Those words ended up leading Georgia Frangou to the United States.
“I came here for my bachelor’s in Louisiana at the University of Louisiana-Monroe,” Frangou said. “In Cyprus, we don’t have many universities, just one. People go to other countries to study. At Louisiana, there was a scholarship through the government of Cyprus. At that school, I could get in-state fees, which was really good compared to international student fees. I said, ‘Why not?’”
After graduating from Louisiana-Monroe, Georgia found her way to Pittsburg State.
“I was thinking of doing some research for my master’s, and I kind of wanted to go into psychology,” she said. “I got into clinical psychology. The program here really attracted me.
Frangou is the only student at Pittsburg State from her home country of Cyprus. Roughly 40 foreign countries are represented at Pittsburg State.
Georgia said her country, an island located in the Mediterranean Sea, is known for its rich art and history.
“If you go to the big museum in New York, we have a section for Cyprus art. It’s historic art,” she said. “In 1974, it was invaded by Turkey. It has an old, big history behind it. Throughout the years, it’s been invaded by the Ottomans, the French and the British.”
But Frangou said perhaps the strongest connection for Cyprus is to neighbor Greece. Since the invasion, the island is now split into a Turkish side and a Greek side. Frangou grew up on the Greek side, but can see many differences between the two countries.
“The traditional dances are different than Greece. Even though it’s like Greek and Cypriot dances are based on the group movement and dance,” Frangou said. “Our traditional uniform and clothing are different than Greece, too. Cyprus is an island, so we are more hospitable than people from bigger cities. We also make a traditional cheese that’s only made in Cyprus called halloumi.”
Though Cyprus has a rich culture, Georgia had to make a cultural adjustment to the United States. When she first got to Louisiana, there were several other Cypriot students at Louisiana-Monroe, which helped her some.
That doesn’t mean it was easy.
“In Louisiana, there were several factors keeping Cypriot students hanging out with each other,” Georgia said. “Here, you are almost forced to meet other students. Campus has been pretty open to me.
“I came [to the United States] when I was not even 18 years old. It was hard for me to leave the house when I was living with my family. Everything was ready and I didn’t have to try for anything. I had to adjust when I got to Louisiana. The first year was difficult, but it’s moved out.”
Page 2 of 2 - At Pittsburg State, Frangou has been busy. She has been a senator in the Student Government Association, she works as a graduate assistant and takes 17 credit hours, including 5 hours of Spanish.
“I like to test my limits,” she said.
She has even done a few psychological studies on the people of Cyprus since being in America.
“There was a professor in Louisiana who believed in me,” Frangou said. “He was my mentor for some research on the Cypriot population. It was hard to find and was a lot of hard work. We ended up publishing the research. I did that because he believed in me.”
Speaking of the Cypriot population, Frangou believes she has found a few differences between Americans and Cypriots.
“We are more family oriented [in Cyprus],” she said. “In terms of being a host in the house, you care about your visitors. There’s a food difference, too, we eat fresh vegetables. There’s a customs difference. We definitely don’t celebrate Thanksgiving and Halloween.”
Georgia is set to graduate in Dec. 2010, but she said she doesn’t know her plans once she graduates.
“I don’t plan. It’ll come,” she said. “Life sometimes is really too complicated to plan out stuff.”
Andrew Nash can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 231-2600 ext. 132.