urbanter

Student blog of the Stanford University Urban Studies Department

City Shock!

I grew up in center city Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I understand how a city works, right? I get what it means to live an Urban Life, at least I thought I did until I got to Stanford. With only a few visits to draw experience from it has already become evident that the urban game here is totally different. Now I see why Urban Studies is not a field that can be contained in any sense.

Dear San Jose,

Where is your downtown, what happened to the towers that scrape the sky and the population density that I crave? What do you mean that there is a river running along a trail near the train station? The closest thing I could find was a cement runoff channel. These racial, social, and economic dynamics are not familiar to me.

I thought that once you had seen one city, or even 5 cities, you had seen them all. But nothing could be farther from the truth. I was naive and foolish to think that my high school case study of Philadelphia class could teach me what Urban Studies is. It did not even scratch the surface. San Jose, you will teach me a whole different array of what Urban Studies can look like. And your nearby brother and sister cities can open my eyes to a multitude of different dynamics that are unimaginable until witnessed. And for that I am thankful. Thankful to be at a place called Stanford, where not only will I be able to have a mind blowing Urban Studies education in the classroom, but also the opportunity to experience cities of all different shapes and sizes. 

So maybe it was foolish to think that I could learn Urban Studies through one class about one city, but what I am realizing is that it was a start to a beautiful process, and an introduction to the beautiful, interdisciplinary, dynamic, and often tragic world that is Urban Studies.

Thanks again Philadelphia for the lessons you have taught me, but now it is time for this urbanite to spread his wings, and his outlook.

Sincerely,

Excited new Urban Studies Undergrad

NB

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