Robert Morris University
(RMU) hosts students from 47 different nations ranging from different regions,
such as Asia and Europe.
Tara Van Schie, who hails
from the Netherlands, is just one of the many students who have adapted to a
new culture here in the United States.
“Two years ago, I was
talking… [to]… my dad about going to the United States, but it was more for
my athleticism,” said Van Schie, an athlete who partakes in five
different track and field events. “I got an email saying my athleticism was so
good that I could get a scholarship or something to study in the U.S.”
Van Schie added that being
part of RMU’s track team has been her favorite thing about being in the United
“In the Netherlands, I am
fifth of my country,” she revealed. “But the first four go to the Olympics.”
She also stated that participating in events
while studying will bring new opportunities once she returns to her native
She admitted that she did not know what to
expect prior to making the journey to RMU.
“You just think of things
in your mind like what it would be like,” she said. “But when you are here, you
actually see it. It’s always different.”
One conflict Van Schie has
faced since arriving is the time difference and the effect it had on her
communication with home. The time difference between the Netherlands and the
U.S. is seven hours. This makes is difficult for her to talk to her loved ones.
“There are… [times] when I
need to talk to my friends and I can’t,” she explained.
She also stated that her
cellphone is out of service because the country has a hold on the money her
parents have transferred to her. However, Van Schie has been using Skype as her
main form of communication.
Family and friends play a
big role in her life.
“My mom can’t come on
Skype because she cries every time she comes on,” she said. “so I don’t talk to
her that much.”
She added that another
difficult aspect is talking to her nieces and nephews.
“They are crying too
because they can’t touch me, so that’s really hard,” she explained.
Although she misses her
family, she likes studying at RMU. Her friends here also understand her
appreciation for her family. Michele Kozubal, a sophomore member of the Cross
Country and Track and Field team, is Van Schie’s roommate.
“Family comes first over almost everything,”
Kozubal said. “Some people here don’t always take it to the extreme, but in the
Netherlands they almost do everything with their families.”
Kozubal added that her roommate does not
always understand what others are saying.
“Our slang here is different than their
slang,” she said. “So if someone uses a term she might ask, ‘can you use a
different meaning for that? I don’t know what that means?’”
Van Schie confessed that
she did not know English before coming to the United States.
“I think English is the
most important language,” she said. “You can speak it all over the world;
everybody can speak a little English, so you can make yourself understandable.”
According to Summer Institute for Linguistics
(SIL) Ethnologue Survey from 1999, roughly 470 million people speak English as
a first or second language, making it understandable as to why she would
believe learning the language would bring new opportunities for her.
Van Schie said that she
only plans on going back to the Netherlands around Christmas, and keeping residency
in the United States until her scholarship is up in four years.
“I’m here now,” she said.
“Why would I go back earlier? I can see all the country… [and] do all the fun
things.” She added that it would be cheaper for her to stay because she would
have to pay in traveling fees.
Though Van Schie had to
leave her family and friends in the Netherlands, she understands it was
necessary for her to achieve her dreams.
“Track and field is what I live for. I live to
train for it,” Van Schie explained. “It got me here.”