Incoming Exchange

Q&A with Sky Treasure-Jeffreys

February 10, 2020
By Lisa Chang, Penn Abroad Graduate Assistant

Sky Treasure-Jeffreys is an exchange student coming to Penn from University of Warwick in Coventry, England. Sky is studying at The Wharton School for the 2019-2020 academic year. We sat down with Sky to learn more about her and her exchange experience so far. 

You’ve been at Penn for over a semester already, but I’m curious to know how your adjustment to Penn was initially?

I had some complicated visa issues, which resulted in me arriving to campus four days later than I was supposed to. I had missed orientation entirely, so I couldn’t even figure out who was an exchange student and who was just a Penn student. I’m also the only one from Warwick to come to Penn, so I don’t have a friend group to fall back on. However, I think these unique circumstances forced me to really put myself out there and get to know anyone and everyone. I eventually met other exchange students from Penn Abroad events, I try to maintain the friendships I’ve gained from group projects in class, and I also went to the Student Activities Fair at the beginning of the semester to get involved.

What clubs or societies are you involved in?

I’m in the Wharton Undergraduate Finance Club and am part of the Corporate Relations Committee. I meet like-minded people every week, and there are lots of international students in the club and we enjoy exchanging our experiences and culture shocks.

What types of culture shock have you faced?

It’s funny because I didn’t think there’d be so many differences between the US and the UK since we speak the same language and eat the same foods. Academically, I’ve realized just how different the American approach to education and teaching is. Back home, I would be in a lecture hall of 300 people and no one would notice if you didn’t attend or participate in class. But here, participation is important and professors engage you in questions. Unlike the UK, you are also expected to turn in assignments throughout the semester. In fact, I turned in an assignment on the first or second day of class! I was used to just cramming in all my studies towards the end of the semester in the UK, since our final exam or paper counts as the bulk of our grade in class. But here, you really need to put in effort in every assignment, even if it’s only four percent of your grade because it could be the difference between an A- and a B+. I’ve really enjoyed learning here, though, and I feel more challenged intellectually. Everyone is so clever, so keen on learning, and I’ve learned so much just from other students.

Was adjusting academically particularly challenging?

It was, but it wasn’t as hard as I expected. I find that there’s more emphasis on trying here. For example, in finance courses, as long as you’ve justified where you got an idea, then you would get at least partial credit. There is more emphasis on developing the brain or the ways you rationalize, rather than book-learning. To be honest, I’m still not adjusted to the marking system here, and sometimes I would turn in assignments having no idea what grade I’ll get. Thankfully, I’ve been doing well so far!

What other things did you not expect, coming to the US?

I didn’t expect food and some basics to be so expensive here, so that has definitely forced me to be better with budgeting and my finances. On a positive note, I didn’t expect to feel so safe here. My parents and friends were worried about my safety here in Philly, but I’ve found that Philly is comparable to London or pretty much any other city. There are security guards around campus all the time, and I’ve felt safe just walking around Center City too.

Sky in Philly

Finally, do you have any advice for other exchange students?

Work hard and get as much out of your classes as possible. It’s mind-blowing to be taught by professors who have written the most updated, cutting edge research. One of them even showed us innovative technology right in class the other day. Talk to professors one-on-one and have conversations with them and you can learn more about them and about their incredible careers. As cliché as it sounds, take all opportunities. I try to live by the work hard, play hard motto, so that I can return to Warwick with a better sense of my interests and focus.