Profile of a Scholar: Luis

Luis, Sponsor-A-Scholar Class of 2013 and recent Penn State graduate, has already proven his ability to turn passion into opportunity. A Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship major, Luis saw a chance to share his passion for finance with his peers by founding Financially Independent Nittany Lions, a financial literacy student organization. We asked Luis to tell us a little about what it takes to be a successful leader of a new student organization:

What is Financially Independent Nittany Lions?

“Financially Independent Nittany Lions (FINL) is a student-run organization comprised of individuals aspiring to achieve financial security. FINL gives Penn State students an opportunity to learn about managing personal finances and investing during college to ensure financial independence after graduation.”

Luis-Graduation

Luis at the podium at our Philadelphia Futures 2017 Graduation Celebration

What inspired you to start the club?

“I started the club with the ultimate goal of FINL as a way to increase financial awareness through various investment opportunities, so that students are better prepared to survive the transition from college to career.”

What were your primary responsibilities as the club’s president?

“The primary responsibility of the president is managing the club’s internal and external affairs. Examples include meeting with other clubs to co-sponsor events, marketing the organization to other students, and dividing up responsibilities for presentations.

Luis2

Luis with fellow members of FINL

What trait do you think was most valuable in your role as president?

“One trait that definitely helped me in my role as president was the ability to restrategize if our original plan fell through. This helped keep my team focused and motivated to achieve the organization’s goals.”

What advice would you give to a Philadelphia Futures collegian who is considering taking on a leadership role at their school?

“Be prepared to motivate your team and take the initiative to execute your plans efficiently. Be sure to delegate tasks, and keep your members motivated by emphasizing the mission and value of the group. Always be prepared to trouble-shoot so that you don’t lose momentum if you experience a set-back.”

If you’re a Philadelphia Futures Collegian who’d like to share one of your most interesting college experiences, please contact kellycrodian@philadelphiafutures.org.

Adventures of a Scholar: Justin

Related to this week’s post about travel opportunities for collegians, class of 2015 collegian Justin just returned from a spring break trip to Spain which was a component of his class on Spanish art and architecture. Justin, who is studying Electrical Technology at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology, sent us a summary of his travels:

“To tell you a little bit about my adventures in Spain, I traveled to Madrid, Toledo, Córdoba, Seville, Granada, Valencia and Barcelona. In the picture, I am standing in the Plaza de España in Seville, near a cathedral where we were visiting Christopher Columbus’ burial site.

Traveling in España was the most educational and adventurous experience I’ve ever had in my entire life. The mountains are large, the sky and water are blue, the weather is warm and the sun was bright. The architecture of the cathedrals, the mosques, and the royal palaces were breathtakingly gorgeous.

The focus of the course I took was Spanish art and architecture as it relates to the social, political, religious, economic and technological history of Spain. I am currently writing a final research report for the course about the famous El-Greco of Toledo, an artist and architect.

There was much in Spain that I wish everyone could see! I want to thank Joan Mazzotti and Philadelphia Futures for helping me achieve my dream of traveling the world. Not only was it my first time leaving the country, but it was to a country that my ancestors had come from, and I now have a better understanding of who I am.

This will forever be an unforgettable experience. I’ll be looking to travel back there again, in the near future!”

Justin-Santiago-Spain

Justin in the Plaza de España

If you are a Philadelphia Futures Collegian who would like to share one of your most interesting college experiences, please contact kellycrodian@philadelphiafutures.org.

Why Stockholm

Chris, SAS class of 2014, and Northeast High School graduate, is currently spending an exciting semester abroad in Stockholm, Sweden. A junior at Lafayette College majoring in Psychology, Chris is participating in DIS’s immersive Positive Psychology program, for which he serves as a student blogger. In the post below, Chris describes his first impressions of the city hew will call home for the duration of his three months abroad. You can also read his subsequent blog posts here and here. We wish Chris all the best as he completes his coursework in Sweden and prepares to enter his senior year at Lafayette!

