Roos: Entering Temple territory

The strong sense of community is a surprise to a foreign exchange student.


MoniqueRoosWhen I first arrived at Temple, I had never before set foot on an American university campus. I am a Brazilian student who spent my entire childhood outside of the United States. Once I received the news that I had been accepted to Temple, however, I did my research – I had a good idea of what the campus would be like.

But pictures are never enough. That’s why people travel – to be able to feel these places we only see in photographs and movies.

When I arrived, I saw Temple flags everywhere, marking the territory. I saw people wearing Temple T-shirts, a giant “T” on every building, billboards across the city and advertising signs inside subway stations.

They were all screaming “Temple Made.”

After my first impression of campus, I went to a Temple football game, something I’d been looking forward to as an international student. I had never seen so much cherry and white in my life. The cheering at the game finally clued me in to the significance of what we were “fight, fight, fighting” for.

People – not just students, but also parents and alumni – were dressed in Temple clothes and there were students painted in support of their school. There were cheerleaders and fans in their seats singing songs and everyone around me seemed to swell with pride for Temple.

This must be a familiar occurrence for most American students. They might even think it’s just a trait of all universities. Well, not really.

In Brazil, we don’t have that. There is no mascot, university games, clothes, songs, band or cheerleaders, and unfortunately, I don’t see much pride among students. It is not because the universities are not good. In fact, many are highly esteemed.

The differences are a result of our history. The first university in the United States, Harvard University, was founded in 1636, while the first Brazilian university was founded 172 years later. Almost two centuries of time to make up caused some differences between our college life and that of American expectations.

We don’t live on campus, as there is no housing available. A lot of students live in a different city than the one in which they study. We take the bus, the train or a car to go to campus. Most Brazilian undergraduate students work all day and go to the university at night. I feel like we are running against the time we lost, meaning those two centuries in the United States that students were already studying.

As a result, we lose the beauty of college life.

Temple was previously known for being a commuter school, which seems much more like the universities I am familiar with in my home country. But with the Temple Made campaign spreading enthusiasm for being a Temple student, this seems to be fading into the past.

Now, Temple is a place to come to – a destination that I, an international student, could become interested in from afar. Perhaps American students expect a university to be a destination, but it is a new way of life for me.

When people here are wearing Temple clothes, rooting for Temple at sporting events, being active in clubs or painting their face in cherry and white, there is a spirit that is not seen in other parts of the world. At this point, Temple is not just a university. It is home. But what is “Temple Made?”

Some international students may worry that without being from here, it is harder to become part of the community – to be “Temple Made.” But I’ve realized it is still possible. It is this spirit of a self-starter, someone who is not going to wait for things to happen. “Temple Made” describes this pride of being here and being influenced by the atmosphere.

It is not about where we come from, it is about where we are going to. It is about being here for six months, one year or four years and being changed by this place. “Temple Made” is letting this university be part of your life.

Monique Roos can be reached at

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