FISH Feature 1: “Cherish the Time Here”
FISH Features provide international students with the opportunity to share their study abroad experience. Presented in question & answer format, the Features provide readers with important insights and actionable advice.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in a small town in Jiangxi Province in China. When I was 18, I went to Shanghai to study in University. When I was 21 years old, I met my boyfriend who became my husband. In 2016, I came to America and applied to Seton Hall. Now, I am studying in the MBA program. I like traveling, cooking, reading, writing, and playing ping pong.
Why did you want to study in the United States?
For the most part, because my husband was coming here. My husband wanted to come here because he thought America is a very diverse country where he can accept different cultures, different kinds of people. In this country, you respect each other.
What were you most looking forward to on this study abroad journey?
For me, religion. I heard a lot about religion, but I’m not very familiar with it. I want to know much more, get more information. I think this is a very critical thing.
Another thing is culture. I value freedom. People can try everything here. I really respect different types of people.
What are some things you did not expect, but are now experiencing?
I feel everyone, even in the street or shopping mall, will smile. If you have eye contact with someone, they will say hi and smile. It’s a little different from China.
And then the bad. When I was in Shanghai, I really liked to walk after dinner. But here, when it’s very late, I think it’s not as safe to be walking outside. In summer, it’s good because it stays light out later. But during the winter, no, never.
What has been the most challenging aspect of your study abroad experience?
It’s a little bit hard to make friends with the local people. It’s a little bit hard to find the common things between us. The culture is the most challenging. We like playing board games or poker to build relationships. Here, it’s a little bit awkward because local people throw parties and just talk. We might not have much in common at the start.
What is the most rewarding part of studying in the United States?
The best part is, first of all, I made a lot of friends from different countries. I took one year of ESL. So, I got some friends from other countries like Ukraine. I got new knowledge about cultures from them.
Everyone here is very polite and courteous.
What’s something very different or surprising you have experienced culturally?
Everyone says “let’s call the police” or “let’s go to court.” I know the law, police, and legal system is very important in American culture, but it still shocked me. I mean even our landlord, like when he lost his dog said “I will call the police.” That’s different to us.
How did you develop friendships?
We have some American friends. I would like to join some parties, to share my experience and share my life. Sincerity is very important and it can be applied to everything. I invite friends over for board games or poker, invite people over to our house, and cook for them. We play games and it’s really helpful to build relationships. Many people really like the Chinese food. It’s a really good method to become close.
What made you have a successful classroom experience in America?
In my first semester, I took a course called BMBA 9111, which is about information technology and quantitative analysis. The professor was very good. He posted videos online, which for me is really helpful. I’m worried that sometimes I don’t understand everything during the class. Before I went to class, I watched the video and took some notes. I tried to figure out, beforehand, what I did and did not understand. So, when I go to the class, I can understand him easily. I also will go to his office to ask more questions. It was all very helpful. I preview the book if I don’t have videos.
Preparation is important because I know English is not my first language and I need to work harder than the local people. Class is at night and I prepare during the day, and then when I go to the class I feel more comfortable.
What is the best part of working in the United States?
I work in a financial corporation. I found the regulation here is very complete and strict. The regulation, the law, is very complete and I think that is good. It makes you obey the law, which is very good, especially in the financial environment. I want to be a financial advisor and protect the client’s interest and the company’s interest. There should be no conflict of those interests.
How did you find your current job?
Right now I am an intern in a financial corporation. It’s from networking. I know some guys in my bible study at the church, and we talked about my major being in finance, and they said “Oh, there’s a person who has a financial company.” And they referred me to his company. That’s one way.
As another way, I went to the Career Center and talked with the advisors. I told them what I am looking for. They recommended to me some companies and I sent my resumes there and I received interviews. But, I chose the other financial corporation from my network. There are a lot of ways to get a job if you keep on trying.
Do you feel your international student experience thus far has been a success?
As far as now, I think it’s a success. I have an objective, a destination. I know what I am going to do. I am very clear about that. So, I applied to the school, looked for a job. You need to determine what you want to do first. And then you need to figure how to get to that destination. Also, I need to take care of my family. I can handle all of the things so far. People shouldn’t push themselves too far. Give yourself short term and long term destinations. As you reach every short term destination, you will eventually get to the long term destination.
What would be your message to other international students?
The people who want to come here, first of all, you need to figure out what you want to do in the future and why you want to come here. They shouldn’t expect too much. They shouldn’t just think “Americans are very good, very powerful. Everything is better than China.” As it turns out, no. It depends on different aspects. Like China infrastructure is much better than here. But, the culture, many people may prefer the American culture. You need to figure out what you want to get from here. If you really cherish the time here, you can learn a lot of things.
What else do you want people to know?
I hope every international student, all students — they should cherish their time in school. If they really want to improve their academic knowledge, they should spend much time studying. And also, combine this with practice. Combine the theory and practice together, and that will be very helpful for future jobs.
I strongly recommend that students should go to work after their undergraduate degree and then come back to school for their graduate degree. Because they can become clearer about what is fitting for them. I have 5 years working experience, so when I started my master’s degree I knew — “this class is going to be very helpful.” It helped me to know what I needed to learn.
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Disclaimer: Some quotations from this FISH Feature have been edited to improve grammar and remove verbiage for easier reading. This Feature has been read and approved by the individual who was interviewed.