Source: Why Stockholm

Every Day is a New Day

Kiryl, a second-year Temple University student majoring in Criminal Justice, is currently spending the spring semester across the state in Harrisburg, where he is completing a Pennsylvania House Fellowship. The PA House Fellowship program immerses students in the legislative process, providing a solid foundation for any career dealing with government, law, or social issues. As an aspiring law student, Kiryl was placed in the Judiciary Committee, where he conducts research on laws and government programs, drafts talking points for state Representatives, and shadows his Chairman on the job. He is even drafting his own bill as part of his final project! We’re proud to share the following post that Kiryl penned for the PA House Fellowship Blog, in which he describes how valuable the experience has been for him:

Pennsylvania House Fellowship Blog

Have you ever woken up in the morning and thought about how blessed you are to work in the job that you have? Well for me, this happens every single sunny, cloudy, rainy, or snowy morning.

Every day is a new day. This has become the exciting part of my internship. Two weeks prior to taking part in this fellowship, I pondered the idea of what a college student, who’s majoring in criminal justice might do in state government. In reality, I did not know much about state government. I was worried that I would not have experience related to my interest and my major, since in the future I am planning to go to law school. However, within the first week of the internship I found myself pleasantly surprised.

I was placed in the Judiciary Committee. Today, I have the honor to work besides the most hard-working and intelligent co-workers…

View original post 299 more words

Profile of a Scholar: Rafael

Rafael, College Connection Class of 2016 and a graduate of Esperanza Academy Charter School, is a first-year Computer Science and Economics major at Haverford College who is driven by his commitment to social justice. Over the recent winter break, Rafael participated in a study trip to Mexico sponsored by Haverford’s Center for Peace and Global Citizenship. Over the course of the trip, students studied the migration of Latin Americans to the U.S., a process that is often dangerous and misunderstood by those of us on this side of the border. Below, Rafael shares the lessons he took away from the experience, and his thoughts about the value of breaking down cultural barriers.

What parts of Mexico did you visit?

“We stayed at Casa de los Amigos, a Quaker-run nonprofit peace organization located in Mexico City. It’s located very close to the remarkable monuments and palaces of the city. We also went to the state of Puebla, where we visited Teotihuacán and Puebla City. We visited Teotihuacán because this is one of the many towns in Mexico whose economy is completely based on remittances from Mexican relatives living in the United States. From afar, one can see many empty houses which have been built by undocumented Mexicans living in the U.S., in case they ever need to come back to their native towns. We got to meet some incredible and amiable people there who showed us some of the things they do for a living. Many of the people living in Teotihuacán are of indigenous descent.”

rafael-teotihuacan-pyramids1

The pre-Aztec pyramids in Teotihuacan

How did you find out about this opportunity?

“The Center for Peace and Global Citizenship at Haverford sponsors this trip every year. Usually, the trip consists of a trip to Arizona to meet with local migration advocates and nonprofit organizations before heading to Mexico. The trip had also included a visit to the US-Mexico border for students to gain a more in-depth understanding of the socio-cultural conflict. However, because of readjustment in the administration, the trip I was on only visited Southern Mexico. As soon as I saw this opportunity posted I reached out to the people in charge to discuss the application process.”

rafael-casa-de-los-amigos1

Casa de los Amigos

What drew you to this particular study trip?

“Even though I did not have to pass through the border to come into the United States, I am also a migrant. I have heard multiple stories about the risks people underwent to obtain the opportunities that this country offers; stories of hard-working individuals who really wanted the opportunity to earn a living through their effort and tenacity. Because of these stories, I felt compelled to learn more. I felt like it was my duty to immerse myself in this subject and become more knowledgeable not only about the phenomenon of migration, but also about ways to make an impact on the lives of people who are still seeking refuge in the U.S., often due to violence and corruption in their home countries.”

rafael-casa-de-los-amigos2

Rafael (fourth from the left) with his classmates at Casa de los Amigos

Do you have a favorite moment from your experience in Mexico?

