students graduating

Diversity of Student Body in American Universities


I am not going to lie. Initially coming into Penn had me scared. I wondered as to how I was going to make friends in a country I had only briefly visited when I was 13. Everyone here looked different, acted foreign and frankly had a world-view I found hard to relate to. I spent my time prior to departing for college, deep in thought about how I was going to live for the next four years away from my home country, India. However reaching America presented me with a completely unexpected situation.

I still recall my first day. All students were expected to attend the New Student Orientation. However, Penn, like many other schools across the country, had created an International Student Orientation as well. There were people from everywhere. Talking to them, hearing stories about their lives, telling them my own stories- instantaneously made me feel at home. It was fascinating to see how many of them felt the exact same way prior to coming to college as well. They voiced their sentiments in regard to how each of them (much like me) felt that not only had they come to college but they had also left behind their homes. It was such a genuine bonding experience through which most of us became (and continue to be) the closest friends.

student meeting

In addition to the cultural community, most universities in America also tend to have specific cultural groups for students from diverse backgrounds. The Indian group in particular, helped narrow down the big university for me. That is, it made me feel comfortable with a sea of familiar faces many of which shared and believed in the same traditions and values. Together we celebrated all the Indian festivals, watched cricket matches and bollywood movies, we even had cook out where we sat and made Indian food! I couldn’t believe that I was actually away from home because it all felt so homely to me! Everyone went out of his or her way to make me feel appreciated and loved.

Looking back at my last three years, I can’t help but feel thankful to have got the best of both worlds- a global and diverse experience whilst having the comfort of a little piece of home just by my side. College in the US is one of the most satisfying experiences one can go through. Despite the several reasons for this, the key one remains that it allows you to grow as an individual. It makes you see sides of you that you didn’t even know existed. I have had the chance to meet people from all over the world. This has helped me build a global family of sorts. All in all, it has helped me become a stronger, smarter and more self aware human equipping you far better for the journey of life itself.

Article submitted by Namrata, an Indian student at University of Pennsylvania