID, I enjoyed sitting in their window seats for hours catching up with friends over coffee.  Nowadays, I make a point to get take out from them about once a week to help them stay in business (and indulge my cravings for their delicious sandwiches!).” – Julianne 

“My favorite thing about Philly would have to be the bookstores, especially Black-owned and operated bookstores. There are few Black-owned bookstores around the world, but Philadelphia is a city where there are many to choose from. I love Harriett’s, Hakim‘s, Amalgam, Uncle Bobbie’s, Black and Nobel, Black Reserve, Books & Stuff. I love them all. They are great community spaces with tons of resources and always shining a spotlight on emerging authors.” – Daris

“I love all the concerts and comedy shows that Philadelphia offers. From small black box theaters like Good Good Comedy Theatre in Chinatown, to big arenas like the Wells Fargo Center, I’ve gotten to see so many of my favorite performers. I look forward to live shows being a thing again!” – Jackie

Ask the Staff: End-of-Day Transitions

Wednesday, November 11, 2020
The words "Ask the staff" appear in a speech bubble.
Staying connected is more essential than ever. Ask The Staff is a column that will provide glimpses into the diverse lives of our Weingarten Center staff. Get to know us!

How do you transition out of your workday and into “home mode”?

“Soon as 5pm hits, I order ahead to pick up a drink from my local Starbucks. The staff already recognize me, even with my mask on. It’s fattening but it’s a small joy that I look forward to.” – Alia

“Walking is therapeutic for my physical and emotional well-being. My aim is to walk at least 90 minutes daily, so my walk after 5pm is essential in maintaining an equilibrium. Listening to an audiobook while exploring a local neighborhood symbolizes my way of life.” – Jane

“At the end of my workday, I like to take a few moments to reflect. Sometimes this means writing in my journal, doing a guided meditation, or a yoga sequence to help combat the effects of sitting for most of my day. After that, I will start cooking dinner (my new quarantine hobby!) and watch an episode of The Crown or The Great British Baking show to fully unwind.” – Jordi 

I start my workday with a walk in the morning. In the evening, I spend time peeking into the fridge and/or pantry to explore what is there that can be transformed into dinner.” -Rashmi 

“After work, I like to lose myself in the kitchen. Whether I’m braiding challah bread, peeling vegetables, or grilling outdoors, I love the way preparing food to share with my family immerses me in my senses after a long day of Zoom meetings.“ – Aaron 

“I power down and close my laptop, switch off the power strip, and walk away from my desk. I try not to do anything on the computer “after hours” so that even if I don’t have a physical separation of living space and working space, I can still feel like I’m off-duty.”  Julianne

“Transitioning from work to home needs to be a bit more intentional these days because I have no commute. I like to sit in the living room and get away from my phone and other screens. Sometimes I just light a candle or put on some soothing music. I try to remember that whatever happened today, tomorrow is a new day.” – Jen

“It’s not always very easy for me to transition into ‘home mode’ actually. I often have to leave my bedroom (current office) and start cooking or run an errand to detach from my workday. Otherwise, I’ll take a good nap!” – Gabe

“I take my dog, Dewey, to the local dog park. It’s my favorite way to unwind, get fresh air, mingle with neighbors, and pet a bunch of pups. I think sometimes I’m having more fun than him!” – Jackie

RAISE Your Productivity By Sharing Accountability

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Welcome to Fall 2020 at Penn. You know the ethos of hard work. You chose to come to Penn because of its immense focus on academic strength, enterprise and innovation. We are so proud of you!

There are no if and buts. This is an extremely unusual semester. We have to admit that nothing like this has crossed our lives before. Even dinner table conversations have new looks and new meanings.

It is time to demonstrate your grit, courage, resilience and adaptability in more and different ways. You can do it and you will.

There’s a Haitian proverb that loosely translates like this: “the burden is lighter when many hearts and minds support the work”. You can maintain a continued level of success by seeking support and sharing your goals and commitments. When you establish a shared commitment, you are more likely to complete that task than you are to drift into procrastination.

This image is a bar graph with mind, hand, and heart icons that illustrates the positive effect of sharing your goals and commitments with your community.
“The burden is lighter when many hearts and minds support the work.” A Haitian proverb

You are not alone during this uncertain time. The entire Penn campus is open and the Penn community is ready to work with you, albeit virtually. This community of support is composed of:

  • classmates and peer counselors
  • the instructional team: professors and TAs
  • academic support: Weingarten, Career Services, Penn Libraries (Pickup@Penn), Writing Center
  • family and friends

Feel free to engage your community at Penn and join us at either of these two workshops where we will discuss ways to manage our expectations and the uncertainty that we will have to work with: looming deadlines, shifting balance, and staying calm.

