Being a Penn kid can be a pretty heavy burden to bear sometimes. The nights are long, the classes are tough, and the expectations are so massive that it becomes easy to feel really small. There’s a big, scary world out there. This is the time of the semester where I begin to feel really grateful for the friends that I’ve made here.
Too often, elite schools carry the stigma of being a cutthroat, hyper-competitive place. I can’t argue that Penn is a place where competition isn’t prevalent. It’s one of the most beautiful things about being on campus. Great minds rub off each other like flint and steel, and flames of inspiration and innovation can be seen illuminating Locust Walk. This kind of brilliance can be overwhelming. It is easy to think that everyone else has it figured out. The honest truth is, nobody really does. Every student you meet is dazed and confused, letting their ambition replace their doubt and hoping that their hard work opens doors that they can’t imagine just yet. This is something that my friends here have taught me.
I’m proud to say that some of the best friends I have ever had are right here. It’s hard to imagine my life without them. They have quickly become key elements of my existence. They offer warmth, laughter, and comfort in a place that has become my home. Their stories and backgrounds have opened my eyes to worlds that I couldn’t have imagined before. Being a Penn student doesn’t just mean having the best education. It means sharing my campus with some of the brightest young minds in the country. I am very grateful for the opportunity. Whenever things seem rough, I can look back to memories that I’ve made and smile. I can look forward to memories in the future and become excited. Classes can kick my butt all they like. Walking to my dorm room and hearing laughter from the hallway can make all of that go away so quickly.
If playing rugby has taught me anything at all, it is that the most talented team isn’t always the one to overcome the odds. It is the team with the most chemistry and teamwork that goes the distance. You’re only as good as your bond. That goes beyond the field. Everyone here is a genius. That’s something you realize on day one. The people that truly get the most out of their Penn experience are those who allow others to touch their lives and leave their mark forever. That’s what being a Penn student is all about. Wharton kids call it networking. I call it friendship.
-Ibrahim B. '18