Huntsman '22 Mariana Velasco

PGS: Travel to the Czech Republic
GRIP: Research in Portugal
Summer Program: Russia

Program Abroad:

  • Penn Global Seminars (PGS): The Making of a European Nation, Travel to the Czech Republic

  • Global Research & Internship Program (GRIP): University of Minho Law School, Portugal

Ask me about...

  • Spending an extended period of time abroad (102 days traveling during the summer)

  • Budgeting and time management in a foreign country for the first time

  • Getting full language immersion and living with a host family

  • Interacting with very different cultures all at once

  • Going to places you did not know about a day before!

My Experience Abroad:

As an International Studies major, it was really interesting for me to talk to people from so many different countries and cultures (students from Germany, Portugal, Brazil, Palestine, Syria, Italy) and discuss our views on immigration, climate change, politics, etc. It gave me an idea of what people all over the world are the most concerned about and how different cultures approach the same problems from different angles.

Other Highlights:

  • Taking a PGS Seminar, interning with GRIP in Portugal, and learning Russian in St. Petersburg for a month has made me realize why everyone should travel as much as possible. First of all, you get to meet the most incredible and interesting people: from Master's students coming from all over the world to study Law in a small city in Portugal to linguistics majors and translators in Russia, I always met someone I could learn something from. And I often surprised myself at the number of things that we all share in common regardless of our country of origin; meeting so many people from different backgrounds and ages who care about the same problems that the world is facing today, gave me hope for the future.

  • Traveling for so long also challenged me to truly listen to myself and identify what I needed and wanted at each step along the journey. It allowed me to take full ownership of each day and plan my excursions according to my personal goals. I progressively came up with new ways to spend my time abroad and dared to experience more (which ultimately brought me to riding camels in Morocco, traveling to an island in the middle of nowhere in Northern Spain, taking a ferry to the wrong city, flying to France for a tour of the countryside, and taking an uncountable number of trains to places I did not know about the day before). Ultimately, above everything else I learned to trust myself and relish every moment (falling in love with every single place for different reasons).

On the Penn Abroad Blog:

An Open and Fair Society

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