HOMETOWN: ZHENGZHOU, CHINA
UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT TULANE UNIVERSITY IN NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
DOUBLE MAJOR: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND ART HISTORY
Why did you come to the U.S. to study?
My parents decided my path very early for me and sent me to an international high school. I had foreign teachers and began to learn what American universities were like. I love the structure and atmosphere of it, so I applied to American schools and came here.
How did you choose your majors?
I studied painting for 7 years in China, so my passion for art guided me to choose art history. I’m also studying international relations because I’m aware that nowadays states communicate and interact often, and they will need people like me to establish more bonds between different cultures and governments.
I applied to lots of schools, but Tulane impressed me the most. As an international student, I encountered many problems during my application, and the admission office helped me with every step. All faculty (members) were friendly and enthusiastic.
Favorite place on campus?
The quad, where we hang out, hold events and play sports. On a sunny day in New Orleans, we will lie down on the quad and get tanned, listening to some local jazz music. I’d call that a perfect day.
Students celebrate Mardi Gras by throwing beads into a tree on Gibson Quad. (Photo: Tulane Public Relations)
Favorite place to visit off campus?
The city park of New Orleans is a beautiful place that I always want to go back to. I know people are often amazed by the French Quarter, but I prefer to hang out in the park.
How do you handle homesickness?
Sometimes I feel homesick, especially when my parents tell me that they miss me. When it happens, I talk to my Chinese friends who are from the same city to ease the anxiety and loneliness.
How often do you go home?
I go back to China every winter and summer break. It sounds crazy, because the ticket is expensive and I need (to do) an internship in the U.S. But my dad needs me at home, so I go back home for my family.
What do you think of American food?
I have had many delicious foods here, but most of them are foreign cuisines. My favorite food is sushi. I also love Cajun food.
Seventy percent of my friends are American. (Photo courtesy Coco Zhang)
Are most of your friends American or other nationalities? Any advice for making American friends?
Seventy percent are Americans and 30 percent are Chinese. My advice: Be nice and open. As long as you are friendly and funny, it’s OK that you make grammar mistakes!
My American friends do not think my identity as a foreigner is the most important thing. They make friends with me because of my personality and behavior, not because I’m an interesting foreigner.
Who on campus has been most helpful to you?
I live on campus with an Indian-American girl from California. My roommate is a powerful figure. She is the chairman of a feminist organization and is the best leader I’ve ever met. She helps me with everything in daily life and inspires me to pay attention to social issues such as LGBTQ and “Black Lives Matter.”
How do you spend your free time?
I go to concerts, movies and parties with my close friends. My goal is to explore the city and discover new secrets about it. I also joined an honor fraternity and am the historian of it now. We do volunteer work often on weekends.
What has surprised you the most about the U.S.?
In the U.S., people tolerate ideas. … Americans give everyone the chance to speak out. I’ve seen many protests on campus. Students will stop at the (protestors’) table, read the brochure, and talk about the issue with their friends. This is interesting.
Biggest disappointment about life in America?
I’m disappointed that nobody knows what real Chinese food is.
What’s the most important issue facing today’s college students?
Mental health. We are vulnerable young men and women who are probably still going through the transition phase of our lives, having no idea what we want to do for a living. We can get emotional and lose control. There are not enough resources to guide and help us.
What do you know now that you wish you had known before you came to America?
I wish I had known that most college boys do not take relationships seriously. And the date culture is completely different from the one in China.
What 3 pieces of advice would you give to students from China about studying in America?
1. Choose the school that you like, not the one that has the highest ranking.
2. Make American friends so you don’t speak Chinese all the time.
3. Call your parents often (so they don’t worry about you).
Any plans for after graduation?
My plan is to go to graduate school and continue studying international relations. I’m thinking about a school near Washington, D.C., or New York City.