Why did you choose this program?
I studied abroad in London, at the London School of Economics (LSE). I chose London because the lack of language barrier and cultural similarities to the US made it a much easier transition to spend an entire semester there. Additionally, London served as a perfect home base from which to explore the UK and Europe. LSE was a Wharton-approved program, which allowed me to take business breadth courses while abroad.
How were classes different from classes at Penn?
The largest difference was the structure of assessments and grading. Whereas at Penn each class tends to have a midterm, a final, and several assignments in a semester, at LSE it was common for classes to have one final paper worth your entire grade. This meant that throughout the term, I had nothing to turn in, and thus no gauge of how I was doing. Additionally, the British grading structure is very different than in America. A 70% is called a “first class honors” and most students are thrilled to receive a 70%, as getting above this is not very common (a 70 at LSE correlated to an A at Penn). This was definitely very jarring, given that a 70% at Penn is a C-!
What was the hardest adjustment you had to make when you arrived? How did you handle that?
I think the hardest adjustment was needing to adapt to a new school, new education style, new living environment, new city, and making new friends, all at once. I handled this in part by getting to London about a week before classes started, to allow myself time to settle into my new housing and get comfortable before beginning classes. I also used this time to meet the other transfer students studying at LSE and spend some time exploring London.
What were some of the extracurricular activities that you engaged in while abroad?
I did not engage in any extracurricular activities directly at LSE, but this allowed me to spend many of my days before/after class exploring different parts of London. Additionally, every Wednesday at LSE is “sports night,” where all of the sports teams go to the on-campus pubs, so I was able to join in and meet many LSE students on these nights!
What surprised you the most about your study abroad experience?
I was surprised by how many Penn students I met and became close with while in London! While at Penn, I feel it is very easy to stay in my ‘bubble.’ Being in London, I think all of us were looking more outwardly towards meeting new people, and I was surprised by how many other Penn students I met while in London, who were studying at LSE or other schools like King’s College and Queen Mary.
What is your favorite moment or memory from your time abroad?
While I was abroad, I was able to take a weekend trip to Copenhagen. I went with one of my friends from Penn who was also at LSE, as well as a few new friends from other US schools who were abroad at Queen Mary in London. Though we had already gotten to know each other in London, this provided an even greater opportunity for us to connect more deeply and bond while experiencing a new city. I absolutely loved Copenhagen, from the colorful row homes to the beautiful art and design.
How did your abroad experience help you grow?
Going abroad was a really tough decision, as many of my friends decided to stay on campus because of all the time we missed during COVID. I pushed myself to still go abroad despite this, as it was something I always wanted to do and I did not want to regret missing my opportunity. This in itself gave me the independence to do something on my own, and not just follow in my friends’ decisions. I also think abroad allowed me to fully immerse myself in everything I was doing, whether that be classes, exploring London, or traveling on the weekends. I knew that I had a limited number of weeks abroad, and knowing there was a ticking clock really pushed me to make the most of everything and never say no.
How did you feel coming back to Penn after your program?
LSE actually ended on April 1st, so I was able to come back to Penn for the month of April and beginning of May. Since the majority of my friends at Penn did not go abroad, this gave me the perfect balance of getting to experience abroad, while also getting to enjoy the end of the spring semester at Penn. It definitely was weird to re-adjust to the Penn environment, but everyone was so excited to hear all about my time abroad (and everyone told me how jealous they were and that they wished they had gone too!)
What advice would you give to another student planning to go on this program?
Going abroad is one of the only times in your life where you can truly just pick up and move across the country, without interrupting too much in your life. So, you should absolutely live every moment to the fullest, take advantage of everything your new city has to offer, and never say “no” to anything. Go on a daily adventure, keep a journal, and take a million pictures! Abroad goes way too quickly, and you will miss it so much when you get home!