“Yes, I do. A few days before heading back, I had the opportunity to walk around Mexico City with a friend of mine before sunset. I was seated in the Monument of the Angel of Independence, and the view was one of the most beautiful I had ever witnessed. Seeing the juxtaposition of the modern with the antiquity of the city was a moving experience. That same night we went to a Ballet Folklórico performance in the Chapultepec Castle, which is an architectural masterpiece. The show highlighted the wealth of the Mexican culture and the vibrancy of Hispanic heritage. I will never forget seeing the city from above and contemplating the lights of the skyscrapers along with the shine of the stars.”

rafael-mexico-city1

The juxtaposition of old and new in Mexico City

What do you think is the most valuable thing you learned from your participation in this program?

“I think that the most valuable lesson I took away from this experience was the understanding that it is very unrealistic to think that an entire system could change overnight. As one of our guest speakers said, “you cannot change the world, but you can definitely change one person’s world.” Fighting for the rights of others should not make you feel discouraged, but courageous. Big changes always start with little steps, and I know that one day our world, and especially our country, will be more tolerant, accepting, and receptive of diverse cultures.”

rafael-teotihuacan-pyramids2

What advice would you give to a PF Collegian who is thinking about studying abroad?

“I think that studying abroad can be one of the scariest things one can do. However, I found it to be a very edifying experience. Experiencing a new culture can enrich you in boundless ways. It is transforming to interact with people from other places and cultures because it allows you to dismantle harmful stereotypes about another culture. Going abroad is an opportunity to break down barriers and become a better citizen of the world, because you come away with an even greater respect for the dignity of all human life, regardless of race, gender, religious affinity, sexual orientation, or place of origin.”

If you are a Philadelphia Futures Collegian who would like to share one of your most interesting college experiences, please contact kellycrodian@philadelphiafutures.org.

Profile of a Scholar: Will

Will, Sponsor-A-Scholar Class of 2014 and Northeast High School graduate, is currently in his Junior year at Penn State University. An academically gifted student majoring in Bio-Behavioral Health and Psychology, he plans to pursue a career in medicine and is strongly considering medical school as his next step. This past summer, Will had the opportunity to participate in the 6-week Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP) at Howard University. Over the course of the program, Will explored the medical profession through coursework, clinical rotations, and visits to the Association of American Medical Colleges and the National Institutes of Health. He was thrilled to be introduced to a vibrant and supportive community of African-American medical professionals, where he found valuable connections with peers and mentors. Will’s highly informative and insightful responses to our questions describe his experience in detail:

What is SMDEP and how did you find out about it?

“SMDEP stands for the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program and it is sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. It is a six-week summer enrichment program that seeks to provide exposure and experience and preparation in the fields of medicine and dentistry for students that are underrepresented in those fields. The program is geared toward students of color and other underrepresented students (e.g. low socioeconomic status) in order to improve the racial and cultural diversity and inclusion in the field of medicine which is drastically needed due to the major health disparities in the field. The program is held at 12 different medical schools throughout the country—I participated in the program at Howard University. The best part of it all is that everything is FREE— room and board is covered, and you can also apply to get a travel scholarship to help cover travel expenses. Not only that, but you get a $600 stipend for spending money (warning: this runs out faster than you think!).

Had it not been for one of my best friends who participated in the program the previous summer, I would have never found out about this opportunity. He found out about the program through Ms. Joyce Hopsin-King, the multicultural advisor in the college of Health and Human Development. He was just telling me how awesome the program was in terms of both scholarly enrichment and fun. He went into the program believing that he wanted to be a Physician Assistant and left wanting to be an MD (medical doctor). He also said that program was a lot of fun and that he met a lot of great people that he’s still in touch with to this day. After hearing all of this, I knew this was something I had to apply to because I was considering medical school.”

will6

The 79 2016 Howard University SMDEP students

What were your goals for the program?

