background image

A Day in the Life of a Penn Student

JUN 01, 2020 • 11 min read

Have you ever wanted to know what a full day in the life of a top-US college student was like?

Meet Anika, a Crimson alumni and freshman at the University of Pennsylvania. We have been extremely lucky to receive insight from Anika’s perspective about what a day in her life at Penn looks like. She tells us what time she wakes up to go to class, where she likes to study on campus, what she likes to do in her free time, and much more. Check it out below!

A Day in the Life of Anika


*BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP* The offending sound wakes me - this is the start of my day. I turn to my side, switch off my alarm and get up. I’m thankful that it’s Tuesday, which means I have a light day of only two classes.

One of the things I am sure that most students do before leaving for the day is check the weather. Despite the forecasted sunny day, I pack my umbrella, given this is Philadelphia and the weather here is unpredictable.


Showered and ready, I leave the Quad, which is where most of the Freshmen stay in their first year. Despite the less than sanitary bathrooms and the many, many scurrying insects, it honestly feels like a hub of excitement, nerves and bursting freshmen energy. I still have time before my first class, so I stop off quickly at SoBol and get my favorite açai bowl to take with me.

Strolling down Locust Walk, the main pathway that cuts through the center of campus, I am always awed at how beautiful my University is. Already teeming with students hurrying to class, the heart of Penn beats through Locust Walk. A Capella group sings from either side of the walk and further down a crowd of students are selling baked goods for charity. Fall is approaching, which means the trees that border the path are a picture of colors.

I internally laugh at the freshmen who walk around the Compass on Locust and 37th Street. There’s a myth that Freshmen who walk over this compass will fail their first set of midterms; let’s just say from experience that this is most definitely not true! I bump into a few friends because it is almost impossible to walk down Locust without recognizing someone; a quality that naturally has drawbacks as well as advantages.


My first class, ASTR001 Survey of the Universe, is by far my favorite, but I suppose that you wouldn’t expect anything less from a Physics major. Initially I was unbelievably excited to see that this course was taught by Professor Mark Devlin, who among many other achievements leads the NASA ‘Balloon-borne Large Aperture Telescope’ (BLAST) program. Today we learnt about Exoplanets, a topic that I found particularly interesting!

Before we leave after the 1.5-hour class, we are told about our midterm next week. Right... those looming midterms; the two weeks where Professors from all classes assign papers and exams. Our Professor reminds us as if there was any way that we could have possibly forgotten; it’s all that anyone has been talking about for the last few days!


After this, I have a 10-minute break to rush to Williams Hall where my next class is, SPAN223 Intro to Literary Analysis.

I have always admired the U.S. for their interdisciplinary approach to education, and throughout my application journey it became a key reason as to why I wanted to study here. I love that regardless of the fact that I am not a Spanish major, my 10 years of studying the language are not thrown away. At Penn I can continue to enhance my language skills and possibly even participate in the Semester Study Abroad in Spain.

As always, the class is completely conducted in Spanish, and today we discussed the Marxist critique and the idea of the false consciousness in relation to the Chilean play ‘El Delantel Blanco’ by Sergio Vodanović. This class lasts for an hour.


Afterwards, I head over to Stommons to study. This is the nickname given to the cozy Starbucks tucked away under the 1920 Commons dining hall. When it’s raining and chilly outside, as it is now, this is by far my favorite place to study. The fireplace warms the Starbucks, as I sit in one of the inviting armchairs with my coffee. I spend the next few hours completing homework and being as productive as possible, so that I can focus on midterms later in the week.


My friends meet me, and we study together for the rest of the afternoon whilst also planning to do something nice over the weekend; we decide on brunch somewhere in the City.


We walk over together to the Falk at Penn Hillel for an early dinner. This is an undisputed favorite as far as dining halls go with the unanimous agreement that they have the best chicken wraps.


After dinner, we walk to Chapter. My friends and I recently joined the Sorority Alpha Phi (Eta Iota) at Penn, and one of our many sisterhood events is chapter once a week. Our President discusses the upcoming charity events that we will co-host with a Fraternity. This is always a fun and exciting way to help the Penn community and the wider Philadelphia community. Finally, after this, a long day is done.


But they don’t say that Penn is a work hard play hard college for nothing. I rush back to my room, get ready and by 10.30pm I’m back out of the door to a Frat house party.

I used to think that it was strange to party on a Tuesday, and with class on at 9am the next day, but many Penn students know that Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday are social nights. It is such a nice break and feels so rewarding after a day of studying. I am especially excited to go out because I know this will probably be the last time I go out until the upcoming midterms are over. Like I said, it's work hard, play hard here, which means that during midterm and final season when it’s time to knuckle down and study, the party scene is non-existent.


I finally get back to my dorm at around 1am and get to sleep fast.

Every day at Penn is so unique and completely diverse that it is near impossible to surmise an average day in the life of a Penn student. Each day offers its own exceptional obstacles, events and challenges, and that is one of the many things that makes Penn so special. This is just a snapshot of a day out of so many. I think I speak for the majority when I say that I miss Penn terribly and really hope to go back in the Fall.

Was this short window into the like of Anika what you expected? Has it inspired you to want to study at Penn or any other top university? Check out our US admissions calculator to check out which one best suits you, or check out our new university profiles page to find out more about some of the top US and UK universities.

For more insights into what it’s like at top US and UK universities, feel free to check out or subscribe to our Youtube channel for Day in the Life videos and much more, as well as our other blog homepage for more great content.

Want to improve your chances of being accepted to Penn or another top University?

Crimson Education is the world’s leading university admissions support company specialising in helping students gain entry to top Universities.