This guest post was written by Julia Klayman ’21, a student majoring in Philosophy, Politics and Economics in the College of Arts and Sciences. She is from Scarsdale, New York. Thank you, Julia, for your insights and candor you share here!
On my Google Drive, there is a folder named “Life Plan?” from the summer of 2017. Inside the folder, there is a document with ten different potential majors ranging from Architecture to Chinese. It was the summer before my first year at Penn, and I was ready to map out the rest of my life.
Now, two weeks into my senior year, I can confidently say that I did not stick to a single potential plan on that document. My major is Philosophy, Politics and Economics, an interdisciplinary field here at Penn I didn‘t know existed at the time. During my first two semesters, I studied Mandarin, but my declared minor turned out to be French and Francophone Studies. Through Penn, I’ve studied abroad in France twice — a summer in Tours and a semester in Lyon. Initially, I thought I would study abroad in Asia, but I fell in love with the French department.
The second oldest folder on my Google Drive is titled “Clubs I Won’t Get Into.” During my first Penn fall, I attended the Student Activities Council Fair and felt overwhelmed by the endless possibilities of extracurriculars and opportunities to get involved in the greater Penn and Philadelphia community. Hundreds of tables supervised by seemingly confident upperclassmen crowded campus for days. Some clubs required an application process, and I applied to groups ranging from the student newspaper to a consulting club to the Penn Coffee Club. I was just hoping something would stick. So, where– you may wonder– did I end up?
I have spent the last three years serving as a Penn tour guide, despite my fear of public speaking. I am a leader for our wilderness outdoor adventure pre-orientation program and am trained in Wilderness First Aid, even though I had never been backpacking before becoming a Penn student. I spent last summer living and working on a business fellowship in Israel that I never would have known existed if not for an upperclassman who pushed me to apply.
Don’t get me wrong. My failure resume is surely longer than my real one, but it’s the culmination of every unique experience and unexpected twist in my daily life that make Penn such an exciting place to be and my future an exciting place in which to look forward.
So, when I reflect on my time at Penn and ask myself, “What has Penn taught me?” my answer would simply be, “Not everything in life can be planned out in a Google Doc.”