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Yeah, that tripped me up too!

You can do it by calling the parent ring, which in this case is the Symbolic Ring, abbreviated SR:

sage: a = 3
sage: type(a)
<type 'sage.rings.integer.Integer'>
sage: parent(a)
Integer Ring
sage: b = SR(a)
sage: type(b)
<type 'sage.symbolic.expression.Expression'>
sage: parent(b)
Symbolic Ring