An International Student’s Perspective

Living in another country is difficult and complex. Trying to blend in a totally new culture is like an adventure. After four years at an American university, it is inevitable to become a changed person. 

“I was very different when I was in high school,” Yunhan Fu, a freshman in the College of Engineering, from the northern part of China said. “My classmates would feel really surprised to see how outgoing I am now.”

At the University, Fu attends parties and hangs out with friends in her spare time. When Fu was in high school, she was always reading and studying, and didn’t have many friends. However, when she came to the University she wanted to make changes.

In the first month, she was relentlessly studying for her courses with “120 percent effort.” But when she received her first mid-term result, it was not as high as she had hoped.

“Although I knew the chemistry course I was in had a low GPA average, I was very disappointed at that moment,” she said. “But then I decided, I need to change. What could I do? Could I put in 150 percent effort? I’m not like some kind of god. Therefore, I thought I needed to change: go to some parties, spend more time with friends and do something interesting during the weekend.”

Things started picking up for Fu, though she is not yet sure of the reasons behind why they did.

“Things are getting better. I’m not sure if it is because of this, but I’m becoming more relaxed and happy, and my grades are improving,” Fu said.

Fu is currently trying to join a sorority to “learn more about the American culture.”

One of the darkest parts of blending in, according to Fu, is the language barrier and different cultural backgrounds that make it difficult for her to feel truly involved.

But what makes blending-in even more difficult is the difference in culture.

When she went to parties, she found that, although she would try to converse with others, they were answering her “politely.” To her that meant that no one cared what she had to say, which made her feel like an outsider.

Although it is widely accepted that the diversity is important, the truth is, people would rather be with people who are more similar to them than not. The same sex, sorority, or college does not mean you will be fully accepted into that group. The problem with acceptance, is that it is historically rooted in human nature. Society has created a “norm,” and if you do not fit in that “norm” you are outcasted.

We can’t stop living out of fear of change. We will achieve nothing that way. Staying in one’s comfort zone is easy and safe, however, if we don’t accept something new, then how can we learn?


Zihan Wang

Hi, I'm from China. For the last two years, I was major in economics. But now I'm a journalism student. I'm really interested in reading, musicals and plays, and I love to travel around and take photos.