Saturday, May 9, 2009

Lost in Translation ?

Posted originally in the Common Threads Blog,
Centre Daily Times on Feb 6, 2007

Two recent articles in the CDT – about moves from NY city to State College, and from State College to Omaha, Nebraska – had me thinking about our commonality of experience – of leaving familiar territory, and having to make a strange place familiar. Most students at Penn State can definitely relate to this.

Now imagine making this kind of transition with one more caveat – moving not from another state in the US, but from another country.

3237 students out of the 41795 students at Penn State (or 7.7%) made this journey, from a mind boggling 129 countries, in 2004-05, the latest year for which I could find detailed statistics.

The 661 students from China, 607 from Korea, 588 from India, 226 from Taiwan, 143 from Turkey, 94 Canada, 82 from Japan, 65 from UK, 62 from Malaysia, 61 from Thailand and the remaining 26% from 119 other countries make many transitions in the journey of trying to be at home in State College.

These transitions include finding the doctor, dentist, and hair stylist, making friends, adjusting to new ways of living, weather patterns, food and so much more - but perhaps the most difficult transition they make is that of becoming a “foreign” or “international” student from the “regular” and perhaps “smart” student that they were used to being.

And the fact that sometimes the adjective “foreign” supersedes all other adjectives that could describe the individual that they are, in the interactions with some people in their new home.

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