By GWYNNE DULANEY, Staff Writer
Photo by GWYNNE DULANEY
This fall, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and take a class at University of Pennsylvania. As someone who tends to get cabin fever after spending too much time in one place, I thought that this would be a good way for me to get off campus, get into the city more and try learning in a totally new environment. Since starting, I’ve had quite a few people ask me about my experience. Since taking UPenn classes is a unique opportunity not many people can say that they have, I thought that I’d share my experience and, hopefully, answer any questions you may have had.
My class, known simply as “Troy” to my classmates, focuses on how the rise and fall of Troy influenced classical literature spanning from Virgil all the way to King Arthur’s knights. It meets twice a week in the center of Penn’s main campus, a 10-15 minute walk from 30th Street Station.
The professor, Rita Copeland, is a well-known classicist who teaches with both the excitement of a little kid and the knowledge of an expert. She makes our class engaging and fun, and always has some anecdote about her world travels to add to our discussion. She is extremely understanding towards individuals who have a difficult time speaking up in class; participation is not part of the overall grade.
Since I arrived at Bryn Mawr, I have consistently heard that UPenn classes tend to be easier and less work than classes in the Bi-Co. Now that I am taking one, I can confirm this. At least so far, this class is the least demanding of any of my courses this semester. However, I have also heard that this is not true for classes in the engineering or math/science departments, so just be aware.
Transportation costs are another thing to consider. Although Bryn Mawr does cover your travel expense, you are not compensated until later in the semester, so for at least the first month you will be paying out of pocket. It is probably a good idea to invest in a SEPTA Trailpass or another monthly discount if you are planning on going into the city more than twice a week. Another tip: buying round-trip tickets at the station is $2 cheaper than buying them on the train.
Overall, I’ve enjoyed taking a Penn class immensely, and highly recommend it. It is a unique experience that immerses you in a new community and expands your academic horizon. Plus, it’s a great excuse to get a Federal Donut while you’re there!