Penn Abroad started flirting with my friends and me halfway through sophomore year. Though I didn’t have a burning desire to go abroad, backpacking through Europe seemed way more appealing than backpacking down Locust, so I decided to look into my options.
The world will try to tell you that being an English major is a death sentence, but Penn Abroad will give you a hug and say, “Thank you, you idiot!” The Penn English Program in London (PEPL), an abroad program specifically for English majors and minors, sees to it that every class you take at King’s College counts towards your major—no arguing or bribing academic advisors necessary. A Penn professor comes to London with you, where he or she will take you on day trips and out for dinner on Penn’s dime. There’s also the theatre workshop: you see 12 shows over the course of the semester and critique them with Michael Billington, renowned theatre critic of The Guardian. (Google him, he’s big shit.) Oh, and after every show? Drinks on Penn.
In the four months that I was in Europe, I went to more than twenty art museums. I spent a night in the Paris airport. I sang “Ein Prosit” at Oktoberfest. I got lost in Venice. I made my own gelato in Florence. I stayed out in Barcelona until 6am. I found the best chocolate shop in Belgium. I tried absinthe and didn’t hallucinate. I saw Will & Kate in the flesh. I ordered something called “The Monster” at an Amsterdam bakery. I finally saw Les Mis onstage and consequently sobbed throughout the entire second act.
If you go abroad, you will have one less semester at Penn. You will be very far away from home. You will most likely spend all of your money, and you will probably gain weight. Also, you will completely forget what exams are and how to study for them. But if I could, I would do it all over again.