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
For some, it takes days, even weeks, before culture shock sets in. For Craig Miranda, it took seconds.
The Kuwait native, who is half Indian and half British, arrived in the United States this past summer for the first time. Disparities were everywhere.
Green grass. Trees. Leaves. Blonde hair. Couples holding hands.
Nothing was similar to what Miranda was accustomed to in Kuwait, which had been his home for all 18 years of his life.
“It’s a big culture shock coming from Kuwait, which is closed off from the rest of the world, to America, which is wide open,” Miranda says.
Miranda noticed these differences when he and his family vacationed in California in July and again when he arrived at Penn State Behrend in August.
But for Miranda, the culture shock wasn’t all bad.
“I love the changes,” he says. “Everything here is so pleasing to the eyes. I love that.”
Miranda, a first-year Computer Science major, says leaving his family was difficult.
“During my first week, I was missing my family and longing to go home,” he says. “It was a challenge knowing that I was not going to be home for a year.”
Miranda has found plenty of distractions to ease the transition.
He’s quickly made friends and has enjoyed his coursework. He has been working on his tennis game, and plans to try out for Behrend’s team this spring.
Miranda regularly calls his parents, Colin and Sandra, and he plans to visit his brother, Clive, during the winter break. Clive is pursuing a master’s degree at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
“I thought it would be difficult, but the people here have made the transition so easy,” he says.
Miranda has also been proactive in making the most of his new environment. He’s taking advantage of the opportunities that Penn State Behrend provides and is already leaving his mark on the campus community.
Miranda, a self-described Adam Levine fanatic who likes to sing and play the bass guitar, has an affinity for pop music, and he wants to find a way to experience that music alongside fellow students. He’s currently in the process of getting approval for a new club that would accomplish just that.
“We have the Behrend musicians, we have the Acapella group (Tonacious), but there’s nothing where people can just come together to sing their hearts out. I want to have this club collaborate with the dance club and the engineering club, and I want it to be called the Penn State Behrend Performance Band,” Miranda says. “Even though I’m just a freshman, I want to start big. I want to make an impact.”
Miranda is in the process of getting approval for the new club, and he’s looking forward to performing alongside fellow students.
That’s not the only thing he’s looking forward to though. In Kuwait, summer temperatures can exceed 120 degrees. Even in winter, average daytime temperatures rarely fall below 60 degrees.
“I’ve never seen snow, and I can’t wait,” Miranda says. “Everyone says I’ll hate it after two weeks, but I know I’ll love it.”
Considering the fact that Erie had 138.4 inches of snow last year and earned the honor of America’s snowiest city, it probably won’t be long until Miranda is up to his ankles (okay, shins) in the white stuff.