Far from Home: The Nittany Lions gain a new fan in Moustafa Elhadary

November 14, 2014

Far from Home is an occasional series in which we document a year in the life of international students at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College.

Moustafa Elhadary did not know much about Penn State when he arrived in the United States for the first time this summer. In fact, everything from American college coursework to living in a residence hall was uncharted territory for him.

But he knew about one of the University’s greatest traditions, and he knew he wanted to be part of it.

“There were a lot of things I wanted to do this year, and going to a football game was one of them,” said Elhadary, a freshman computer engineering major at Penn Behrend. “It’s been on my bucket list for quite some time. I mean, it’s Penn State.”

He got his wish in early November when he and friends took a bus from Penn State Behrend to University Park to watch the Nittany Lions’ game against the University of Maryland.

In Dubai, Elhadary’s home since 2007, American football is all but a myth. Fùtbol, better known as soccer in the United States, is the most popular game there, and everyone is encouraged to participate and follow the sport. For Elhadary, football is a welcome change.

From the moment he entered Beaver Stadium, he says he was overwhelmed by the sheer spectacle of a football Saturday at Penn State, including the number of people.

He was further astounded once the game began. First downs, turnovers, illegal procedures — all of it was entirely new for Elhadary.

“At first, I had no idea what was going on,” he said. “I didn’t even know if we were winning or losing, so I just followed my friends’ lead.”

“It was almost as if everyone in the stadium had the exact same thought inside their heads. They were angry at times. Then they were really happy at other times.”

--Moustafa Elhadary, engineering student at Penn State Behrend

As the game continued, things became clearer. With each ensuing cheer and boo, Elhadary says he began to feel as if he was a part of something.

This energy was especially evident with 3:18 left in the third quarter when Christian Hackenberg threw an eight-yard touchdown to Jesse James to give Penn State a 16-7 lead. Elhadary says it was even more noticeable after Maryland took the lead with less than a minute left in the game.

“It was almost as if everyone in the stadium had the exact same thought inside their heads,” he said. “They were angry at times. Then they were really happy at other times.”

Elhadary says he was upset that Penn State lost 20-19, but he was happy he was there to see it. His football knowledge remains a work in progress for him, but he’s committed to educating himself; he’s already planning on attending the Michigan State Blue Out game later this month.

He also has learned one of the favorite pastimes for football fans: trash talking.

“One of my friends from back home actually goes to Maryland, and I haven’t talked to him since the game,” Elhadary says with a smile. “He can talk trash to me now. That’s why I haven’t talked to him.”

  • Moustafa Elhadary (far right), a first-year computer engineering major from Alexandria, Egypt, attended his first Penn State football game on Saturday, Nov. 1.

    Moustafa Elhadary (far right), a first-year computer engineering major from Alexandria, Egypt, attended his first Penn State football game on Saturday, Nov. 1. While the game was still very new to him, his friends, Kenton Klobusnik (far left), Matthew Wheeler and Alyssa Anderson, helped fill him in on everything he needed to know.

    IMAGE: Penn State Behrend

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 18, 2014