We are Penn State: Indian students talk about graduate student life at Penn State
Hello this is Monika Setia and I come from
UP in India. I am doing my Ph.D. degree in Health Policy and Administration at Penn State.
Hello my name is Prabhat Naredi and I am from Rajasthan. Currently, I am doing my Ph.D.
here in Engineering and Environmental Engineering. Hello my name is Archana Iyer. I’m from Bombay
and I am doing my Ph.D. in the Integrated BioSciences options here at Penn State.
Hi. I am Kulbhushan Grover from Punjab, India and I am doing my Ph.D. in Agronomy at Penn State. Archana, why did you choose Penn State for
your higher studies? You know, I was looking for an Integrative
BioSciences option and Penn State was one of the few universities that gave a comprehensive
Integrated BioSciences graduate program that is flexible enough that you can charter it
according to your needs. I also like Penn State because it has really
an edge in Ag Sciences, which is my major, and it is one of the oldest universities that
started giving bachelor degrees in Ag Sciences in the 19th century actually.
The best thing I actually like about Penn State was their website. The professors all
maintain their websites pretty cleanly. They explain their research, what they are doing,
and that actually helps you identify which professor you want to work with. Like, let’s
say you have an offer from 2 — 3 different campuses so it is easy to compare the research
here compared to that area. That helped me in making my decision and secondly, they are
offering very good money. Money is a good factor.
It was similar to me as I went through the website for our department all the faculty
had in detail explained their research experiences, and when I contacted them for questions about
the research they were very prompt in replying to all the questions that I had and I think
that communication was truly a big factor in me choosing Penn State over any other university
that I got offers from and definitely as Prabhat said, I got a fellowship too which was another
reason that I actually joined Penn State. I agree. Penn State was one of the few institutions
that I applied to and I knew at what point my application was – whether it was being
reviewed or whenever I was up for an interview. You know, things like that.
And I think that’s more important to international students because, you know, we are trying
different options so if we get really good response actively, promptly.
You know what I really like about Penn State is the diversity on campus, you see people
from all around the world and also Penn State has this policy of integrating collaborations
within research groups as well as industry, so as a student you get the opportunity to
do internships and I really like that kind of environment when you can learn, you know,
from different fields and learn how you can collaborate.
I also like, you know, the community around here. It’s very nice to talk to people. People
are really friendly here and there are so many cultural activities going on like Arts
Festival, and there is another organization called Global Connections, which helps students’
families if they are not working or if they are at home so they engage them, students’
spouse or their kids. It’s really cool, I like it.
One of the best things actually I like about Penn State was that it is a very small town
and I always feel like home, like in fact all the people I know and that’s very nice
to meet other people. We have so many Indian students organizations
that we can connect with each other and we can, you know, do cultural activities and
all those things. Yeah, and it’s so much acceptable to diversity
that they actually host Indian Food Fest where actually people from all cultures come and
enjoy the Indian food, and it’s one of the big events in State College I would say.
I think that one of the good things I encounter after coming here was International Student
Services, ISS. Besides helping out the new students adjusting to Penn State, I think
they organize a lot of fun activities including those bus trips to DC to New York, and those
hike trips in summer. Yeah, all the big cities, they are very close
to Penn State. That is a very good thing. I think everything is like four-hours drive.
Maximum four hours including Philadelphia, Pittsburgh.
The place is very scenical, so you don’t mind driving.
Yeah, coming from Bombay, where it’s very crowded, Penn State was really nice because
I have had experiences where I have gone skiing and I have been able to do cross country skiing,
rock climbing, hiking. It’s really been wonderful, besides your graduate program.
One surprising fact here was that being Indian was the second largest international community
at Penn State and people here are very accommodating, so that’s the surprise.
Yeah, I think it was the same for me and I think I learned more about the Indian culture
after coming here, with so many diverse people that I met here like living in the Northern
part of India. I just met people from those states which were near my state, and after
coming here, I met people from all over the country, and I think it was great learning
about the culture–so diverse and different foods that I ate from the southern states
especially. I think it was great–very good, yeah. Did you find any surprises Archana after
coming here? You know what I like is how the alumni of
Penn state come back to Penn State every year for the football games — the way they tailgate.
This concept of tailgating a day of the football game is just very novel to me. I kind of like
it. I join my department friends during the football games to tailgate, and of course
cheer for the team, so I like that. Yeah, I also like the homecoming parade. It’s
a really big procession just like we have in India. We have religious procession, so
it kind of reminds me of that. I really that and kids also enjoy that.
And kids enjoy the July 4th. Oh yeah, the July 4th fireworks, they are
really surprising. They are really nice, I enjoyed them.
When I first came to the United States and I joined Penn State, I was the first one from
my family to come here, so I didn’t know anybody here and I remember I was so nervous coming
to this new country. Penn State was my window to the United States, so the people here really
made me comfortable getting to know the culture. Especially, my department was very, very helpful
in how I got to know where the grocery store was, how I got to know how to do the taxes,
or get around this place. The department was very, very helpful.
I think it was the same for me, when I came here. I never realized that there would be
so much Indian things available around this place. We have an Indian grocery store, an
international store where we can get all the ingredients we needed to cook for the good
Indian food. There is an Indian restaurant in town, so I think it was like home while
I was here. So, it was never a trouble to be in a country so far off.
Yeah, I think it’s a nice place for families and kids also because there are a lot of parks
in the neighborhood so you can take your kids during the weekends or whenever you have time.
So, it’s nice for your family also. This town’s ability to be among Indian students,
so I feel very comfortable talking to them and being with them as opposed to a big city,
where you feel like alone, like you came from different cities.
Yes, people feel connected with other people, being a small place, and you feel at home.
We are. Penn State!