Whittier College’s International Community: Interview with Alessandro Corneglio

Alessandro Corneglio is an international transfer student from a small town in northwest Italy. Fall 2020 marks the beginning of his second year at Whittier College and the start of his journey as OIP’s Public Relations Coordinator. He has been on over 200 flights and has traveled to 34 countries, including India, Thailand, Cambodia, South Africa, multiple countries throughout Europe, and is now continuing his international journey here in the United States. Before coming to Whittier, Alessandro completed a year of high school in Omaha, Nebraska and received a soccer scholarship to attend college in Oklahoma City for two years.

What inspired you to pursue a degree in the United States?

I believe my field of study (marketing and business) in the US is the best place to learn and study. My exchange year in high school began as a radical experience of your culture and a way to learn English, but when I had the chance to get the American diploma and begin college here, I took the chance.

What is one aspect of U.S. culture that you have enjoyed the most?

Your integration of many different extracurricular activities, such as sports and clubs is amazing and helps shrink your daily routine and use your time in the best way possible. Playing soccer in Italy, for example, I had to get out of school and travel 50 minutes by train to get where I was playing while here you have everything integrated and correlated to your educational institution and you’re able to manage your time without wasting any of it. Fast pace but extremely efficient and enjoyable.

What is one aspect of your home culture that you have enjoyed sharing with other Whittier students?

I believe the most important aspect of the Italian, but in general of the European, culture is that we seek “pleasure” in little things and beauty, while the American culture is very “entertainment” oriented. Which is not a worse way to live the fun, but is very different, and I think a good mix is the perfect solution. For example, lunch can be fast food to get right back to work but dinner has to be slow food like we are used to in Italy.

Pursuing an international degree can come with many challenges – one of the biggest and most unexpected being the COVID-19 pandemic. What is one COVID-19- related challenge that you have overcome? What did you learn from this experience?

The biggest challenge was definitely getting back to my family and home, many flights got cancelled and most borders even in Europe were closed, but I managed to arrive just before I couldn’t. One other challenge was some of the online lectures at crazy times at night because of the time changing. My finals week I had given a presentation at 1:00 am and one at 4:00 am, but I learned that better managing sleep and time can make any schedule efficient.

What would you say to students who are interested in pursuing an international education and studying away from home in the future?

It’s scary but I also think it is supposed to be, it’s the best way to get out of your comfort zone of your home country. But once you overcome the difficulties, you’ll find that these years are not just years in your life, but a life in these years, and an extraordinary possibility to build relationships with people completely different from you and people you would never expect to be so similar. Definitely the best decision of my life.