From China with love: American life through the eyes of an international student

Features Unfiled

by Jonathan Aldridge

“They [Americans] all look the same, especially the guys with those beards,” said Hanyu Lou, a 27-year-old senior graphics design major from Chengeu, China.

After four years of life in America, Lou realizes that Americans aren’t as crazy as she thought they might be, but how does a Chinese student adjust to life in Saint Joseph, Missouri?

Lou feels that Chinese education differs drastically from American education, because Chinese students have a much different view on education. Lou feels as though secondary education is challenging in China, but American universities are harder, because they require more work than Chinese universities.

“You know in China, we have a lot of people so we need to like study hard, work harder to get a job and graduate, so everybody is kind of stressful. It’s different. We work a lot. We study a lot, like everyday from morning to night, like 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.,” Lou said.

The most shocking aspect is that unlike schools in America, classes are  already selected for students in most Chinese universities. Students do not have an option to select their own courses.

According to Lou, the job market is extremely competitive in China. With over a billion people in China, Lou said that 5,000 people could apply for a job with only five people actually getting hired.

“In my city, we have like 14 million people,” Lou said.

Before attending Western, Lou studied filming and directing for four years at Sichuan Media University. She also said that the University is called “Sichnan Chuanmei Daxue” in the Chinese language.

Unlike American institutions of higher learning, Lou explained that in China, most often they have the same roommate and keep the same university apartment for a timespan of four years.

From Lou’s experience, the language barrier is the most difficult aspect of being an international student in America.

“You know in China, in the class I can take notes really fast, but in here [Western], when the teacher says something I need to think about it, and then take notes. I Cannot do it directly really fast, so most of the time I ask my classmates,” Lou said.

She studies after class, looks at powerpoint study guides, reads her text book and asks her professors for a better explanation after class.

Going from a city with a population of 14 million in China to a smaller university like Western’s was not easy for Lou.

“The first year I couldn’t get used to that,” Lou said. According to Lou, driving is easier in Saint Joseph due to less traffic, but shopping is more difficult, because there are fewer stores.

“In China, you can find a supermarket probably just next to your home,” Lou said. After graduation, Lou intends to head to Kansas City and land a job in graphic design making logos and advertisements.

“I can apply for jobs before I graduate and actually go there for the interview. I think it’s a good place to start my career,” Lou said.

Lou says it’s hard being an international student in America, especially with her lack of close friends

Due to the cultural differences, Lou often has a rough time understanding what her American friends are talking about. According to Lou, making friends, learning English and learning a lot of skills are the best parts about being at Western.

“I went to Jefferson City representing the art department,” Lou said. Lou also crafted wine bottles in her graphic design class, which are currently on display in Potter Hall.

Several of Lou’s Western friends graduated and she enjoys visiting them in Kansas City on the weekend

Four years ago, Lou’s first stop in America was California. Since that time, she as been to numerous cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Lou has also spent her summer vacations traveling abroad to Germany, Italy, Japan and Amsterdam.

Lou loves the quiet atmosphere at Western and feels the campus has everything.

“Teachers are like really nice, not too many students so teachers are focusing on everybody,” Lou said. Lou thinks she is hovering around a 3.9 GPA at Western, which is much better than she had in China. When asked what she likes most about American culture, Lou responded, “Friendly people.”