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For students living on campus, finding someone to accompany them to that theater show or play at that jam session means looking no further than right next door.

With offerings ranging from Women in Computer Science to the Modern Languages Program, Penn’s 11 college houses have more than 40 residential programs.

Next year, one new residential program will join Penn’s current offerings. The new residential program, called “La Casa Italiana”, will be an Italian language floor in Harrison College House.

“I think residential programs really suit people who like to hang out with [others] with similar interests,” College sophomore Stephanie Garace, who is a member of the Arts House residential program, said. “I am really interested in theater so I thought this was a great program.”

Garace’s roommates and floormates are all part of various performing arts groups on campus, such as the Underground Shakespeare Company and the Quadramics theater group.

In addition to providing students with similar-minded neighbors, some residential programs subsidize events for their residents and organize field trips centered on the theme of the program.

“In choosing to live together in a setting where they share common goals and experiences, residents are more motivated to invest in their community,” Director of College House Academic Programs Leslie Delauter said in an email.

Although programs are generally a yearlong commitment, the bond between residents extends well beyond one year.

As their freshman year approached its end in spring 2012, residents within the Integrated Studies Program in Riepe College House decided they wanted to continue being neighbors for another year. They decided to create the Integrated Living Program in Harrison College House.

College sophomore Katherine Mateo, who was in ISP, has continued her involvement with the community by applying to the Integrated Living program. She said the fact that the residential program has extended beyond one year has allowed her to feel like she has a home at Penn.
“I’ve lived with the same people since freshman year,” Mateo said. “I feel like we have really gotten very close.”

Others, however, seek out residential programs for purposes other than finding a community.

College sophomore Sumin Han, had more practical considerations in mind when she applied for her residential program, the International Living Program in Harnwell College House.

“The traditional room application process is more like a lottery,” said Han, who wanted to live in a high rise building her sophomore year. “I didn’t want to gamble and then luck out of the system.”
According to Delauter, the real strength of these programs lies in the community of learning it fosters.

“While every College House as a whole can be called a ‘learning community’ in the broadest sense, these smaller groups within the House … are more conducive to promoting an informal but educative experience,” she said.

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