Yahya A.

Saudi Arabia

Program: University Connection Plus

My name is Yahya, a pharmacist, 26 years old and I'm from Saudi Arabia. I've been here since January 1st. I chose the ELP based on recommendations from my friends who were studying here. They told me that the English program at Penn is worth applying to, so I did. Everything happened quickly and unexpectedly. I found myself leaving my family, friends and home. It took me fifteen hours to get to the USA. When I got off from the plane, I couldn't believe that. It was an emotional moment. "Am I in the USA? Is it real?" I was wondering.

400 Level Classes
The 12th of January was the first day in the session and I was placed at 400 level. I was so disappointed about that because I thought that I used the language better than to be in that level. However, I left that behind me as I was here to learn. So, I commenced my first day at ELP. Sincerely, it was one of the best class experiences I've ever had. Because I came from a different culture and people, it was difficult to adapt to this environment but my colleagues made it easy. I really experienced my best moments at that session. I'm beholden to Lauren McConatha who taught and helped me in developing my skills. Also, I won't forget Elizabeth Gillstrom who was my listening and speaking teacher and she took us to the Reading Terminal Market as a part of our class activity. In general, this session was the foundation stone of my knowledge. Even though the students at ELP are from different countries, their cooperation, teamwork and sharing were impressive. Therefore, I didn't need much time to become part of the ELP family.

My visit to the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Winter and Exploring Philadelphia
The session was about to finish and the weather got colder and colder. Actually, I didn't like the snow because all I know about it, is freezing. But here in Philly everything was different. I was enjoying my commute walking on foot. It was amazing to see the street covered with the snow. After I finished my first session, I caught my breaths and had a chance to explore the city. Consequently, I visited interesting places in the city such as Philadelphia Museum of Art and Walnut Street Theatre.

500 Level Classes
I passed to the next level, so I was in 500 level at that time. It was totally different from the previous session in many aspects like difficulty, classmates, teachers and even me. I got more confidence and self-esteem and that helped me in communication with classmates and other students. Also, I improved my writing, reading and speaking skills. Meanwhile, I figured out new things that the ELP does. For instance, the ELP has various activities and trips inside and outside the city.

Exploring the City in Spring
Spring has begun to appear and the city started to get rid of snow. It was the time to see the parks and enjoy the amazing weather but that didn't take a long time until the next session got started.

Exploring Philadelphia

600 Level Classes
I was told before that after 500 level, I'll have a chance to elect two courses besides the core courses. It was easy to put your choices but depending on the vacancies, the ELP administration decides which classes you get. I got my first choices. In fact, I still believe that I was lucky because I had another great teacher like Christy Shea in my class. I learned a lot from my experiences. I remember when she participated in Translation Slam and talked about "Potty Mouth". She was really astonishing. What's more, this level reminded me of a university class, everything was more advanced than previous levels. Although this session was the toughest, I had a beautiful time within it. I remember when I took the course of Dramatically Speaking which encouraged me to take a role in a dramatic scene. I had to practice my scripts with my classmate with whom I was to do the scene. It was a new and outstanding experience and I still have good memories with all the Japanese students from Toyota Company who I was studying with at this level. I feel the ELP made strong ties between all students because all of what we do is based on teamwork. Each session means new friends; therefore new challenges.

Continuing Forward
Thereafter, I moved to new classes which is where I am now.  I'm pretty sure that this session is the most challenging one.  However, I'm still learning from things around me!

"I got more confidence and self-esteem and that helped me in communication with classmates and other students."