Exchange at Penn Bittersweet Farewell

December 19, 2022
By Niamh Field, Queen Mary University of London

Niamh is one of the EAP Correspondents writing and sharing her experience at Penn during the Fall 2022 semester. You can also follow along with Niamh and our other students on the @pennabroad Instagram feed.

Happy Holidays from Penn! This final blog will be summarising my experience this semester including expectations, fulfillment, and more importantly - what I’ll be doing differently next semester. Again, if you have any specific questions you’d like answered, my email is: ☺ 

So, expectation: Going into centre Philly in my spare time, trying out lots of different food places, and soaking up some American culture (i.e., diners and sports games). Join a sorority or club that will keep me busy. Maybe apply for a few jobs to do in my spare-spare time… Working out every morning before class, going to swim between classes, spending most evenings in the library. Niamh with fellow EAP students walking down Locust Walk

Reality: Can count the number of times I’ve been into centre Philly on one hand, swim maybe once a week, and visit the library for a big study session once a month. Have tried out more food places in NYC and Miami put together than I have in Philly. Got accepted to a neat club at Wharton (love u International Business Review). I also just got a job at Perelman Centre for Advanced Medicine, working as a work-study assistant at Carpenter Lab!  

Overall: Sincerely happy with the opportunities and experiences I’ve had whilst at Penn. Niamh a year ago would be entirely ecstatic if she knew what I was up to right now. Nevertheless, I do feel like I’m not making the most of my time here. I do however think this can be blamed on it being a Sunday night – when I have no plans for the rest of this evening, with an accumulated 5 midterms and finals in the next nine days. I have become so accustomed to doing something so fun literally every day of the week (I love this arrangement), but it makes study time so much harder - and I find myself checking my calendar for due dates (or events) at least 5 times a day!  

And finally, what I would do differently: Keep stepping out of my comfort zone. Whether this is achieved by going to more career events, going out for coffee with my classmates, taking on more serious tasks at work, travelling to new places by myself – I could definitely step it up a notch. Go to an Eagles game. The team is absolutely smashing it right now with a 11-1 ratio. Planning on booking my tickets real soon – you should too! Travel at least once a month, this could be a quick day trip to NYC, Washington DC, Jim Thorpe or anywhere just in PA – you can never travel enough ☺   

In light of it having just been Thanksgiving, and the happy holidays ahead of us, I’d like to share what I’ve been particularly thankful for this semester at Penn: 

  • The fab friends I made during New Student Orientation (NSO) 

  • EAP cookie and board night, Amish Village trip, meetings with Grace and Weiyi – the lovely ladies who made this role so easy! 

  • Attending the homecoming game with the nicest people EVER 

  • Brunch with some fellow Brits and a Lord at Perry World House 

  • Being accepted into the club I applied for 

  • Going to NYC for my birthday, to see my family, and to see a Knicks game! (Sorry sixers…) 

  • Being able to see all the movies I like whenever I like (thanks Cinemark behind Panera Bread) 

  • Seeing my friends perform in their plays and dance shows as part of the Penn community 

  • Going to Miami for Thanksgiving break 

  • Met my American friend’s parents over family weekend (Welsh Family, you are the best!) 

Although these are strictly events mentioned above, I am equally a fan of the times in between. There’s just something about heading to Stommons (the Starbucks under Commons, lol) on a Sunday morning to complete some class reading. Even grabbing a sushi lunch from McClelland and eating it out on the quad when the sun is shining or cosying up in Houston Hall with a hot chai when it isn’t. Bumping into five friends every time you stroll down Locust Walk, the quiet giggles in Van Pelt, the warm hugs when everyone heads home for the evening, elevator bump-ins in the high rises, a dynamic debate over the World Cup with a kind security guard – there are so many aspects of Penn that can’t be described, only experienced. I am so grateful to have had all I’ve had so far.  

As the title states, this really is a bittersweet farewell – to you readers, and to my wonderful friends who leave in the coming weeks. I am so sad we won’t be living on the same street or in the same city, country, or even the same continent. No matter what though, I can say without a doubt that I would not have done it any differently, even if you COULD put me right back to Wednesday 24th August 2022. Thank you for the most wonderful memories, I’ll never forget you. I know this is not goodbye forever, so instead - I’ll see ya later xx 

Niamh during NSO at the Philadelphia Art Museum


The Exchange at Penn (EAP) program offers students from Penn's international exchange partners the opportunity to make Penn a part of their undergraduate education. Students take classes and have access to internationally renowned undergraduate-level teaching and research programs while living on a cosmopolitan university campus in the birthplace of the United States - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.