RAISE Your Productivity By Sharing Accountability
September 10, 4-5:00 PM EST and September 14, 1-2:00 PM EST
(each will be followed by additional 30 minutes for questions)

Written by Dr. Rashmi Kumar, Associate Director of Learning Resources, and Gabriel Angrand, STEM Learning Specialist

For more information, contact us: Dr. Rashmi Kumar at and Gabriel Angrand at

What’s Your Game Plan?

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

So, you’ve made the decision to take classes this semester! Whether you’ll be on campus or not, it’s important to think about what strategies you can use to make the most of your online experience. By now, you may be aware that Zoom fatigue is a real thing. You might also agree that it can be challenging to hold yourself accountable for completing goals and deliverables even if online coursework allows for flexibility.

Even considering these challenges, you may have experienced the long-term benefit of having some sort of structure for your time. Everything you’ve noticed this summer can be useful to you moving forward! 

As you prepare for this upcoming semester, consider the following questions: 

  • How can you create a flexible schedule that keeps you, your courses, and your other responsibilities in perspective?
  • What does it mean to participate actively in a virtual space? 
  • How will you reduce and manage potential distractions? 
  • Is there anything you can do to reduce screen fatigue?

We have some possible answers for you in the handout linked below! Check out our “Quick Tips for Online Learning” and do what works for you!

This table provides 20 tips for learning online. The tips fall under creating a flexible schedule, participating actively, managing distractions, and studying and working off the screen.

Lastly, look out for our signature workshop series, “Mastering the Ivy League” and “Academics Plus” in MyWLRC 2.0! And remember that we’re here to support your online learning journey through individual appointments as well!

By Staff Writer: Gabriel Angrand, STEM Learning Specialist

2019-2020: The Year of Data

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Source: Office of the Provost, University of Pennsylvania

Each year, the Provost’s Office announces an academic theme for the entire University to engage in shared intellectual pursuit. The theme of this academic year is The Year of DATA. The Provost’s Office provides the following examples of areas for analyzing qualitative and/or quantitative data:

• a field scientist taking measurements and collecting samples
• a literature student working in text analysis
• a historian mapping data from historical records
• a data scientist using big data to micro-target consumers to drive sales
• a political scientist studying how Facebook data can influence elections
• a public policy analyst using census data to measure impact in a community
• a philosopher examining the ethics of privacy in data analytic

In support of the Provost’s theme, the incoming first-year class along with the rest of the campus community is invited to participate in the Penn Reading Project. This year, the text is Cathy O’Neil’s Weapons of Math Destruction, which discusses the critical ways in which big data increasingly affects and regulates life outcomes, such as the ability to obtain educational loans. O’Neil also highlights our collective responsibility to manage big data through the development of the right set of skills to ensure its democratic capacity. PENN students, faculty and administrators met in small groups to discuss and engage with the concepts in O’Neill’s book during NSO.

Finally, students, staff, faculty, administrators, departments and/or centers are invited to submit their ideas for programming that will enhance the PENN community using the Provost’s theme by applying to The Year of DATA Grant.

Concept vector illustration of a programmist work process. It related horizontal banner.

For more information about Data:

By Staff Writer: Min Derry, Learning Fellow

Welcome to Fall ’19 @ PENN!

Saturday, August 24, 2019
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Source: Penn Today, Move-In Day 2019, University of Pennsylvania

Dear Students,

Undergrads, Grads, Professionals, Execs, welcome back or welcome anew! Our beautiful Penn campus is bustling with activities, initiatives and energy, but we are never complete until our students are on campus!

Your Team at the Weingarten Learning Resources Center awaits you with much anticipation and are excited to partner with you for another stimulating, demanding, yet fun and rewarding, Fall semester!

Here are our Top 8 Helpful Suggestions for Kicking-Off Fall ’19:

  • Come say “Hi!” and relax, study or hang-out at YOUR Weingarten Student Study Lounge!
  • Come pick up your semester planning calendars! I always suggest a minimum of two copies, one for above your desk and another to post by the door coming in and out of your dorm room or apartment. There are always copies at the front desk. Remember the colors: Blue for Undergraduate and Green for Graduate:
  • Schedule an initial Consultation with any of our wonderful Learning Instructors to help get you started on the right foot! (hint, hint: time management consultation? reading strategies?)
  • Browse the Penn Wellness website and familiarize yourself with all of our wonderful campus resources for students to establish your roadmap to wellness and success! Penn has defined 8 helpful domains of wellness for a holistic approach to self- and collective care:
  • Finally, take pause, close your eyes, breathe, and connect to our wonderful community as well as supportive physical and figurative campus spaces!

