Tumblr Post – (Un)welcome to Penn State International Students!

I know I echo a lot of international grad students when I say that the resources allocated to The Directorate of International Student and Scholar Advising (DISSA) and to helping us navigate the very confusing world of American visas, health insurance, work authorization, etc. are sorely lacking. One of the worst experiences I had concerned my stipend as soon as I arrived. I arrived in State College August 1st to begin my PhD because I was assured that would be enough time to complete my paperwork and attend mandatory international grad student orientation in order to be paid August 31st. Not what happened. I arrived, complied with every deadline and every requirement asked of me, and was still told that it would be impossible for my paperwork to be processed in time for payroll. This was for no other reason than they scheduled things incorrectly and just didn’t have “time” to get to it. DISSA blamed HR, HR blamed DISSA, and my poor department tried to sort it out on my behalf but couldn’t. That means I made an international move and didn’t see a single cent in income for 60 days. After paying first and last month’s rent, damage deposits, deposits on all utilities and my cellphone (since I have no US credit history!), it was a miracle I could afford to buy my books and feed myself for my first two months at Penn State. I felt completely abandoned and unwelcome by the administration and everyone I dealt with trying to explain my situation (except for my department) was utterly cold and uncaring. Not a great start to my life at Penn State.

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