My Life in United States
By Libby Zhang Grade 2009
My name is Libby Zhang, a student from Guangzhou English Training Center for the Handicapped (GETCH). My college life changed since I heard the good news from American consulate that I was selected as one of the exchange students in China. It was a long process from the document selection, TOEFL, and becoming nominated candidates until I saw the email ¡°2011-2012: Selected Candidates¡±. When I was looking back the selecting process, worry and anxiety were always going along with me. This time I am so peaceful, I know, It's a dream comes true!
This year being a Global Undergraduate exchange student in America has been so far the best experience that I have ever had in my whole life. I was so lucky to be placed in a very special city, Evansville, Indiana, a wonderful city that I loved since the moment I arrived in. During these 9 months in the US, I tried to make my college life as wonderful as I can, so I participated in all kinds of activities whichwould help me learn more about America and other countries. Besides, I organized activity and did volunteer job in and off campus. By doing all these activities, my social ability, organization skills andleadership skills had greatly improved.
I had a best host family which was introduced by an American priest. The first time I saw them, it was their enthusiasm that made me feel like I am part of their family. They opened their house, and more importantly their hearts to me. They have 4 kids andthey loved to play with me. We met each other once a month and hanged out together to do something fun, such as going blowing, eating Chinese food, andplaying in the farm and so on. They always tried tohelp me learn more about American culture. During winter break, they invited me to spend Christmaswith them, so I moved from campus to their house. My host mom noticed that I missed Chinese food, so she took me to an international market and bought a lot of Chinese food for me. Although now we are far away from each other, I always keep them in the deepest of my heart.
It took me three months to learn English in my host institution University of Southern Indiana. There are 12 students in my class, two students from China, two from Korea, three from Saudi Arabia, one from Ecuador, one from El Salvador, one from Mongolian and one from Japan. So there were many languages in my class, such as Chinese, Korean, Arabic, Spanish, Mongolian and Japanese. As you can see, there was also multi-culture in my class, and the culture differences always made us discuss for a long time. Especially, the Saudi Arabia culture is so special, like a man in their country can marry 4 women.
I like the classes in America not only because I can learn English, but also the free class atmosphere made me relaxed and enjoyable. During our class, we could chew gum and eat food. In theclass, we made a circle with our teacher, which was easy for us to make a discussion. One thing that I really liked was our teacher might bring breakfast or cook some snack for us sometimes. They were just so sweet!
Our ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers were really responsible for their jobs. They tried to teach us as more as possible, and make ourclass lively and wonderful. My classes included grammar, reading, writing, speaking and listening andskills. My class schedule was from Monday to Friday (9am to 3:20pm), Friday only half day. It was kind of busy comparing to university schedule, but I really liked it. For me, I did not think ESL was difficult. However, it helped me to prepare my knowledge for college level.
After three-month ESL classes, I entered the university successfully. Because of my interests, I chose Business Administration as my major. I took Marketing, business and professional communication, social work and history education. I really enjoyed my courses, before class I previewed my lessons and reviewed them after classes. Of course, I tried as hard as I could to get a higher grade. I liked my marketing class most because my professor was so funny. By the way, she always talked about china. Sometimes I wouldget a very high grade in this class. I did not really like my history class. The reason was that we should write report twice a month. In this class, we had a lot of reading assignment. After reading, we should write down what we learned from each documentary which made me confused sometimes. In order to have a betterunderstanding of the book, I had to read through it again and again. Also, after class, I talked with my history professor about some documentary. He was so nice and he always tried to help me to master each documentary. By my hard working, my paper was becoming better and better. In my final exam, I got an A.
Americans really pay attention to volunteer works. This was also the reason that I participated in all kinds of volunteer works. I did volunteer in Family through international adoption
, YWCA, and as a Chinese tutor in USI. By doing volunteer works, I had more understanding of how people¡¯s life in other country.
I participated in a Chinese club and later I was selected as the president. As a group, we participated in many activities which were held by the USI Language Department, such as International poem reading and international singing performance. Besides, we had a club meeting once every two weeks and I would organize some activities.
