One International Student's Experience at Penn State York

One International Student's Experience at Penn State York

My Story at Penn State York

Hello! My name is Victoria, and I am an international student from China, currently enjoying my second year of study at Penn State York. I plan to earn my degree in marketing from the Smeal College of Business at University Park, through Penn State’s 2 + 2 program. Next fall, I will be moving to the University Park campus for my junior and senior years to finish my degree program.

Congratulations on your acceptance to Penn State! You are beginning an exciting transition to an educational opportunity that will be both challenging and rewarding!

Like many of you, when I applied to Penn State, I requested University Park as my first choice, and York as my alternative choice campus. When I received my acceptance letter, I was disappointed that I would not be starting at University Park: I was concerned that a diploma earned from spending two years at one of Penn State’s Commonwealth Campuses would be worth less than a diploma earned by studying at University Park for four years. I was also worried about making friends at Penn State York. I graduated from a high school in the United States with a small population of international students, where it was difficult to make friends. I was afraid that Penn State York might not have the student diversity to provide an opportunity to easily make close friends from different cultures.

If you have some of the same concerns as I did, please don’t worry! Students graduating from any Penn State campus earn a diploma from The Pennsylvania State University. You can start and finish at any Penn State campus – we really are ALL Penn State!

I have found the student body at Penn State York to be very friendly and welcoming, and I was surprised at the number of international students who are studying here. There are so many opportunities to make friends that I have to be careful not to be distracted from my studies! I met one of my best friends the second day after I arrived at Penn State York; in fact, we get along so well, we are sharing an apartment this year, and plan to move to University Park together next fall.

Since Penn State York does not have residence halls, I was also very concerned about how I would find a place to live while studying here. Fortunately, new Chinese students communicate through a group chat (wechat) that helps us learn from students who have already made the successful transition to Penn State York. I applied for an apartment with the help of a current student that I met through wechat. I found that experience to be so beneficial that I now spend time on wechat regularly answering questions and offering advice to new international students!

You can also email Sheri Yoder (, the director of International Student Services at Penn State York, regarding housing options, and to make sure that you are completing all the necessary steps to make a successful transition to our campus. She will be happy to help you with any questions you have, will arrange transportation to and from the airport, and even help you purchase furniture for your new apartment. You can also review the online Pre-Arrival Guide, which is a helpful resource for all incoming international students.

There are so many great things about being a student at Penn State York and living in the York community. York is a small city located in south-central Pennsylvania – from here it is easy to visit New York City, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Baltimore – all are within an easy drive of York. Our campus is friendly and attractive; it is easy to walk to class, and you will quickly feel at home here. Classes are small and can be challenging, but faculty are available to answer questions, and you can get the individual attention that you need to succeed. The library is a great place to study – you can always find a quiet spot to concentrate no matter what else is happening on campus. I love our new student center, which just opened this year, especially the gyms, fitness center, game room and new cafeteria (Rosie’s)! I am comfortable going to the Nittany Success Center if I have difficulty in any of my classes because I have seen other students’ grades improve by taking advantage of their free tutoring services.

When you first arrive here in August, be prepared that the few weeks will be a time of transition. Even after attending new international student orientation week, you might find it a little difficult to get used to the cultural differences, weather, transportation schedule, and separation from your family and friends. Just remember, most first-year international students are experiencing the same disorientation, no matter which campus they attend.

The best way to make you feel at home quickly is to become actively involved in campus life. I recommend joining student clubs and organizations on campus right away. I was a member of the Student Government Association (SGA) last year and am currently an orientation leader on campus. Consider attending weekly “Coffee Hour”, an afternoon each week devoted to activities designed to help you get to know other students on campus through games, contests, sharing food and cultural experiences.

I wish you great success at Penn State! I wish that I could greet you when you arrive at Penn State York, but I will be starting my next Penn State chapter at University Park and, like you, learning my way around a new campus! Wishing you a smooth transition to Penn State York!