At Weingarten, We Welcome You with Arms Wide Open!

By Staff Writer: Min Derry, Learning Fellow.

Summer Reflection Part I: Examining Our Academic Writing Processes

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

SunriseDawnThe Pacific OceanBeachWaveRocks

Maybe you are taking an alternative summer break and doing community service in a remote pacific village, and taking time in between to soak in the clear ocean air. Or maybe you have accepted an internship position with a financial consulting firm in New York City. Or maybe you have joined a summer co-op opportunity with a technology start-up firm in the CA bay area. Or maybe you are back at your childhood home, getting re-acquainted with your town and civic organizations. Wherever you may be this summer, and however you may have chosen to spend your time, we hope that you will carve out a little time for academic reflection. Here’s a simple framework for reflecting, and doing some meta-cognitive self-assessment so that you can reap the benefits of lessons learned and start your Fall semester in gear:

Reflecting and analyzing your writing

It’s so easy to dust our hands off, catalogue our papers away, and turn a new page. And it’s completely natural and understandable to do that since you’ve just spent so much time intensively researching, drafting and revising your paper. You did your best, submitted your paper, and accepted your grade. Well done, and do step away; however, be intentional about scheduling time to return and assess the product of your labor:

  • What type of feedback have you received from your teaching team or peers? What was helpful? Are there areas for further development? Would it be helpful to schedule a follow up appointment/call with your professor during the summer or in the fall?
  • Was the process of conceptualizing your ideas, thesis and argument coherent for you? How close did you stay to your original plan or how far did you depart from it? Looking back, was the initial scope of your main thesis realistic? What can we learn about zooming in or out in our scope given the requirements of the project?
  • Which resources were most helpful? Are there integral literary sources that have become a critical part of your interpretive lens and you know you will be returning to? Are there new journals, research or professional organizations that you will be utilizing more henceforth? Is there a new theory, practice or research/data analysis instrument that you have adopted?
  • Have you shifted your thinking in any way? Have you added a complementary perspective that helped further stratify or nuance your thinking? Have you developed a deeper understanding of your guiding principles? Have you moved away from your prior positionality to think in a new mode or from a different perspective?

Journal, journal, journal! Keep a writing reflection journal. I know that writing may be the last thing that you may want to do during your summer break, but you may be pleasantly surprised to realize later in the new academic year that these reflections have planted seeds that will germinate new ideas for your forthcoming papers. And most importantly, through reflection, we grow as writers and analysts!

Wishing you a Happy Summer, speckled with opportunities to reflect on your academic writing!

By Staff Writer: Min Derry, Learning Fellow

Refueling Research Passion

Friday, June 7, 2019

University of Pennsylvania, Houston Hall, Fireside Lounge
Photo by Scott Spitzer
Source: University of Pennsylvania flickr

How do you keep the intellectual fire alive?

Whether you’re an undergraduate, graduate, professional or executive student, everyone has experienced a feeling of plateau in their scholarship. Your “long-term” goal may range from a term paper, a capstone thesis, a peer-edited publication, a grant proposal, to a dissertation and beyond.

But what happens when you experience intellectual fatigue? When the passion and excitement of your research question appear to have dimmed? When fogginess surrounds your clarity of conviction and analysis? You have been so focused and poured so much time and energy into your academic, scholarly and professional endeavors, that all of a sudden you start doubting yourself, including your research.

At Weingarten, we love to partner with and support our students through the ups and downs of their academic journeys. We offer a framework to help you assess and reignite the passion within for your scholarship:

Refueling Research Passion Pyramid
Conceptual Framework by Min Derry

In the Refueling Research Passion Framework, each triangle represent spheres of opportunity to re-engage, learn and restore, while the circles represent stratification and fortification:

  1. Wellness Triangle (top): How can you engage Self-Development, Community & Network, and available Resources to nurture and restore your Wellness? For instance, is it time to make that doctor’s appointment, or to try that new circuit route for your running or workout routine? How about joining a Philly @ UCity Fitness or Nutrition Meetup?
  2. Intellectual Triangle (bottom left): How can you explore Self-Development, expand your Community & Network, and seek new Resources to deepen or broaden your Intellectual Pursuits? For instance, is it time to step outside of your comfort zone and try a new Conference that brings other players and perspectives, or to try an interdisciplinary Conference that will “shake” up your ideas a bit?
  3. Vocational Triangle (bottom right): How can you explore Self-Development, connect with your Community & Network, or seek new Resources for Professional Development? For instance, can you email that distant colleague or professor and finally connect over good conversation, an article, coffee and/or writing for publication?

