Exchange at Penn A Year Abroad: How it Started and How it’s Going?

April 3, 2023
By Carine Mankarious, Ain Shams University

Carine is one of the EAP Correspondents writing and sharing her experience at Penn during the Spring 2023 semester. You can also follow along with Carine and our other students on the @pennabroad Instagram feed.

It all started with an opportunity that I was too timid to grasp yet so keen on not letting go! From the very first moment I learned about the Sawiris Exchange Program, I knew this was the time to make my dreams come true. I was ready to put in the hard work and give it my all, yet my anxiety almost crippled me, and my fear almost kept me away from my goals. With so many questions going into my head: will I bear the separation from my family and friends? Will I be able to call anywhere else “home”, or will I spend months feeling like a stranger everywhere I go? Am I even good enough for this? But deep in my heart, I was certain that it was worth giving a shot and I knew I had what it takes to break through my hurdles. I remember the moment I got accepted -- mixed feelings of pride, joy, and fear. It was when the tears of happiness and sadness became one. But it did not feel real until I said my goodbyes to my family at the airport and saw their tears as we parted ways.   

Carine Mankarious


Every day, ever since I got here, I have been growing and prospering on both academic and personal levels. Studying at such a prestigious university as UPenn with all its vast and rich resources, and renowned professors made me more determined than ever to work on what I am truly passionate about! More than halfway through the year, I cannot say It has been easy, but I can most definitely say that all the hard work and the sleepless nights have and always will pay off! It has not always been sunshine and roses. But even while pulling overnighters in Vanpelt and Detkin or running through locust to get to class on time, looking back at the hard work and where it got me, makes it all worth it.  


Carine Mankarious


Not just academically, the whole experience of living abroad was new to me. Well, I was lucky to have an amazing roommate to say the least but being away from my family hit harder than I thought! I never thought this experience would change me that much. Over the past few months, I have learned how to appreciate everything and how blessings come in every shape and form. Some days were hard, lonely, and barely passed by, other days were joyful and lively, but every day was a new learning experience! Learning how to pick yourself up, how to keep everything put together, how and when to ask for help, has changed me on such a deep level. Looking back to the person who came here 7 months ago, I can confidently say she has flourished so much!   

It is this time of the year when homesickness starts getting harder day by day. A strong desire to go back home and a deep sorrow of leaving this place; the place where I made so many memories; the place where I celebrated my 21st birthday which a year or two ago would have seemed unreal; the place where I have made friends whom I dare call family. But with these memories engraved in my mind, Penn will always have a special place in my heart.  

Carine Mankarious


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.