Penn has an amazing study abroad program that gives the students the opportunity to live and study, for a semester, in one of over one hundred locations. My version of study abroad differs from this slightly. I’m an international student from Jamaica. Therefore, instead of studying abroad for a semester, I am on the fourth of an eight-semester experience; and I do not have the words to describe how amazing it has been.
The difference between the Jamaican and American culture is so massive, that I would need at least twenty pages to begin to adequately describe it. However, this difference has resulted in my receiving an education not merely inside, but also outside of the classroom. Being here has taught me an independence that I would never have learned had I stayed at home. I went from seeing both my parents daily, to maybe twice per year. Knowing beforehand that this would be my reality if I chose to come to school in the US made me, to say the very least, extremely anxious. However, part of being an adult is learning how to exist on your own and is a lesson that I learnt well at Penn.
It’s also taught me how much more there is to the world than I had thought before. I used to think Jamaica was the world. Of course, I knew that there were hundreds of other countries out there, but I never fathomed how many more opportunities would be afforded to me at Penn. The resources that they provide for students in terms of both infrastructure and academia are beyond the likes of which I could ever imagine. I knew that America was the “land of opportunity” and that there were privileges here that I would not have at home. Knowing this however, and experiencing it are two completely different things. Furthermore, it has inspired me like nothing else ever could, to work hard, so that I one day can be one of the many to bring such privileges to my home.
If you are an international student looking for a school outside of your country where you can both receive an excellent education and call home, look no further than the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to all I have already mentioned, the International House on campus also hosts a series of programs and events that guarantee that you are as comfortable in your environment as can be. With students from every inhabited continent represented, it takes no effort to find someone who is experiencing something similar to you; and then it becomes easy to bond over that. Between this and the friendly students at Penn, it is no wonder that after spending just a year here, I cannot bear the thought of leaving. I love my home country more than anywhere else in the world. However, due to the influence of Penn, Philadelphia now draws a close second.