Coming from Canada, I am pretty much as vanilla as it gets for international students. The language is the same, the water flushes in the same direction and people still drive on the right side of the road. However, that is not to say that there are not certain differences that catch me off guard.
First and foremost, my minuscule dorm room is a vast improvement to my igloo in the Great White North.
But besides this significant change, I mainly notice the differences in the little things that only ever come up in trivial day-to-day activities. For example, I get blank stares when I ask to borrow someone’s pencil crayons. Most people are pretty unsure as to what part of your body a toque goes on. I am more likely to get directed to the laundry room than the bathroom when I ask where the washroom is. And don’t even get me started on measuring temperature in Fahrenheit.
Despite these differences, I never really feel as if I am out of place at Wharton and Penn. Going back to Canada for winter break really cemented the idea that I have established Wharton as my home away from home, and I feel weird being gone from it for too long. In addition, Wharton is filled with students who are equally, if not more, diverse than I am. I’ve met and bonded with students who come from almost every continent in the world, but even the Americans and Canadians I’ve met are all so different depending on what part of the country they’re from.
Essentially, there is no stereotype that a Wharton student has to conform to, and that’s what makes it great.
Throwing all these unique students in a class of only 500 allows and forces students to learn from their peers, which is one of the most valuable things you can do as a Wharton student. For example, one of my management team partners spent time in the Singaporean military before coming to Wharton. By working with him this semester, I have learned to take a more diligent approach to almost everything I do.
Learning from my peers is something that happens on a regular basis, and something that I hope and expect to continue to experience during my four years at Wharton. I am always glad that I chose to attend Wharton when a learning experience like this comes up.
My only hope is that I will have the opportunity to share my Canadian perspective to teach someone else something new. I may be an international student as far as my immigration documents are concerned, but, at Wharton, I feel as if I couldn’t be more at home in this diverse environment.
Editor’s note: This blog originally appeared on the Wharton Undergraduate Program’s Student Voices blog on Jan. 13, 2015.