Anna - University of Pennsylvania

Bachelor of Nursing/Midwifery
Semester 1, 2018
You will learn so much – about your studies and the world in general – and if you take every opportunity you can, you’ll remember this experience for a long time.

Academic experience

I studied at Penn during the final nursing semester of my dual degree program. I enjoyed the courses I was allocated: Nursing Young and Middle Aged Adults, and Nursing Older Adults. Penn has a very academic approach to nursing, but I thought this theory-heavy semester complemented UQ’s prac-heavy course very well.
The way nursing is taught is quite different. Instead of buddying with a nurse, at Penn the student chooses a patient, who they do an assignment on the day before shift, and then only look after that patient’s needs for the day. The benefit of this system is that you get a really deep understanding of every aspect of the patient, condition, and nursing cares. Another difference is that your clinical instructor is with you the whole shift, checking in on the students on the ward, teaching you and helping you with tasks. The course also includes lectures and simulation classes, with accompanying assessment.

Personal experience

Penn offers many wonderful extracurricular activities. I was in a children's theatre group: we did shows at primary schools in West Philadelphia, and a full production in one of Penn’s theatres. I was also involved with the student film group, and we made a short film. Both of these experiences were a lot of fun, and offer social time beyond group meetings: we had brunches, dinners, parties and movie nights. These extracurricular groups were where I found my friends for the semester.
Penn Abroad also held a number of events and trips which were a lot of fun. It was good to be have some time with a really multicultural group who were similarly placed in a new environment.
I spent my Spring Break in New York City and Florida, at Disney World and Universal Studios. These trips were a lot of fun! 
Philadelphia is also a great walking city with lots of history.


I lived in an on-campus college house, a high-rise apartment building. I had one flatmate: we had our own rooms, with a shared kitchen and living room. 
I enjoyed living on-campus because it made it easy and safe to walk to pre-dawn shifts, and come back from late extracurricular meetings. There were also regular events hosted by the college staff: trips to the cinema or city events (such as ice-skating), a formal, a midnight cruise (party on a river boat), study breaks with snacks and activities, study skills classes, and meditation.


(Rounded costs in AUD)
Preparing for exchange (incl. travelling for Visa interview, Visa fees, etc.): $700
Flights to and from USA (travelled peak season): $2,900
Living at Penn (incl. rent, dining plan, insurance, additional Penn fees): $10,000
Spring Break (incl. accommodation, tickets, transport, food): $1,400
Extras (incl. food, clothes, immunisations, trips around the city): $900
Recommended budget: $16,000 (plus extra if you want to holiday before or after semester, or have more trips during semester, etc.)

Professional Development

This experience boosted my clinical confidence: it proved to me that I could be thrown in the deep end and cope. I learnt what it was like to have to hit the ground running in a new workplace and system, with new colleagues, in a new role, and work with new demographics and health conditions.


Everything being new! It’s a lot of fun to discover what’s different: How uni is run and hospitals are organised; on-campus housing and meals plans; history and travel; words and culture. And snow!

Top tips

What helps you get over homesickness is being busy! Get involved – there is a club for everything so find yourself a few groups. Say yes to everything – if your college is hosting a trip, make sure you can be there!