“I was initially undecided in my major and my career goals, but as I began my sophomore year, I started to consider medicine as a possible career path. As a sophomore, I could see myself being a doctor from the little I knew about the field; however, I did not know everything it entailed. So, my goals for the program were to get some experience and gain more exposure to what it means to be a doctor, in order to have a more holistic view of the field of medicine and all that it encompasses. At the end of the program, I can proudly say that I have achieved these goals.

What was a typical day like while you were participating in SMDEP?

“Each program site runs the program a little differently, but they all consist of classes and rotations. The program at Howard University consisted of four classes: a health policy/ethics class, a communications class, a choice of either biochemistry or organic chemistry, and a choice of either physics or genetics.  The classes were not taken for course credit, but were meant to serve as introductions to the subjects that would help prepare us for our fall classes. We attended classes from Monday through Thursday and had our clinical rotations on Friday. Our clinical rotations consisted of shadowing doctors from many different specialties including: Surgery, Pediatrics, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, OB-GYN, Psychiatry, and many others.

Although there was a set schedule for most days, no day ever felt typical. It was as if each day were a new adventure! The staff, mentors, and my fellow students gave the program an amazing atmosphere. The staff and mentors pushed us hard, knowing we had so much untapped potential. They went out of their way to give us so many opportunities such as taking us to visit the Association of American Medical Colleges, and the National Institutes of Health. We also did fun things around the city like visiting national monuments and kayaking (where I fell out of the boat once). We even went to Six Flags!

In my opinion, the 78 other students were the best part of the program; I was humbled to be in the presence of so many talented individuals. Each one of them had a unique story which brought them to Howard. I met so many amazing people, and we all got so close in such a little amount of time. We had so much fun together and built bonds that won’t fade anytime soon!”

will3

At the Washington Monument

will2

What do you think was the most valuable thing you learned over the course of the program?

“I learned so much by being in this program. One of the most important things I learned was what it really means to be a doctor. I gained insight into the clinical, financial, and political aspects of being a doctor, such as how the medical school process works from the MCAT to residency, the financial burdens of being a physician and how to deal with it, and acquiring proper physician’s insurance. Additionally, something else that I learned is the value of black spaces. Being at Howard Medical School (one of the most prestigious HBCU’s in the country) really gave me insight into this.

Being a young black person aspiring to go into a conservative, predominantly white field, I was inspired by the sight of black doctors, med students, and other professionals in the medical field. The best part about being in the presence of black medical professionals was that they not only genuinely cared about us, but could also relate to us. It was literally as if everywhere you turned someone believed in you, and that meant volumes to me because we live in a in a world in which people that look like me are constantly told they aren’t good enough to become things like doctors.”

will4

will1

What advice would you give to a Philadelphia Futures collegian who is considering participating in a summer academic program?

“If you are considering applying to medical school or physician assistant school or any clinical health program, this summer program is a MUST. The program is now called SHPEP—Summer Health Professionals Education Program because it has expanded its scope. The application opens on November 1st of every year and closes on March 1st. There is an early application deadline to apply on February 1st and I highly recommend applying by this date because the earlier you apply the better your chances. This program was really one the best things that I have every participated in, and I am sure that you would feel the same!”

will5

We’re so grateful to Will for sharing this positive and exciting experience with us. In just a few short weeks, he’ll be off to make more amazing college memories as he spends the upcoming winter break studying abroad in Australia! Safe travels, Will!

If you’re a Philadelphia Futures Collegian who’d like to share one of your most interesting college experiences, please contact kellycrodian@philadelphiafutures.org.

Profile of a Scholar: Mingsi

Mingsi, College Connection Class of 2015 and a graduate of Northeast High School, is an extremely dedicated and focused sophomore majoring in Accounting at Temple University’s Fox School of Business. In addition to maintaining her excellent academic record, Mingsi has been growing socially and professionally by becoming highly involved in Temple’s chapter of Ascend, an organization for Pan-Asian business students and professionals. This past summer, Mingsi had the opportunity to travel to Anaheim, California for Ascend’s annual national convention. We asked her to tell us all about her trip and how joining a student organization has greatly enriched her college experience:

What is Ascend and how did you get involved?

