365 Challenge: Day 133 – Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania: Christmas-town in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania, home of Moravian College, where I went to school for four years

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Sunday posts, the end of each week, have become a theme on This-Is-My-Truth-Now, organized by groups of five (5). In the first set of five, we explored my primary ethnicity groups and nationalities. In the second set of five, we had the AtoZ Challenges for various favorite things in our lives. In the third set of five, we discovered all the colors (excluding black and white) that have an important meaning to me. And so… I’m continuing the trend of the seventh day, ending the week on Sunday, as a list (we know I love them) that provides more in depth knowledge about me. This is our fourth grouping, covering weeks #16 thru #20 of the 365 Daily Challenge, and the topics will be: the 5 Places I’ve lived! Last week was the city where I  where I grew up — Long Island, New York, but this week is the city where I went to college: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Before we get into those details, a few interesting facts about this lovely place as well as the Wikipedia link for more information:

  • One of the centers of steel trade during the Industrial Revolution
  • Over 20 colleges and universities in the surrounding cities of Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton
  • Christmas village setup every year
  • Large population of Moravian religion followers

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After I took the SAT, I received hundreds of brochures based on my scores and profile. I picked a few schools on Long Island, but I also wanted a few that would bring me to another state. I found three schools of interest in the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania. Given my uncle and his family moved to the Lancaster area the prior year, and this was only about an hour north, we took a family trip and killed two birds with one stone. {Aside: No birds were really harmed, I promise.} We toured the college campus for each school, and by the time I’d finished, I decided which school was best for me. I won’t bring up the negatives on the other ones, as that’s not fair; we all have our own taste and interest. I chose Moravian College, right in the heart of Bethlehem.  It had two campuses, North and South, separated by about 1 mile of the central part of the village. It’s the sixth oldest school in the country and was originally a women’s college.

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Moravian was where I became an adult. I went from being an incredibly shy and quiet only child who rarely went out… to a fraternity guy (YES, I know… shocker!) — and our frat’s president in my junior year… to a theatre performer and a middle school student teacher. I’ve had so many different lives, but it all began with living on my own for the first time at 18 years old. I cried when I said goodbye to my parents. I started making friends, drinking at a few parties, building up courage and confidence. It’s where I learned to become my own man. I still chat with many of my frat brothers, sorority friends and dorm buddies. It was an amazing experience, as I love the academic life and culture. Some day, perhaps I’ll be a professor of something and be able to give back to students and colleges.

During the 4 years, I lived on campus for 2 years and off campus in the fraternity house for 2 years. I came home for major holidays and a few weeks each summer, otherwise, I lived in Bethlehem. I had my own car, a kitchen to cook in and a house to party in. I considered staying there after graduation, but it was a strange year for me, ultimately sending me back to Long Island. Everything changed when I graduated: My grandfather had recently passed away, my godmother passed away and I accepted that I was gay. I’d never explored that side of me before, though I had known it was always who I was. I’ve gone back a few times to visit friends, to speak at the college for alumni meetings, graduations and and guest spots at conferences. I miss it, to be honest. But it helped make me who I am today, and for that, I will always be grateful. Though it only last 4 years, it has a lifetime of memories:

  • Where I dyed my hair rust
  • Where I earned the nickname Saturday Night Fever
  • The only time I’ve been hospitalized (dehydration, and not from drinking!)
  • Where I rushed and pledged a fraternity — don’t ask me about hazing!
  • Where I met amazing friends and professors
  • When I became a man (an adult)
  • How I learned multi-tasking skills
  • Where my thirst of history was quenched
  • Where I was elected to read several verses and readings at the annual Moravian Vespers ceremony in the Moravian Church full of thousands of people
  • Where my love of Christmas was normal

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Imagine being in Bethlehem during Christmas season… when it snowed… at an outdoor village… buying presents… with reindeer and elves running all around against a forest backdrop and the river banks just on the other side… in a valley and on a hill… sheer perfection. It’s a wonderful place to visit, and many of my friends and former college buddies still live there. I’ll visit again soon.

