Foreign Perspective: School Spirit

If you’ve ever studied abroad, then you know what it’s like to be submerged in an entirely foreign culture. But have you ever wondered what it’s like on the flip side of the experience – what it’s like for someone going abroad to America? Join columnists Amy Chilcott, of Australia, and Kasumi Hirokawa, of China, as they encounter all things American and Penn State – and tell it as they see it the way only one with a foreign perspective can.

photo-2Three years ago, when President Spanier was still around, he gave his welcome speech to the incoming international students at an orientation event. At the end, he suddenly paused and raised his voice then yelled, “WE ARE!!!!!” There was a silence. Then an exchange of confused looks and murmurs. What the heck was he saying? What are WE? It totally startled my mom – she speaks zero English, came to sit with me at a welcome event, and gets yelled at by a stranger in suit and tie from the podium.

I, on the other hand, am completely smitten by Penn Staters and their truly-deeply-and-madly kind of love for our school. There are a million ways a Nittany Lion shows his or her loyalty to the good ol’ State, but here are some that really wowed me:

Penn State gear

Nothing screams who “We Are” like tees and sweatshirts emblazoned with Penn State logos and slogans. Sure, school shirts are not unique among American universities, but the amount of enthusiasm and brand-name following many schools have is unparalleled. One of my friends from Paris once told me her university in France doesn’t have any official logo shirts of its own. And having a mascot that does single-arm push-ups? Only in Happy Valley!

Class rings

Some of my friends have started purchasing this thing called a class ring since last fall (now that makes me feel old!). I remember the same people wearing class rings from their high schools when they were freshmen. This must be an American thing, because I still can’t really wrap my head around this ritual. It would take forever to convince my family that buying myself a sterling silver ring at the end of my college career, among a bazillion other expensive things, makes any sense.

Campus celebrities

I walked past the new Boombox Guy the other day. This statement can either make you grin in approval if you’re a Nittany Lion, or make you scratch your head if you’re not. There are so many unofficial mascots on and off campus that it’s hard not to bond over inside jokes even when you’re not physically in State College. I assume those of you who go back to your home countries on a break, have studied or are currently studying abroad can relate to this because non-PSU kids just don’t get it.

“We Are” Chant

This is my favorite. The “We Are” chant makes me feel welcomed and part of this incredible community, not an outsider. When I was told the origin story of the chant from another student, I fell in love with PSU all over again. No matter if you are a townie or from across the Pacific, once we spend time here, we are all Penn State. Love knows no boundaries – and neither does Penn State pride.


1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.