After closing six days before Penn this past winter break, Penn Global, which includes International Students and Scholar Services and Penn Abroad, is located this semester in a temporary new location farther from Penn's campus.
ISSS will be located in a temporary office on the third floor of 3440 Market St., while its original location at 3701 Chestnut St. undergoes anticipated months long renovations.
“We anticipate completing renovations before the busiest season, beginning late spring,” Executive Director for Penn Global Amy Gadsden wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian. She added that the renovation was planned for “a time that has been historically the quietest for ISSS.”
According to ISSS Director Rodolfo Altamirano, these renovations are being made in order to create a better experience for international students studying at Penn. He said the renovations would create a more "open" and appealing space where students can access the services that ISSS and Penn Abroad offer.
"They bring a wealth of diversity and perspectives that shape the Penn experience, and we want to create an office environment where they will feel welcome and connected," Altamirano wrote in an email to the DP. He explained that the goal behind the renovations is to create a more welcoming environment for international students.
"It is our aim that the renovated space will enhance and sustain a smooth delivery of services not just for the international students and scholars coming to Penn, but for the students who have the desire to study abroad," Altamirano wrote.
Gadsden said the renovations aim to create "a totally refreshed space."
According to Penn Abroad Director Nigel Cossar, the temporary move has not impacted Penn Abroad's services in any way, and instead has offered an opportunity for growth.
"The move to our temporary location has provided an opportunity to think through creative ways in which to provide education abroad advising to students," Cossar wrote in an email to the DP. "We have more times available for students to meet, including group advising and pop up advising on campus, something that we plan to continue when we move back in to the renovated space."
Engineering and College freshman William Deo said the move was handled well but the timing wasn’t ideal for students who needed to use the office's resources in order to return home for winter break.
“For some people it was still really difficult around finals and the end of classes,” Deo said. He added that students had to plan weeks in advance in addition to studying for finals.
ISSS staff is always reachable for emergencies, even on days when the University is closed. Unlike Counseling and Psychological Services or Student Health Services, ISSS does not have someone on call at all times, but does refer students to the Division of Public Safety which, according to their website, will connect them with an appropriate staff member.
For students like Deo, who traveled home to Canada for Thanksgiving in November, paperwork for leaving the United States in December had already been completed and the earlier ISSS deadline did not impact travel preparations.
Other students had to plan around the Dec. 15 closure of the office. Engineering freshman Maher Abdel Samad, an international student from Lebanon, said weeks-earlier emails alerted him to the fact that he wouldn’t be able to process the paperwork needed to travel home last minute.
“I think they handled it very well,” Samad said. He explained that the “clarity” with which ISSS operated helped him to navigate the timing of the renovations.
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.