Getting ready to head to UPenn! – Fahima

I am now preparing to leave London and continue my educational journey at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn). It will be strange and difficult to leave the city I’ve grown up and studied in, but I am excited to experience the new opportunities that come my way. During my time at QMUL, I have been commuting from home and have had the luxury of not having to be completely independent, which will now change.

It is very common to have roommates in American universities, and this is no different at UPenn. I will be sharing a room (including 3 separate bedrooms) with 3 other girls, all of whom I am excited to meet. I am hopeful that this will help me to settle in to the university and gain the most out of my experience. UPenn requires all exchange students to live on campus, enroll onto a dinning plan and get health insurance (unfortunately there is no NHS in the States). Most students in the US enroll onto meal plans as having a kitchen is uncommon, which has given my parents ease as I don’t know how to cook (yet!).

In order to study in the US, I was required to get a student visa. For this, I had to submit my details online on the US embassy website and then visit their London office for an interview. The interview was very short with only a few questions asked, i.e. “why do you want to visit the US,” and “how long do you plan on staying.” The process took around an hour and half (most of it was spent in the waiting area) and it takes just over a week for your visa to be approved and ready for collection.

I still have my final steps to take, including booking my ticket (yes, I’m very last minute), go shopping and pack my belongings. I am finding the packing difficult as I will experience summer, autumn and winter in the States.

I am looking forward to is witnessing the presidential election. I am eager to experience the environment and excitement around it, as there is a great chance that America will elect its first ever female president (fingers crossed)!

Read more from Fahima!

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