Apparently, students studying abroad lead a more relaxed life overseas than they do at home.

Those who have recently returned to Penn from studying abroad are gear up for demanding workloads and fast-paced lifestyles, and exchange students arriving on campus for the first time often look forward to less intense classwork and a more relaxed semester at Penn.

On Wednesday, the Office of International Programs held a reception in the International House to simultaneously welcome recent exchange students and permanent Penn students who have just finished a semester abroad.

Returning Penn students described their experiences overseas as more low-key than life on campus, making the return to their previous lifestyles a little difficult.

"I definitely had to readjust. The life and mentality was much more easy-going" in Scotland, said Greg Bryda, a Wharton junior who studied at St. Andrews University last semester.

Bryda said he spent his time at St. Andrews playing golf, walking along the coastline of the North Sea and attending four hours of class a week.

However, exchange students studying at Penn said that the laid-back attitudes of students studying abroad are not necessarily a product of the areas of the world that they visit.

Many exchange students assert that paces of life can indeed be faster abroad.

"They say even the elevators go faster in Hong Kong," said Liang Hong, a Penn student on exchange from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

While Penn may be more rigorous than some schools abroad, it can also be more relaxing to those with less stressful schedules -- especially in academics.

"All I have to do is pass classes, so I'm more calm here. If I were worried about grades, I'd be working a lot more than in Hong Kong," said Omesh Fabiani, an exchange student from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Patricia Martin, senior overseas program manager of OIP, describes the abroad term as more laid-back because of fewer demands on students.

"You're independent from your family. You're free from work-study jobs. There's time to travel," Martin said.

"Coming back is like getting back on a treadmill."

To aid students in readjusting to Penn, OIP offers a "reentry seminar" for returning students, which is scheduled to meet later this month in the International House. OIP also refers students to Counseling and Psychological Services for additional help.

Students are presently turning in applications to study-abroad programs for fall 2005.

"It's a whole new perspective ... a whole new life," College senior Erica Chapman said about her experience studying at the University of Melbourne in Australia.

Reentry Seminar: Jan. 26

For students still adjusting to life at Penn after studying abroad.

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