Experiencing a new culture for the first time can be overwhelming, especially as a student. Exploring cultural differences is something valued and respected at Grove City College. There are many international students who attend here, each with an interesting story about how they found Grove City, Pennsylvania out of all the places in the world. Junior Dan Peiffer moved to the United States three years ago from Rehovot, Israel and shared about how he came to attend GCC.
As a junior, Dan studies Communications with a minor in Studio Art. After the influence of his father attending Grove City College, he decided to move to America for his college education. Dan is fluent in Hebrew and English, but had never experienced primarily English-speaking classes. Starting out, Dan audited a few classes to study English as the primary language. He said, “After auditing, I realized it’s a piece of cake. English is hard, but not that hard.” Experiencing the campus and culture of Grove City was something to get used to, but with the help of students and faculty, it became easy for Dan to fit right in.
There are many cultural differences between Pennsylvania and Israel as you could imagine, but Dan was able to learn quickly. “Professors are very understanding,” he explained, “some of the classes I record because I can’t take notes in time, so that helps me a lot.” Adapting to the language is only half of the intercultural experience. Dan told me that, “one of the first things [he] remembers [from his] first year was when someone fist-bumped me instead of a high-five. I thought it was a thing for little kids, so I thought it was weird, but I realized it was normal so now I find myself doing it.” It’s the little mannerisms and cultural symbols we participate in that seem normal to us that can seem strange to someone coming from an entirely different culture. Dan explained, “I still have a lot of mistakes with English words sometimes. It’s more funny than embarrassing at this point.”
Our differences are what make us unique and stand out from others, but as an international student, those differences can seem more obvious in accents and mannerisms. Dan said, “Some people like to ask me constant questions, but I like when people treat me the same.” Cultural differences are something many students are passionate about. With groups such as S.E.A.D. which stands for Students Excited About Diversity, sharing the things that make us culturally unique is something highly valued amongst students. “Although I am different,” Dan said, “it’s nice to be treated normally here.” Dan aspires to stay in the United States and work somewhere like Pittsburgh or a city where he can pursue video production. As a communications major, Dan is passionate about photography and video production, and is able to get hands-on experiences through classes.