A Penn Newbie Experience

Lahari Uppuluri
Lahari Uppuluri

Lahari Uppuluri is an international student from India, working towards her masters degree in nano-technology. As a graduate intern at the WIC and EC, Lahari teaches workshops on Google Tools and PowerPoint. This is her first PennWIC post.

It is admissions season again and quite a few people have been getting in touch with me to know what Penn is like to be at. I thought I should document my experience as a newbie here before it gets too old. So here’s what I went through in my first semester:

Mid-august has harsh sunlight that not all would be used to, with the low humidity here. I ended up walking thirteen miles back and forth the first day I was here!

As I dropped by the ISSS for student registration, I saw a large room full of overwhelmed graduate students (foreign nationals) brimming with excitement. I could sense the competition that there is to come, determination to perform and a slight hint of fear, probably for the unexpected. The first striking aspect about Penn is the sheer size of the university; it is unlike any other academic institution that I have seen. The overwhelming size of resources available to any student studying in this place is just ridiculously large and beyond my imagination. Penn took extraordinary efforts to provide to all students a world-class establishment of literature, technology, health and medical attention besides the academics. In my opinion, research at Penn is second to none. Socializing and networking with the high-quality peer group instilled a renewed sense of seeking and exclusivity in my circle. In short, the quality of life for students here was certainly elevated.

Faculty and program advisors were extremely helpful. As the semester proceeded on full speed, I could spend all my day at Van Pelt at the two library commons without regret.

I did not use Google search much after I came to Penn. I looked up information at Van Pelt with the millions of online books that Penn provided access to. WIC and EC were the tech and design-savvy study areas. Here I indulged my hobbies like learning poster design, learning and teaching software that makes life easy and having group discussions. Best part about being at the two Commons was study breaks during the finals weeks with coffee and hot chocolate.

To boost myself up to the speed here in the United States, there were resources like the Marks Family Writing Center, the Weingarten Learning Resources Center (VPUL), Career Services and CAPS. In addition, Penn Safety and Penn Transit were two tremendously helpful resources that I had.

There were tons of stress relief events like networking, social hours, happy hours, paint nights. Knowledge sharing seminars happened every day; it was the best way to find out what happened everywhere else at Penn, including other schools. We had guest speakers from other universities, corporations, start-ups, entrepreneurs, student achievers and more.

I mostly regretted that there were just 24 hours in a day, spent all my waking hours with in Penn and only ever returned to my home to sleep.

Now I’m completing my second semester here and continue to appreciate what Penn gives me. How do you feel about being at Penn?

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