“Ascend is a national non-profit organization that seeks to bring together Pan-Asian business students and professionals in North America, but has grown since its establishment in 2005 to include other professions and industries. I joined the Temple Student Chapter of Ascend in September of my freshman year of college, after attending a Student Professional Organization Fair at the Fox School of Business. As an undeclared business student at the time, I did not know what to do in college; I wanted to join an organization that will help me advance both academically and socially. From the conversations I had with the Ascend representatives at the time, Ascend seemed to be a great fit for me, and it has been proven throughout the year that I spent with Ascend.”

mingsi-california

In Anaheim, California for the Annual Ascend National Convention

What is your role in Ascend and what are your primary responsibilities?

“My current role in Ascend is the Director of Events. I specialize in planning and executing community service and social events for our chapter. The process includes scheduling a time, reserving a facility, and sometimes providing transportation and food as well. During the process, I also cooperate with many people both inside and outside of our chapter, such as external food vendors and our internal treasurer. The greatest satisfaction comes when a large number of members attend the events I planned. Last month, we had our first social event at a restaurant on campus, where over 40 current and prospective members attended and had lots of fun.”

Can you tell us about some of Ascend’s events?

“The largest Ascend Temple Student Chapter events are the Annual Kickball and Dodge-ball Tournaments, where current members are joined by Ascend alumni and their colleagues to network in a casual setting while having fun in these tournaments. In addition, we also host monthly community service and social events, where current members and officers develop friendships among each other. Most importantly, we host weekly meetings where we invite representatives from various accounting and finance firms (from multinational to local) to present their career opportunities as well as professional advice to our members. The newest additions to our member benefits are local office tours and an alumni mentorship program, which both seek to provide members with more opportunities and insight into the professional world.”

mingsi-ascend3

At Ascend’s Ethnic Food Sale in celebration of the Lunar New Year!

This past summer, you participated in the Annual Ascend National Convention in Anaheim, California. What were some highlights of that experience?

“This past summer I went on a 5 day sponsored trip to Anaheim, California for the Annual Ascend National Convention along with 5 other Ascend officers. This 3 day event included a series of workshops, presentations, panels, discussions, networking events, and a huge nationwide career fair with on-site interviews. In more interactive sessions such as workshops and discussions, students were able to participate in team-building activities, and share experiences and knowledge with each other. In less interactive sessions such as presentations and panels, students listened to inspirational words from industry leaders. There were also numerous networking opportunities for all student and professional attendees. Lastly, there was the biggest career fair I have attended so far – for example, companies like Deloitte had at least 30 representatives instead of 5 like we usually have on campus! The best part of this experience was that it did not cost me anything financially – I received the opportunity to attend the Convention through my active participation in the Temple Student Chapter of Ascend. I was a member since my first semester at Temple, became the Ambassador in my second semester, and currently serve as the Director of Events for the 2016-2017 academic year.”

mingsi-ascend2

Mingsi (second from left) recruiting for Ascend with her fellow organization members

What do you think is the most valuable lesson or skill that you have developed through your involvement with Ascend?

“The most valuable skill I have learned so far from my involvement in Ascend is public speaking skills. As an officer of Ascend, I have had numerous experiences with speaking in small and large groups. For example, I presented Ascend’s new semester recruiting pitch to a class of 300 students. I have become much more comfortable in speaking in front of groups, which is very helpful both in classroom presentations and professional networking sessions.

