Penn Global Seminars, GRIP On Novelty & New Beginnings

November 14, 2019
By Cindy Luo, CAS '20

PGS - Multiple
GRIP - Legal Research in Braga - Braga, Portugal

I look back at my college career as a senior, and I am privileged and grateful to have had a plethora of global experiences and opportunities through Penn. And each time that I find myself in a completely new place, I am in awe of how monumentally the roadmap that I see for myself changes. Those abroad moments are sometimes hard to quantify and even harder to qualifythe moments that have expanded my perception of time and breathed renewed clarity into my life. I am no stranger to the changing scenery, the bouts of culture shock, the long hours of being “in transit." From studying globalization in China, the performing arts in South India, Sufis and gods in Singapore and Malaysia, to interning at a law school in Portugal, and teaching English in Nepal, the novelty of each experience has pushed me to constantly reevaluate the goals that I have set for myself, both professional and personal. Some may think that the constant change can be overwhelming, but through traveling, I have come to realize that change is the only constant in life. In a world where we strive to be so connected that many have become disconnected, I find that change and novelty can be a replenishing source of hope, engagement, and fulfillment. The novelty makes me feel simultaneously grounded and untethered. I find those feelings to be common threads throughout my time here at Penn and abroad. To exercise our choice, our freedom, and our mobility in new environments with people of different backgrounds and experiences—that will help cultivate the skills and sensibilities to be culturally aware, socially responsible, and globally competent.

We tend to look to January every year as a new beginning, but perhaps do not need such an arbitrary metric to tell us we can finally start tackling our goals or living our lives the way we want. Right now, right here, we are at the right place at the right time to live with intention and purpose, to both live and create the life that we want. Sure, my time here at Penn may be coming to an end, but it is also shaping out to be a new beginning as well. Sure, Penn has given me the means to travel to different parts of the world, but it has challenged me to explore the depths of my own mind and spirit as well. Being abroad has helped me understand that the mental spaces we come to inhabit are just as important (if not more) as the physical spaces that we occupy. As we are both shaping and being shaped by everything that goes on around us and within us, being both physically and mentally present is something that we should prioritize in our everyday lives. I’m not currently “in transit,” but I’m in transition. The experiences that I have had abroad has given me a newfound appreciation for transitions, and I’m learning to define my goals while navigating the ambiguity. No, I’m not sure where I’ll end up or what I’ll be doing, but I know that everything is going to be okay.

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Penn Global Seminars combine intensive semester-long study with a short-term travel component that deepens your understanding of concepts discussed in the classroom. Courses options are available for Penn undergraduate students across majors and years.


The Global Research and Internship Program (GRIP) provides outstanding undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to intern or conduct research abroad for 8 to 12 weeks over the summer. Participants gain career-enhancing experience and global exposure that is essential in a global workforce. Placements and funding awards are available.