“I’m really excited about my new journey,” said Juanwen Wu, an international relations graduate student from Shanghai.
This is not Wu’s first time traveling half of the world to come to the United States. A few years ago, he visited Washington, D.C., Boston and Los Angeles. However, studying in an American college is a brand new experience for him.
“I love the environment here,” Wu said, “squirrels are everywhere on campus.” Beautiful little things like green grass and cute squirrels might not catch native students’ attention because they are already used to it, but they are attractive to international students, who just began their new journeys in this country.
According to Wu, diversity was one of the biggest factors that influenced his decision when he chose colleges.
“It’s really fantastic when you are surrounded by people who have different skin colors, different beliefs and different languages,” Wu said.
Troy University is a whole new world for Chinese students like Wu who just started their college life. From their freshman year, they start to try American food in the dining hall, watch American football games in Veterans Memorial Stadium, watch the cheerleaders and the “Sound of the South” band members practice on the quad.
However, not every international student enjoys his or her first week in college.
“I was pretty stressed out when I went to my first class,” said Kangjie Tang, a junior marketing major from Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China.
Tang said he has to spend more time than American students to catch up because everything is different from what he has learned from his college in China.
“Especially the textbooks,” said Tang, “everything is in English, and there’re tons of new words I have to try very hard to remember.”
Besides the language barrier, Chinese students also have to deal with culture shock.
Asian cultures and Western culture have many differences in various aspects, such as worldview, philosophy, problem handling, and sense of humor.
“I think it’s a little bit hard to make American friends,” Tang said. He said it is really hard for people like him whose cultural background is quite different from the native students’ to blend in.
“Sometimes, when I hang out with my American friends,” Tang said, “they will talk about the sports they like but I don’t really get the rules, especially football.”
However, a diverse environment is helping students learn more about different places all over the world.
Interracial cooperation is important to everyone when in a diverse environment like Troy University. To get the best results, they have to work together and get to know each other.
William Walker, a freshman from Birmingham majoring in biomedical sciences, said he likes having international students in his class.
“It’s good to see them in my class showing different opinions,” Walker said.
Hanging out with people who are from different countries is not only fun, but it also helps to destroy stereotypes and to teach different parts of this world better, said Walker, who didn’t know that traditional Chinese food is phenomenal until his Chinese friends cooked for him.