I also learned a lesson through being an officer of Ascend for two consecutive semesters. I learned that here are different types of leaders and followers, and it is important to learn how to manage each other in a group work environment. As the Director of Events, I am fortunate to have a committee with two members, so it became important to learn how to delegate as a leader, cooperate with peers, and manage up. In this way, I have also developed my leadership skills, which is very beneficial in any group work setting.”

mingsi-ascend1

Members of Ascend (Mingsi is at the far left) at a community service event at the Gift of Life Family House

What advice would you give to a Philadelphia Futures collegian who is considering taking on a leadership role in a student organization?

“I would definitely encourage students to take on leadership roles in student organizations! There are countless benefits: on a personal level, you will gain valuable friendships with your peers; on a professional level, you will broaden your professional network as well as develop soft skills such as leadership, time management, organization, communication, team work, and so much more. If you are worried that your involvement in an organization may negatively affect your grade, please remember that in addition to the on-campus resources you already have, you now also have upperclassmen in your student organization who can provide you a ton of support and advice on anything. There is nothing to lose!”

If you’re a Philadelphia Futures Collegian who’d like to share one of your most interesting college experiences, please contact kellycrodian@philadelphiafutures.org.

Profile of a Scholar: Brittany

A senior at Bloomsburg University, Brittany had the opportunity to spend this past summer gaining valuable experience in her chosen field through an internship at the Philadelphia Adult Probation and Parole Department. As a Criminal Justice major with a minor in Sociology, Brittany intends to begin a career as a probation officer after graduation, and jumped at the chance to get a first-hand taste of the profession. Brittany graduated from Constitution High School with the Sponsor-A-Scholar Class of 2012, and found out about the opportunity at APPD through her Philadelphia Futures mentor. We asked her to share some reflections and words of wisdom about her summer on the job!

What is the Adult Probation and Parole Department and what kind of work did you do there?

“I was very fortunate to spend summer 2016 as an intern for the Philadelphia Adult Probation and Parole Department (APPD). The mission of the APPD is to provide protection to the community by intervening in the lives of offenders. They hold offenders accountable for their crimes, but also help them to integrate back into society and become productive law abiding citizens.

During my time there I worked closely with probation officers, observing their interviews with offenders and accompanying them to court hearings. I also became familiar with local, state and federal criminal information systems, drug testing protocols, and courtroom procedures. I helped officers prepare violation of probation summaries for court, issued warrant requests, and filed paperwork.”

brittany

What is one valuable lesson or skill you learned during your internship?

“An important skill that I learned was the ability to strategize in order to manage large caseloads. Many of the officers were responsible for over 200 offenders, but they all seemed to make it work. The techniques they used of keeping monthly planners and writing everything down made me grateful for all the years of Philadelphia Futures stressing the importance of time management. I must honestly say that our coordinators weren’t lying to us! A missed deadline could be devastating in the ‘real world.’”

What advice do you have for other Philadelphia Futures collegians who are interested in pursuing an internship?

“My internship with the APPD was a great experience that allowed me to explore a career path that I plan to pursue. If you are looking for an internship, I strongly recommend using your resources (i.e. mentors, advisors, career centers on campus, etc.). I was made aware of the APPD internship opportunity by my Philadelphia Futures mentor. Also, I suggest applying to internships that you are actually interested in and that are in line with your career goals. That way, you can see if your planned career is actually a good fit, and you’ll be able to expand your professional network in your field.”

 

Profile of a Scholar: Wendy

Wendy, White-Williams Scholar College Connection Class of 2013 and Central High School graduate, recently began her senior year at Penn State University’s main campus, where she has established herself as a highly driven student eager to take advantage of every experience her college education has to offer. After much research and planning, Wendy was able to fulfill her dream of studying abroad when she spent the spring semester of her junior year studying at the Chinese University of Hong Kong! As a Finance major with minors in International Business and Chinese, studying abroad in Hong Kong was a great way for Wendy to apply the skills she has learned in the classroom and hone her resume. Therefore, it’s not surprising that she has already accepted an offer to begin her career as a consultant for Deloitte after she graduates this spring! As Wendy clearly has a very busy and exciting year both behind and ahead of her, we’re so glad she was able to find the time to answer our questions about her wonderful study-abroad experience.