How about you? Have you been to Bethlehem? Moravian College? Lehigh Valley? Share away this week before we finish the last in this 5-week arc revealing all the places I’ve lived. Next and last is San Francisco one week from today. Thanks for being part of this fun series!

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RECOMMENDED BLOGGER

  • Today’s 365 Daily Challenge recommended blogger to know is Mama Cass @ Aspen Tree Book Reviews. We connected a little less than two months ago probably over a book we both enjoyed. Her website is dedicated to many great books in a range of genres and sub-genres. She’s quite funny and we’ve had tons of conversations about genealogy and technology. She’s done a lot of research and is always searching for more great finds. She also calls me Superman, which I find quite funny, given how I always refer to myself as average. But if you want to see some humor, get a little inspiration and meet a new friend, check out her site. A few words from her About Me section:
    • “I have been reading since the time I could walk.  50 years later and I read approximately 150 books a year.  I want each author to take me to a land, a time, a place of their choosing.  I am merely along for the ride. I read many different genres of books, because I love diversity, sociology and culture. So, that being said, you might find books about African American literature, books about Buddhism or Muslim, or a gay or lesbian love story.  I don’t believe in just reading what is familiar, that’s a good way to miss out.”

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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59 comments

  1. Love this post!! It is so great to get a glimpse of your beautiful, fond memories! (your nickname ‘Saturday Night Fever’ cracked me up though!)
    More than anything, this city sounds like perfect for me! I’m a Christmas freak too, by the way. I really want to experience ‘the real Christmas’ someday!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a beautiful post! Very informative. I’d love to see it at Christmas, NYC too! I’ve been to Pennsylvania many years ago. We saw the Liberty Bell and I remember going up in this incline cable car thing. It was sort of scary, lol. 🙂 One of my favorite movies of all time is Philadelphia with Tom Hanks. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I had never heard of this town before! I think my sister and niece would have a meltdown if they knew it existed they are such Christmas nuts!

    I’m more interested in The frat thing to be honest! I’ve never known anyone who was in one before! We don’t have them over here so the only thing I know about them is what the TV tells me! A future post needs to be about educating your poor ignorant English friend! 😁

    Honestly college in the States seems so much more fun than Uni over here! 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a fun place to be, for sure. As for the frat thing… oh, so much to say… sometimes it was just like the movies, other times it was very different. I had to talk to the Dean a lot to deal with some “issues” going on… nothing ever bad, but at 20, having those conversations I think prepared me for the business world. LOL

      I wonder what uni is like in England… I know nothing about it. Teach me, Master!

      Like

      • Haha! I didn’t go to Uni in the traditional sense, I studied in night classes while I was working so was a bit of a strange student! I have a lot of friends who went to Uni normally though and they go to study one subject normally three years and it’s very intensive study. Although there is a lot of partying. Every year in October we have what is called Freshers week for all the new students and the bars have offers and pranks will be pulled around the city, it’s hilarious even now, seeing what they get up to is really funny but it almost kills them all. These little 18yr olds just left home for the first time drinking so much alcohol they just can’t handle it. They have normally learned to pace themselves by January!

        Liked by 1 person

      • It’s scary to go from totally protected by parents and then on your own. I survived it but so many don’t. It’s such a changing experience for youngsters. Ha! I’m referring to them as if I were old. Which I suppose they’d think I am. LOL We had the very clear distinction between the 4 years of school. I was on campus, but some friends commuted while they still lived at home. Different approaches. Good and Bad to both.

        Like

  4. This was really interesting! I have not visited really in Pennsylvania. I’ve driven through it a lot, particularly the west side of the state on my way to West Virginia (my ex’s family lives there), but I’ve not stopped and visited. I also love Christmas, so I may need to make a trip there at some point during the holiday season!

    I’m glad you had such a great four years there. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I live in Middle TN and haven’t been North but a few times. My brother-in-law is from Erie PA and ended up here after living in Dayton OH for awhile. Thanks for the views you are sending. It is awesome to see other places that I’ve never visited.

    Liked by 1 person

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