Real International Students of Penn State Behrend

Although we do profiles every week, we wanted to change things up a bit. This week, we wanted to talk to an international student and ask some real questions about her transition to Behrend Life. International students are a huge part of our Behrend Community and now it is time to learn a little bit more about them and their perspective on the place we call home. 

 

So, where are you from?

Panama City, Panama.

What do you miss about home?

I love Behrend but I come from a city so life in Erie gets a little monotonous from time to time. Although there's no denying I love the change of scenery (Erie gets all 4 seasons, Panama does not) as well as the peace and quiet you get at Behrend. And I would also have to say that I miss the food... there are a lot of good restaurants back home and of all different types of cuisine. *Sigh*

What do you think you will miss when you go back?

My friends. I love the friends I've made throughout these 4 years... The people I’ve met in Erie have seen me grow and go through a lot of personal stuff and we’ve bonded over it. It’s hard sometimes because even though I wanna come back every winter/summer break, I always miss my friends a lot. I'll try to visit as much as possible because I really don't think I'll be able to spend too much time apart! I get emotional just thinking about it!

How did you hear about Behrend?

My cousin graduated from University Park, so I knew about Penn State, but UP always intimidated me a little bit; there are so many people on that campus! It seemed overwhelming. When I applied, I saw that they offered my major at Behrend too, so I decided to come here instead. They did not warn me about how rough the winters truly are though...

Did you visit before moving here?

No.

How did you feel about moving here?

I was terrified. This wasn't my first time living in another country by myself, but it was the first time that I would be living somewhere I didn't know anyone. The first few weeks were rough.

Were there things that you had to get accustomed to?

Sort of. Americans are not as warm as Latinos are, so getting used to being treated in a different way was something that took a few weeks to get used.

Have you had to deal with any racism or discrimination from other students?

I’m a Latina that definitely benefits from my lighter skin tone, so I’ve never personally had to deal with being discriminated because of ethnicity. At first, most people knew that I wasn't from the United States but they usually don’t know from where exactly. A few times people have made rude comments about my accent but I would let it go because I'm fluent in both Spanish and English and have an Intermediate knowledge of Mandarin. So what if I have an accent? However, I have to say that almost everyone I've met at Behrend is very open-minded and welcoming. Even among my international friends, I haven’t heard scenarios where someone has made them feel attacked or discriminated.

Was it hard to find people who you had things in common with?

Not really… I’ve always kept up with pop culture, international trends and news, so it wasn't that hard to blend in and find things in common with others, but from time to time I would feel a little bit misunderstood, though, and I wish it was easier for me to approach other international students.

Do you plan on living here in the future or would you like to return home?

I would like to return to Panama for a while… I know my friends what me to stay, but the current political state of the United States makes me a little uneasy... we’ll see what happens after 2020.

You’ve been here for quite some time now, do you have any advice for students who recently moved here and who might be having a hard time with the change?

Find other Internationals as early as possible and bond with them! I think that’s one of my biggest regrets, to be honest. I was super anxious about no one liking me so I spent most of my time with my roommate back then. It wasn't until Junior year that I started talking to more International Students. Also, join as many clubs as you possibly can. MCC, ISO, OLAS, ASO, Her Campus, Greek Life, Chem Club, etc. Clubs will help you find people that have similar interests and that always makes it easier.

 

We would just like to thank this student for doing this interview! It was a blast and we loved getting to know you! 💕