Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Day in the Life of an International Student in the U.S.

Perelman Quadrangle at the University of Pennsylvania
By Mengying Bi
Student Ambassador, 

University of Pennsylvania

I like to get up early. Everything is no rush. I get to make myself a delicious breakfast and a good cup of freshly brewed coffee. It’s always the best way to kick off my day. Exploring new hobbies is definitely one added bonus from studying abroad. Since it isn’t easy to get the food from your home country 
 and sometimes people do miss their traditional cuisines  cooking becomes a new hobby for many international students. I didn’t know that I could even cook before I arrived here. Last summer, when I got back home and cooked for my family, they were amazed by what a good “chef” I’d become. But enough about cooking; let’s get back to a day in the life of me being an international student in the U.S.!

Van Pelt Library.
On most weekday mornings, before going to class, I work a shift as a student assistant at the school’s library. While it doesn’t pay much, it feels good to support myself in some way. Plus, I meet plenty of great people there. My co-workers, all of whom are students, are very nice. We come from different schools within the university as well as different cultural backgrounds. My supervisor is (in his words) a “delightful little old man.” He greets us with cheerful high fives every day. 

When I finish my packed morning, I typically have lunch outside with my friends, enjoying the small conversations and warm sunshine. Although sometimes we can’t meet up due to our tight schedules, especially when exams are approaching, in which case I simply eat alone while doing some reading. Penn’s students have the reputation of “working hard and playing hard,” as the saying goes. I’ve seen people doing their math assignments while on the treadmill at the gym and others taking naps on the grass outside the library with their bags beneath their heads. 

Students nap on the grass on Penn's campus.
Seeing people reading a book while walking isn’t uncommon, but I was truly impressed to see a student in a Penn hoodie holding a 15-inch Macbook Pro, reading and walking on the street. In terms of multitasking, I have to say, he was doing a really good job. In most cases though, that kind of thing only happens when exams approach. 

Mengying's carrel in the library
After lunch, I usually go to the fruit stands to pick up some organic farm products for an afternoon boost. Then, I am ready for class again. Some of my courses are lectures, and some are seminars. Between classes, if time permits, I go to the library, where I’ve registered for an individual study carrel that holds my books. It's cute, and I love having priority seating. Better yet, reading what people wrote on the carrel is my secret entertainment. It never fails to pick me up when I get tired from intensive studying.

When class ends, here comes my favorite part of the day: time to exercise. I start with some anaerobic exercise at the gym, and then I go jogging outside. The campus is so invigorating. The football team is training, and people are playing tennis, frisbee, and softball. As I jog across the campus, I typically arrive at the Schuylkill River, where I see group runners, children riding bikes, families on a walk, people running with pets, and parents jogging with strollers. With the green grass soaked in the golden sunlight, the cool breeze from the river, and the landmarks of Philadelphia sitting across the bank… I can't help but smile while jogging. Everything feels perfect.

Schuylkill River
After the refreshing workout, if I have unfinished school work, I grab some food for dinner and return to the library. There are several cafeterias on campus and various food trucks along the streets. If I don't have unfinished work, I go downtown to meet friends for dinner. When I get home, after preparing for the next day’s classes, I sometimes read a book, or watch a movie; sometimes I Skype with my family and friends back home.

Each night, when I lie in bed, watching the bright moon outside my window, I look back at the day that is about to pass and think to myself: I’ve stopped celebrating my birthday since I was 21. I don’t feel the need to make any one day special. What I want is to make each day count, and each day at the University of Pennsylvania does count.

Mengying Bi will earn a Master of Science in education from the University of Pennsylvania in May 2016. She focuses specifically on education, culture and society. Mengying is from China. 

1 comment:

Comments posted on may be moderated.

Like us on Facebook for exclusive content from U.S. Admissions Experts!