Far from Home: Moustafa Elhadary longs to return home to Dubai this winter break


Editor’s note: Far from Home is an occasional series in which we document a year in the life of international students at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College.

By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

Six cities. Five connecting flights. Thirty-five hours of travel. That’s what’s ahead for Moustafa Elhadary on Sunday.

He couldn’t be more excited.

The first-year mechanical engineering major will leave on Dec. 21 to return to Dubai after completing his first semester at Penn State Behrend. It’s his first time traveling alone, and he knows he may be in for some long, uncomfortable and boring plane rides.

But his thoughts are on being reunited with his family and friends, and that’s all that matters right now.

“Recently, I’ve been really homesick. I want to see my friends, speak my native language and eat my mom’s food,” Elhadary says. “I thought I’d be stronger than this, but I just want to go back and do the things that I would normally do.”

That’s not to suggest that he has not enjoyed his first semester at Penn State Behrend. It’s actually the contrary as Elhadary has quickly developed into a campus leader at the college. He serves as a SGA senator, chairperson for the International Student Organization, promotional coordinator for the Muslim Student Association, and he is active in club soccer.

“I can’t wait to tell my friends about my experience,” Elhadary says. “When I came here, I didn’t know what to expect. I only saw America in movies and television, but it’s been amazing. Maybe I can even encourage my friends to come here next year.”

Elhadary is excited to return home for other reasons as well. For starters, he’s never had a greater appreciation for the homemade food his mother, Maha, makes than he does now.

“I miss my mom’s food so much. The taste, ingredients, spice — all of it is so good,” he says.

His father, Mahmoud, recently purchased a new Ford Expedition, and Elhadary longs to take the new wheels for a spin.

He also knows he’s not the only one who has been busy these last four months. He’s excited to catch up with his 16-year-old sister, Safinaz, and hear about the new things in her life.

“I’m very close with her, and I’m sure she has a ton of things to tell me,” Elhadary says.

Elhadary will be in Dubai until he leaves to return to Erie on Jan. 9. He says the three-week break will just what he needs to recharge his batteries before the start of the spring semester.

And just as he now misses Dubai, he says he is sure to miss Erie while he’s gone as well.

“I have so many friends here (at Penn State Behrend), and I’m still making friends too. It’s just been awesome,” Elhadary says.

Elhadary family
Moustafa Elhadary, a first-year mechanical engineering major, is excited to return home to Dubai this winter break, so he can be reunited with his mother, Maha (right), sister Safinaz (behind) and father Mahmoud (far back).


Behrend Reacts: What club are you thinking of joining this year?


By Nicole Krahe
Marketing Communication Student Assistant, Penn State Behrend

When Penn State President Eric Barron was introduced in May, he presented the following analogy.

“When students decided to come to Penn State and pay their tuition, they purchased a sports car, but too many of them will only drive it 20 miles per hour.”

Translation? Take advantage of all the opportunities available to you at college and GET INVOLVED!

New students had an opportunity to see everything Penn State Behrend has to offer Wednesday at the Club Showcase in McGarvey Commons.

We asked students what clubs piqued their interest.

Courtney Bolton

Courtney Bolton, first-year student, Nursing: “The dance team because I have been dancing since I was 3-years-old. I’m not ready to give it up yet.”

Taylor Sterrett

Taylor Sterrett, first-year student, Nursing: “I liked the club volleyball team because I played volleyball in high school.”

Shayne Watson
Shayne Watson, first-year student, Speech Pathology: “I signed up for the Republican club because I don’t like our current president.”

Nick Angelo

Nick Angelo, senior, Computer Engineering: “Well, I’m the president of Triangle Fraternity, so I’m recruiting. It’s still early, but we’ve got a couple of names, so that’s good.”

Tom Prinzi

Tom Prinzi, senior, Plastics Engineering: “The International Student Organization. It is not only for international students, it’s also for anyone looking to break barriers and make friends. They have really nice dinners, too.”

Justin Leonard

Justin Leonard, junior, International Business: “Behrend Club Hockey. It gives you the opportunity to play at a competitive level while still having fun and being part of a family.”

Josh Kolarac

Josh Kolarac, first-year student, Communication: “I’m interested in joining BVZ and The Behrend Beacon because it will help out with my major.”

Rayni Modecki

Rayni Modecki, first-year student, IBE: “I signed up for THON because it sounds like a lot of fun and it’s a good cause.”

Andrea Gaez

Andrea Gaez, first-year student, Industrial Engineering: “I came here from Panama, so I joined Theta Phi Alpha and The Multicultural Council to make new friends!”

Behrend Reacts is a regular Thursday feature at the Behrend Blog that tries to get the campus pulse on a current topic, whether it’s serious or trivial. If you have a question to suggest for Behrend Reacts, please email Steve Orbanek at sco10@psu.edu.

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