Konnichiwa, Penn

Author:  Rebecca Eckart, GED’13

It’s almost the end of September.  I can’t believe how quickly time has passed and how much my life has changed since I arrived at Penn as a new student.  It’s been a whirlwind: in less than a month I’ve moved into a new apartment, made new friends, begun a new course of study in the Graduate School of Education, and started exploring a new city.

I’m from Ohio, but I came to Penn from Japan.  I worked there as an Assistant Language Teacher through the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET).  I was placed in a small mountain village in Gunma Prefecture, about three hours outside of Tokyo.  I went to Japan intending to stay and teach for just a couple of years, but I loved my school and the local community so much, I ended up staying for five.

During my fourth year there, I decided to pursue a Masters in Higher Education when I came back to the States.  I considered a lot of different schools in the Midwest and on the East Coast, but I was looking for a place that had strong international connections in addition to a strong academic program.  The large international student population and the renowned education department were just two of the factors that drew me to Penn.

I applied to Penn, was accepted, and decided to attend without once being able to step on campus.  When I finally did make it to Philly, I was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful and green the campus was.  And I was also thrilled because I knew this was a place I could keep my experience in Japan a part of my life.  I’ve been able to make some international friends and discuss education in their home countries.  I’ve found a language exchange partner through Penn’s English Language Programs.

I’ve been to some Japanese restaurants that I’ve found while exploring the campus and University City.  I’ve even found a Japanese supermarket where I can get some of my favorite foods.  But perhaps most of all, I’ve found Penn to be a very welcoming community, which celebrates diversity and encourages communication and friendship across cultures.

My program at GSE is just nine months long.  I know that the time will be gone before I know it, but I’m so excited to be a member of this community, especially my GSE cohort.  This is a place I can share my past experiences and build my future.

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1 Comment

Filed under Campus Life, Student Perspective

One response to “Konnichiwa, Penn

  1. Roe Ann Eckart

    I am so excited that you are happy in your new home and that your program is all that you had hoped for! Enjoy!

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