Far from Home: Craig Miranda experiences first finals week


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

Craig Miranda has experienced plenty of things during his first semester in America. He’s seen snow for the first time, traveled to New York City and even started his own musical performing club at Penn State Behrend.

Last week, the first-year computer science major experienced something new: the dreaded all-nighter.

For Miranda, it was not exactly a bad thing though.

“I usually leave a few things to the last minute,” the Kuwait native says. “I like the adrenaline rush that comes from it. You’re so stressed, but you’re also able to absorb so much information because of that.”

Miranda has not been pulling the all-nighters in vain. This week marks finals week at the college, and he has high expectations.

“I want to make the dean’s list,” he says. “I know my freshman year is so important when it comes to getting internships.”

Thankfully, Miranda has had plenty of help when it comes to staying motivated. In Niagara Hall, he and his friends get together to study each night. These study sessions usually go until 4 a.m., but that doesn’t mean they don’t sprinkle some fun into each session.

“We’ve been taking over the study room each night. Then at 2 a.m., just for a half hour, we will blast music. The music pumps us all up, so then we’re ready to study again,” he says.

With all of the late-night study sessions, Miranda estimates that he is now averaging just over four hours of sleep per night. That’s OK because he says that’s all he needs. After all, he already has the perfect recovery plan.

“I can hibernate during winter break,” he says with a smile.

Miranda’s last final exam for the fall semester will be this Friday, Dec. 19. He will leave on Saturday for Washington D.C. where he will spend the winter break with his brother, Clive, who is pursuing a master’s degree at Georgetown University.

Before he leaves though, he already has a personal celebration planned in honor of completing his first round of final exams.

“Since no one will be around, I plan on taking over the (Niagara Hall) lounge and watching movies and eating,” he says. “I also plan on going sledding. I still love the snow. The only problem is the wind.”

Craig Miranda, a first-year computer science major, is in the midst of his first finals week. To help prepare himself, he’s been studying heavily, even if it means pulling an all-nighter.


Far from Home: First snowfall leaves favorable impression on Craig Miranda


Far from Home is an occasional series in which we document a year in the life of international students at Penn State Behrend.

By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

“Beep-beep-beep-beep! Beep-beep-beep-beep! Beep-beep-beep-beep!”

When Craig Miranda’s alarm went off at 6 a.m. last Thursday, he awoke with a feeling of eagerness. His friends warned him it was coming, but some things need to be seen to be believed.

“I was skeptical,” says Miranda, a first-year computer science major at Penn State Behrend. “When I looked outside, it was completely white. I immediately ran downstairs and I was the only person outside in shorts.”

Craig Miranda had never seen snow until last week when the Erie region received more than foot of precipitation in 24 hours.

The Kuwait native had never seen snow before last week when the Erie region received nearly a foot in the span of 24 hours. In Kuwait, summer temperatures can exceed 120 degrees. Even in winter, average daytime temperatures rarely fall below 60 degrees.

Miranda says he longed for snow and cooler temperatures when he decided to come to college in the United States, so last week’s storm was a welcome sight.

“It was just unbelievable,” he says. “After my exam that morning, I had a snowball fight with friends who also live in Niagara Hall. I don’t know how to make a snowball, but I’m getting there.”

As the day went on, more snow began to accumulate. Overall, Erie received 12.6 inches of snow, the earliest occurrence of a snowfall of this magnitude for the region.

The heavy snowfall might have been a  burden for others, but Miranda remained enamored with every flake that fell. He even shared his happiness with his family back home.

“I Skyped with my parents and took them on a tour around campus,” he says. “It was awesome because they have never seen snow either. They were so thrilled and just wanted to be here, too.”

For Miranda, the snowfall helped paint a picture of the holiday season, which he had only ever seen on television before.

“I’ve always pictured Christmas as caroling with snow falling from the sky, but I’ve never seen it until now,” Miranda says.

Given that he chose to attend college in America’s snowbelt, last week was probably only the beginning of the fun for Miranda; last year, Erie recorded 138.4 inches of snow fall and earned the honor of America’s snowiest city.

His friends have warned him that he might eventually tire of the snow, but he’s not buying it.

“I doubt I’ll ever get bored of snow,” Miranda says. “Coming from Kuwait, where it barely ever even rains, snow is just marvelous.”