Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Outdoor Movie Night: An International Student's Favorite Activity

By Mengying Bi
Student Ambassador 
University of Pennsylvania

“Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate.” 

Well, what’s Shakespeare talking about? I bet it’s the summer nights in Philly with its concerts, festivals, and exhibitions. You can visit beer gardens, stroll along the Delaware River Waterfront, and tour the Night Market. With so many things to do and see, the summers here never feel long enough, and out of all of the activities, my favorite one is the outdoor movie night.

Each day, I’d jog along the Schuylkill River toward the Philadelphia Museum of Art and see a long line in front of a statue. My American friend told me that the bronze boxer statue is from the iconic Philadelphia film, Rocky. The steps before the entrance of the art museum are often referred to as the “Rocky steps” because in the film, the hero’s act of running up these very steps symbolizes an underdog rising to a challenge. Luckily for me, there was a free screening of the movie that weekend.

The film was scheduled to start around 9 p.m. We got there an hour earlier, but many seats were already taken on the 72 stone steps. My advice: Get there earlier if you want a good view. Behind me, an excited group of people were praising Philadelphia, and I later learned that they came all the way from Texas for the city’s historic sites. In front of me, there was a happy family who brought home-cooked food. The delicious smell made me hungry immediately even though I had just eaten dinner. If you happen to go to a movie night without eating food, don't worry. There are food trucks with churros, bagels, buffalo wings – you name it. If you are up for desserts, you can find some splendid ice cream as well.

So, now what? Just sit back and relax. Enjoy the movie and cheer along with the Italian Stallion fans from all over the country. What I enjoyed the most was the moment when Rocky was running along the streets in Philly on a cold winter morning and someone yelled, “You go, Rocky!” As Rocky ran up the steps – which was where we were sitting – the crowd chanted together, “Rocky! Rocky! Rocky!” 

I couldn’t help but think, "God, I love Philly."

Rocky is not the only movie shot in Philly. A screening of “The Sixth Sense” is also one of the summer traditions here. Other spots you can check out for outdoor movies include Dilworth Park, Paine’s Park, the Betsy Ross House, and the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing! 

Pick a niche-yet-full-of-history restaurant in Old City. Grab an ice cream at the Franklin Fountain, where people come from far and wide for a reason. You totally deserve it. When the night falls, grab a seat for a screening under the stars. I can’t imagine a better way to spend summer nights than enjoying a great movie with the breeze from the Delaware River waterfront.

Come out and play! Let’s have a blast while summer lasts!
Mengying Bi will earn a Master of Science in education from the University of Pennsylvania in May 2016. She focuses specifically on education, culture, and society. Mengying is from China. 

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