CAS '22

Erin Hayes

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PGS: Travel to India

Program Abroad:

  • Penn Global Seminars (PGS): The City of New Delhi: New, Old, and Unmapped, Travel to India

Ask me about...

Studying abroad as a STEM major. As a STEM major, I never expected to study abroad. Friends and classmates had told me that it was practically impossible to do, considering my course load would include classes with two-semester sequences and lab work both during the year and in the summer. For this reason, I did not think I would study abroad at all while at Penn, and especially not as a freshman. Despite my little hope, I went to a Penn Global information session and discovered Penn Global Seminars. The class made studying abroad accessible to me, even with an incredibly busy schedule. Feel free to reach out to me with questions about fitting time abroad into your four years at Penn. I didn’t initially believe that it would be possible for me to do, but Penn Global, fortunately, proved me wrong.

My Experience Abroad:

Because Penn Global Seminars have both classroom and travel components, I was able to get the most out of my time abroad. At the beginning of the semester, everyone in the class chose a topic to write various pieces on throughout the semester. I chose to look at women’s rights in India because it is a timely topic that is very important to me. While I had done significant amounts of research on the subject, it was not until we returned from abroad that I felt I could write on it with authority. Having the personal experience to add to persuasive essays and opinion pieces made all the difference in the quality of my argument and my writing. The travel component made what I was learning personal to me and, as a result, I got so much more out of the class. Furthermore, my time in India inspired me to attend a couple of Indian dance workshops back on campus. It is a fun way to stay connected with the culture and has introduced me to wonderful new people. I plan on continuing taking those dance classes whenever possible.

Other Highlights:

  • Seeing the Taj Mahal. I think everyone on our trip would say this, but it was truly magical seeing such an iconic building in person. It was the first wonder of the world I have ever seen, and has inspired me to want to visit them all!

  • Walking through Old Delhi. The narrow, winding streets filled with street vendors, motorcycles, and the smell of spices was overwhelming in the best possible way. It was so neat to travel through this part of the city because it is not often accessible to tourists.

  • Visiting the Gandhi Smriti, where Gandhi was assassinated. Despite the chaos of the Delhi streets, once you walked inside the monument, there was a striking calm and quiet energy. Being there forced us to pause, take in all that we had seen thus far, and really appreciate the trip. 

  • Traveling with a diverse group of people from across Penn's four schools. Most of my classes are specific to my major, so breaking out of that bubble and meeting people with majors outside the sciences was really important to my experience with Penn Global Seminar.

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