DUBOIS – As she waits for a meeting to begin, Angela Heu demonstrates a fluency in English and exemplary text messaging skills that paint a picture of the typical American teenager. But, in reality, Heu had only been in the United States for three days when she sat down to talk about the journey that lies ahead of her as an international student at Penn State DuBois. Her home in Beijing, China is a world away from the campus office she now sits in with International Student Services Coordinator Tharren Thompson.
“It’s so different here, Beijing is so big,” Heu notes, as she describes the towering buildings and bustle of the city. The transition to a more rural landscape, however, is one the 18 year old can appreciate. “Everything is so beautiful here. Everywhere you look it’s like a park,” she says. “I love everything here, and I like that the campus is not as big as University Park.”
Heu says the people who have welcomed her here also run at a different pace. “In Beijing everyone is in a hurry. They’re too busy to say hi,” she says. “People are so friendly here, and everyone stops to greet you.”
Though life in DuBois will mean some adjustments, Heu says it is well worth it to achieve her goal of obtaining a Penn State degree. That, she says, is exactly what brought her to the states. While trying to pick which university she wanted to attend, Heu attended a Penn State admissions fair held in Beijing. She talked to students there, who immediately impressed her with their personal testimonies. “They were so proud of being a Penn State student, and I knew then that I wanted to be a part of that.”
Students like Heu are, in fact, becoming a larger part of the student population at Penn State DuBois, and Penn State in general. Thompson says the resulting diversity will benefit all students by introducing them to new cultures. “The campus has a common vision for international programs,” Thompson says. “It’s been great to see one of the long-term goals of the campus start to be realized.”
As more international students enroll here, Thompson will make sure the transition to life in DuBois is an easy one. Since Heu touched down in America, Thompson has picked her up at the airport, and helped her find housing and start a bank account. Then, he took her to the grocery store and helped her get the cell phone she was texting on before this meeting began.