Living in Five Countries Before Landing at Lehigh

By Katie Howlin '15

Daniel Sursock is not your typical Lehigh student. Though he is an American citizen, he never lived in the United States until he came here for college. Due to his father’s career working for Mars, Inc. and Motorola, Sursock was born in Greece and then lived in Poland, Shanghai and Hong Kong before coming to the United States to study finance at Lehigh.

Sursock always planned on going to college in the United States. Although he visited the U.S. once a year growing up, Sursock was still surprised when he set foot on campus to begin his freshman year. Before attending Lehigh, Sursock had most recently lived in Hong Kong, and for him the differences between the major, global city and Lehigh were noticeable.

The biggest difference between Hong Kong and Lehigh was the lack of diversity on South Mountain. “Coming from somewhere diverse to a less diverse school, it was difficult to adjust,” he says.

While Lehigh is not the global center that Hong Kong is, Sursock did recognize similarities between the culture on campus and what he left behind. Both Lehigh and Hong Kong feature a “high paced, driven culture,” as Sursock explained that people both at Lehigh and in Hong Kong have work hard-play hard attitudes and both places are filled with extremely driven individuals who have fast-paced lives.

The similarities in culture between Hong Kong and Lehigh explain why Sursock feels at home here, just as they explain why he wants to return to Hong Kong.

Because of his frequent moves, Sursock doesn’t identify as belonging to any one particular culture or country, and he added that “no one in my family was born in the same place.” Sursock identifies the many positives and negatives that come from having such a unique upbringing.

He acknowledges that growing up, he was extremely sheltered. However, despite a privileged upbringing Sursock mentioned that he is grateful that his unique childhood allowed him to do lots of community service throughout the world, but particularly in Southeast Asia.

Unlike most American university students, Sursock believes his upbringing allowed him to gain lots of world experience, and he says that he’s “really gotten to know the world, especially Southeast Asia.” Additionally, having spent over seven years living in Hong Kong, he was able to learn about finance in one of the world’s greatest financial capitals.

However, Sursock also acknowledged the cons to living such a unique life such as constantly moving and having to make new friends in each new country and not feeling like any one particular place is home and living so far from family and friends. However, for Sursock the positives of this unique lifestyle outweigh the negatives.

Sursock explained that after graduation, he’d like to return to Hong Kong, which he says is his favorite place that he’s lived. Additionally, his interest in finance was cultivated by spending the last seven years in there. He describes the city’s financial atmosphere as “like Wall Street, but so much more.” Sursock has already interned in the finance sector in Hong Kong, and his parents are still living in the city.