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Hatim A.

Saudi Arabia

Program: University Connection

Ever since I was in elementary school, it was a dream of mine to live a period of my life in America and gain my graduate degree from the strongest universities in America. After I gained my bachelor's degree in law, I started to look for a way to continue my graduate studies in law in the United States. I couldn't find a way until I got accepted as a teacher assistant at the same university I've graduated from.

As a teacher assistant, it's required to complete my graduate studies. So, that was my chance to go to the US. I began to look for which state to study the English Language in. I was hesitant between Pennsylvania and Florida. But I chose Pennsylvania. I began to ask those around me about the state, including my cousin, because he studied English in Philadelphia. He said, “Although I did not study at the ELP, I really recommend it to you. University of Pennsylvania is one of the strongest universities in the world and their English program is very good.” I then contacted the ELP and asked them about the program, and I really liked it! I decided that it was the perfect English program for me. 

I began to fill out the enrollment forms, and chose to study in Spring 2 2020. After a short time, I received my I-20 and began the process to obtain my F-1 visa. After my visa request had been accepted, I packed my things and said goodbye to my family and my friend and my coworkers. I traveled to the United States in February 13th, 202‪0. 

I landed in New York and finished the immigration process. I spent 2 days in New York. I liked it but the weather was the coldest weather I have ever experienced in my life, I couldn't handle it! But I enjoyed my time in New York. After 2 days in New York, l flew to Philadelphia to meet my host family. Mr. Steven Bowman met me at the airport and took me to his home. He showed me my room and showed me everything in the house. My host family – the Bowman family - was kind to me and very helpful and friendly. They showed me around the area, and showed me how to use the subway and the bus. The awesome thing was the coffee shop they owned at the same building I'm living at! They introduced me to the workers; they were very nice and friendly. I liked the place so much, and the coffee shop made it even better.

The next day, I went to the ELP to see how it looked. When I arrived, I was amazed. "Wooow, that looks so beautiful! It's like an old castle," was what I said when I first saw the ELP building. I walked around the building to see everything, and I introduced myself to the Main Office and asked them some questions about the program, they were very helpful. 

February 27th, 2020 was my first day at the ELP. They took us on a tour around UPenn campus and explain to us all of the facilities we can take advantage of and it was great. I really loved the place since the first day I've spent there. Then we went to eat lunch, and at the lunch, I was able to meet many other students and chat with them. It was really fun. 

After 2 days, we began our classes. I liked the way of teaching the teachers do when they put us in groups to answer the questions together and chat with each other. The teachers were very kind and helpful they made the class fun! 

In the break between classes we would go to the Student Center (it's a place where the students can chill and relax, drink coffee, play board games and chat and laugh with each other). It was a really nice place to have fun and practice the language with other students. 

2 weeks after the session started, the Coronavirus began to spread all over the world. So, we took the classes online on the second Thursday of the session to practice the remote learning, in case we needed to do it in the future because of the virus. Then the 3rd week of the session, Coronavirus spread all around the United States so fast, all of the universities changed their classes to be remote.

We have spent the Spring 2 and Summer 1 sessions in online classes, and we will continue to do that in the next session. It is really sad when I saw many students canceled their study at the ELP and went back to their countries. We spent some time together and it's sad when you see them leaving. 

Through the remote classes, the ELP staff have been doing their best to help the students through this pandemic. They keep in touch with us to make sure we are doing ok. They offer us tutoring and many activities at the Student Center. They really were doing a lot of good things for the students and I thank them for that. 

In the end, I really hope this pandemic ends soon, so we can return to our normal lives. I did not experience a lot of things on campus and that makes me sad. But I hope we return to normal so I can take advantage of my experience at the ELP. 


"The teachers were very kind and helpful they made the class fun!"