Eleni Tsitinidi ‘21 on Adjusting to Davidson as an International Student  

I am Skylar McVicar ‘23 and it gives me great pleasure to introduce We Are Wildcats, a human-interest column to The Davidsonian and its readership. The goal of We Are Wildcats is to share the extraordinary in the ordinary at Davidson College. To showcase the inspiring things that make each and every Wildcat unique. If you wish to be featured or feel someone’s story needs to be heard, please feel free to contact me with ideas at: wearewildcatsDC@gmail.com! Stay tuned for future stories!

Q: What is your name, graduation year, and hometown?

A: Eleni Tsitinidi, Class of 2021, Athens, Greece

Q: What is your favorite spot on or around campus?

A: The third floor of Union by the fireplace. That is exactly where I spend all my time!

Q: Tell me a quick background about yourself.

A: I was born in Greece and have lived there my whole life. I used to go to a Greek school but then received a scholarship to study at an international IB school. This was a really great opportunity because I am curious and interested in trying many new extracurriculars, but my traditionally Greek school focused only on class and not on outside educational opportunities. I always knew I wanted to study in the United States so applying to college in America was the natural next step. Here in America I have the chance to be involved in everything imaginable at the same time and am not pigeonholed into a certain area of study.

Q: How was the transition to living in the United States after living in Greece your whole life? 

A: Other than visiting America during my junior year of high school, I had not had much experience in the United States. When I got here for my first-year, it was difficult to transition because people act a certain way here that is vastly different from in Greece. Everything from the way people act, the things people watch, and how friendships are made is different. Even experiencing flickerball was a hard transition because I had no idea what the rules of football are let alone the varied rules for flickerball. Other people did not know how little questions and comments could be so different to me than anyone else. For example, my hall counselors asked everyone for our favorite Ben & Jerry’s flavor as an ice breaker at our first hall meeting. I had no idea what the Half Baked or Phish Food flavors were!

Q: What did you do to help your transition?

A: I joined everything! I wanted to meet as many people as possible so I could better understand the culture of the campus and the people here.

Q: How has being in America helped influence your academic interests?

A: I am a physics and computer science major. I am the president of Davidson International Organization (DIO) to try and help connect the international community to American students and to each other. Additionally, I started the debate club to pursue the style of debate I used to practice in Greece. Relating to my computer science major, I am on the Student Government Association as the Chief Innovation Officer to try and bring more technology to Davidson’s campus. There are so many incredible technological advancements, and there is no excuse for why Davidson is so behind. I am trying to bridge the gap between administration and what students are actually doing in innovation. In the United States, technology is so heavily integrated into everyday life which has helped me narrow my focus and encourage me to further pursue my technological interests.

Q: How has being in America helped influence your personality?

A: I am definitely a lot more Americanized now. A lot of my mannerisms and colloquialisms are shaped by being here. I try to combine my Greek and American sides. I kind of have a split personality in the way that I am the Americanized Greek while in Greece but the foreign, Greek American while here. This can be difficult at times, but I enjoy it. I always idealized being an American so have tried to make the most of both situations. In terms of my personality traits, I am usually introverted but have had to challenge my comfort zone and reach out to a lot of people to feel included. Now, I try to be extroverted to include others to make sure other people don’t feel shy and ostracized.

Q: What are your future aspirations?

A: Eventually I want to be in a managing position for a technology company in America. I definitely want to stay in the United States. I am interested in very tech savvy programs that are simply not available in Greece. Sometimes I feel nervous about making America my permanent home because I miss Greece, but I do feel like I should be here. My family and friends are in Europe, but I am trying to make more genuine connections here.

Q: Do you have any tips for your peers?

A: Definitely explore at Davidson. Davidson has so many opportunities and exciting things happening. There are always opportunities on campus, just talk to people and find out what you might be interested in. You can always find your people and have a great experience just by talking to someone new. Keep reaching out and growing your network.