After a semester abroad in London, I was convinced that I had been renewed. I romanticized my walks to class, the sounds of the city, and the way that the crosswalks never seemed to be in right place. Yet what I loved the most about my experience was the people that I met everyday. In London, I knew I had access to a vibrant city with people from all over the world. When I returned to Philadelphia, I realized that at a global university like Penn that mindset never has to end.
At the end of my junior year, I became an International Student Orientation Leader, which means that I got to directly interact and connect with the students from all over the world who were studying abroad at Penn. I created friendships with students from Australia, England, France, Brazil, Croatia, Switzerland, and more. We ate pizza in my living room, and watched movies at the local theater on Friday afternoons. I was able to learn about their perspectives, share knowledge, and build great friendships. Even as a junior, they taught me to experience Penn with fresh eyes.
For me, that is the value of attending a school with a reach well beyond the borders of the United States. In addition to the ~12% of students who spend 4 years here as internationals, we invite ~200 students to study abroad every year. Whether in class or hanging out on the weekends, I am encouraged to try on different lenses and experience life through other viewpoints. Today, I am still in contact with a lot of the students I met last year. I have even been able to connect with two students who are studying abroad at Penn this year. I can’t wait to continue my global education within and outside of the classroom.