Semester Abroad Semester Abroad Student Highlights

July 30, 2021
By Penn Abroad

Global experiences can take many forms as students pursue their academic, professional, and personal goals. Through the Semester Abroad (SA) program, Penn students from across schools have spent a semester or year taking on coursework in new environments, challenging themselves, and building relationships and connections to new global communities. Let’s explore some of the past experiences of SA participants to gain insight into the student experience abroad and how Penn students can make the most of these opportunities.

Unique Coursework & Academic Experiences

Through their respective programs, Erin Feeney and Daniele Miles-Langaigne both had the opportunity to take coursework specific to their region of study. In her writing on the lessons she learned while abroad, Daniele highlights the unique opportunity to study Indigenous history at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia. While Studying at Trinity College Dublin, Erin found great value in locally-based coursework through studying the Irish language and Irish art. Each would encourage their fellow students to take the opportunity to explore something that has local connections in their academic pursuits.

Danielle Miles-Langaigne during her semester abroad in Australia.
Danielle Miles-Langaigne during her semester abroad in Australia.

Community Connection

Elana Burack found many ways to connect with the community and explore her identity while studying abroad in Seville, Spain. Through her homestay, she had the opportunity to gain new insight into the places and experiences she was having in Seville to discover a more local, "authentic" perspective. In one of her blog posts, Elana writes, "Seeing a beautiful or interesting place is nice, but experiencing a beautiful place with someone else has the potential to be transformative. Going with Carmen [Elana's homestay host] was just that: transformative. She allowed me to see beyond just the surface level, to experience it through her eyes, to appreciate the nuances, to (at least attempt to) seek the authentic." Aside from enjoying the homestay experience, Elana also took the opportunity to connect with the Jewish community in Seville, which deepened her sense of connection and humility.

Elana with her homestay host, Carmen.
Elana Burack with her homestay host, Carmen.

Personal Challenges

Many students look to increase their fluency in another language when going abroad. Rebecca Zaynidinova was particularly interested in learning Korean in an immersive environment when she traveled to Seoul, South Korea to study as an exchange student at Yonsei University. Upon arriving, she found it challenging to break out of her English-speaking bubble and realize how she would need to challenge herself to be intentional in this pursuit. In Rebecca's first blog post, she discussed the ways she approached the challenge. 

Julia Mitchell went into her semester abroad in Paris, France with the intention of challenging herself. As she embarked on the experience, she reflected on the process of planning, "...I knew generally how I wanted to make the experience my own. I wanted as much language and cultural immersion as possible..." From her program choice at Sciences Po to living in a homestay, Julia wanted to design an experience that would help her meet personal goals and be more independent. 

Julia in Paris.
Julia Mitchell in Paris overlooking the Eiffel Tower.


Semester Logo

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
by Kristyn Palmiotto, Penn Abroad Associate Director