I walked into my IEDP orientation unsure of whom I was going to meet, what I was going to learn that day, and at times, exactly what I expected of myself during this year. Throughout the session, I couldn’t help but feel, thanks to the newly-formed relationships and set of questions, a growing sense of excitement for this program. I’m very thankful to be surrounded by a cohort of people who come not only from a variegated set of backgrounds and experiences, but also an array of study interests. This will certainly come into play during our Proseminar and 514 courses, where I’m anticipating tons of exploratory discussions involving the incredibly broad subject of international education development.

Since the first week is done and over, you might be wondering what my main thoughts right now about the program and about the cohort. Let’s answer those questions now:

The program:

I think what has struck me the most about the program thus far is how open-ended it truly is. During this semester, we only have two required courses, which I’ve already mentioned: the Proseminar and 514 (Basic Education in Developing Countries). Everything else, whether you follow the accelerated program or the standard year and a half course of study, is all up to you. While intimidating at times, especially for students who may not know exactly what to focus on, this flexibility allows all of us to take advantage of the incredible resources that Penn has to offer, as well as the ability to explore what our interests are and what we can do with them.

Current frustration- I’m slightly disappointed that the Proseminar meets twice a week, mostly because the recitation hour (which is required for the fall semester) conflicts with a course that I’m super interested in. But I guess there will be no perfect semester in terms of you courses, right? But that being said…

Current excitement- The courses I am taking, at least in the honeymoon period of the semester, seem pretty awesome. Each one not only is led by incredible faculty (who will sometimes bring you donuts), they are also finally illuminating the ins and outs of this field. I’m thinking in particular of the Proseminar in which we observed different cartograms of  various situations influencing international education (for example, the number of girls not in secondary school). It’s one thing to know a fact; it’s another to have it visualized; it was an eye-opening experiment that I think nicely kicked off the program.

The cohort:

This part of IEDP gets me the most pumped. I haven’t gotten to talk with everyone yet, but I can tell that this is a great group of individuals. We’ve already got each other’s backs: not only have reading groups been set up (#inundation), but we also have established group messages and have sent out and answered tons of questions from everyone. This past weekend, we had our traditional IEDP picnic at Rittenhouse Square, with delicious food and fun conversation all around:

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I really look forward to getting to know these guys better!

So we’ve officially started at IEDP, the syllabi have been reviewed, and now we are going to really delve into the academic side of things this week. So…

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