After moving all around India and attending grad school in Delaware, software engineer Abhijeet Srivastava ended up being pleasantly surprised by everything Philly had to offer after moving here in 2017.
Srivastava spent two years working on his master’s degree in Delaware, and can’t say he necessarily chose Philly as his next destination. But Srivastava has found community through his love of running, hiking (both inside and outside the city) and an interest in getting involved with animal rescue.
Srivastava talks us through finding the right spots and how newcomers can have an easier start forming friendships. (Hint: Meetups are helpful, but not necessarily everything!)
TT: To get some context, where did you live in India before coming to the United States?
AS: I’m from Lucknow. I lived in six or seven places in India after I left my hometown in 2006, so I was moving around a lot before coming to the U.S. After I got my bachelor’s, I had a job in Mumbai, which is the economic capital of India. My hometown is in north-central India, and I got my bachelor’s in the southernmost part of the country, and my former job was on the west coast. So I’ve been to all the parts of India except for east India, and have lived in all the major cities.
TT: What brought you to Delaware?
AS: I moved in 2015 to pursue my master’s in Computer and Information Sciences at the University of Delaware. That’s just a fancy way of saying computer science.
TT: How did you end up deciding to move to Philly?
AS: I chose Philly for a job opportunity. I’m a full-stack developer at Vistar Media. My move was solely dependent on the job, but the company has offices in both New York and Philly.
TT: What did you hear about Philly before you moved here?
AS: I always heard the crime rate was quite high. After moving here, I realized that there are some neighborhoods you might want to avoid, but people are actually very friendly.
TT: What is something that surprised you about the city?
AS: That it’s kind of like New York, but also not — in a good way. I really enjoy it here. It’s crazy that Center City is the most populated area, especially with people coming and going to work, but I never think it’s crowded when I come out of work.
TT: Which neighborhood do you live in?
AS: I’m in the Art Museum area, near 20th and Spring Garden.
TT: Why that area, other than it being gorgeous?
AS: Well, when I was moving, I decided I didn’t want to live with roommates. So a very important part of that decision was safety, especially if I’m coming home late at night. I reached out to Diane [Worthington], the talent acquisition specialist at Vistar, and she gave me a list of places that were pretty safe. I actually chose the area I’m in because it’s so close to my office.
TT: Can you describe your place a little bit?
AS: I’m in an apartment, on the top floor of a historic building right by the Art Museum. I have a really good view, and the building has these great, huge windows. Sadly, I can’t get on the roof.
TT: What are some perks about living near the Art Museum?
AS: I can walk to the office in Center City. I like to run, or at least try to do it. I started running in 2008. When I was getting ready to move here, I googled all the places to run, and immediately found the trails by the Schuylkill River. There is also Fairmount Park is close by, and you see a lot of runners there. It’s easy to find someone to run with, it’s a really great community. I’m trying to do more runs with Philly Runners, and I’m in a group that runs in The Woodlands. Overall I’m just trying to add more miles to my daily runs, and going to some group events is really helpful.
For my neighborhood, having the Whole Foods nearby was another big factor, and so I don’t need to drive far to get good food. Sometimes they have Indian cuisine, samosas and stuff, and that’s so good.
TT: How do you get out and explore the city?
AS: Weekends are for exploring. I visit friends in Delaware quite often. My sister also just moved to Princeton, so I’ve been heading up that way to help her out and fulfill my uncle duties. I also try to visit parks in Philly. There are so many where you can do a small hike. If you’re into going to the trails like the Wissahickon, it’s easy to find an online community. I’m in a couple of Facebook groups that don’t have official meetups, but we’ll say that a few of us are going to a certain park and others are welcome to join.
TT: What’s next for you?
AS: A couple of my neighbors foster animals from the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society. I volunteered with them a few times when I first moved here, and want to get more involved.
I’m working on getting out to explore more sections of the city, because I don’t do enough of that.
I’m going to visit my family in India for a month later this year. (Yay Vistar!)
With my work, I am now on the interview panel for Vistar Media, and am learning about how to interview and look for great candidates.