Villanova attracts students from different cultures

Katherine Roth

When Francesca Vazquez decided to attend college in the United States, it was mainly because of the reputable education system. “I thought it was a good opportunity to live somewhere else and to see another culture,” Vazquez says. A sophomore at Villanova University, Francesca is studying to attain a psychology major. “I always liked science, and I was studying to be a biology major when I first came here,” Vasquez says. “But then I took a psychology class and found it to be much more fulfilling and interesting.”On campus, Vasquez fills her time with the Hispanic Society, Psychology Club and LASO in addition to studying. The weekends are a different story. Vasquez spends time at her friends’ on-campus and off-campus apartments or goes into Philadelphia. “In the city we usually go to Cuba Libre, a salsa club or we go to the mall,” Vasquez says. The transition from being on her native island of Puerto Rico to living in the United States most of the year was difficult at first.”The cold weather makes it difficult,” she says with a laugh. “But when it’s warm, it’s not a problem.” Upon arriving for her first semester, Vasquez quickly found a group of friends that had similar interests, and she credits them with aiding her transition. However, Vasquez did encounter a bit of culture shock. “The language and the drinking age were the biggest culture differences,” Vasquez says. “[In Puerto Rico], we are so used to being able to drink with our parents at age 18. Coming here, we realized how different it is.”Francesca does have some goals of which she wishes to accomplish by the time she graduates in 2009.”I want to meet completely different people and learn from experiences, not just academics,” Vasquez says.Gabriela Soler is also from Puerto Rico and is studying to be a communication major at the University. “I decided to study in the United States because the liberal arts education in the States is better than in my country,” Soler says. “I would like to get the highest education I can so that when I go back to Puerto Rico, I am able to contribute to its economy and its improvement through my education gained in the States.”Having busied herself with the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and a job at Holy Grounds for several semesters, Gabi (as her friends call her) felt similarly to Vasquez about the United States’ legal drinking age. “The biggest culture shock has been the fact that in Puerto Rico, it is legal to drink at 18, as opposed to the States, where the legal age is 21,” Soler says.On weekends, Soler usually goes into the city with friends or stays on campus and takes it slow, renting a movie and hanging out with friends. Soler had a harder time with the transition to Villanova. “Last year, I was really homesick, and I would even cry a lot,” Soler says. “It took some time to realize that my life was now in Villanova and not in Puerto Rico. At first I just saw Villanova as a place where I studied for a few months and then went back home. But now, I see it as my home and my life, and I just go back to Puerto Rico to visit my friends and family.”