Behind The Face: Caitlin Po

By Sunah Choudhry, Staff Writer

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Caitlin Po, a freshman majoring in Accounting, sitting and enjoying some time in NYC. Photo courtesy of Caroline Po Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Caroline Po

Caitlin Po left her family in the Philippines and came to the United States to attend college. It was a hard decision for her to make especially since she had never been away from home without her family. The freshman business major took time away from her busy schedule to sit down with staff writer, Sunah Choudhry.

All of a sudden the airplane started shaking. I tightly gripped the chair’s armrests as the plane’s tires screeched on a concrete runway. I tried calming myself down by taking deep breaths, but what felt like a frightening hour was merely one minute. Little did I know, this feeling would come back to haunt me except in a new form.

Before this, I’ve flown to the United States several times. My family and I traveled from our home in the Phillippines to places like New York, Washington, New Jersey, Florida, Los Angeles, San Francisco, California’s Napa Valley, and San Diego. However, when those tires screeched this time, I knew I was here to stay longer without family or friends.

When high school ended I had to decide, am I going to leave my family and attend college in the United States or am I going to stay in the Philippines with my family?

This was a really tough decision. I didn’t want to leave my friends and family behind.

My mother is my rock. I go to her for everything, and she’s always there for me. My father is also a big part of my life. I’m a daddy’s girl. Moving to the United States would put 8,050 miles of distance between us. Still, I had to do what was best for myself and my future.

Montclair State University was an easy pick for me. It’s a good school for my future, but its location is even better. My aunt Terry lives near Montclair. She has become my home away from home.

However, even though Aunt Terry is here, it was still hard adjusting to Montclair State. It got really hard without my mom and dad by my side, but my other fears and challenges also plagued my consciousness.

My first fear was being alone. How do I make friends? Do I just say hi? Do I mention I’m an international student? My second fear was getting distracted from my studies. My parents paid a lot of money for me to attend Montclair State.

As the weeks drifted by, the social aspects came into more focus. Those weeks also showed me how the dynamic here is very different in comparison to the Philippines.

Back home, a lot is done for me by drivers and maids such as school paperwork, financial forms, cooking and cleaning.

In the United States, I do everything on my own. I cook meals, manage expenses, clean and fill out school and financial forms.

I also noticed that people here like getting these things done as soon as possible. People here are always in a rush. While people in the Philippines go with the flow, not everything needs to be done as soon as possible.

Overall, there are positives and negatives when moving to a different country. Yes it’s a fresh start, but on the other hand, you’re leaving behind familiarity, your cultural customs, your home, your friends and family. Regardless, I would never take back my decision.

Coming to the United States and to Montclair was the best decision I have ever made. I’m really enjoying my time here, and I’ve made lots of new friends.

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