Second-year lead facilitator Yuxiao Li speaks with the team of four first-year GSE students she is mentoring during a discussion after teaching the intermediate class at Penn.
Photo by Louisa Shepard.
University of Pennsylvania flickr

So, next time that you feel in a slump, fret not! There are ways to reignite your research passion! Refer to our helpful Framework for Refueling Your Research Passion.

By Staff Writer: Min Derry, Learning Fellow

“Lifewide Learning:” Developing Resiliency Wherever Life Takes You

Friday, May 10, 2019

Many of us may have heard the term ‘lifelong learning,’ as it relates to an educational journey that may span several decades or even a lifetime. However, this term is often used to refer to the kids of education that happens within formal settings for adults – in classrooms such as on college campuses, or certificate programs that might prepare us for a career in a specific field. The term ‘lifewide learning[1],’ was created to acknowledge that adult learning happens in a nearly infinite range of places and situations, most of them outside the traditional classroom. Although we generally think of learning as intentional or deliberate, lifewide learning acknowledges that learning frequently happens unintentionally. Navigating these unexpected situations as opportunities for growth, no matter how frustrating, help us to develop resilience.

For students ending the semester and reflecting on what they learned from classes, the biggest takeaways may not have been from the syllabus or class assignments. For example, maybe the shock of receiving a bad grade on an important exam caused you to reexamine your time management and study strategies in ways that will ultimately help you succeed later in life. As students across Campus embark on summer internships, or perhaps a new job after graduation, remember that your biggest opportunities for growth may also be spontaneous or unplanned. You might find that your next job experience is something very different than what you expected. Again, rather than dwelling on this disconnect, be open to what you do learn. Uncomfortable or challenging situations can be particularly important opportunities for personal growth, if we are open to the lessons they bring.  

[1] Source: Reischmann, J. (2019). Lifewide learning – Challenges for Andragogy. Journal of Adult Learning, Knowledge and Innovation, 1(1), 43–50.

By Staff Writer: Jennifer Kobrin, Learning Fellow

Bigger Pictures: Procrastivity’s Greatest Hits

Thursday, May 2, 2019
Source: Wikimedia Commons
File:Procrastination (No Wall Uncovered VII).jpg

“Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn’t the work he’s supposed to be doing at the moment.”

~ Robert Benchley

You know what’s annoying? Spell check. Let me tell you why. The neologism “procrastivity” shows up no later than 2008, and spell check wants me to change “procrastivity” to procreativity. Needless to say, procreativity requires not only a different blog post, but an entirely different blog.

Anyway, now that we’ve dispensed with that minor annoyance, let’s delve, shall we?

Procrastivity as a neologism comes from the merging of “procrastination” and “activity”. In other words, we engage in procrastivity when we are supposed to be doing one thing, a thing of great importance, and we instead do some other thing, also a thing of importance, but a thing of decidedly lesser importance. Groan if any of these sound familiar:

  • It’s time to study for your calculus final, but before you wrestle with limits and area under the curve, you first have to clean up your study space. You tell yourself that a tidy desk is a productive desk. But once your desk has reached the state of blissful efficiency, you realize you simply moved items to the bed and the surrounding environment which, of course, now demands organizing. Two and a half hours later you’ve cleaned your room for the first time in months, but you have yet to look at any calc.
  • Your final paper is due on the last day of exams. Nothing short of perfection will give you the final grade you so deeply covet. So you read. And you read some more. Over a period of days you even run back and forth to the library grabbing more books that turn out to be unneeded, which you knew before you checked them out but you just had to make sure. The day before it is due, you’ve written less than a page of the 20 or so you need to turn in.
  • You know you have to go through your Bio slides because the exam is a mere 37 hours away. But there’s so much to be done. You need to send a follow up email to the members of your performance group, thanking them again for all the extra work they did to make the semester ending show such a rousing success. You then double check the treasurer’s report and send her an email thanking her for getting you the numbers before summer break. You then check your airline reservation since you’re flying out of PHL in a mere 43 hours. Slides? What slides?

Slippery slope, thy name is procrastivity.

This type of procrastination hurts because the other things you do instead have legitimate importance. But you are still not doing what you need to be doing.

So: Beware. Be careful. Be vigilant.

And as finals draw ever closer, remember: You got this.

Pete Kimchuk

Senior Learning Instructor