Penn Abroad Ambassador Alondra Betancourt

CAS '26
Earth & Environmental Sciences
PGS: Communicating Change in Mongolia
Penn Global Seminars (PGS)


  • PGS: Communicating Change in Mongolia

Ask me about...

  • First time traveling internationally

  • Traveling to a country where you cannot speak the official language

  • Engaging in communities abroad

My Experience Abroad:

Between my first and second semesters at Penn, there was a major shift in my academic goals as I joined in particular groups around campus. I became incredibly interested in the impact of sustainability shortcomings on the global environment, which prompted me to change my course of study. However, I remain a pre-med student, which encourages me to consider the biodiversity and ecological interactions that can influence human health.

In the process of enrolling in courses for the Spring 2023 semester, I wanted to enroll in a class that would allow me to dive deeper into topics of climate change, environmental degradation, among others. The class, "Communicating Change in Mongolia," with Professor Aurora MacRae Crerar exceeded my expectations as we learned about how Mongolia's culture is challenged due to climate change, a fascinating approach to assessing the severity of current environmental issues.

During our excursion in Mongolia, our class had the opportunity to work alongside NGOs, such as GerHub and URECA, which aim to find innovative and creative solutions to the most urgent issues in the Ger areas of Mongolia. After our conversations with these teams, my professional goals shifted—I now plan to work in the Sustainability sector between my college graduation and medical school and possibly attain a Master's degree in Public Health.

After reflecting on my Penn Global Seminar experience, I recognize the importance of cultural immersion and professional development abroad. I appreciate Penn Global Seminars’ transience because (1) the option to commit to internships and/or summer programs remains available to me, and (2) the prearranged schedule relieves the worry of searching for activities in an unknown country.

Other Highlights:

  • Engaging with the Mongolian communities

  • Walking around Ulaanbaatar and seeing the architecture

  • Taking to children about the culture of Mongolia; they could articulate familial practices, holidays, and artistic expressions they engage with

Return to Penn Abroad Ambassadors