For Ammar Babateen, Penn’s English Language Program became much more than a gap year.
More than a gap year
After finishing high school, I came to the U.S. intending to take a gap year while applying to U.S. colleges. However, the English Language Program (ELP) at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) made this time much more than a mere gap year.
To start with, the academic support that was provided in the ELP tremendously enriched my linguistic skills, especially conversation skills and communicating in an “American style.” Simultaneously, the program also allowed me to perform better in my college applications both via English enrichment and campus engagement at Penn.
Academic and intellectual pursuits
This program gave me many opportunities in many different areas, both academically and intellectually. During my first session, I took part in the Language Exchange Program, in which I had semi-weekly conversations with a conversation partner who wanted to learn Arabic. The conversations were very interesting as this program was not limited to the linguistic exchange, but also allowed us to share a lot about our cultures with one another. Another enriching opportunity was the LPS courses.
As an ELP student, I had the opportunity to take part in Penn classes, which was a great challenge to prepare myself for my upcoming undergraduate studies. Through these courses, I was able to connect with many Penn students; I even worked in a laboratory with some of them!
Home away from home
Aside from everything mentioned, the ELP student center felt like home. In the breaks between classes, I always headed to that spot, Room 002, where I could find people from almost everywhere in the world! I was interested in the Japanese culture before coming to the U.S., and here in the ELP student center, I was able to befriend many students from Japan. At some point, they started teaching me Japanese as well!
An international community
The diversity at Penn ELP is very charming, and as it keeps expanding, it feels more and more welcoming. At the end, this diversely international community of English learners have been much more than just a language program, it was a whole life experience full of personal enrichment, friend-making, and a lot of exploring opportunities.
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