Long flights, tons of paperwork, and nervousness for something new, international students get the opportunity to receive a college education in the United States.
According to Wilson’s website, 5% of current undergraduate students are international students. U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges has also recognized Wilson College as a top Bachelor’s Program for international students.
According to Crystal Lantz, Director of International Student and Scholar Services, there are 30 international students attending Wilson this semester.
“I would say the most beneficial thing is that it makes our campus much more interesting and diverse,” Lantz explained. “We can learn so much about the world without even leaving campus! There are so many people from all over the world willing to share about where they are from and eager to learn about American culture as well.”
Every international student has a story, and it is very interesting to look and see the diversity from country to country.
Elen Harutyunyan is an international student from Armenia. A sophomore at Wilson, Harutyunyan is double majoring in Business and History while minoring in Spanish.
Harutyunyan has prior experience with being away from home since she was a high school exchange student in Arizona. She explains that many adjustments have to be made when living in the U.S. as well as being exposed to the culture shock.
“The culture is totally different, and it took me awhile to get adjusted,” Harutyunyan expressed. “The hardest thing would probably be understanding a person’s smile, meaning in the U.S. people often smile and are nice to you, but you never know what is behind the smile. Whereas, back at home we are very straightforward, showing our opinion about certain things through emotions. So, I am never faking a smile, and that is, to me, the hardest thing to get adapted to.”
Harutyunyan’s main reason for coming to Wilson was the Bogigian Scholarship, which allows her to save up money to attend law school.
“I like the fact that I am learning a lot of things and academically achieving my goals. I like being able to look at things from a different perspective and live in a diverse community. However, traveling during the breaks, and exploring America is my favorite thing about studying abroad,” Harutyunyan said.
One of Wilson’s newest international students is Alycia Brennan who began attending Wilson this semester. A freshman from Perth, Australia, Brennan is majoring in Exercise Sports Science.
When choosing a college, Brennan chose Wilson because of better communication and scholarships, and getting to play field hockey under head coach Shelly Novak. Although Brennan is away from her family and friends, she comments that the best part of Wilson is how friendly and welcoming the students and staff are which made her transition a lot easier. But nonetheless, she highly enjoys being an international student.
“I think just being able to meet so many people from different parts of the world,” said Brennan, when reflecting on her joys. “I never thought when I came here I would meet people from the U.K. or Armenia. I think we have a lot of resources available to us, being involved in Muhibbah and the different trips that are offered in the International Student Programs.”
Brennan notes that obtaining a degree in the U.S. is quite different than acquiring one in Australia.
“In Australia, getting a degree is set in stone, you can’t change it. If you change it, you have to start completely over in a new major and no credits transfer. Switching majors in the U.S. is a lot easier and a lot more flexible,” she said.
Coming to the U.S. thousands of miles away from Ghana, sophomore Sardrick Owusu chose Wilson because it had all the features he was looking for. He wanted a small college in Pennsylvania to be close to his uncle, to major in bchemistry, and for the opportunity to play college soccer.
Besides being a student in the U.S., Owusu comments that having an education in the U.S. allows him to improve in the English Language as well as receiving exposure to different cultures and traditions.
“I get exposed to many different cultures and traditions,” said Owusu. “Also, the U.S. is known to have one of the best educational facilities, therefore I get one of the best educations in the world.”
Owusu had to adjust to the food in the U.S. first and then had to change his accent so people would be able to understand what he was saying. However, his favorite thing about Wilson is the people. Owusu, much like Brennan, commented that the faculty, students, and staff are very nice. He also feels someone always has your back at Wilson.
Besides being a biochemistry major and playing soccer, Owusu is also a Resident Assistant (RA) on campus and is a part of the Muhibbah Club.
Whether in the classroom, on the sports field, or in the dining hall, international students can be found just about anywhere at Wilson. Their presence is impactful. Each of them has a story to share, and the diversity they foster on campus is evident.
biochemistry, and for the opportunity to play college soccer.