When I was applying to colleges, one of the things that really stood out to me about Bryn Mawr was our relationship with the University of Pennsylvania. As part of the Quaker consortium (which also includes Swarthmore and Haverford), Bryn Mawr students may take up to two classes per semester at Penn (and vice versa). Because I’m doing an independent major in film and media studies, I often look outside of Bryn Mawr’s offerings for my courses. This semester, I am taking a class on the director Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore) which meets on Wednesday nights. Because I spent the summer in Philly, living quite close to Penn’s campus, I was already quite familiar with taking SEPTA in and out of the city (though it really isn’t very difficult).
Even though it’s only once a week, my Penn class can be quite a commitment. The University of Pennsylvania has a different academic calendar from ours, and they unfortunately don’t share a fall break. Of course, I knew this going into the semester, and because I live just outside of nearby Washington, D.C., I decided it wouldn’t be too much of a pain to take a train up for the evening. It was actually kind of fun–because most of my fall break is spent vegging out, I welcomed the opportunity to keep my brain working. I was able to explore a bit more of Penn’s campus during the golden hour, which was really wonderful. There was also a heating problem in our classroom, so we were briefly shuttled around to three different rooms in different buildings, which sort of helped familiarize me with the campus.
When the professor, Dr. Valerie Ross, asked us on the first day of class why we’d signed up for it, I was pleasantly surprised to hear more than half of my classmates say they’d heard she was an amazing professor. I’d heard horror stories of Bryn Mawr students who’d been super excited about a Penn class, only to get there and discover they hated the professor or the style of the course. Registering for a Penn class requires a few more steps and approvals than a regular course, partially because they use a completely different system. After spending a large part of move-in day running around Philly trying to officially move out of my apartment, get my Penn ID/access to their websites, and figure out where the building was, I didn’t want to be disappointed and have to completely rearrange my schedule. Luckily, the course has been awesome so far–It certainly doesn’t hurt that Wes Anderson is my favorite director! I also like that the class is pretty small for Penn (only about 25 people), and my classmates are delightfully insightful, friendly people who aren’t all students of the Penn College of Liberal and Professional Studies themselves. But don’t worry: Bryn Mawr is definitely still way cooler.