Why did you choose this program?
I chose to study abroad at King’s College London in London, UK because I was interested in the media and entertainment industry. As the hub for the music and arts scene, I was excited to indulge in an interest that I could not explore as much at Penn. Moreover, I wanted to choose a city that was vibrant and had a plethora of activities available. Out of all the “Wharton-approved” study abroad options, London felt like the perfect place for me.
How were classes different from classes at Penn?
Classes at King’s were very different from Penn’s as the UK system had an independent style of learning. Instead of having weekly quizzes, midterms, and exams to keep students on track, my courses consisted of one exam or essay that constituted 100% of my grade. This meant that I had to keep myself accountable throughout the term to understand the content to achieve the score I desired in my exams.
What was the hardest adjustment you had to make when you arrived? How did you handle that?
The hardest adjustment I had to make was not feeling FOMO (fear of missing out) from my friends on campus. From Spring Fling to St. Patrick’s Day, there were so many activities that I saw my friends do on social media, and it made me wish I was experiencing those moments with them. However, I was able to navigate through this by curating my own special experiences with my new friends at King’s. I would actively organize and join social events such as going on day trips to Oxford, watching a musical, or walking around a new London neighborhood with my friends.
What were some of the extracurricular activities that you engaged in while abroad?
While I did not officially join any clubs at King’s, I did actively participate in the art scene by participating in weekly excursions with my friends. I would see a musical every week, go explore a museum, and even watch the London Orchestra perform my favorite repertoire, The Planets by Holst!
What surprised you the most about your study abroad experience?
What most surprised me about my study abroad experience was how open and friendly study abroad students are. I was afraid that I was not able to make new friends because of how big the university was; however, through King’s orientation program, I met so many other students from the US, Norway, Italy, Mexico, and more! Throughout the terms, the student abroad students were so willing to invite anyone to events they or their friends organized or if they were going on a trip. It made the student abroad experience less frightening and so much more enjoyable.
What is your favorite moment or memory from your time abroad?
My favorite memory from my time abroad was traveling to Italy with my friend and unexpectedly, we met the Pope in Vatican City! My friend and I explored Rome during a weekend in April, and while we were there, there was an event happening at the Vatican City. We overhead from locals that the Pope would appear, so we waited 4 hours in the hot sun to finally see him ride his Popemobile!
How did your abroad experience help you grow?
As cliché as it sounds, I feel like my study abroad experience did change me and helped me grow into a more confident, independent person. At Penn, I felt like I was constantly hustling; however, my study abroad experience taught me to take a step back from the hustle culture and learn how to live in the moment, be spontaneous, and have fun!
How did you feel coming back to Penn after your program?
To be honest, after coming back from Penn, I felt strange. I felt like I had changed so much as a person after my program, but everyone else was the same. Moreover, going back to my routine at Penn felt odd after being so free and relaxed at King’s. Although there were drastic differences I felt, I was able to slowly adjust to a new life as I created a new routine for myself, caught up with old friends, and started writing down new goals for the next school year!
What advice would you give to another student planning to go on this program?
One piece of advice I would give to another student is to not be afraid and just do it! Going abroad and leaving your friends behind may seem scary (and it is!); however, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live abroad. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, be adventurous, and make memories.