Foreign Perspective: Welcome to America

IMG_2650Cheerleaders? Check. Frat guys? Check. Sororities? Check. Pep rallies? Check. There’s only one place you’ll find all these things: America.

As an Australian exchange student, my ideas of American culture and schooling life come from movies and TV shows (“Mean Girls”, “Legally Blonde” and “Sydney White” are the first few that spring to mind). Here are just a few of the weird (and I mean weird for foreigners, not for Americans) things I’ve experienced in my short time here at Penn State.

“G’day, mate!”

As I said above, I’m an Aussie. Everyone loves Australians, right? Apparently they do, but no one can pick up on my accent. For the record, most Australians don’t sound like Steve Irwin. Only one person has been able to guess that I’m Australian. Other guesses, in order of prevalence, have been: English, South African and Kiwi (a New Zealander).

Everything is bigger in America

Did you know that Beaver Stadium holds more people than the largest stadium in Australia? Or that medium-sized drinks in America are the equivalent to a large in Australia? This campus is at least four times the size of my university’s campus. At least the walking will offset the sugary food here!


Squirrels are to me what koalas and kangaroos are to you. I’m pretty sure at least half the photos I’ve taken since being here are of squirrels…we don’t have them in Australia. My roommate told me about Penn State’s squirrel whisperer and now I really want to see a squirrel wearing a hat!

“Delta who? Delta Nu!”

Sororities… what are they? So far I’ve been told that a sorority is a group of girls who live together, support charities and partake in social events. I’m sure I’ll learn more about this throughout the semester. Frats confuse me too. It’s a bunch of guys living in a house, right? The concept of sororities and fraternities, while normal for American students, are harder for international students to grasp.


The idea of living in the same room as someone else freaked me out before I met my roommate. When you live on campus in Australia, you would almost always have your own bedroom. I live at a residential college back home, and last semester my room was as big as my room here, and I had a double bed and a fridge. I never thought I’d have a roommate, but I’m so glad that I’m getting to experience it. My roommate is really awesome, so it’s way better than I expected it to be.

I’ve met so many amazing people in the few weeks I’ve been here, and can’t wait to meet more people, go to a football game, get involved with campus life and really make the most of my time in America.

Photo courtesy of Amy Chilcott


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