What was your first impression of Hong Kong like?

“My first impression of Hong Kong was that it was very cramped and overwhelming. There is a great restriction on the amount of land there, which is why it is normal for families to live in 50-floor high-rises with as many as five family members in a small apartment that is very similar or possibly even smaller than those in New York City. However, Hong Kong is much more than just another metropolitan city – it is actually surrounded by beautiful mountains and waterways. The university that I attended was called the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), and that was a 40 minute transit ride away from the main island of Hong Kong. CUHK is situated on very mountainous terrain, and my dorm room was on one of the highest peaks of the mountain. It was a 35 minute hike to my room every day, and that transit time includes using the outdoor escalators (yes, the walkways and roads are so steep that there are outdoor escalators for CUHK!) and elevators inside other facilities and buildings just to get to my room!”

wendy1

Fushimi Inari-taisha, Kyoto, Japan

What made you interested in studying abroad? How did you find out about this opportunity?

“I knew from the start of my college career that I wanted to travel and study abroad. I have heard many stories from friends who came back from abroad that really fueled my desire to go travel abroad as well. In particular, my best friend who was attending the University of Pennsylvania at the time chose to study abroad at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Her experiences and photographs taken abroad inspired me to research similar study-abroad programs offered through the business college at Penn State. It was also important that I selected a program that would allow me to go abroad and still graduate on time within four years.”

wendy-3

Island hopping in Ha Long bay, Hanoi, Vietnam

Why did you choose to study abroad in Hong Kong?

“I chose to study in Hong Kong mainly because of my best friend’s influence. However, a part of me has always been fascinated by Hong Kong. I grew up watching a lot of Hong Kong dramas with my family, as we speak Cantonese at home regularly. Something that I found to be particularly compelling about Hong Kong is the fact that Hong Kong is very different from the rest of China – it was under British rule for 100 years before being returned to China quite recently in 1997. I wanted to experience first-hand what that mix of Eastern and Western culture would be like. To my surprise, post-colonial Hong Kong was very different from what I had expected. Yes, there are many English speakers there with British accents, but the distinct Chinese culture overrides the western traditions a lot more than I had thought they would.”

wendy2

Cloudy day from Lion Rock Peak, Hong Kong

What are some of your favorite moments from your time in Hong Kong?

“Some of my favorite moments in Hong Kong are definitely the street food and markets in a region called MongKok. It was a great spot for my international friends and I to go for dinner in the local eateries and scavenge the streets for dessert afterwards. Other than the food and drinks, my absolute favorite moments would have to be the times I went hiking in many of Hong Kong’s vast mountainous regions. One hike in particular resulted in an impeccable shot of me doing a yoga pose above the skyline of Hong Kong. Another hike began with a sleepless night at 3am where my friend and I journeyed to another famous peak in Hong Kong to watch the sunrise.”

What is one valuable lesson or skill that you learned during your semester abroad?

“I cannot begin to express how much I have learned about myself during my time abroad. Living halfway across the world from where I was born with people I’d never met before was a great self-discovery experience. Not only was I able to walk away with new friends whom I still keep in touch with, but I also was able to gain a much greater appreciation for all cultures. Much of this new cultural understanding came from my travels outside of Hong Kong – places that I backpacked to include Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, and even Australia!”

wendy-yoga

Sunset over the skyline of Hong Kong from Lion Rock Peak.

What advice would you give to another Philadelphia Futures Collegian who is thinking about studying abroad?

“My one piece of advice to ALL collegians is to go abroad!” For me it was an incredibly liberating and life-changing experience that took place at a pivotal time in my life. You’re only in college once, so why not use all that energy and optimism of youth to see the world? Not only do you come back home with new perspectives, but you also gain valuable skills that can make you more impressive to job recruiters, employers, etc. At the end of the day, going abroad enriches your mind in ways that a textbook cannot, which is why I say that studying abroad is a must!”