I came to America in February and my birthday was in April. A few days before my birthday, me and my mom drove to one of the parks near Lake Pontchartrain and I just started crying. I was like 'Oh my god, this is going to be the loneliest birthday I've ever had. I don't think I have any friends in school!' It was just one and half months in, and I was still trying to get to know people. But on my birthday I actually got a lot of presents from my classmates. We were not even friends at the time and everyone was saying 'Happy birthday' to me. And I was just like 'Okay, I'm already here. I cannot just go to another school. I mean, everyone is so friendly to me. They're considering me a friend. I shouldn't keep to myself. I should step out of my comfort zone and start making friends and get involved and familiarize myself with the environment.' So from that point I started to join some clubs and really get to know new people, and I actually had a really great friend group a few months after. It's definitely the time to bring everyone's attention to how to have a global experience at Tulane. I have classmates from everywhere. In my public health class, I have friends from Louisiana sitting on my right side, I have friends from Germany sitting on my left side. So you are communicating with everyone from every corner in the world every single day. Communication is the best skill I've gained as a student with an international background. If you communicate well you can connect both sides. That's what we're trying to do at Tulane right now. We want to connect international students with American students. We want international students to get involved and speak for themselves. So I say, 'You want to make a friend? You need to speak up first. You needto speak for yourself. You need to introduce yourself and make communication happen.' Before I came here, I was involved on campus [in China] but I didn't really understand how to listen to people or how to understand people. I would say 'Okay we need toget this done.' I would just distribute tasks. But I wouldn't say, 'So, what's your opinion?' Communication and listening are definitely skills I've gained.
Office of International Students & Scholars East Asia