What International Students Really Think About Life at Penn State

Photo by Susannah Foos

Penn State is a multicultural university that takes pride in their international students. Valley recently had the chance to chat with some of them to discuss their transition between cultures.

Photo by Susannah Foos

Photo by Susannah Foos

Miguel Surun is a sophomore Criminology and Sociology double major from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.

Valley: What was your response to your first PSU football game? How does it compare to your national sport?

Miguel: The first football game that I witnessed was last year’s Temple game. I was pretty shocked at the extent of the rivalry between the two schools and how it influenced the interactions between students.

Valley: How does American food compare to home?

Miguel: I would say that American food is healthier compared to the food we have back home. We practically add a base of oil to everything we cook whether it’s rice or grilled chicken.

Photo by Susannah Foos

Photo by Susannah Foos

Elif Dogruer is a sophomore Electrical Engineering major at Penn State from Istanbul, Turkey.

Valley: Were you prepared for the Pennsylvania winter? How does the Pennsylvania weather compare to your country?

Elif: The weather here was (and still is) one of the biggest struggles for me to face because it’s warmer in the city where I come from. Last year here in State College the winter was quite cold. I recall the day I had to wear two socks, two leggings and a sweater with my thickest winter coat and I was still cold.

Valley: How does American food compare to home?

Elif: The cuisine is very different, as well. Although it shows significant differences regionally, some facts don’t change such as the consumption of tea. ‘Fast food’ isn’t preferred in daily life that much because we have our own type of fast food like ‘döner’ for burrito or ‘lahmacun’ for pizza. In Turkish cuisine, the food preparation takes time, but at the end, it’s enjoyable with family or friends.

Photo by Susannah Foos

Photo by Susannah Foos

Roberto Gallo is a sophomore Civil Engineering major from San Jose, Costa Rica.

Valley: What was your response to your first PSU football game? How does it compare to your national sport?

Roberto: As a sport lover, I’ve always wanted to watch a football game and be part of the crowd; PSU football did not disappoint. Penn State has the biggest sports spirit that I have ever seen. It was impacting because every time I played sports back home there was not too much hype. The national sport in Costa Rica is soccer, although we are a small country the entire population gathers to cheer for their team with immense spirit; which is one thing I miss doing with friends and family.

Valley: Were you prepared for the Pennsylvania winter? How does the Pennsylvania weather compare to your country?

Roberto: Costa Rica’s weather is completely different than Pennsylvania. We only have two seasons; rainy or not rainy. The weather is always warm with small variations of wind or rain. Having the opportunity to live in a place where winter is extreme; I was prepared to enjoy it fully. I liked being able to enjoy the winters, as well as practicing winter sports like skiing or snowboarding.

Valley: How does American food compare to home?

Roberto: The food here is completely different, which even impacted my body! Most of the food is processed or modified, making it less healthy and in bigger portions. I was used to eating extremely healthy with homemade meals where everything was completely natural.

Photo by Susannah Foos

Photo by Susannah Foos

Anastasia Urozhaeva is a sophomore Theater major from Moscow, Russia.

Valley: What was your response to your first PSU football game? How does it compare to your national sport?

Anastasia: Russia has a few national sports like hockey, gymnastics, and figure skating. Since my father’s side of the family is mostly figure skaters, that is the sport I am most knowledgeable about. Figure skating is very different from many other sports because it is a combination of athleticism and the art; there are both technical and visual aspects to it. American football differs from figure skating in many ways, but what stands out to me the most is the level of support people show for their team.

Valley: Were you prepared for the Pennsylvania winter? How does the Pennsylvania weather compare to your country?

Anastasia: I felt prepared for Pennsylvania winter because I come from Russia. However, Moscow City is not nearly as windy as State College.

Valley: How does American food compare to home?

Anastasia: American food is very different from the food back home. For example, Russian lunches usually have soup as the first course, and a 2nd course that consists of meat and a side. We rarely eat burgers, and when we do it’s only when we go to McDonald’s.