My name is Renata and I am a social media intern for the Undergraduate Admissions Office! I come from Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil. Most domestic students are curious about why I would leave my country, family, and friends to come to the United States of America for college. Ever since I arrived at Penn State, I’ve been asked the same question: why did you choose Penn State?
I wasn’t completely sure what I wanted to do. I knew I liked politics, communications, and that I enjoyed learning languages. I wanted a school that had this flexibility to try different things, while still having the guiding hand to help me choose my major. Penn State offers more than 275 different majors, is consistently ranked in the top 50 universities worldwide, and has one of the largest living alumni networks. Taking all these factors into account, I knew I would receive an education that is second to none.
For my first two semesters, I decided that along some of my general education courses, I was going to try a class in each of my academic areas of interest. I took Italian, Introduction to Nonfiction Writing, News Principals in Journalism, and Introduction to International Relations. Now, almost halfway through my second semester, and with the help of my academic adviser, I created a four-year plan that will allow me to double major in Broadcast Journalism B.A. and International Politics B.A., joining both of my interests. With the help of career advisers, I am looking for internships in the area of political journalism as this is what I’ve decided I want to do.
Outside of academics, I also looked for a school with a strong school spirit. I wanted a place that would help me feel like I was home. At Penn State, I could definitely feel this at sporting events or just by walking in downtown Orlando during Thanksgiving break while wearing a Penn State hoodie. You have no idea how many “we are” chants I received that week.
On the undergraduate admissions website, it says that less than 10% of the students are international. Hearing numbers like this sounds like there are very few international students and it would be unlikely that I would meet a lot of other international students. However, coming here, I was pleasantly surprised.
In just my first semester, I’ve met people from India, China, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Germany, Italy, United Arab Emirates… the list only grows! This gave me a great opportunity to learn about new cultures and even practice new languages that I’ve continued learning here. After being exposed to such a variety of cultures, I decided to join the international student council, and now I run part of their social media (visit @iopsisc on Instagram if you want to see other international student stories). This has allowed me to join my passion for communications with my passion for international affairs both in and out of the classroom.
Penn State has become my home away from home. I know I made friendships that will last for life and I’m grateful to have made strong connections that helped make this big school seem small.
A final piece of advice I would give for incoming students would be don’t be afraid to try new things. Take that class just because it sounds interesting, join a club just because it seems fun, talk to the person that seems nice, try the food you’ve never heard of, or go to the event just because it peaked your interest. You’ll be surprised by the things you learn and the people you meet.
And don’t forget:
We’ll always have your back.
We are Penn State.