First-generation Abington student fulfills study abroad goal with scholarships

Abington Mariam Narimanidze

Penn State Abington student Mariam Narimanidze's study abroad experience impacted all areas of her life and led her to refine her personal and professional goals. 

Credit: Penn State

ABINGTON, Pa. — Penn State Abington senior Mariam Narimanidze spent the spring semester studying in Paris, a goal that was fulfilled thanks to almost $20,000 in scholarships she received through support from the Office of Global Programs at Abington and Penn State Global. 

As is common with many first-generation college students at Abington, Narimanidze juggles the responsibilities of assisting her family and working while keeping up with the demands of coursework in the finance major. 

“A lot of my life in the United States is extremely busy. My parents are immigrants and don’t speak English, so I am helping my parents and siblings quite often. It’s primarily school and my job,” the Northeast Philadelphia resident said. 

“I’ve worked in retail and catering, and last year I was a full-time legal assistant at a law firm and attended classes on my breaks,” she said. 

Study abroad appealed to Narimanidze for many reasons including academic, personal, and professional development. 

“I wanted to explore a different part of me without all of the other things going on in my life. I felt completely free while I was in Europe, and I was completely in control of my own life. Study abroad changed my views on everything. It came with its challenges, but I loved it,” she said. 

Study abroad changed my views on everything. It came with its challenges, but I loved it.

—Mariam Narimanidze , Senior

Her coursework in Paris included French, intercultural management, and international perspectives on business. Academically, the teaching style was very different than in the United States.  

“You have to get more involved in the classes, there’s a lot more discussion. But the teachers were also very accommodating and let you combine traveling and studying,” Narimanidze said. 

As a result of her study abroad, she has refined her career focus. 

“I became even more interested in business, and now I’m looking into international business. I want to take what I learned from studying in Paris, and I’m going to look at jobs with companies that are based in France. I want to move to Europe and work there after graduation,” she said. 

Narimanidze faced uncertainties about financing the semester in Paris but discovered that once she applied to the program, she was automatically considered for a variety of scholarships. Staff in Global Programs at Abington and University Park provided support. 

During the semester, she traveled throughout France to Normandy, Giverny, Nice, and Cannes. And before returning to Philadelphia, she was joined by her sister and a friend on extended visits to several countries including Monaco, Italy, and Greece. She wrapped up her explorations by spending the summer in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, where she felt helpless seeing refugees from the war in Ukraine. 

About Penn State Abington 

Penn State Abington provides an affordable, accessible and high-impact education resulting in the success of a diverse student body. It is committed to student success through innovative approaches to 21st-century public higher education within a world-class research university. With more than 3,000 students, Penn State Abington is a residential campus that offers baccalaureate degrees in 24 majors, undergraduate research, the Schreyer Honors College, NCAA Division III athletics and more.