Semester Abroad, Global Correspondents One Final Lap

May 13, 2024
By Anna Zhou, SEAS '25

Annaone of the Semester Abroad Global Correspondents, shares her experience abroad during the Spring 2024 semester. Follow along with the group of correspondents on our blog and look out for their images on the @pennabroad Instagram feed.

Botanical GardensAs I watched the familiar buildings pass by through the window of the Uber, I was amazed by how much Spring had taken over the city. The Meadows were in full bloom, with rows of cherry blossom painting the sky shades of pink. What once were brown, barren patches along the hills that bordered the city, were now fields of yellow and green. I was truly in awe of how much had changed while I was away.

During my 3 weeks on break, I missed Edinburgh more that I expected. I missed the convenience of the city, the kindness of its people, and most of all, the friends that I made along the way.

Royal Mile

So much of the fondness I felt towards the city were because of my friends. From running to make it to brekky by 10:30am every morning to bumping into each other in Appleton Tower to trying out restaurants together, my memories of the city are closely intertwined with the people I became so close with.

Yet at the same time I felt a connection with Edinburgh that was unique, purely my own. Before studying abroad, I liked spending time alone, but I grew to appreciate it a lot more here. I enjoyed my walks to campus, taking detours to try different coffee shops. I enjoyed taking my time looking through galleries and museums, spending however long I wanted. I enjoyed just strolling through Old Town, seeing the tourists take selfies and line up for Harry Potter themed experiences.

Ice creamDuring my last week in Edinburgh, I spent a lot of time going back to my favorite places again (The Royal Mile, New Town, Soderberg), as well as hitting spots I never had a chance to check out (Botanic Gardens, Lannan Bakery, Mary’s Milk Bar). It all felt bittersweet as I knew that this final lap through the city would probably be my last for many years. But by the time my flight home arrived, I felt that I had bid a proper farewell to my home for the past four months.

As I passed through The Meadows on the way to the airport again, I saw the pink pedals that were high in the sky merely a week ago were now peppering the grass—the branches left almost naked once again. And while it was sad to see, it reminded me that time keeps turning whether we like it or not. And just like the cherry blossoms that brought life to the city, albeit for a short time, I’ll forever cherish and remember the beauty of the experience that I had during my time in Edinburgh.

I watched through the window of the Uber as the familiar colors of my city rushed past me one last time.

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The Semester Abroad (SA) program offers undergraduate students the opportunity to study in a new global community through extended study for a semester or year. Penn Abroad partners with top institutions around the globe and collaborates with Penn’s undergraduate schools to offer programs for students across academic disciplines.

Semester Abroad, Global Correspondents
by Gabrielle Horwitch, CAS '25