In spite of doing volunteer in campus, I also taught Chinese off campus. Here was one photo that I tookwith my American students. We had class every Sunday afternoon. They were really interested in Chineseand I was willing to teach them. They adopted Chinese girls and I moved by their actions. All of them were very nice ladies and I had fun spending time with them. So far, they made some progress in Chinese.
Americans are fond of doing service to the communities. They are very good in organizing and doing volunteering jobs. I enjoyed participating in volunteering activities to help people in need. I met new peopleand we worked together to help other people. I would like to continue volunteering when I come back toChina so that I can spread this good value I receive in America.
The same as China, there are many traditional festivals in America too, such as Halloween,thanksgiving and Christmas day. Although the festivals between these two countries are different, people use their own ways to express their wishes. I was so glad that I had a chance to experience American traditional festival. There is so much to learn about America. As I learned more about people, I recognized myself more. I saw the world in a new way and I felt so blessed for this opportunity.
I was so glad that I experienced Halloween in America. Before Halloween, my host family took me to a farm to buy some pumpkins. This was my firsttime to see a farm which always appeared in the movies. They picked up some big pumpkins while I prefer the small one. The reason was that I never carved a pumpkin before and I was afraid that Iwould fail. At last, I carved a beautiful jack-o-lantern.
We had a lot of parties around Halloween. Here was the photo that I participated in a party which was organized by our school. However, people dressed up like different characters and creatures. We also had a dance party and we enjoyed ourselves. As you can see from the photo, I dressed up as a vampire queen.
On Thanksgiving Day, I travelled to Chicago with other international students. In the morning ofThanksgiving Day, I got up very early to watch the 78th Anniversary of the McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade. The parade was marched down State Street and a lot of people stood or sat by the side of the street. All the people moved our feet to the melodic carols of marching bands, gazing skyward at the gigantic inflatable helium balloons making our way down the street, and waving at talented entertainers in decorative floats dispensing holiday cheerily. Just a moment, I saw Chinese flag and dragon dance there. At that time, I could not control myself and my tear rolled down from my eyes to my cheeks. I was really proud of my country. At night I had turkey in a restaurant with other international students. The day afterThanksgiving Day, I experienced black Friday, people were really crazy! By the way, China town was my favorite place for everything there was so familiar to me.
Culture Night Activities
There were lots of culture exchange activities in the campus. I participated in German culture night£¬Indian culture night and Korean culture night.After that I recommended Chinese culture to international student club and settled down the time finally. That was one of the busiest times for me. I was busy with making PPT to introduce China to American students as well as international studentsand also arranging activity for them. I went to a Chinese association to borrow some traditional craftsand materials. On that day, we decorated the housewith Chinese decorations and provided Chinese food for international students. They ate Chinese food, listened to Chinese music, watched Chinese performance, and played Chinese games. Just as what I thought, Chinese culture night had made a great successful!
International Exchange Activities
The thing that made me happy was that I participated in the International Fashion Show. I represented China and I wore traditional costume cheongsam. Before I went abroad, I prepared two cheongsams. The other activity I would like to share was International food expo. International food expo was one of the biggest events in USI. International food expo was a food exhibition, every country should cook a kind of food to present their own country and sell it to the visitors. Before this event, it took our Chinese club one week to discuss which kind of food we were going to cook, well, a lot of choice like, chicken soup, Jiaozi, Mapo tofu and so on. After our heated discussion, we decided to cook Jiaozi for it was a traditional food in China. In honest, Jiaozi was really difficult to cook, 3 Chinese girls and I worked in the kitchen for 12 hours and we made 500 Jiaozi. This was the first time I felt cooking was a tiring job. Anyway, we made a great success on that day.
What I Think
USI was really an amazing place, where everybody was nice to you and everybody wanted to knowmore about you like your life in china, school, hobbies and dreams. My campus life in America had a great influence on my life. At USI, I learned that no matter where you are from, what language you speak or what color your skin is, you deserve to be treated in the same way as the rest. I really can¡¯t say if these past 9 months in United States had changed me a lot, but the truth is I am becoming more mature and confident, most importantly, my English had greatly improved and I use different ways to look into another culture. Last, I want to express my gratitude to UGRAD for giving me this life changing opportunity.