Students from around the globe began classes at Penn State Abington last week amid a flurry of activities, including tours of Philadelphia’s Chinatown and the historic district, and a welcome lunch with faculty, staff and students.
Dolores Arevalo, coordinator of international affairs at Abington, has connected with nearly 30 new international students this semester. The majority of them plan to earn their degrees from Penn State while living in the United States on student visas.
The students hail from Azerbaijan, Bermuda, Brazil, China, Germany, Indonesia, Ireland, Korea, Norway, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan and Turkey.
According to Arevalo, “This is the most diverse group of students, in terms of nationalities, that Penn State Abington has enrolled. They will make a unique contribution to the global education of all of our students.”
Arevalo provides formal and informal assistance to the international students. She ensures that required immigration and university paperwork is complete. She also manages a group of Abington international student-ambassadors. The ambassadors, under Arevalo’s guidance, give personal guidance to the international students as they learn to navigate through their college careers.
Local residents serve as welcome families and help ease the transition to life in the Abington area, said Arevalo. The students live with them until they secure permanent housing. The families offer their moral support as well as advice on practical matters such as bus and train schedules.
German student Elisabeth Brandl is lucky enough to have two “American welcome families.” She is living in Jenkintown with 87-year-old Alice Nugent, whose granddaughter is a Penn State Abington student. Nancy Jaslow, who lives near the college, has also befriended Brandl.
Brandl, Nugent and Jaslow enjoyed pizza together at last week’s welcome lunch for new international students. Nugent said she has been helping Brandl, a business student, learn “American-ese” and they enjoy meals and spending time together.
Visiting scholar Maximilian Walter, a professor of economics at Hof University of Applied Sciences in Germany, was formally introduced to the college community at last week’s lunch. He will appear as a guest speaker in business classes during the semester and work on other projects with faculty and students.
Caption: Elisabeth Brandl, a business student from Germany, will live with 87-year-old Alice Nugent while she studies at Abington.