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"Study Abroad Changed Me" Says Senior After Spending 1 Hour in North Philly


Photo by chrisinphilly5448 / CC BY-SA 2.0

For a certain group of students at Penn, the chance to study abroad is the opportunity of a lifetime. It gives them a chance to see amazing architecture, eat delicious food, and learn about a different way of life, all while taking challenging and thought provoking classes. 

Often, these students (usually juniors, but with an increasing number of seniors), say that study abroad changed them by having them travel to places as far away as Copenhagen, St. Petersburg, or even Sydney.

For Angela Von Hapsburg (C ’20), her study abroad experience happened a little bit closer to home: in North Philadelphia. 

Von Hapsburg, from Westchester, New York, says that her “brief sojourn [in North Philly] changed [her] as a person, making her grow, learn, and develop skills that [she] will be able to use for her entire life as a newly minted Global Citizen.” 

It all started when her Uber, already diverted due to construction, broke down on the way back from a BYO, leaving her in a part of the city she had never been to before. Surrounded by streets without boutiques or quaint brunch shops, the intrepid junior was far out of her depth. 

Refreshing the local police report over and over while walking through the completely calm neighborhood, she says that, at first, she was “like, really scared.”

But then, she learned what study abroad really means: embracing and learning from adversity. She gathered up her courage and decided to embrace discomfort, going as far as to speak to a local, asking him how he was doing, to which he responded with a query coupled with a few expletives. Von Hapsburg admits this may have been due to her attempt at trying the local accent, which she readily admits she is “not great at.”

At the time of writing, Von Hapsburg has reportedly been talking about studying abroad in such exotic destinations as West Philadelphia, and even possibly, Drexel’s campus