Skannd Tyagi is not exactly shy. He has 1,500 friends on Facebook. He is involved in 30 or more hours of class, thanks to 24 hours of on-campus classes and several online courses. But his proudest moment is that he is also PSU’s reigning Homecoming king.

Skannd Tyagi is not exactly shy. He has 1,500 friends on Facebook. He is involved in 30 or more hours of class, thanks to 24 hours of on-campus classes and several online courses. But his proudest moment is that he is also PSU’s reigning Homecoming king.

“It took a long time to decide if I was going to do this. I didn’t need a lot of preparation, I didn’t need to memorize answers, I just went to the interviews and was myself,” Tyagi said. “The final day, I was surprised to be among the six finalists. I was happy with that. When the voting happened, one of the other finalists said it would be a landslide. He told me, ‘Look at the audience. You know everybody.’”

Tyagi was the first international student on record who has been crowned Homecoming king at Pittsburg State.

Tyagi is one of 69 students at Pittsburg State from his home country of India. Roughly 40 foreign countries are represented at Pittsburg State.

Skannd has been involved with several organizations, including the fraternity that nominated him — Alpha Sigma Alpha. He is the treasurer of Pi Kappa Alpha. He has also worked with Gorilla Geeks in the past.

Gorilla Geeks had a certain occupational importance to Tyagi, as he is a computer science and commercial graphics major.

“I deeply enjoy it. I love computer science,” he said. “I find it easy. I understand the concepts well. It doesn’t take much time. Programming comes naturally; it doesn’t take much effort. I do believe it’s the next big thing.”

Tyagi’s uncle runs a computer business in India. Skannd said he has been around computers for a long time, which led him both to his major and to Pitt State.

“I wanted to focus on robotics, and back home Dad told me this would be a good place to come to, but I didn’t pay attention,” he said. “I thought it was Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. When I came here, I was like, ‘Whoa... my bad.’”

Skannd’s hometown isn’t eactly small. It’s Calcutta, a town of 16 million people. But then again, his whole country is one-sixth of the world’s population.

He said his country, although known more for Hinduism and other religions, is a fairly secular country. In fact, Tyagi is Hindu himself.

“I’m not a hardcore Hindu, though. But all religions peacefully coexist in India,”  Tyagi said. “Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Parsi, Chinese all live in India.”

One primary difference between Indians and Americans lies in the food. Tyagi said he is a vegetarian. He also said Indians use a different set of spices and oils to make the food.

“Indian food is not food, it’s an experience,” Skannd said. “It’s more complex. It takes double or triple the time to prepare. Spices are a big deal. A traditional dish has four or five spices compared to just salt. You can taste every slice.

“There’s a huge problem when I go out to eat because everyone wants to use beef or other meats. I can go to Taco Bell and substitute beef for the beans they have.”

India may not be known for sports, but Tyagi said sports are one of the biggest thrills about living there. It doesn’t compare to American sports.

“Combine NHL, football, and NASCAR together, you will see how crazy people can get for cricket,” he said. “My brother called me at 4 a.m. to tell me about a score. The India-Pakistan match, people are so serious and have so much passion. You can see the waves going through the 80,000 in the stadium.”

One more thing: America’s Hollywood is nothing, he said, compared to Bollywood.

“It’s 10 times bigger than Hollywood. I mean, it’s one-sixth of the world’s population. It’s huge,” Skannd said. “I find some of the content more cheesy and overdramatic, though. I don’t want to see people singing and dancing randomly. But even in the best of movies, you will see actors singing and dancing.”

For Skannd, though, it often ultimately comes back to his social nature. In fact, his role in a fraternity was started by his own curiosity.

“I didn’t know anything about it. I saw the frat house and I just walked into it,” he said. “I didn’t know what it was. Everybody absorbed me instantly. The brotherhood is solid. It’s an opportunity to communicate with others in the community on a whole new level.”

Andrew Nash can be reached at andrew.nash@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 ext. 132. This is the sixth in an ongoing series looking at one student from each foreign country represented at Pittsburg State.