Halfway Across the World

Facing College: Diverse Student Voices from Michigan State University

Sophomore, International Student from Beijing, China

As I was sitting in my room watching Gossip Girl, I realized that in only a few short weeks my life might be just like a TV show. My father’s career was about to abruptly uproot my family during my junior year of high school. I was never planning to leave Beijing, China and move to the United States. If you told me I’d be living in the United States, I wouldn’t believe you.

Coming here was a rude awakening, I had fantasized about American culture my whole life, but it wasn’t what I had imagined to say the least. I wasn’t prepared to move my whole life across the world and being thrown into a school where I didn’t know the language. It was more than difficult. It was so hard for me to engage in class and meet friends. The first year was very rough for me. I often ate lunch in the school bathroom because I had no one to sit with in the cafeteria. I tried my hardest to make friends, but it was very difficult to communicate with my peers. I was determined, however, to make the best of the situation and be as successful as possible. By the time senior year came, I had finally began to break out of my shell and meet some friends.

As everyone was applying for college I realized how much freedom college students in America are given. I had begun to recognize how different the educational systems were between China and the United States. I learned that Americans are allowed to choose and change their own major as much as they want. Back in China, once you decide, you’re stuck. I wanted to have choices regarding my future so staying in the U.S. seemed like the best decision I could make. Having spent two years of high school in America made the transition to college a lot easier for me.

I only applied to schools in areas where I liked the weather. I hate the heat, so I applied to schools as far North as I could. Michigan has all four seasons and a mild climate so thought it might be a great place to attend school. I wasn’t completely sure where I wanted to go so I applied to other universities as well.

At first, I wasn’t completely sure where I wanted to go but ultimately Michigan State University was the best choice for me. MSU offers so many different programs and opportunities for involvement and success. Michigan State’s broad range of disciplines assured me that I could discover a major to fit my interests.

As far as my major goes, my parents are both electrical engineers and hoped I would follow in their footsteps but engineering just isn’t for me. I’ve always loved communicating with others and working with people so business seemed like it might be the right fit for me. After speaking with my parents friends who work in business I realized accounting would be something I would enjoy doing so I am currently pursuing an accounting major in the Eli Broad College of Business. Besides academics I also participate in students organizations and clubs on campus that allow me to meet friends and network with other people.

Ultimately, I’ve learned that things take time. Not everything happens right away but with patience comes reward. I’m glad I never gave up when it got hard because looking back I’ve learned and have grown so much as a person. Here at Michigan State, I am very involved on campus and have met some really great people. Here at Michigan State, I have found my home.


This story originally appeared in Facing College: Diverse Student Voices, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan.

Previous Post
Parker’s Story- Finding Myself
Next Post
Project Update: Opening Night! {by Nelda}